Don't bother setting out to catch this thief.

KAY Mellor has created and written some very good TV series. Band Of Gold, Fat Friends and Playing The Field spring to mind. I will not be adding her latest TV movie, A Good Thief, to that list.

This was Mellor lite - nicely acted and presented but instantly forgettable, no more than a pleasant diversion while awaiting the time to switch over to find out the latest from the Big Brother house.

What a pity that Mellor didn't find something a bit deeper for her return to TV acting. A jobbing actress before turning to writing, she was cast here as Rita, a woman who witnesses a shooting and agrees to testify in court.

That's a mistake as the killing was done on the orders of the local drug-dealing Mr Big Ray Delany (Emmerdale actor Martin Reeve), and he's determined to silence her for good.

Rita's solution to the problem is to do a runner from Wakefield, in the company of her daughter Leah (Angel Coulby) and dotty old neighbour Lizzie (Liz Smith).

"What are we going to do - rob a bank?" asks Leah when they find themselves holed up in an expensive Leeds hotel suite for which they don't have the money to pay.

Again Rita's answer to the problem is unconventional, as she embarks on a shoplifting scam that involves returning goods she's stolen and getting back the cash.

This might have worked better if it had been remotely believable. We were expected to swallow that Rita, in a series of bad wigs, could fool the same assistants in the same shop time after time without being detected. Even the jackbooted security chief called in to stop the pilfering failed to spot her although she stuck out like a fur coat at an animal rights convention.

The impression was that Mellor the writer had spent so much time working out the logistics of the plot that she'd forgotten to flesh out the characters. Daughter Leah didn't even have one - a character, that is.

Mellor herself gave us a tough Northern woman prepared to do anything to keep herself alive, while the wonderful Liz Smith was left doing her befuddled old lady routine once more.

Matters weren't helped by an uncertainty of tone. This was one of those TV movies that couldn't decide whether to be funny or serious. Mixing killings and beatings up with almost slapstick comic capers is difficult. And A Good Thief lurched uncertainly from comedy to drama, leaving the poor viewer uncertain if to laugh or cry. Or just switch off.