I came late to Foyle's War. The wartime-detective-turned-spy series had already completed seven seasons by the time I watched my first episode in August 2013. By the end of the month I had binge-watched all 22 episodes I could find.
It took me a little longer to work out why I liked it quite so much: Foyle, an intelligent and under-stated hero, only speaks when he has something to say. This is a rare quality in a character on television, where there always seems to be a compulsion to fill the airwaves with dialogue.
Not so on Foyle's War, where a combination of smart scripts, excellent cinematography and terrific acting often means that less can be more. Michael Kitchen, in particular, is terrific first as DCS Foyle and then, post-war, as an MI5 agent.Kitchen plays Foyle with a quiet humanity underpinned by steely resolve. He is unflappable, clever and - mostly importantly - entirely credible. And whether confronted by a villain with a gun or an MI5 bigwig with hypertension and ethical deficit disorder, Foyle deploys his most dangerous weapon: silence.
It is one of the truisms of fictional detectivess everywhere that while interviewing suspects, it is advisable to leave silences to develop, because generally people are uncomfortable with conversational voids and will seek to fill them, possibly with incriminating evidence. Foyle takes this to extremes and the patrician Kitchen fills the void eloquently with facial expression and body language. And it works brilliantly.
Underpinning this excellent show - one of the best detective series to have graced UK television screens - are Anthony Horowitz's excellent scripts which combine factual war time events, personal drama and artistic licence to near perfection. The first episode of the current series - the eight and PLEASE ANTHONY hopefully not the last - was perhaps the best yet. The narrative was wide-ranging and ambitious, pulling together corrupt American industrialism, middle eastern oil politics and the Nuremburg trials into one neat and satisying package.
If all television was this good, I'd never go out.