BBC’s ‘Inside Men’ Absorbing Fare

It officially becomes summer tonight, at a time when TV is a forlorn landscape of reality programming and reruns.

There’s a cool, gripping drama starting tonight, though on BBC America that may get you through a month’s heatwave.

“Inside Men” (BBC America, 10 p.m.) is a gritty, gripping drama about an audacious and brutal grand robbery at an English counting house, where cash is so plentiful it’s kept on rolling pallets. The four-part series begins with the robbery, which involves a kidnapping, beatdowns on the way to packing up a truck with up with millions of cash.

More than one person mentions that cash is old fashioned, that robberies these days occur electronically or online. But it still is worth as much, is the reply. What makes the drama especially gripping is not so much that it begins in the middle of the action as that it backs it all up nine months earlier to see how it all occurred.

That leaves surprises at both ends — the title is already giving it away, but who exactly among the workers we get to know at all levels are those who are planning this heist? Add to the sharp writing a fine cast, led by Steven Mackintosh, perfect as a stuttering banker so keen on keeping even books he’ll kick in his own money to cover losses and keep the record sterling; Warren Brown plays a forklift drivers with bills to pay looking for a way to get cash to help him out. Both were previous in the strong series “Luther”; but it is a third actor Ashley Walters who also recalls that series in having the same inner strength and intensity as Idris Elba.

With Hilary Salmon of the similarly riveting “Five Days” as executive producer, “Inside Men” has a similar power to deliver drama and characters while accurately reflecting the desperation gnawing at the edge of the current worldwide economic crisis and how it affects the actions of ordinary people at all stations of life.

The four episodes continue weekly Wednesday nights through July 18.

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