State of Play ★★★★★

A dazzling drama from the pen of Paul Abbott, about a political scandal that begins to mount after the death of a political researcher, who was having an affair with her boss, up-and-coming MP David Morrissey.

As reporters John Simm and Kelly MacDonald begin to investigate, further revelations follow thick and fast, impacting on the livelihoods – and lives – of them all, as well as editor Bill Nighy, a pale, sexy, floppy-haired, cool-as-flip freelancer (James McAvoy), a callow, irritating PR weasel (Marc Warren) and Morrissey’s unhappy, conflicted and opinionated wife (Polly Walker).

The meshing of acting styles is simply exhilarating, the direction from future Harry Potter helmer David Yates is swift and immersive, and the writing is absolutely extraordinary: clever, funny, thematically complex but entirely accessible, and eloquently and pointedly personal while operating within a moral morass.

I always remember Abbott telling Charlie Brooker (in a personally inspiring special edition of Screenwipe about how to write) that he would throw in outrageous twists at will, then say to himself: “Write yourself out of that corner, you bastard”, and that gloriously abrasive, unconventional approach works absolute wonders here.

It’s only Warren’s subplot that seems a little out-of-place, a cartoonish, relentlessly one-note storyline that occasionally stalls a mini-series of otherwise unstoppable momentum – and magnificence.

(Also: Kelly Macdonald is bae, especially her voice.)