|as a peculiar but successful blend of light, fish-out-of-water comedy with dark, gangland thriller
|Gbemisola Ikumelo, Hammed Animashaun, Akemnji Ndifornyen, Alex MacQueen, Ariyon Bakare, Felicity Montagu, Jaz Hutchins, Joanna Scanlan, Marek Larwood, Rufus Jones, Samuel O'Loughlin, Tom Bennett, Zoë Wanamaker
|Akemnji Ndifornyen, Ben Gregor, Catherine Morshead, Carol Harding, Akemnji Ndifornyen, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Joe Tucker, Lloyd Woolf
|BBC iPlayer, BBC1
|5th May 2023
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Dom (Gbemisola Ikumelo) and Kay (Hammed Animashaun) are Police Community Support Officers, working on a rough estate in London.
Their hearts aren’t really in the job and street-wise Dom doesn’t like being paired with Kay, who’s more interested in helping out his local church than fighting crime.
But when a detective takes them aside and offers them some undercover work, infiltrating a drugs gang, life takes a very different turn.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The writers, including lead actress Gbemisola Ikumelo and Akemnji Ndifornyen, who plays one of the drug dealers, Tevin, have done a remarkable job; in 6 half-hour episodes, they’ve created a believable world that’s both funny and thrilling.
The first episode is an effective sit-com, with a fish-out-of-water odd-couple that observes the absurdities of modern-day life from a black perspective, without alienating any other ethnicities.
A twist at the end of the first episode turns a light-hearted, almost farcical comedy into a desperately dark thriller, with the lives of our two protagonists very much on the line – but it never loses its comedic edge.
Black Ops manages to walk the tightrope between comedy and thriller without either element feeling forced. Most of the time, it’s either one or the other, without feeling too disjointed, but at times, dark humour jumps out from the screen and you can expect more out-loud laughing than from many of its contemporaries.
Sometimes, though, the plot or characters are stretched just a little too far to ensure that things keep on track, but the sense of fun, determination and dread are always there.
It’s so rare to see a group of largely unknown actors – against a backdrop of a handful of more familiar supporting players – producing something that feels so fresh and rewarding.