Events: Wild Bill review – Rob Lowe heads to Boston, or at least, a version of it

Events: Wild Bill review – Rob Lowe heads to Boston, or at least, a version of it

Things to do in Lincolshire…

It’s not often Lincolnshire appears in a major film or TV series.

The last time we had a big Hollywood star doing high profile filming in the county was when Tom Hanks was filming Da Vinci Code in Lincoln Cathedral in the early noughies.

So it was with great excitement that we sat down to watch the first episode of ITV’s Wild Bill starring none other than West Wing alumni Rob Lowe, while most of the country’s television watching public were settling down to Love Island on ITV2.

And our hopes were high – after all, ITV is the network that brought us classic crime dramas including Broadchurch, Prime Suspect and Inspector Morse.

But before we go any further, we would warn you that this article does contain spoilers for the first episode of Wild Bill, so if you don’t want the plot ruined for you, we’d suggest you go away and watch it before reading on.

Wild Bill had been trailed as a crime drama set against the backdrop of Brexit Britain, with Rob Lowe taking the ‘fish out of water role’ as a former high-flying Miami police officer parachuted in to take charge of the fictional East Lincolnshire Constabulary as the new top cop.

Even then we didn’t really know what to expect.

 

But from the opening sequence, which ended with Lowe’s character Bill Hixon chasing car thieves through a field before throwing cabbages at them and letting out a primal scream, it became abundantly clear that this probably wasn’t going to be the next Broadchurch.

Rob Lowe in Wild Bill

Clearly the writers had been doing their research on the Lincolnshire market town via Google, as we were hammered with the stats ‘Boston has the highest murder rate in the UK’ and ‘It’s the Brexit capital of Britain’ several times before the first commercial break.

However, things quickly took a turn to the dark side when a severed head was found in someone’s fridge – bizarre, even for Boston.

“Was there any DNA?” Bill asked the pathologist who examined the head, only to be told the police hadn’t got a DNA sequencer, because it cost £250,000.

Bill then rolled his eyes in disappointment. “That’s usually quite common where I come from,” he told the pathologist.

“Where’s that? Miami?” the pathogist asked.

“No the 21st Century.” he replied.

(This line prompted Lincolnshire Police to release it’s own tongue in cheek tweet, pointing out to local criminals that they can use DNA evidence to secure convictions.)

And then there were the accents. While Rob Lowe’s transatlantic tones were obviously authentic, every local resident he encountered seemed to be speaking like they were originally from somewhere in South Yorkshire. 

Yet Lowe somehow still manages to imbue his role with charm and charisma, which is a remarkable achievement considering his character spends most of the episode insulting Boston, Lincolnshire and the UK as a whole. 

This “Godforsaken cabbage patch”, as he calls it, is a long way from home – there’s no pledge of allegiance at his daughter’s new school, everyone mocks his accent and he’s caught speeding on his bicycle in his first week.

And the cop show cliches, like the cabbages, kept on coming.

Bill bonded with Angie, the mother of the girl with the severed head, got to know his bilingual computer genius sidekick Detective Constable Muriel Yeardsley, who was very quick to point out that she wasn’t fat (because she was made of ‘prime Lincolnshire pork’) and encountered an Eastern European Oligarch type character who looks set to become Bill’s nemesis (you could tell by his beard).

‘I’m not fat, this is prime Lincolnshire pork’, says DC Muriel Yeardsley in Wild Bill

Plot turns involving a cannabis plantation at Anson’s Gowt, Bill breaking up a fight between criminals in a local restaurant and exchanging verbal barbs with an attractive aristocratic female judge, proved to have very little bearing on why the decapitated Melissa Stainsford had died.

No, it turned out Melissa’s head had been chopped off by a wind turbine which she’d jumped off after learning her mother had slept with her boyfriend. (Yes, really).

And with the case closed, it looked like Bill and his daughter would be heading back to the other side of the pond before they’d even unpacked.

But then Angie called Bill’s phone and he somehow managed to deduce that guilt-ridden at her sexual encounter, she was not only about to jump off the top a wind turbine herself.

One handbrake turn later, Bill was at the top of exactly the right wind turbine and managed to talk Angie away from the edge, with a vague promise of letting her keep £150,000 made by her drug dealing daughter in complete contravention of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Bill talks Angie down from the top of a wind turbine

This encounter somehow persuaded Bill and his emotionally mature teenage daughter that they should stay and give life in Boston a go, at least for another five episodes.

In interviews about the series, Rob Lowe has proven even more charismatic and much more eloquent than his on-screen character, especially when he’s spoken about what it was like to film in Boston and meet the real people who lived here.

It’s just a bit of a shame that the script writers haven’t given Lincolnshire the same level of respect. Everyone watching knows there’s much more to Boston than violent crime, high migrant population and its referendum result. 

But TV shows aren’t real life and TV cops aren’t real cops – they exist for entertainment. And so it’d probably be a bit harsh if we were genuinely outraged by it’s portrayal on what is essentially a tongue-in-cheek comedy drama.

Ooh, look! It’s Town Bridge on Wild Bill

If you can overlook the plot holes, cheesy script and wholesale stereotyping, and then suspend your disbelief, Wild Bill might be worth a watch, if only to see places you know appearing on the telly.

And failing that, you could just watch Love Island like everyone else.

Wild Bill returns at 9pm on Wednesday, June 19, on ITV One. You can also catch the first episode on ITV hub.



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