Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

PICK OF THE NIGHT; Deputy TV Editor Chopratown 9pm, BBC1

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

PICK OF THE NIGHT; Deputy TV Editor Chopratown 9pm, BBC1

Article excerpt


ONLY THOSE whose sole point of reference is the Bumper Book of London Cliches would refer to the East End as a "cultural melting pot", but we're all aware that the area is home to a multitude of peoples and faiths. In case we succumb to temporary amnesia, though (or, perhaps, tonight's not-exactly-culturally-diverse EastEnders is still fresh in our brains), every few minutes this new detective comedy-drama shows us footage of real East Enders of various backgrounds, going about their business.

But, to be fair, this is only setting the scene.

Chopratown isn't painfully politically correct - it's entertainingly daft, even if the some of the jokes and plot developments are super-obvious.

Sanjeev Bhaskar (right) stars as private detective Vik Chopra, who sees his job less as an opportunity for exciting cases than as a means to support his baby daughter and ex-wife.

Chopra is slightly awkward with a misplaced sense of his own self-importance, so Bhaskar is hardly pushing the thespian boundaries from his more famous creation, Sanjeev from the Kumars at No 42, but never mind - at least we are sure Bhaskar knows what he's doing.

Of course, every detective needs an assistant, preferably the exact opposite of the 'tec himself.

Enter enthusiastic Annie, played by Natalie Casey, whom you may recognise as Donna from BBC3 makeweight Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. And what about an old friend/archenemy in the police force? That's Nigel (Neil Stuke), whose character bears alarming physical and intellectual resemblances to EastEnders' dim Garry.

In his first case (and this is the pilot episode, so it might be his only case), Chopra is asked by the glamorous wife of a Turkish baker to keep an eye on her husband (played by comic Omid Djalili), whom she suspects isn't taking the drugs that calm down his heart condition.

No prizes for guessing that there's more to the set-up than initially meets the eye, but that really doesn't matter. This is switch-offyourbrain stuff with some silly dialogue, despite the odd cringemakingly telegraphed scene.

And at last telly drama finally catches up with the fact that there's more to the East End than Pauline Fowler. …

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