DEBORAH ROSS: Missing Succession? You’ll love these brazen bankers in Industry 

Industry

Tuesday, BBC2

Rating:

My Family, The Holocaust And Me With Rob Rinder

Monday, BBC1

Rating:

Industry is a drama series following five recent graduates as they set out in the world of investment banking, and already you have two problems with it, as I did. One, you just don’t know how interested you are in 22-year-olds and, two, the only thing you know about banking is that you press the 3 and then the 5 and then the hash key, and then input your account number, and then press 6 before being cut off.

But this is well written, terrifically performed, clever, addictive and far fresher than, say, Roadkill, The Undoing, Life and all the other dramas that we kind of have a map for already. On the other hand, it will remind you of This Life. But that was ages ago.

It is written by Konrad Kay and Mickey Down, formerly bankers, which counts, and the first episode (of eight) was directed by Lena Dunham (Girls), which also counts. In other words, it feels true, even if you don’t know if it’s true and the direction is fast, modern, unflinching.

Industry is written by Konrad Kay and Mickey Down, formerly bankers, which counts, and the first episode (of eight) was directed by Lena Dunham (Girls), which also counts

Industry is written by Konrad Kay and Mickey Down, formerly bankers, which counts, and the first episode (of eight) was directed by Lena Dunham (Girls), which also counts

Industry is written by Konrad Kay and Mickey Down, formerly bankers, which counts, and the first episode (of eight) was directed by Lena Dunham (Girls), which also counts

It opens with one of our 22-year-olds, Harper (Myha’la Herrold), being questioned by her new boss. Why are you here? he asks. ‘Well,’ she replies, ‘it’s not a very political answer but I think mediocrity is too well hidden by parents who hire private tutors. 

I am here on my own.’ The script sings with lines like that which, I now realise, are better than they appear as written here. But trust me, they sing.

The other ambitious newbies are Gus (David Jonsson), who is, superficially, all Eton confidence; Yasmin (Marisa Abela), the heiress who wants to prove her mettle; Robert (Harry Lawtey), who lets off steam by knitting – only kidding, it’s shagging and coke; and Hari (Nabhaan Rizwan), the paranoid state-school kid who pulls all-nighters every night. 

One of their line managers, Lucinda, is played by Ruby Bentall, previously Verity from Poldark, and I can’t say exactly what marriage to Captain Blamey has done to her, but she has returned as extremely ruthless and potty-mouthed. (Verity!)

This is a world of crisp, dry-cleaned shirts and shouting down the phone about stuff we’ll never understand and ruthlessly pursuing money, money, money in a hypercharged, survival-of-the-fittest setting. 

If it weren’t for the smartphones and Uber, you’d think it was the 1990s, and perhaps the point is that despite financial crashes and #MeToo, this particular world has not changed.

The work environment is toxic and riven with bullying. Robert’s more established colleagues laugh at his suit, rip the label from it and shout across the office: ‘Robert wears Ted Baker, everybody!’ (I didn’t know Ted Baker was naff; you learn something new every day.) 

There is sexual harassment but from unexpected quarters. One fabulous scene involves Harper’s first meeting with a client, played by the magnificent Sarah Parish. Unflinchingly.

Industry fizzes and crackles with energy, more so than This Life which, if I recall rightly, took 94 episodes and then some for Milly to sleep with her boss. Actually, the series it will most put you in mind of is Succession. 

No one is especially likeable but you will be absolutely compelled.

As it stands, I was due to visit Ukraine this month to discover more about what happened to my maternal great-grandparents there – it wouldn’t have been pretty – but that’s now off, for obvious reasons. 

My mother never spoke of it, just as her mother never spoke of it to her, because that’s what those generations were like. But, as Rob Rinder pointed out in My Family, The Holocaust And Me, ‘as the number of survivors diminishes, it becomes more important than ever to tell their stories’.

This was breathtaking, moving television, and also vital television, and also unbearable television that you must bear. It followed the format of Who Do You Think You Are?, where Rinder had himself discovered what happened to most of his mother’s family in the Treblinka camp. 

Here he meets other families who want to find out what became of their relatives.

This was breathtaking, moving television, and also vital television, and also unbearable television that you must bear (above, Rob Rinder with his mother Angela in Poland)

This was breathtaking, moving television, and also vital television, and also unbearable television that you must bear (above, Rob Rinder with his mother Angela in Poland)

This was breathtaking, moving television, and also vital television, and also unbearable television that you must bear (above, Rob Rinder with his mother Angela in Poland)

He met Bernie Graham from Plymouth, whose grandfather, Solomon, had been ‘a very nice-natured man’ but had lost an eye and every now and then ‘he’d point at it and say, “Nazi, Nazi”.’ 

Bernie travelled to Germany and discovered Solomon was a cap-maker, had been arrested for the crime of ‘being Jewish’ and had been tortured: eye gouged out, hung from an arm until it was ‘immobilised’.

Rinder also met sisters Louisa (ex Emmerdale actor) and Natalie Clein, who wanted to solve the mystery of their Dutch grandmother’s sister, Els, a celebrated dancer who, it turned out, missed being saved by only one day (unbearable to bear). 

As for Rinder, he discovered more about his family on his father’s side and travelled to Lithuania, where an old woman remembered the Jews being marched out of the village, positioned along a ditch, mowed down with a machine gun ‘and then they fell into the ditch and they covered them in dirt and the ground was still moving. 

Because some were still alive’.

Rinder stood at the burial site, wept and said: ‘It’s the death of humanity, here.’ Vital, like I said. 

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