Sheri­dan Smith’s the waif of Wall Street...

Sunday Express - - COMMENT - By David Stephen­son

Rhythm Na­tion is on BBC Ra­dio 2, Mon­day-Thurs­day, 10pm

DID YOU sur­vive the bliz­zard of new and returning TV shows? They were ev­ery­where, morn­ing, noon and night, more than 40 in the sched­ules but still noth­ing on. Why do TV channels do it? It’s our fault. We sit in our front rooms watch­ing TV and don’t go out. Quite right. And what did we get? Sheri­dan Smith as an “in­sider trader” in

(ITV, Thurs­day). Who’d have thought it? This is an ac­tress who does “real” and does it well. Bafta well.

As overnight cleaner Sam, she be­gan on her knees on the of­fice car­pet, try­ing to re­move a stain. The drama is un­de­ni­ably grounded. Sam couldn’t fix the stain so she faked it by colour­ing in the mark with a felt-tip pen. She’s re­source­ful. But her boss was not pleased, ev­i­dent by his “evil gang-master” rest­ing face.

This drama couldn’t have been more do­mes­tic if it were set in Jim Royle’s back room. But as­pi­ra­tional, too. There’s al­ways an il­le­gal way to make money if you look hard enough and do your re­search thor­oughly on the in­ter­net.

As Sam coped with her costly bingo habit, loan sharks, her phi­lan­der­ing and now di­vorc­ing hus­band, and a hit-and-run, she con­cocted an elab­o­rate ruse to eaves­drop on a City trader who couldn’t help but talk about in­sider trad­ing in an open of­fice. There will be howls of laugh­ter com­ing from the City. Soon we will all be tak­ing trains to Ca­nary Wharf while keep­ing our ears to the ground in lo­cal cafés so we, too, can make a for­tune. Well, at least £250, to begin with.

As this is a six-part se­ries, we have some way to go. Sheri­dan gave us a clue by ref­er­enc­ing Gor­don Gekko and Wall Street, which sug­gests that, along with de­vel­op­ing a ter­ri­ble 80s dress sense, she will want to be­come a hedge fund man­ager in New York, or “hedgie”, the ul­ti­mate in fleec­ing un­sus­pect­ing pen­sion funds for a mod­er­ate re­turn.

But the most in­trigu­ing char­ac­ter is the lodger who has moved in to help pay the rent. He’s do­ing a PhD, al­legedly, but is fund­ing it by re­pair­ing motor mow­ers. Sure he is.

I pre­dict he’s a City “day trader” – deal­ing shares dressed in a one­sie – and to­gether they will drive through the Black­wall Tun­nel in tri­umph by the end of the se­ries, throw­ing notes from a red Fer­rari con­vert­ible. I do hope so. Pre­pare your­self for a happy end­ing.

If you’re an ac­tor tak­ing on

(ITV, Sun­day), you would hope that ev­ery­one for­gets you’re best known for playing a char­ac­ter called Joe Man­gel on Neigh­bours. It seems like only yesterday that Mark Lit­tle caused may­hem around the smok­ing bar­be­cues and out-of-con­trol hosepipes of Ram­say Street. What japes, mate. Now, im­prob­a­bly, he’s on ITV’s ice­bound ver­sion of Chan­nel 4’s The Jump which was cru­elly out­lawed by Lloyd’s of London.

Mark Lit­tle is any­thing but lit­tle and con­se­quently not built for this. He was more at home at the mock bar at the start of his rou­tine, hav­ing already con­fessed to the au­di­ence: “I can’t skate.”

His fam­ily will have trem­bled but the rest of us were rub­bing our hands, think­ing of all-time favourite con­tes­tant Todd Carty who took ice skat­ing to a new level with an un­re­hearsed bee­line for the green room at 80mph.

Lit­tle fell short of this, alas, but still en­ter­tain­ingly man­gled the whole thing. Don’t vote him out just yet, please. He needs to build his con­fi­dence and try some­thing ex­tremely tech­ni­cal like a Down Un­der

Clean­ing Up Danc­ing On Ice

Dou­ble Flip which would pro­pel him into the lap of fel­low Aussie Ja­son “full of the joys” Gar­diner.

Sim­i­larly with the other comic turn, Gemma Collins, or “The GC” as she is known ap­par­ently. You prob­a­bly last saw the for­mer Towie per­former on I’m A Celebrity. When it sud­denly dawned on her that she wasn’t go­ing to be fed a proper meal, she hastily jumped on a he­li­copter and got her­self out of there.

With Danc­ing On Ice, she’s again tak­ing her time to un­der­stand the de­tails of the show. “I didn’t know it was live,” Collins mused. She wasn’t a nat­u­ral ei­ther, glid­ing about the rink like a ma­jes­tic Vic­to­rian ice­breaker ex­plor­ing the Arc­tic Cir­cle, crash­ing into ob­jects, walls and passers-by with­out fear or favour.

She did master a new move called the “hair flick” in which she threw back her head and golden coif, al­most fall­ing over back­wards. Supreme entertainment value and again, please, do keep her in the show.

FI­NALLY, no one is talk­ing about (BBC One, Sun­day). No one’s even singing about it. It’s got the daftest plot since The Magic Round­about. Why does Val­jean, a man ap­par­ently brim­ming with hu­man­ity and for­give­ness, sack Fan­tine be­cause she has a child? And why is Javert so ob­sessed with him? Is there some­thing they’d like to share with us? You long for Rus­sell Crowe’s Javert to in­tone some­thing in­de­ci­pher­able like: “I like it ven you do ze heavy lift­ing, Val­jean...”

Woman-of-the-mo­ment Olivia Col­man in­jected some spark into this pud­ding of a pe­riod drama as a publi­can’s wife. She was, alas, cuffed for her bother. Ac­tor Ron Cook did his best, too. He brought an el­e­ment of cir­cus hor­ror, per­form­ing some sideshow den­tistry on Fan­tine as if to con­firm what we were all think­ing about this drama: watch­ing it is like pulling teeth.

Mis­érables Les

RUB­BISH JOB: But Sheri­dan Smith gets a tidy re­sult in Clean­ing Up by keep­ing her ears open

What are you up to at the mo­ment?

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