AS a television critic, I am pretty sure it is not within my power to declare war. You probably have to be someone really important, like a former reality-show host, to do something like that and not receive a stiff letter from the authorities.
Even so, I would like Jed “Star Slayer” Mercurio, writer-director of Line of
Duty (BBC One, Sunday, 9pm), to know that Scotland is pretty ticked off with him right now. We won’t say why in case you have yet to see last Sunday’s episode of Mr Mercurio’s chill-a-minute crime drama. All I will say is the nation will be on the edge of its collective seat tomorrow night, wondering if a certain someone will get the Thandie Newton treatment. If not, Jed and Scotland will be having words. I will say no more.
Just as well Mercurio (the cad) was not in charge of The World According to Kids (BBC Two, Thursday, 8pm), otherwise there would have been even more tears before bedtime than there were. Narrated by Fay Ripley, everyone’s favourite mum from Cold Feet, The World follows 70 children between the ages of six and 11 from across the UK to find out what they think of their lives. Besides conducting interviews to camera, and asking the youngsters to shoot their own footage, the programme makers have asked philosophers to devise tasks that will show how children grapple with notions such as love and hate, danger and fear.
Sure enough the kids said the funniest things. Some smart and heartbreaking things, too, as when one boy called his parents’ split “the worst thing that ever happened in my life”. When they were not saying the funniest things they seemed to be a fair bit of crying going on. In one task, Ian wouldn’t eat the mushrooms he hates so Abigail could have a treat. She cried. Then Nathan wanted his group’s charity cash to go to cancer research but one boy held out for saving meerkats (no, I didn’t know they were in danger either) so the money was lost. Nathan cried. Conclusions after the first episode, which featured children from Bradford, Berkshire and Gloucester: the UK is still as divided by class and wealth as ever it was in the Up series, and this class of 2017 is going to be a joy to watch.
If you want to get back at Mercurio (the bounder) then add some viewing figures to a couple of outstanding political dramas, one new, the other back for a third series. Fresh out of the box is Guerrilla (Sky Atlantic and NOW TV,
Thursday, 9pm), which charts the rise of the black power movement in the grim Blighty of the 1970s, a time when racism was so institutionalised and blatant it was prime-time TV viewing (hang your head in shame, Love Thy Neighbour).
Though slow to get going the action sequences are handled superbly and the cast, which includes Idris Elba (also a producer), Freida Pinto and Rory Kinnear, is first class. If that’s not enough, John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) is on writing-directing duty.
For va-va-voom and style, French political drama Spin (More4, Friday,
9pm), back for a final run, is hard to beat. The tale of warring spin doctors and the fight for the presidency, currently held by Alain Marjorie (Nicolas Marie), hit the ground running with a terror-themed opening episode as exhilarating as anything Mercurio (the rotter) could conjure up. This being a French affair, it is the law that at some point in the drama ze clothes will hit the floor and les bones will bump. Pleased to see that Simon Kapita (Bruno Wolkowitch), the flak-catcher PR who favours skinny suits and no tie, is on top twinkly-eyed form with the ladies, although I’m worried about the dizzy spells he’s having. Maybe you need a lie down, mate. Alone. As for his arch-rival Ludovic Dezmeuze (Gregory Fitoussi), he managed to stay fully clothed throughout the first episode. Well done, monsieur. We’ll see how long that lasts. Peter Kay’s Car Share (BBC One, Tuesday, 9pm) tootled back into view. The car, being a cute but otherwise unassuming little Fiat, is not the star here. The clue to who is in charge lies in the programme’s title. The comedian plays supermarket manager John, who gives lifts to his colleague Kayleigh (Sian Gibson). He’s sarky but soft, she’s ditzy and adorable, and they both love carpool karaoke to MOR hits. While they’re mad about each other, obviously, they can’t say anything otherwise there wouldn’t be a series in it. Very sweet, but so thin that after 10 minutes one began to long for a car chase to break out. Shame that darned TV genius Mercurio wasn’t to hand to contribute one.
The third series of French political drama Spin finds Alain Marjorie (Nicolas Marie) as president while spin doctors Simon Kapita and Ludovic Dezmeuze resume their rivalry