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Movies & TV

08th Nov 2023

Line of Duty director’s new thriller snapped up by RTÉ

Ryan Grace

The Line of Duty-inspired crime drama looks set to be unmissable TV.

Jed Mercurio wowed British audiences year after year with his sensational police drama Line of Duty on the BBC. He has returned with a show ITV and RTE were both keen on securing the broadcast rights to – Payback.

Millions were gripped from one season to the next, simply obsessed with finding out which coppers were bent and which ones played by the rules. Mercurio is also the mind behind Bodyguard, a more short and sweet type series that left viewers wanting more.

The creator of Line of Duty and Bodyguard is back, and his new programme has been lauded on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

RTÉ secured the rights to the show earlier this year and, you guessed it, it’s yet another crime thriller brimming with twists and turns.

This time written round he’s called in the help of acclaimed screenwriter Debbie O’Malley. Payback features Morven Christie and Ozark star Peter Mullan.

Payback is packed with twists and turns.

Set in Scotland, Payback follows the story of Lexie Noble.

Lexie is an accountant raising two kids in Edinburgh. Her life is turned upside down when her husband is murdered in broad daylight in the streets of the Scottish capital.

Mercurio doesn’t stop there. It turns out that the husband stole £27 million from a local crime kingpin after promising to launder his cash.

Payback looks to be the lovechild of Ozark and Line of Duty.

It ran on ITV, earlier this year, and is now available for UK viewers on Britbox. However, RTÉ secured the rights to broadcast in Ireland, back in February, so keep an eye on your listings, and the RTÉ Player, for it.

Shades of Line of Duty, Mercurio back to his best with Payback.

In textbook Mercurio fashion, Payback is full of twists and turns galore, and the first episode is packed with suspense.

Speaking about his work with O’Malley, Mercurio told the New York Post:

“Debbie was a writer I admired and I knew her a bit socially, We got talking about this idea she had for a show and it was fairly soon in the process when I realised she was on to something – and then making sure we had a very strong serial thread. Debbie did fantastic work on the protagonist, making her an everywoman character and creating the stakes and jeopardy within the story.”

As for the cast of the Payback, Mercurio also had some kind words for Mullan. “Peter was absolutely the first name that came to mind to play Cal,” he said.

Just because of the roles he’s played before and I also knew Peter – he directed some episodes of my first-ever TV show [the medical drama Cardiac Arrest] so we go way back and we hadn’t worked together since then.”

On Christie’s character, he added:

“That is the centrepiece of the drama, This ordinary character who’s got business skills, but nothing extraordinary about that, who’s in this incredibly threatening situation. On one side there’s organized crime in the person of Cal [Mullan’s crime boss] and the people who work for him, and on the other side the police. They just want to bring Cal to justice and there’s a very great likelihood that Lexie will be collateral damage. She’s just a regular person navigating this incredibly perilous path between these two very powerful forces in her life — which creates an enormous amount of jeopardy for her.”

Payback currently boasts an 80% ‘fresh’ score from TV critics on Rotten Tomatoes. And more casual viewers agree, with a 78% ‘fresh’ audience rating.

So, if you’re stuck for a new gritty crime drama and miss the days of Line of Duty, Payback could be the one for you.

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