Review: Cracker – Nine Eleven


In the UK: Sunday, ITV1, 1st October 2006

In the US: Airing as “Cracker: A New Terror”, October 30th, BBC America

Yes, I know it was on Sunday, but I only watched it last night.

I wasn’t much of a fan of Cracker. It all seemed a bit too forced and unlikely. But I was actually really impressed by Sunday’s one-off special. Maybe that’s because Fitz didn’t have much to do and other characters got more of a look-in.

Read no further Americans, unless you want to spoil yourself.

Certainly, the focus – the wars in Iraq and Aghanisation ?��Ǩ��� was something that far more of the audience could relate to than previous outings, which had mainly looked at serial killers, Catholicism, stuttering, Bonnie and Clyde, Hillsborough and potentially gay PE teachers.

You couldn’t help but sympathise will the ex-soldier turned policeman who had seen his friends gunned down in Northern Ireland by IRA bullets and explosives bought with American money, who had then seen his experiences diminished by the US’s experiences with terrorism. That’s what made his crimes all the more ghastly – a blanket attack on Americans he encountered.

Jimmy McGovern turned in a fantastic script that could have been a one-sided diatribe but was actually quite measured; the direction by Antonia Bird was first-rate, doing a magnificent job of showing off Manchester’s rejuvenation. Danny Cunningham (I think that was him. I’m rubbish with names) gave a Robert Carlyle-worthy performance as the traumatised squaddie.

Catch it on the countless re-runs that are inevitable or buy it on DVD. Pity the titles were such Se7en knock-offs.

  • “Danny Cunningham” is actually Anthony Flanagan. Close, though! 🙂

  • Must have been the shock of seeing an ITV drama that was good… 😉

  • Whilst I thought the characterisation and set-up dealing with the soldier was good, and Fitz was his usual cantankerous self, some of the anti-Iraq/Afghanistan stuff seemed even more preachy than McGovern can end up falling into.
    Fine, but a little grating in places.

  • Yeah, but the preaching was done by a loon. It’s hard to be a loon if you only have mild feelings on a subject. I also don’t think the audience is expected to go, “Yeah, Mr Loon, you have a point. You go break that American’s neck,” so you’re not supposed to agree entirely. It’s supposed to be more “I can see some of your point, but you’ve gone a bit too far,” kind of like a conspiracy theory.

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  • Barry Hamilton

    I realize this is an old post, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with you. “Nine Eleven” felt much more forced and unlikely than anything during the original run of 'Cracker'. In fact the whole thing came off as an attempt to shoehorn Robbie Coltrane into the “modern” American police drama format – with predictably questionable results. For me the direction was pedestrian, the incidental music uninspired, unnecessary, and inappropriate, the plot uninvolving, and the characterization (especially Fitz's wife as well as Fitz himself) inconsistent and lightweight. Personally I think they should have ended the series at “Lucky White Ghost”, but “Nine Eleven” was produced during the “reimagining” craze of the mid-noughties (aka the “we've run out of ideas so it's time to head to the TV graveyard with a shovel” era), and it was just as lame as the myriad of other ersatz garbage being produced at that time. But I hope Robbie and the few former semi-regulars from 'Cracker' they managed to con into doing this one-off “special” at least got a nice fat paycheck out of the whole debacle, and now the corpses of Dr. Fitzgerald and his merry bunch of Manc (and Scouser) detectives can finally rest in peace unmolested by burnt-out writers and TV producers with no sense of decorum.

  • I think they should have ended it before White Ghost, TBH, but Nine Eleven at least felt like a worthwhile drama with something to say, unlike White Ghost. It may not have fit the Cracker format as well, but in part, it was saying goodbye to the possibility of that format working, given how much Manchester had changed, time had moved on, etc. So probably not the best Cracker, but fine in and of itself.