Desperate Measures review: Get past the first episode and this Amanda Abbington crime drama measures up well

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​I will forgive you if you decided to give up on Channel 5’s new week-night drama series Desperate Measures (Channel 5, Tues-Fri, 9pm) after the first episode.

​Packed full of cliches, it lumbered along listlessly, as if embarrassed by its by-the-numbers plot and characterisation.

Single mum struggling to get by on meagre wages? Check.

Bright young son led astray by neighbourhood drug dealer? Check.

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Unexpected turn of events leading to imminent destitution? Check.

Dirtbag druglord giving struggling single mum an unpleasant ultimatum with a seemingly unachievable deadline? Check.

Add in an old flame with connections to the criminal underworld, a deadbeat dad who turns up out of the blue and a colleague with reasons of her own to cross the line into criminality and you had a bingo card of crime drama beats.

By the second episode, however, Desperate Measures seemed to find its feet, and by the end of Thursday night’s third episode it had swept you up in its pell-mell silliness.

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Never mind a cliffhanger at the end of every episode, the writers managed to get one in before every ad break, while a cast including Amanda Abbington (Sherlock, and recent ITV sitcom The Family Pile), Warren Brown (Luther) and Holby City’s Sunetra Sarker commit to every cliche-ridden line of dialogue.

The druglord is cartoonishly evil, while Budapest stands in for Anytown, UK, so everything looks slightly odd.

However, as a rollicking caper, Desperate Measures adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

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