LAST WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS …
THERE was good news this week, which, on closer inspection, turned out to be nowhere near as good as it might have been.
“The BBC are to bring a host of box sets and classic programmes back to BBC iPlayer to watch over the holiday period,” trumpeted the announcement, which is the kind of thing to get any self-respecting TV buff salivating. Before reading beyond that sentence, my head was already filling with a happy festive fantasia in which I would tell everyone I know I was suffering a healthy splash of norovirus, then spend Christmas week locked away alone, gorging on this stuff.
Because there would be all those Arenas, wouldn’t there? And Likely Lads business, and all the Ghost Stories For Christmas, of course, and Plays For Today, and maybe bits from great old weird shows like Dead Of Night, or Out Of The Unknown, as radiophonic as you please, and, and, and …
And then I read the rest of the press release. “A huge slate of drama programming will be returning … the first three series of Peaky Blinders … hit series Taboo, starring Tom Hardy … Wolf Hall, starring Mark Rylance … all four series of acclaimed crime-thriller Line Of Duty and both series of Sally Wainwright’s Bafta-winning Happy Valley … Sherlock fans will also be able to relive past adventures, with series three and four as well as 2016’s special, The Abominable Bride.”
I mean, eh? Okay, there are some decent shows there. Well, Wolf Hall and Happy Valley are alright. And Line Of Duty and Taboo are funny. And if you didn’t see them when they were on iPlayer five minutes ago, it’s good to have the chance to see them now. But, clearly, the BBC is wielding the word “classic” here in a way that is entirely new. Ah, but wait, there’s more.
“And, in time for Peter Capadi’s last appearance as The Doctor, fans can enjoy every regeneration episode of Doctor Who …” – this is more like it – “… from 2005 onwards.” Sorry, what? 2005 onwards? Who cares about that? Couldn’t they put on something like Web Of Fear, the “lost” Patrick Troughton “Yetis in the underground” story from 1968 that was rediscovered in 2013? That would’ve been a proper treat, sweet, creepy, set-shaking fun. And if they really feel the need to repeat Sherlock, couldn’t they at least pair it with some of the old Sherlock Holmes they used to do, starring Douglas Wilmer or Peter Cushing?
I mean, Keith Richards did infinitely better than this rummaging through the archives when they gave him BBC Four to play with for a few nights earlier this year. As it is, the most classic this opening of the archives gets is another airing for the 1986 EastEnders Christmas episode. Pah. On a positive, they are putting up every episode of Inside No. 9, which is an excellent thing in many ways. Not least because last year’s Christmas special is like watching an obscure 1970s programme, like they should be putting on.