The Smoke: Episode 1 Review

An explosive start!

The Smoke

© Des Willie / Sky 1

Sky 1 has picked a winner in new 8-part drama The Smoke from Skins writer Lucy Kirkwood. One of 2014 highlights in fast-paced, emotionally gripping dramas with plenty of humour to boot.

The drama focuses on the lives of the firefighters of East London’s White Watch, headed up by Kev played by Battlestar Gallactica‘s Jamie Bamber. The all-action explosive opening sets the tone for the series as the crew attend a fire on a council estate, which leads to Kev sustaining horrific burns to his body and feeling both traumatised and let down by the service. On his return to work eight months later he has to juggle his love for the job and his right to justice – as well as difficulties in his relationship with his girlfriend Trish (Jodie Whittaker) who loves him dearly but is struggling to break down his barriers since the accident. And his best friend and colleague Mal (Rhashan Stone) whose friendship is tested as he gets caught between being a friend to both Kev and Trish.

The call outs to both fire and rescues not only highlight the wonderful and brave work real-life firefighters take on every day (and what a mistake it is to close some of them down), but how stunning the episode has been filmed with big set pieces and real fires that the actors had proper firefighting training to cope with. The make-up / prosthetics department should also be applauded as well as Jamie Bamber for his performance as Kev as he reveals his burns in the shockingly sad, yet truthful confrontation at headquarters which really made you feel for his plight, and how hard it must be to come to terms with for Kev and Trish.

The series also has a lighter side with plenty of fun and banter with each other in the same way brothers and sisters do. The other members of White Watch: Little Al (Gerard Kearns), Ziggy (Pippa Bennett-Warner), Rob (David Walmsley), Billy the Mince (Dorian Lough), and new boy Dennis (Taron Egerton) – who is revealed in a twist at the end to have the tattoo Kev saw on one of his attackers in the fire at the start.

We’ve seen firefighting dramas before in the likes of London Burning but The Smoke, made by production company Kudos – makers of Spooks, The Tunnel and Broadchurch – offers not only an emotionally gripping, high-octane drama, but a hugely realistic and emotional core and family of characters that make us care about their stories as they depend upon each other in one way or another – and mostly with the lives.

A great start to a great series.

The Smoke pictures

The Smoke cast video interviews