The Broker's Man has some things to commend it - it isn't about sick animals for one thing. The basic scenario also offers a slice through British society which is cut at a different angle to the conventional detective show and which allows for a certain amount of low comic relief from the main plot. Last week, the disappearance of two young children was counterpointed with the case of a porn star who had insured his working parts against failure. This week political extremism was sweetened with a bit of suburban hanky-panky involving an adulterous salesman and a bored divorcee who answered the door in a neglige. The series also stars Kevin Whately, which, though I don't quite understand the appeal myself, counts as a bonus for a lot of viewers. I spend most of my time trying to pin down the exact nature of his inauthenticity; there's something Rotarian and blokeish about his manner, about the way he says everything with his lips pulled back tight against his teeth, which suggests simulation rather than genuine feeling. Perhaps it is a brilliant rendition of a hollow man, but the rest of The Broker's Man doesn't support any theory which depends on a subversion of cliches rather than their casual employment. This is one of those dramas in which a person woken up by a phone won't open their eyes to locate it, but will instead grope blindly for the receiver and then pull it into the cave of bedding which conceals their head, groaning loudly all the while. I'm not convinced that anyone in the entire history of telephonic communication has ever done this, but if you only had television to go by, you might think it was standard operating procedure.
Sitcoms have better grounds for a departure from reality, but then they need to depart a good distance before certain jokes will work. Babes in the Wood (ITV) occupies a limbo somewhere between the comic extremism of Absolutely Fabulous (which allowed the joke of an utterly dim-witted woman to work rather better than the Bubbles retread does here) and the naturalism of comedy-drama, which only reminds you how implausible its psychology is. Last night's episode had a vaguely feminist theme and ended with Caralyn and Leigh triumphing over the condescending sexism of a cowboy plumber. This seemed a little rich for a comedy which depends on an educationally- subnormal character who talks in an ickle-girl voice, a professional woman who flutters and falls apart when in the presence of an attractive man and the revelation that the programme's one strong and independent woman is incapable of performing a simple plumbing job. Spare Rib it isn't.Reuse content