Television Review

SOMETIMES IT'S hard to be a thirtysomething - at least, if you want to see your experiences given a comic spin and served up in palatable form as drama. A flick across the channels offers practically every aspect of the twentysomething psyche, from the bird-brained high anxiety of Ally McBeal to the sickly peer-group bonding of Friends. But what if you feel like something more grown-up, more complex, more John Updike than Bridget Jones? Unless you fancy an interminable succession of documentaries about the horrors of assisted conception, the pickings are thin.

But Cold Feet (Sun, ITV) looks as though it may bring some variation to this arid landscape. A pilot, shown 18 months ago, ended on an audacious upbeat, with Adam (James Nesbitt) attempting to convey to Rachel (Helen Baxendale) the depth of his feelings by serenading her, starkers but for a rose clenched between the cheeks of his bum. "It was a bit wilted by the time I got it," reminisced Rachel, a girl with a sharp tongue on her. On Sunday, Adam was at it again, celebrating the anniversary of their first shag by capering about outside Rachel's office window with a brace of maracas. Confronted with this, Rachel maintained her sang-froid with ominous ease.

The entwined narratives are underpinned with a structure of formulaic simplicity. The comedy relies on the interplay between three couples whose relationships are at various stages of development: Karen and David have a child, Peter and Jenny produced one in Sunday's episode, and Rachel and Adam are still skirting the issue of commitment.

Some fancy flashbacks and Benetton-style glossy radicalism notwithstanding (a protracted cinema-verite birth scene offered lots of shots up Jenny's nightie, but was curiously reticent on the subject of afterbirth), neither script nor direction are innovative, relying heavily on charm and the formidable star presence of Baxendale. There is a potent whiff of undeployed resources. Next week I hope for less charm and more grit.

There is grit and charm in Richard Cooper and Peter Tabern's adaptation of Captain Marryat's Children of the New Forest (Sun, BBC1). This is a handsome production, with plenty of chasing about the greenwood on horseback and some sly jokes: "We wait upon Lord Bressingham," drawled an impossible camp Charles I, "who has boldly gone to seek out our enemies."

The production negotiates with ease the problem of making the story vivid and comprehensible enough to engage small children, while maintaining layers of moral complexity sufficient to keep their older siblings interested. The Cavaliers look lovely, but are useless at winning battles; the Levellers, meanwhile, bellow righteous hymns while putting old ladies to the torch. Wrong but romantic? Right but repulsive? The arguments around the tea tables will be lively.

It is unwise to allow one's attention to wander while Jonathan Meades is talking, but every so often during Travels With Pevsner (Sat, BBC2) I found myself wondering if he is a Roundhead or a Cavalier. Meades himself would plainly prefer to be thought a Roundhead. A portly figure with a marked (and not, I fancy, unconscious) resemblance to John Belushi in The Blues Brothers, he wandered through the Worcestershire landscape of his childhood, putting the boot in with alarming energy. The nostalgic English attachment to landscape, Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, the ghastly good taste of the National Trust and English Heritage - all retired hurt, while AE Housman's loving preoccupation with death by hanging was discussed to a backdrop of a pair of dangling legs.

A performer so mannered, with such intemperate opinions, runs a risk of deliquescing into a collection of his own quirks. But Meades shows no sign of this. His savage indignation seems to keep his ego in check. I can't think why the BBC doesn't put him on at prime time.

What it does put on at prime time is Lesley Garrett Tonight (Sat, BBC2). This is a programme in which Garrett, surrounded by props from the wilder shores of kitsch, performs bleeding musical gobbets hewn from the popular classics. Had it been Lily Savage inside Miss Garrett's swishy Lindka Cierach costume, I should be praising a cruel but brilliant caricature of a self-regarding diva.

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea