Doors Open, a TV film based on Ian Rankin's novel, was ideally suited to a screening on Boxing Day - a light and very entertaining thriller, involving an art heist and benefiting from an excellent cast. Three friends, played by Stephen Fry, Douglas Henshall and Kenneth Collard, have varying motives for indulging in an amateur robbery on a grand scale - the theft of valuable paintings from a bank vault.
The trio soon realise that they need professional help, and - needless to say - this is where things start to get tricky. For the career criminal who helps them out is in hock to a nasty English gangster, who is all too ready to take ruthless revenge if he is not paid back what he is owed. The complications increase because Henshall's character is still emotionally involved with a former lover (played by Lenora Crichlow), who just happens to have been brought in to assesss the bank's collection of art before it is sold off.
I've been a fan of Ian Rankin since the early 90s, when I read his first Rebus novel. A few years later, I was delighted to receive from him a contribution to the first CWA anthology I edited, Perfectly Criminal. The story, "Herbert in Motion", won him a Dagger,and that, too, concerned an art theft. So Doors Open had, for me, an added interest.
The jaunty and sometimes obtrusive soundtrack emphasised, perhaps too insistently, that this was a "feelgood" show rather than anything serious, but I found it very enjoyable, even down to the finale, which borrowed a device used in Christie's Why Didn't They Ask Evans? and other Golden Age stories. The acting was good, and there were some funny lines (including reference to the ultimate feelgood heist movie, The Italian Job). When last seen, Henshall was playing the deranged villain of The Secret of Crickley Hall. Soon he will morph into Jimmy Perez in Shetland. He's becoming almost as ubiquitous as - well, Stephen Fry.