Review: ITV's new cop drama DI Ray starts slow, but could end up being a Line of Duty size hit

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By the end of the first episode of ITV’s new police drama DI Ray (ITV, Mon-Thurs, 9pm) I was getting irritated.

After a bravura opening in which our heroine DI Rachita Ray (Parminder Nagra) managed to disarm a troubled university student brandishing a knife in Birmingham city centre, the story got bogged down in her relationship with a senior copper DCI Martyn Hunter (Jamie Bamber).

By the end of the second episode, however, I was intrigued, and by time of the shocking ending to the third episode – no spoilers, but it is quite the gut-punch – I was hooked.

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The thing is, I shouldn’t have been surprised. DI Ray is written by Maya Sondhi, who played poor, tragic PC Maneet Bindra in Line of Duty.

Parminder Nagra starred in new cop drama DI RayParminder Nagra starred in new cop drama DI Ray
Parminder Nagra starred in new cop drama DI Ray

Like Jed Mercurio’s corruption-athon, DI Ray enjoyed a fascination with police jargon and procedure, even coining a brand-new acronym – a CSH, or culturally specific homicide.

Then there were shocking deaths, police informants and corruption in the top brass to deal with.

Ray is an outsider, fitting in with neither the overwhelmingly white police force, nor with the Asian community she has to police. The casual, unthinking racism she encounters is well-drawn and – in certain cases, shocking – while, despite wearing an expression of perpetual worry, Nagra gradually grows in to her character.

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And after the misfire of Trigger Point – which actually had Mercurio’s input – this might be the Line of Duty-size hit ITV have been looking for – a different case each series, mixed with an over-arching storyline of police jiggery-pokery.

Stick with this one, it’ll be fun to see where it goes.

After weeks of Gregg gurning and John trying to eat his cutlery, Masterchef (BBC1, Tues-Thurs, 8pm) reached the final this week. All three finalists – Eddie, Radha and Pookie – cooked their hearts out, salting their food with tears as often as not, but the food looked amazing, and as usual, you get carried away with it.

Like DI Ray, I’m trying to give ITV’s other big police drama Grace (ITV, Sun, 8pm) a few episodes’, well, grace. However, this police procedural somehow manages to ally outlandish plots – sex trafficking and snuff movies, or murderous triplets – with a ponderous, morose tone I’m losing patience with.