A brilliant lawyer, but bored with the mundanity of his life and the stupidity of the criminals he defends, Jack Lennox (Robbie Coltrane) spends his spare time planning the perfect crime. When he lets on to one of the defendants he has won a case for, and then discovers the crime was carried out, he finds himself drawn into the criminal underworld; planning more crimes. However, his secret is discovered by Assistant Chief Constable Brian Richards (Neil Dudgeon) who offers him a deal; hand over the top criminal gangs in the UK by planning another crime. Can Richards trust Lennox and can he also conceal his secret liaisons with Lennox's wife (Celia Imrie)?
Robbie Coltrane makes a welcome return to the small-screen in The Planman
, originally broadcast as a two-part ITV special in 2003. Coltrane plays Jack Lennox, a Scottish defence lawyer who is so frustrated with the stupidity of his clients that he starts to plan theoretical crimes himself, confident that his meticulous methods will guarantee success. Trouble begins, naturally enough, when he is persuaded by an unscrupulous client to give his plans a practical work-out courtesy of the local mob. All goes swimmingly well for a while, as a series of daring high-profile heists are executed with textbook efficiency, but when the copper who is having an affair with Lennox's ambitious wife (Celia Imrie) gets wind of the lawyer's involvement, the stage is set for a confrontation.
It's all completely ridiculous, of course. The convoluted interrelationships between the principal characters, not to mention their motivations, scarcely bear scrutiny, and the super-heist finale is pure fantasy. But it hardly matters when Coltrane's larger-than-life presence somehow holds it all together. Sometimes lost in over-large movies, he dominates the TV screen effortlessly. Witness a coruscating scene in which he lambasts his wife's smug dinner guests; or his reaction to his failing marriage ("So who gets to keep the Pink Floyd records?"). This is a comedy-drama that's not meant to be taken too seriously. --Mark Walker