Babylon. Liz Garvey (Brit Marling). Copyright: Nightjack.

Radio Times review

When the pilot for this police satire aired, it felt perfectly poised between farce and drama. Or maybe imperfectly: there were plenty of absurd moments and funny lines (its creators worked on The Thick of It), but also a thriller edge to proceedings. An action satire? A jet-black dramedy? Kafka meets The Bill?

As we start the full series, the tone feels clearer. The dialogue is still razor sharp - "I sleep like a cokey meerkat on an electric fence. That's me relaxing," snaps James Nesbitt's commissioner - but actual gags are rationed. We're more focused on the political minefield of policing London, and the PR machine - headed by Brit Marling's spin chief - that steers through it.

Their main problem here is a youth prison riot where private contractors running the unit have been overrun. The good news? "Joey Barton's said on Twitter he's willing to be an intermediary..."

David Butcher, Radio Times, 13th November 2014

The title of this show is Jamaican English slang for police officer... just in case you were wondering.

And there's plenty else that will have viewers scratching their heads here, too.

It's both a serious drama about coppers, corruption and crime in the capital, and a whip-smart comedy written by Peep Show's Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong.

A feature-length pilot directed by Danny Boyle aired earlier this year.

"It's fabulous that it is now getting a full series," says James Nesbitt, who plays Commissioner Richard Miller.

"I loved the character and the writing.

"I also knew it was going to go to interesting places so I didn't hesitate for a minute to sign up for a whole series."

In the opener, Richard declares, "London is safe, Big Ben's on time, all is well", to his PR executive Liz Garvey (played by screenwriter and film producer Brit Marling).

He then has to deal with a riot in a youth offender's unit caused by the failings of the institution's private security company.

Nothing is as it seems.

Jennifer Rodger, The Mirror, 9th November 2014

Babylon, a new series by Peep Show writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, has no shortage of coppers, as it's set in New Scotland Yard. But it's not by any means a crime procedural.

Instead, the pilot, directed by Danny Boyle, focused on the press office, where a new American boss (Brit Marling) was attempting to establish her authority while a serial killer was on the loose. The fraught relationship between public relations and policing reality is promising territory for caustic treatment, but this suffered from cynical overload. Everyone appeared to be horrified by everyone else, with the characters either speaking in the sort of scathing comic lingo familiar from The Thick of It or in halting disbelief, as though no one could quite believe that everyone else was that cynical.

There were, as you'd expect, some funny lines. "You can't hold back time," one character complained. "You're not Michael J Fox or L'Oréal." But the tone veered all over the place from surreal comedy to dramatic suspense without every quite mastering one, let alone situating it alongside the rest.

You could call it ambitious - and it was - but as a pilot it was a bit of a mess. Still, there was more than enough to suggest that once it has settled in, some of those ambitions may yet be realised. "The problem with cops," said another character in what was a meta-comment on the police on TV, "is that they're cop types."

Andrew Anthony, The Observer, 16th February 2014

Radio Times review

Shambles, swearing and spin: if you've missed The Thick of It, you're in luck. Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong have applied the high-farce formula to the Metropolitan Police for this scabrous comedy drama directed by Danny Boyle.

Their Met, led by James Nesbitt as Commissioner, is obsessed with public image: top brass fret so much about media coverage that any actual policing comes a distant second. This gets ugly (and funny) in tonight's pilot, when a series of shootings breaks out across London on the day a new American PR chief (Brit Marling) arrives in the job. The script is sharp and cruel, though occasionally the delivery feels a little too delivered: throwaway realism is what's needed here. Roll on a full series.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 9th February 2014

Brit Marling: the Hollywood star on Channel 4's Babylon

From Sundance to Hollywood to... the Met Police? Brit Marling talks about her role in Danny Boyle's Babylon, pub culture and why she's glad she turned down a job in banking.

Lucy Broadbent, The Telegraph, 29th January 2014