Written by Jeremy Brock, co-creator of Casualty (always a good one for the CV, that), this six-part drama series is set in 1922, when a shyster landowner sold off plots of land at pounds 5 each to Londoners desperate for a new life after the Great War. Our first taker is an Eastender (Saskia Reeves dressing down) escaping with her young brood from an abusive marriage. And that's about it, really, unless you want me to regurgitate 10 minutes of highlights. Let's just say that love, fire and raw potatoes feature.
I see that the Log Lady makes her first appearance in Channel 5's resuscitation of Twin Peaks (Sun C5), and one can chart a genealogical line from David Lynch's seminal drama, through Northern Exposure and Hamish Macbeth to Wokenwell (Sun ITV). Indeed, this looks suspiciously like ITV's answer to Ballykissangel. The theme music involves a harmonica, which tells you that it is set somewhere between the Pennines and the North Yorkshire Moors, and you've got to admire how directly writer Bill Gallagher gets stuck into the plot. No tiresome character building here - if action reveals character, then why not just get on with it?
The main protagonists are three small-town policemen, led by Ian McElhinney and his fantastic face (imagine a grizzled David Caruso) and their first case involves a butcher, his rival in love and a severed finger. The script has attracted a beefy support cast, including Siobhan Redmond, Celia Imrie, Nicola Stephenson (she was the nanny on the other end of Beth Jordache's celebrated lesbian kiss in Brookside) and Lesley Dunlop. It is largely deserved.
McLibel! (Sat and Sun, C4) dramatises the longest libel trial in legal history (313 days - judgement still to come) in which the eco-friendly manufacturers of nutritious hamburgers sued two environmental campaigners who had distributed leaflets criticising it. Bearing in mind that one newspaper hired a libel lawyer to review a recent book about this trial, I think I should just leave it at that. Sheena McDonald - no relation - acts the part of chorus to the courtroom reconstructions.
I wasn't particularly looking forward to Stonewall (Sat BBC2), Nigel Finch's dramatisation of the 1969 Stonewall riots - an event (clients in a Greenwich Village gay bar turn on raiding police officers) commonly seen as marking the birthpangs of the gay-rights movement. The 1984 documentary, Before Stonewall, covered this ground so well that a dramatisation seemed on the superfluous side. However, Finch, who died of Aids during editing, has fashioned something mildly compelling out of the material. The basic plot - straight-acting hick arrives in Manhattan and is shown the ropes by a drag queen - owes something to Midnight Cowboy. It's Not Unusual (Sun BBC2), meanwhile, tells the story of gay life in Britain since 1918. The first part (of three) covers the inter-war years when public awareness of homosexuality barely existed.Reuse content