This week’s adventure came to interrupt Lady Alexandra Lindo-Parker (Ophelia Lovibond) amid crucial decisions surrounding her upcoming nuptials; while Alex has been making plans, her stalwart colleague Ella (Jessica Hynes) has gone and got herself kidnapped by bandits.
Working to a forty-eight hour time limit, in which she had to both relieve the British Museum of a biblically significant wooden spoon and get herself to Eritrea, Alex found herself dialling the person she knew was most likely to have experience fooling a pressure detector.
Despite initially refusing to attend, as he was busy taking bets on Turkish bare-knuckle fighting, Hooten (Michael Landes) reliably appeared in the colourful African port of Massawa to assist.
After Hooten had locked lips with the kidnapper’s “driver”, a dreadlocked and deadly East European beauty, to allay the concerns of port security, things soon got dangerous as she took an order to kill them both and a frenetic, well-staged if rather apologetic chase through the docks ensued.
As the story developed, it shifted from kidnap to desert quest as the villain’s objective was revealed; Dawit, in a powerful and charismatic performance from David Ajala, is a true believer looking for the treasure of the Queen of Sheba. His followers meanwhile were merely hired guns, lured by the promise of riches, and the tensions between them came to the fore with the intense, trigger-happy Amir (Ade Oyefeso) who was impatient for his share.
In the midst of the drama there was still time for some pertinent history and although Hooten remained unmoved by the tale of the romance between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, he did reveal some interesting biblical knowledge – apparently gained by his years living at a convent which further teased his unconventional upbringing.
While Ella was out and about, something we have been clamouring for since the series began, reliable boss Clive (Shaun Parkes) remained at the Brit Mux providing technical support and some handy background info. We look forward to his day in the sun too.
Despite her tumble over a precipice, we were surprised that the driver (Katja Hopkins) did not turn up in the final reel for some kind of payoff. Perhaps a return is on the cards later in the run? Surely Hooten can never have enough aggrieved and vengeful women on his tail.
With comedy camel action, archaeology under pressure and possibly the least opportune moment to discuss wedding cake options, Karla Crome, perhaps best known as Jess from Misfits and currently starring in The Level, provided a story which ripped along at an entertaining pace and yet struck a perfect balance between gun toting action and those adorable lighter, comic moments between idealistic Alex and streetwise Hooten.
This is ideal Friday night escapist fun which does not take itself too seriously – and don’t tell the kids, but we might just be picking up the odd nugget about history on the way too.
Airs at 9pm on Friday 14 October 2016 on Sky1.
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