Alan Waldman: ‘The Vice’ is a Gritty, Dark Cop Series About London’s Vice Squad

Waldman’s film and TV
treasures you may have missed:

From 1999 to 2003, Ken Stott headed a strong cast as a police inspector battling prostitution, pornography, and other sex crimes.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | August 20, 2013

[In his weekly column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Veteran Detective Inspector Pat Chappel (Ken Stott) leads his team of undercover Vice Squad agents through London’s seamy underworld, investigating cases of human trafficking, corruption, murder, sexual slavery, sadomasochistic filmmaking, drug trafficking, child prostitution, pedophilia, and gambling in the outstanding British crime drama The Vice.

Chappel and his team (David Harewood, Marc Warren, Rosie Marcel and Caroline Catz) often find themselves struggling to maintain normalcy in their personal lives as their work takes a toll on them.

Twenty-one gripping episodes aired between 1999 and 2003. Many are available on DVD and YouTube and three episodes are coming to Netflix. Here is an episode in which Chappel goes undercover in a prison to discover the ringleaders of a prostitution racket pimping young women to inmates and guards.

Stott was nominated for two major British awards and the show was up for “Best Drama Series.” The program frequently blurs the line of the team staying on the right side of the law, as almost every member of it at different points submits briefly or permanently to the temptations of either sex, drugs, money, or honey traps — sometimes with drastic consequences.

The regular cast was headed by the sterling Stott, who starred in the gripping Scottish cop series Rebus. The Vice’s cast also included Caroline Catz (the female lead in Doc Martin), David Harewood (SAG nom for Homeland), Marc Warren (Hustle, State of Play), Rosie Macel (Holby City), Tim Piggot-Smith (won BAFTA for Jewel in the Crown), and Anna Chancellor (BAFTA nom for The Hour).

The fine guest cast included Tim McInnerny (all four Blackadder series), Eddie Marsan (now in Ray Donovan, won nine of his10 awards and six noms for Happy-Go-Lucky), Philip Jackson (Poirot) and Corin Redgrave (A Man for all Seasons and 41 other films and series).

The Vice is exceptionally well produced, directed, and acted. I enjoyed it immensely.

[Oregon writer and Houston native Alan Waldman holds a B.A. in theater arts from Brandeis University and has worked as an editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Honolulu magazine. Read more of Alan Waldman’s articles on The Rag Blog.]

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