‘Identity’: Series 1 DVD review

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Heavily trailed over nearly every World Cup ad-break, ITV1’s six-part drama series Identity starts relatively well and then resembles a lemming hurtling over a cliff.

There’s obviously been a fair amount spent on this Spooks-esque knock-off, with an opening replete with a besieged gunman being targeted by snipers, negotiators and helicopters. There’s also no doubt that the main premise taps into a screaming tabloid sense of paranoia, that anyone can effectively hijack your life and commit crimes ranging from internet fraud to murder in your name.

Aiden Gillen (Mayor Tommy Carcetti from The Wire) and the ever reliable but slightly bland behind the pout and clipboard Keeley Hawes (Ashes To Ashes) are the backbone of the Identity team – she the uptight unit commander and he the maverick door-kicking-in thief catcher – ably abetted by the most politically correct team of supporting colleagues (Holly Aird, Shaun Parkes and Elyes Gabel).

The opening episode holds its own quite well; there’s a good balance between the paper shuffling in the office and the relatively exciting beat work spear-headed by Gillen. The concept of three intertwining cases of marital infidelity that is tracked down to a believable culprit (though albeit not a believable location) is enough to whet the appetite – however, the show creeps into farce in the following episodes.

The only glimmer of hope comes in Episode 3 (‘Pariah’) whereby the Maxine Carr overtones are blatant: wife’s husband kills young girl, she gives evidence against him and receives a shorter sentence and a new identity from the state. This sanctioning of a new private identity made public (coming mere days after the issue was hotly debated again in the case of Jon Venables) has a ring of authenticity to it, but other episodes are made only marginally interesting by the interplay of Hawes and Gillen. A “could do better” attempt from ITV to match the BBC’s far more intriguing Sherlock will probably mean that this is all we’ll see from the Identity team.

Released on DVD on Monday 16th August 2010 by ITV DVD.