TV review: Luther (series 4), BBC One

Idris Elba returns as tough cop John Luther

Life is never easy for DCI John Luther (Idris Elba). A gruff, bullish copper who has stared into the abyss and come out fighting. Although he hasn't emerged unscathed. Over three series his wife has been murdered by his best friend and his partner was shot and killed by a vigilante. Add to the list multiple bust ups, hostage situations, fights and a few more homicides and you can see why he's perpetually on the edge. After a two year break Neil Cross' police thriller is back for a two episode miniseries.

Luther's own investigations revolve around a big spoiler so it's difficult to discuss in too much detail but suffice to say it has big implications on his already fractured psyche and fans will definitely be intrigued. Meanwhile Darren Boyd and Game of Throne's Rose Leslie are leading the hunt for a particularly nasty serial killer (who gets his kicks via a toxic mix of cannibalism and identity theft) and unsurprisingly Luther soon finds himself neck deep in death and carnage.

Despite all the grim and gritty trappings Luther is a mainstream police procedural in spooky fancy dress, it has more in common with CSI than the current vogue for Nordic noir. Built out of hard boiled cop clich├ęs Luther is a firm believer in the punch-in-the-face first ask questions later school of policing. He operates in a dank violent world beyond our own. A triumph of entertainment over dull realism that lurches drunkenly on the verge of absurdity. This swaggering attitude means Luther can pack in meaty action, gore and multiple murders. And it's all the better for it. Mainly because Elba plays it completely straight with total conviction. Despite his flaws Elba transforms Luther into a damaged hero, racked with guilt but refusing to compromise, living his life to a strict code of ethics. He's like a big chunk of granite the plot revolves around.

Two episodes isn't nearly enough but we'll take anything on offer. It's good to have him back.

Luther series 4 premieres on BBC One, Wed 15 Dec 2015.

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