TV re­view Spy tale marches to the beat of a dif­fer­ent drum

The Herald Magazine - - Arts TELEVISION - ALISON ROWAT

SUN­DAY night dra­mas have dis­tin­guished them­selves with fine act­ing, in­trigu­ing sto­ries and the odd bare rear (as op­posed to Sir David

At­ten­bor­ough’s forth­com­ing Dy­nas­ties, which prom­ises the love­lier prospect of bear rears).

There is one area, how­ever, where they have been lack­ing: big screen stars. The BBC has not yet at­tracted a Hol­ly­wood ac­tor of the cal­i­bre of, say, Amy Adams (Sharp Ob­jects) or Brian Cox (Suc­ces­sion). That changed this week with The Lit­tle Drum­mer Girl (BBC1, Sun­day, 9pm), the lat­est John le Carre adap­ta­tion to grace the small screen.

The big cheese in ques­tion was twice Os­car-nom­i­nated Michael Shannon, who played Is­raeli agent Martin Kurtz. Called in af­ter a ter­ror­ist atroc­ity in West Ger­many in 1979, Kurtz duly set about find­ing the cul­prits. Young English ac­tress Char­lie Ross (Florence Pugh) will form part of his plans, though she was bliss­fully un­aware of that. For now, Char­lie only knew that she had met a mys­te­ri­ous stranger called Gadi (Alexan­der Skars­gard) who was keen to in­tro­duce her to some friends of his.

Drum­mer Girl was as lav­ishly shot as le Carre’s The Night Manager, with oo­dles of ex­otic lo­ca­tions. Then there was Shannon, who proved sur­pris­ingly hard to get used to as the larger-than-life Kurtz. Per­haps it was be­cause he usu­ally plays men of few words, or maybe he re­ally was chew­ing the scenery. It may sim­ply be a case of set­tling in with the char­ac­ter. I’ll keep you posted.

Reece Shear­smith and Steve Pem­ber­ton, the duo be­hind In­side No 9 (Sun­day, 10pm, BBC2), were back with a live spe­cial, which is usu­ally the kind of stunt a soap opera pulls when rat­ings are flag­ging. You could see why a live

a solider blinded by mus­tard gas and a doc­u­ment that was part of the po­lit­i­cal process to bring the war to an end. Plus, the sto­ries of an In­dian army sur­geon and a vol­un­teer nurse and am­bu­lance driver who be­came the first woman to earn the Mil­i­tary Medal for brav­ery.

We Will Re­mem­ber Them with Huw Ed­wards (BBC4, 8pm)

Huw Ed­wards trav­els from Wales to the Western Front, re­veal­ing the un­told story be­hind war me­mo­ri­als, mil­i­tary ceme­ter­ies and com­mem­o­ra­tive events that hon­our the fallen soldiers of Bri­tain and the em­pire. In March 1915, to avoid the un­san­i­tary trans­porta­tion of war ca­su­al­ties, the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment is­sued a ban on the ex­huma­tion and

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