One of the nice aspects of Netflix is that their recommendation algorithm is actually rather good. No sooner had I watched The Bletchley Circle than Netflix added the Hidden to a list of suggestions based on that information; well that and Apparitions and Ripper Street, the former a supernatural drama starring Martin Shaw and the latter available on BBC America.
And on first look at the cover art used as the icon for the show you’d be forgiven for thinking that David Suchet, Hercule Poirot to most of us, was the focus of the four-part drama from BBC One. Not so, instead Philip Glenister takes center stage as small time solicitor Harry Venn. The 50-year old actor, better known for the iconic role of DCI Gene Hunt in the show Life on Mars, wears the role well as the lawyer working on the fringes of the law while also dealing with an ex-wife for whom he still has affection and an increasingly wayward son. The secondary plot, which shows the stresses of every day life that Venn is under, could in lesser hands have been little more than filler. However here this story, the political and social unrest and the lack of a formed government is all layered rather elegantly while maintaining the focus on Venn.
Venn it quickly becomes apparent was the getaway driver in a botched robbery 30 years earlier in which his brother and another accomplice were killed. Equally obvious is that Venn was a reluctant participant and remains haunted by the incident. Contacted by the enigmatic Gina Hawkes, nicely played by the well-regarded Dutch actress Thekla Reuten, concerning a possible alibi for a low level crook, Venn is thrust into the sort of right-wing political conspiracy drama that the British do so well.
“It’s just never a good sign when your lawyer asks you for a gun,” comments a friend and former client to Venn in the third episode and indeed it isn’t! But that doesn’t make the Hidden any less watchable.
Matthew Marsh, one of those character actors that are always on song, turns up as an industrialist pulling the strings and Suchet is Sir Nigel Fountain the adoptive Father of Hawkes in one of those classic there’s a little more going on there than you think roles.
Written by Ronan Bennett who has what might be generously called a controversial background, the politics and the underlying themes are less than subtle, but that does not prevent the fundamental enjoyment of some excellent performances.
— Wallace Poulter