Watch, ditch, binge? The ver­dicts are in...

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - BOOKS -

As the big drama guns just keep com­ing, let’s be me­thod­i­cal and ef­fi­cient, and deal with them one by one on a ‘watch, ditch or binge’ ba­sis, yet you’ll still have to wait un­til next week for Black Earth Ris­ing and Trust, as there is such a glut and I can’t work mir­a­cles: Body­guard Watch, ob­vi­ously. Through your fin­gers, if nec­es­sary. (Budd’s sui­cide at­tempt, Je­sus.) It is fan­tas­ti­cally com­pelling. What was in that brief­case? Who planted the bomb? Who re­placed those bul­lets with blanks? Why haven’t they con­nected Budd to the sniper yet? Is Ju­lia Mon­tague truly dead or just in hid­ing to fool her en­e­mies? Will Budd ever get the chance to show her his bum again – ‘show you my bum, mum?’ – or is that over? Jed Mercurio is, es­sen­tially, a ge­nius but tricky to live with, I imag­ine. Ei­ther clear the house of rugs or check he’s not about to pull one out from un­der you, is my best ad­vice. Van­ity Fair Watch. Af­ter an iffy start this is now lus­cious and de­li­cious with char­ac­ters that just keep deep­en­ing aside from Dob­bin (Johnny Flynn), who trem­bles with love for Amelia ex­cept he skips the trem­bling part and just wan­ders about the place like a plank. But else­where, Olivia Cooke as Becky is out­stand­ing while Frances de la Tour’s por­trayal of Matilda Craw­ley? Ham heaven. Wan­der­lust Ditch. If there is any­thing more dull than mid­dle-aged sex it’s watch­ing it. Plus it takes a lot longer. (One hour com­pared to two min­utes, tops.) Strangers Ditch. This thriller, star­ring John Simm, is set in Hong Kong and thus far fea­tures good white peo­ple and bad Chi­nese peo­ple (sigh) plus a ba­nal script. His late wife, he dis­cov­ers, had been lead­ing a dou­ble life, and had been mar­ried to some­one else for 20 years, then he’s punched and his pass­port and lap­top are stolen, yet all he can say is, ‘It’s a night­mare,’ as if he’d missed a par­cel de­liv­ery and now has to pick it up at the Post Of­fice. It looks like his wife might have been shot, but do I care? I find I do not. Press Half-watch. The lat­est se­ries from Mike ‘Doc­tor Foster’ Bartlett is set across two ri­val news­pa­pers, The Her­ald and The Post, based on The Guardian and The Sun (surely). If you’ve ever worked in a news­room it is easy to pick holes – where are all the long hours you have to put into fend­ing off PRs from Na­tional Car­pet Week while await­ing the fash­ion cup­board sale? – yet it rings truer than most. Cer­tainly, this cap­tures the drea­ri­ness of The Guardian – sorry, Her­ald. Se­ri­ously, when is some­one go­ing to tell James that child labour in the gar­ment in­dus­try is not a front-page story? Whole books have been writ­ten on it, James! This is the half you can skip but The Post half is won­der­fully en­ter­tain­ing. (That po­lar bear!) The ed­i­tor is Dun­can Allen (a ter­rific Ben Chap­lin) who is ma­nip­u­la­tive and a bully but fas­ci­nat­ing and charis­matic too, and his char­ac­ter is turn­ing out to be mul­ti­lay­ered. The busi­ness with his wife was more heart-wrench­ing than Wan­der­lust has ever been. But where is the drama? Will it come from the clos­en­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Allen and The Her­ald’s news ed­i­tor Holly (Char­lotte Ri­ley)? Maybe, but in the mean­time are au­di­ences go­ing to be gripped by whether The Her­ald suc­cumbs to wrap­around ad­ver­tis­ing or not? (‘No,’ says our panel of one, which is me.) Killing Eve Binge. Phoebe Waller-Bridge cre­ated and starred in Fleabag and while ev­ery­one was won­der­ing what she would do next, adapt­ing Luke Jen­nings’ se­ries of Vil­lanelle thrillers wasn’t high on the list. But here it is, and it’s un­like any­thing you have seen be­fore. It is thrillingly dif­fer­ent.

It stars Jodie Comer as Vil­lanelle, a psy­cho­pathic as­sas­sin, and Sandra Oh as Eve Po­las­tri, the Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer on her tail. It is lu­di­crous but in­ti­mate. It is sav­age – this thrums with sav­agery – but also strangely touch­ing. It does sag a lit­tle in the mid­dle, hence four stars, but you’ll want to keep with the char­ac­ters who are never genre char­ac­ters. Eve wants to kill Vil­lanelle – ‘I want to kill her with my bare hands!’ – but also kind of loves her. Vil­lanelle is into plung­ing hair­pins into her vic­tim’s fore­heads or cas­trat­ing them, but by the end you may find her a bit adorable. (I know, weird, but this is the jour­ney you go on.) It is also a black com­edy, won­der­fully funny, and in­cludes throw­away lines not per­ti­nent to the plot, which is just so splen­didly grat­i­fy­ing. ‘Keep nour­ished. Buy chops,’ in­structs Eve’s boss (played by Fiona Shaw) at one point. You will be laugh­ing while on the edge of your seat, which is a hard act to pull off, but Ms Waller-Bridge does so, in spades.

Richard Mad­den and Kee­ley Hawes in Body­guard

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