Blue Lights series two has all you need for a police show: loyalist drug dealers, social worker cops and plenty of love interest

Blue Lights, BBC 1 and iPlayer

Stevie and Grace on the job in Blue Lights S2
One year on and Stevie and Grace are still not a couple (Christopher Barr) (BBC/Two Cities Television)

The much-anticipated second series of Blue Lights, the cop series based in Belfast, packs in as many themes as possible.

There’s the Belfast city centre heroin epidemic, mental health problems, hospital waiting lists, legacy Troubles investigations, PSNI underfunding, band parades and the niceties, or not, of applying for permission for them.

But with series one focusing on post-ceasefire republicans and their involvement in the drug trade, it wouldn’t be Northern Ireland if loyalist paramilitaries weren’t due their turn.

Our favourite characters aren’t new recruits anymore and now they are tasked with trying to sort out a city full of heroin and its associated crime spree.

We open with Grace and Stevie (still not a couple) confirming a rough sleeper in a city centre square has died of a heroin overdose.

‘Soupy’ had served with the British army in Afghanistan and his ID brings them to a loyalist pub (named the ‘Loyal Pub’ to save any confusion) where he had been staying with an ex-army colleague.

Annie (Katherine Devlin) and Shane (Frank Blake)
Annie (Katherine Devlin) and Shane (Frank Blake) (BBC/Two Cities Television)

The second call-out of the series sees Annie and newbie Shane (potentially going to be a couple) attend a chemist where a pharmacist is being threatened by an addict angry that his heroin substitute, methadone, isn’t available.

Another of the early callouts is to a domestic incident, which is concerning for the viewer when Annie and Shane first arrive. The householder is a very large man who is smashing up his house.

After a “sympathy cigarette” from Shane, the big lad calms down and explains that he has mental health issues and has been waiting ages for his hospital appointment.

Behind the mayhem are two loyalist rivals from the same estate, Dixie and Hamill.

Tina, MI5 informant and wife of IRA leader James McIntyre, is back as the link woman between the Dublin drugs gangs and loyalist drug dealers.

Dixie is intimated by Tina but everyone else seems to fear him, except for Hamill and his crew, and thus a loyalist feud is inevitable.

New character Lee Thompson (Seamus O’Hara), who runs the Loyal Pub, has his own plans to be the top dog in the estate and does his best to stoke the feud while he tries to get Tina’s ear.

For some light relief from the drugs and mayhem, there’s the love interest to concern ourselves with.

Grace and Stevie are still not a couple but this one is like Rachel and Ross – we all know they’ll get there eventually.

Seamus O'Hara as Lee Thompson
Loyal Pub landlord Lee Thompson (Seamus O'Hara)

In the meanwhile, Grace is annoyed with Stevie because he keeps jumping in as her protector. He’s first in the door of anything that looks dangerous and overreacts if anyone threatens her.

His heart is in the right place but he’s overstepping the mark.

Tommy plucks up the courage to ask out Aisling who he met at training school and they meet at a truck stop half-way between Belfast and Derry.

Annie has an immediate crush on new partner Shane after walking in on him getting changed and you’ll just have to watch the series to see how that one goes.

It’s as well, because most everything else is misery.

As with the first series, PSNI recruitment won’t be putting links on their website to Blue Lights.

Police officers are underpaid, undervalued, abused, under-resourced and live in a dangerous drug-addled society.

The city centre is a mess, the health system doesn’t work, the soup kitchen is being closed down because the government funding has run out and police officers are effectively social workers with guns.

Having said that it’s hard to disagree with Annie after Shane calms down the violent big lad who’s been waiting for months on end for a mental health appointment and just can’t take it anymore.

“F**k sake,” Annie shouts. “Is everything just f**ked?”

Erm, yeah it is. It’s Northern Ireland. We only stay here because of the great weather.