Desperate Measures review: Get past the first episode and this Amanda Abbington crime drama measures up well

​I will forgive you if you decided to give up on Channel 5’s new week-night drama series Desperate Measures (Channel 5, Tues-Fri, 9pm) after the first episode.

​Packed full of cliches, it lumbered along listlessly, as if embarrassed by its by-the-numbers plot and characterisation.

Single mum struggling to get by on meagre wages? Check.

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Bright young son led astray by neighbourhood drug dealer? Check.

Unexpected turn of events leading to imminent destitution? Check.

Dirtbag druglord giving struggling single mum an unpleasant ultimatum with a seemingly unachievable deadline? Check.

Add in an old flame with connections to the criminal underworld, a deadbeat dad who turns up out of the blue and a colleague with reasons of her own to cross the line into criminality and you had a bingo card of crime drama beats.

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By the second episode, however, Desperate Measures seemed to find its feet, and by the end of Thursday night’s third episode it had swept you up in its pell-mell silliness.

Never mind a cliffhanger at the end of every episode, the writers managed to get one in before every ad break, while a cast including Amanda Abbington (Sherlock, and recent ITV sitcom The Family Pile), Warren Brown (Luther) and Holby City’s Sunetra Sarker commit to every cliche-ridden line of dialogue.

The druglord is cartoonishly evil, while Budapest stands in for Anytown, UK, so everything looks slightly odd.

However, as a rollicking caper, Desperate Measures adds up to more than the sum of its parts.