We've got used to taut overseas thrillers coming our way now, thanks to 'The Killing', and in its wake the likes of 'Spiral', 'Salamander', 'Inspector Montalbano'.
As tightly-woven, unpredictable and surprising as any of them is Israeli ten-parter 'Hostages', recently seen in the coveted Saturday slot on BBC4, and now available on DVD. The series has already been remade in American, but this is the original and by far the better version.
It is a simple tale of a smart woman Yael Danon, a heart surgeon with a busy home life, two teenage children and a schoolteacher husband. She gets the prestigious gig of being asked to perform surgery on the Israeli Prime Minister, which is all very well until a gang of masked gunmen break into her home that night, poison the dog and hold the rest of her family hostage - they will die unless she ensures her country's leader does not survive his operation.
And so we are thrust into the moral dilemma at the heart of this compulsive thriller. While Yael debates how to get out of this with everyone alive, it turns out she knows less about the members of her family than she thought, while the raiders are keeping their own secrets from each other. Obviously, there are a few moments when she's allowed back to the hospital and you want to shout 'Just leave a note asking for help' at the screen, but then, where's the drama in that?
This show shares the same attention to detail beloved by fans of 'The Killing' and other Nordic Noir dramas, and the claustrophobic, literally edge-of-the-seat stuff we've seen in 'Homeland' at its best. As the woman who must try to save her family, and the Prime Minister, as well as dealing with her own sense of betrayal, Ayelet Zurer is terrific, surely an international star in the making, and I defy you to guess the ending of this labyrinthine but ultimately satisfying plot.
'Hostages' is available on DVD boxset now. Watch the trailer below...