By Christopher Stevens for the Daily Mail
Published: 00:26 GMT, 2 January 2019 | Updated: 08:09 GMT, 2 January 2019
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Justice never sleeps. It just gets its head down on the kitchen table for 40 winks between murders, and doesn’t even bother to take off its overcoat.
The sight of an exhausted detective snatching some shut-eye, fully clothed with head on folded arms, is a convention of crime dramas.
Brenda Blethyn’s Vera does it all the time. Young Morse (Shaun Evans) does it at his desk. And Idris Elba wouldn’t think of doing it any other way in Luther (BBC1).
This tradition goes back to Jack Regan, the two-fisted copper played by John Thaw in The Sweeney, whose slumbers were usually fuelled by half a bottle of supermarket scotch.
Idris Elba returned for the eagerly-anticipated new series of Luther on Tuesday night
Luther harks back to this era of no-nonsense crimebusting in other ways. He drives a Volvo that’s old enough to have given rides to the Kray Twins, and his jokes are so callous that they’d make Jack the Ripper laugh.
When one of his informants was taken hostage by a local ganglord, Luther recalled what happened to the last bloke to upset the Boss: ‘They blew his head off.’ A moment later we realised that he meant this literally — the snitch had a bomb strapped round his neck.
Even the cast brought back memories of London’s golden era of telly crime. Mr Big is played by Patrick Malahide, who was once Arfur Daley’s nemesis, DS Chisholm, on Minder.
But the obsessive depiction of violence in Luther is entirely modern, and so graphic that it will deter many viewers.
There’s a masochistic relish in all