Damien Love’s TV high­lights plus seven-day pro­gramme guide

Sunday Herald Life - - CONTENTS -

Tues­day Doc­tor Fos­ter 9pm, BBC One

LOOK out. This time it’s se­ri­ous. She’s started lis­ten­ing to PJ Har­vey. Blood is prac­ti­cally guar­an­teed. It’s been two years since we last saw Dr Gemma Fos­ter, the GP in a sunny lit­tle town, whose happy life cracked when she be­gan to sus­pect her hus­band of hav­ing an af­fair with a girl young enough to be his daugh­ter.

Writ­ten by Mike Bartlett, but pow­ered by the mag­nif­i­cent en­gine of Su­ranne Jones as Gemma, Doc­tor Fos­ter’s first crazy se­ries was an in­fi­delity drama that started like a para­noid sci-fi, then be­came a full-on Ja­cobean re­venger’s tragedy. The Twi­light Zone stuff took up the first episodes, as, with her sus­pi­cions roused, Gemma started to ques­tion the life she thought she was lead­ing, only to see it was a thin delu­sion. Not only was her mar­riage a fic­tion, but ev­ery­one around her was in on it. The mo­ment she re­alised all her friends, work­mates and neigh­bours had known about the af­fair long be­fore her, but just kept smil­ing, was a mid­dle class mix of The Tru­man Show and In­va­sion Of The Body Snatch­ers. From here, it was into the Ti­tus An­dron­i­cus sec­tion, as, on her road to vengeance, Gemma went through the ac­cepted stages of grief: anger; de­pres­sion; sleep­ing

with an ac­coun­tant; black­mail; at­tempted sui­cide; and con­vinc­ing ev­ery­one she’d mur­dered her son. No­body ac­tu­ally chopped any­body’s hands off, but dur­ing a cli­mac­tic din­ner party, when Gemma ex­posed her hus­band’s var­i­ous gitty in­dis­cre­tions, it got so vi­ciously awk­ward you be­gan to wish they’d all just kill each other and get it over with.

Some se­ries build up a head of steam only to be let down by lack­lus­tre fi­nales. But by the time Dr Fos­ter fin­ished, it barely mat­tered how it ended – you were just beg­ging for them to stop, be­cause you couldn’t take any more. In a good way. As it hap­pened, it ended with Gemma tri­umphant: her faith­less hus­band Si­mon (pris­tine lousery by Ber­tie Carvell) ex­iled with his sim­per­ing young part­ner, al­most bank­rupt and fully dis­graced.

Whether we need an­other se­ries is a rea­son­able ques­tion, but one that dis­solves in a poi­sonous red mist once the first episode gets rolling. The set up is sim­ple: Si­mon has re­turned with his wife and their baby. Not only that: they’re do­ing sick­en­ingly well, mov­ing into a pala­tial house with a wor­ry­ing amount of glass walls. Not only that: Si­mon has plans.

Where some pro­grammes make you want to binge and oth­ers make you want to dress up like the char­ac­ters, Dr Fos­ter leads the pack in shout-TV. Roughly speak­ing, you spend half the episode shout­ing at Si­mon for be­ing such a slip­pery wee bas­tard; one quar­ter shout­ing en­cour­age­ment at Gemma to stick it to him; and the other quar­ter yelling at her to stop, be­cause she’s be­ing com­pletely mad.

Doc­tor Fos­ter ex­ists in the stylised realm of those fever­ish 1940s Hol­ly­wood “women’s pic­tures” that, mag­nif­i­cently, could never de­cide whether to be ro­mances or mur­der­ous films noir. Few per­form­ers could con­vinc­ingly de­liver soap di­a­logue like the line Gemma whis­pers to Si­mon when they are alone: “Ad­mit that you still find me at­trac­tive, and then I’ll go.” Joan Craw­ford was one. Su­ranne Jones is an­other, and her black-eyed sim­mer as a woman scorned, abused and on the edge is the whole show. As she glazes over and goes plung­ing into the plot like a dag­ger, play­ing with acid, sy­ringes and cig­a­rettes, the se­ries should come with a dis­claimer, the way Cap­tain Scar­let used to: “Su­ranne Jones is in­de­struc­tible. You are not. Re­mem­ber this. Do not try to im­i­tate her.”

Sunday Sep 3 Strike 9pm, BBC One

W HEN it comes to shabby, like­able de­tec­tives, I’d pre­fer it if the BBC shelled out some money and per­suaded Trevor Eve to hook up with John Net­tles and do an 18-hour long special that sees Ed­die Shoe­string com­ing out of re­tire­ment and go­ing into a re­luc­tant part­ner­ship with Jim Berg­erac in a Twin Peaks-style multi-di­men­sional Bri­tish folk-sur­re­al­ist hor­ror mystery in­ves­ti­ga­tion that winds up un­cov­er­ing a Satanic small town coven ap­par­ently (but only ap­par­ently) headed by Love­joy… But they won’t buy it. So we get JK Rowl­ing’s Pri­vate In­ves­ti­ga­tor in­stead. Part Three of the story con­tin­ues in the same watch­able, am­bling, slightly snoozy, bet­terthan-watch­ing-Lego-Vic­to­ria-on-the-other-side mode, as the vaguely trou­bled Strike (Tom Burke) moves closer to un­cov­er­ing the killer of model Lula Landry. But as old se­crets come out, Strike and his new will-they-won’t-they col­league Robin (Hol­l­i­day Grainger) are in peril. A new Strike story be­gins next week.

Mon­day 4 Diana And I 9pm, BBC Two

D O you fancy a fairly sen­ti­men­tal fea­ture­length drama about how the lives of the lit­tle wee reg­u­lar or­di­nary tiny peo­ple were pro­foundly touched and moved and changed and em­pow­ered by the death of Princess Diana 20 years ago? Well, hang on to your han­kies, as Mrs Brown writer Jeremy Brock treads the grapes of the tragedy for this sen­si­tive bar­rel of thought­ful fic­tion. Among the lit­tle wee reg­u­lar or­di­nary tiny peo­ple are Mary Mc­Don­ald (Tam­sin Grieg, with a de­bat­able Scot­tish ac­cent), a hard-up Glas­gow florist, who de­cides to cash in on the grief fi­esta by load­ing a van with flow­ers and driv­ing to Lon­don to flog them to the mourner-tourists, ac­com­pa­nied by her loyal friend Gor­don (Your Ac­tual John Gor­don Sin­clair). Else­where, a young jour­nal­ist in Paris finds the story de­rail­ing his hon­ey­moon; an un­happy wife walks out on her hus­band to make a pil­grim­age to join the Lon­don crowds; and, when his adored sin­gle mother dies the same night as Diana, a shy 19-year-old turns to his young neigh­bour for sup­port.

Wed­nes­day 6 Back 10pm, Chan­nel 4

PEEP Show fans will wel­come this new sit­com, which re­unites David Mitchell and Robert Webb, and was cre­ated by Si­mon Black­well, who wrote sev­eral episodes of the old ve­hi­cle. As­sum­ing the usual po­si­tions, Mitchell plays Stephen, a spiky, up­tight, un­der­achiev­ing dweeb, whose fa­ther – the land­lord of their vil­lage pub, and some­thing of a lo­cal leg­end – has just died. Try­ing to work out how he feels about griev­ing, and fi­nally hop­ing to take his place in the spot­light by tak­ing over the pub, he finds his plans up­set by the ar­rival of the un­set­tlingly blank and con­fi­dent An­drew (Webb). In­tro­duc­ing him­self as his brother, An­drew claims Stephen’s fam­ily fos­tered him for a few months in the 1980s. And, to the hor­ror of Stephen, who spent his child­hood re­sent­ing the fos­ter kids he was forced to share with, he is in­deed wel­comed by the rest of his fam­ily like a prodi­gal son. The mu­sic and pac­ing some­times un­der­line the gags with too much boom-boom, but the cuckoo-in-the-nest story is nicely awk­ward, acidic, and angsty.

Thurs­day Tin Star 9pm, Sky At­lantic

HE’S only just wrapped up Twin Peaks, but Tim Roth is back al­ready – and get­ting to speak with his own ac­cent – as the lead in this new 10-part thriller. He plays Jim, a cop from Lon­don re­lo­cated with his fam­ily to Lit­tle Big Bear, a tiny, sunny town out in the Cana­dian Rock­ies. In­stalled as new po­lice chief, he’s still set­tling in, try­ing to get used to a pace of life that leaves the po­lice with noth­ing to do but stick up signs warn­ing tourists to stay away from the bears in the woods. But, as we know from the bloody flash-for­ward that opens things, trou­ble is brew­ing. It might be some­thing to do with the sin­is­ter big oil com­pany that’s com­ing to town, rep­re­sented by PR woman El­iz­a­beth Brad­shaw (Christina Hen­dricks). And it might be some­thing to do with buried de­mons we be­gin to glimpse lurk­ing in Jim, a re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic. It’s a lit­tle by-the-num­bers, but sat­is­fy­ingly mounted. The scenery is breath­tak­ing, but the real nat­u­ral won­der here is Roth, whose low-key, all-de­tails per­for­mance is re­ally worth tun­ing in for alone.

Fri­day 8 Cold Feet 9pm, STV

HOT on the heels of last year’s well­re­ceived re­boot, writer Mike Bullen brings the old gang out of moth­balls again for an­other if-it-ain’t-broke-why­fix-it se­ries. Adam (James Nes­bitt) has set­tled into a re­la­tion­ship with land­lady/neigh­bour Tina (Leanne Best) and is more than ready to move on from the tak­ing it slow stage she seems to pre­fer. But will his ef­forts to push things along have the de­sired ef­fect? Else­where, Karen (Hermione Nor­ris) is mak­ing a long-cher­ished dream be­come a re­al­ity as she launches her own pub­lish­ing house, while jug­gling the de­mands of teenage twins. Look­ing on at her suc­cess makes Jenny (Fay Ri­p­ley) think hard about what she wants from life, while Pete (John Thom­son) tries to make the best of his job as a chauf­feur. Mean­while, fol­low­ing his fall from grace, the sim­i­larly dis­sat­is­fied David (Robert Bathurst) is start­ing over, with a job sell­ing life in­sur­ance to pen­sion­ers, and con­sid­er­ing how a man of his age can get back into the dat­ing game.

Satur­day 9 Strictly Come Danc­ing 7.05pm, BBC One

FUR­THER proof that the world is spin­ning faster and time is speed­ing up as a re­sult but no­body will be­lieve me: the Strictly launch show is here al­ready, with the celebs meet­ing their part­ners, and get­ting set to take us all the way through Hal­lowe’en to the very doorstep of Christ­mas. It feels like I only just took my Ru­dolf mo­bile down a cou­ple of weeks ago. They’ll be ad­ver­tis­ing summer hol­i­days soon at this rate. It’s all change this year, as Len Good­man has self­lessly thrown his for­mi­da­ble en­er­gies into dredg­ing the cold depths of the 21st cen­tury light entertainment Mar­i­ana Trench that is Len Good­man’s Part­ners In Rhyme (5.45pm BBC One), mean­ing a new head judge has been con­tro­ver­sially parachuted in, some chancer called Shirley Bal­las. The rest of the team from re­cent se­ries re­main in place, how­ever, to wag their pad­dles at this year’s might­ily in­ter­est­ing line up. All the smart money is on a Cal­man-Coles-Con­ley fi­nal, of course. But there might be some up­sets along the way.

Pho­to­graph: Paul McManus Singer-song­writer Mike Scott

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