The serial was written by David Kane in response to national paranoia in the wake of the War on Terror. Kane was inspired by the way the films Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View and The Conversation reflected a post-Vietnam paranoia in the United States. The director David Drury had the predominantly nighttime-set serial filmed in the winter, to maximise the use of darkness and keep down production costs. His inspiration for the look of the serial came from The Godfather, which featured rich colours.
Reaction to the serial was generally positive; critics believed the drama was formulaic and uninspired, but appreciated the direction and acting. Nesbitt received a Best Actor nomination at the 2008 ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards.
In Part 1, Raban discovers that two Iranian cousins have been murdered. Some investigation links the killings to a policy group called Defence Concern, headed by Daniel Cosgrave (played by Rupert Graves). Raban believes that Defence Concern had something to do with the killings, and recruits Cosgrave's policy advisor Alice Ross (played by Catherine McCormack) to help him uncover the truth. That night, Raban is approached in a cafe by Blake (played by Reece Dinsdale), a member of the death squad Pugnus Dei ("God's Fist"). Blake tells Raban to keep out of their business. Raban is amused and remains so as Blake makes a telephone call ordering Carolyn's death. As Blake leaves, Raban's smile fades and he runs to Carolyn's house.
Part 2 continues directly from Part 1. Raban finds Carolyn lying dead in her front doorway. The police arrive and suspect Raban of killing her. As his daughter is taken away to stay with her aunt, Raban flees the scene. He arranges to meet with Kerrigan to tell him what he has discovered. Ross accesses a confidential file that she downloaded from Cosgrave's computer and discovers the name of one of the Iranian cousins, proving Raban's claim of Defence Concern's role in the killings. She arranges a meeting with him and Raban meets with Kerrigan. Raban is forced to flee again when Kerrigan double-crosses him and brings the death squad to kill him. He arrives at the meeting place and finds Ross submerged in a bathtub.
In Part 3, Raban revives Ross and they discuss the implications of Defence Concern's actions. Raban believes that Pugnus Dei is being funded by the Validus Group, an American private equity group and a significant global arms dealer. It is headed by Donald Hagan (played by Alan Dale), a former United States Secretary of Defense. In the denouement, Raban holds Hagan at gunpoint until he realises Hagan's death is what the death squad wanted all along. After Raban leaves, Blake shoots Hagan, hoping the death of such a high-ranking official will start a new War on Terror. Raban, still being tracked by the police, contacts his daughter and asks her to upload the contents of a CD to the Internet. Pugnus Dei's plot is revealed to the public and Raban is reunited with his daughter.
Max Raban was initially based on Benjamin Pell, though the similarity disappeared when the focus on dumpster diving was removed. James Nesbitt was named by Kane and Neame as a potential lead actor early in the planning stages. Neame believed Nesbitt could deliver a "dryer, wryer humour" compared to his other roles. Nesbitt had previously been the subject of a tabloid scandal, and researched investigative journalism with a journalist who "broke one the biggest political scandals of the Thatcher era". As Blake, Reece Dinsdale took the opportunity to play a "baddie" to put a distance between his previous work, such as playing mild-mannered Rick Johnson in two series of The Chase. He discovered that he had the part 24 hours before his wife, Zara Turner, found out she had been cast as Carolyn Raban. Ian Puleston-Davies researched his role as newspaper editor Jimmy Kerrigan by asking his sister, a former journalist, about her previous editors. Alan Dale took his part because Nesbitt is one of his favourite actors.
In contrast to other contemporary thrillers that feature the use of hand-held camera, Drury and director of photography Simon Richards used traditional single-camera movement to emulate the style of The Godfather ("rich colour and classical style with no trickiness"). Unlike other Carnival Films television series such as Hotel Babylon, Midnight Man was not filmed in high-definition; Richards believed that film offered the highest definition for locations that used natural street lighting. Instead of spending part of the budget on a second unit crew, Richards and assistant cameraman Jim Jolliffe filmed establishing shots and pick-ups during principal photography while there was a break. They sometimes stayed behind after the cast and other crew had wrapped in order to shoot scenes of London nightlife.
Critiquing Part 2, Harry Venning of The Stage felt cheated that Raban had overcome his fear of daylight by simply putting on a pair of sunglasses. Echoing Teeman and Eyre's reviews, Venning called it "low on plausability" but praised the soundtrack and the pacing. Alison Graham, the television editor for Radio Times, reviewed all three episodes. Part 1 was selected as "Pick of the Day" for 8 May. Graham called the premise "tiresome" but expressed surprise that Raban was a "maverick journalist" instead of a "maverick cop". Reviewing Part 3, Graham described the characters' quirks (Raban's phengophobia, Ross's obsessive-compulsive disorder) as being "grafted on" in order to flesh them out. She concluded with "By the end [of the episode], you probably won't care who's chasing whom, much less why. In an extended column, Graham presented a faux script draft of "Maverick Man" having a conversation with a psychiatrist, where he describes himself as "a one-dimensional character trapped in a needlessly complicated and unbelievable conspiracy thriller".
Part 1 achieved ratings of 4.10 million, Part 2 3.74 million and Part 3 3.32 million. Nesbitt was nominated in the Best Actor category at the 2008 ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards for his role as Raban.
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