The Control Room review: Iain De Caestecker and BBC One turn up the heat with claustrophobic thriller

We review The Control Room, a spiraling, claustrophobic and anxiety-filled three-parter, starring Iain De Caestecker and Daniel Portman.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 15 July 2022 - 5.31pm
BBC Iain de Caestecker and Joanna Vanderham in The Control Room

If temperatures weren’t already high enough during the recent heatwave, BBC One is about to turn the dial up a few extra degrees with nerve-shredding new drama The Control Room.

Iain De Caestecker (Agents of SHIELD) leads the castas emergency call centre handler Gabe.  Employed in a Glasgow control room, he spends most of the three-part series mopping sweat from his brow and descending into increasing states of panic and anxiety.

The Control Room has an incredible hook in its opening sequence as Gabe takes an emergency call from a woman in distress who appears to know him from his past. And although the three-parter sags slightly in the middle, the sharp and deft twists and satisfying conclusion in the final episode signal that writer Nick Leather is one to watch for the future.

It’s impossible to say much about the plot without giving any spoilers, but perhaps the only disappointment about the series is that more time isn’t spent inside the control room of the title. The richness of the characters and the performances from rest of the call centre team such as Taj Atwal (Line of Duty) and Daniel Portman (Game of Thrones), along with the heart-rate pounding everyday work, make it feel like the perfect setting for a single location drama.

However, as De Caestecker spirals into a rabbit hole of ever-increasing tension and bad decisions, you’ll still be glued to the drama.

Ultimately, it’s his performance that glues the jagging twists and turns together and brings a sense of human fragility to this entertaining and fraught thriller.

BT.com verdict

The Control Room gets 4 out of 5 stars from BT.com BBC

How to watch

The Control Room starts on Sunday, 17 July at 9pm on BBC One.

Episode 2 and 3 air on Monday (18 July) and Tuesday (19 July) at 9pm on BBC One.

All 3 episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer.

The Control Room: All you need to know about the BBC One thriller

Cast

  • Iain De Caestecker – Plays Gabe
  • Joanna Vanderham – Plays Sam
  • Taj Atwal – Plays Leigh
  • Daniel Portman – Plays Anthony
  • Sharon Rooney – Plays Breck
  • Garry Sweeney – Plays Sean
  • Taqi Nazeer – Plays Jat
  • Rona Morison – Plays Danni
  • Conor McLeod – Plays Ross
  • Stuart Bowman – Plays Ian
  • Daniel Cahill – Plays Robbo

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