“There’s nothing like a dead white schoolgirl to advance a few careers” says the tough liberal lawyer Emma Banville (played by Helen McCrory) in ITV’s new crime thriller Fearless. I might also add that there’s nothing like a plot about a dead white schoolgirl to make for some excellent drama, and the basic storyline, about a (probably) wrongly convicted paedophile looking for justice is accompanied by a good deal of Bourne-style conspiracists, spooks and sinister establishment manipulation of the media.
McCrory is excellent, though I could have done without her driving a 1984 model Volvo estate and smoking what look to be Sobrane Russian cigarettes, in a rather contrived attempt to add some trademark attributes to her (you know, like Inspector Morse’s Jaguar or Poirot’s silly moustache). You ought to, on the other hand, be delighted to see John Bishop playing her boyfriend, a big soft Scouser, Jack Shepherd as her dad and Michael Gambon as a nasty piece of work. So lots of talent, pacey direction and fine writing from Patrick Harbinson (Homeland, Law & Order) make a convincing case for viewing. Part one of the six-part series arrives on Monday night.
As an antidote to Fearless you might also want to catch The Met:Policing London. Whatever the political arguments have been, and whatever the inevitable failings that arise from time to time, the reputation of the police for bravery and dedication has rarely been higher. From the 2011 riots through to the latest wave of terrorism, the country has good cause to thank them, and to understand how grindingly depressing so much of it is – such as the incompetent who tried to hold up a supermarket having consumed 24 cans of Stella Artois.
Jo Cox: Death of an MP is also a reminder of the sheer banality of the life of a terrorist such as Thomas Amir, now serving life for killing the MP for Batley and Spen a year ago. Here was a man who shuffled though life as a volunteer gardener, apparently keen to “help people” and whose mild mental health issues suggested no threat to anyone. Through extensive CCTV coverage the documentary makers are able to piece together virtually every move that Mair made as he panned and executed his plan. But, despite six hours of interrogation, also captured on video, he said nothing about his motivations.
Channel 4’s Wife Swap; Brexit Special reminds us, were any reminder necessary, about how Brexit has divided friends and families, and continues to do so, in a way few thought was possible. In this case a Leaver swaps with a Remainer, with predictable consequences. Only today’s England v Scotland World Cup qualifier can rival Brexit for the capacity to inflame deep tribal emotions.
Lastly, a couple of pleasant diversions. The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Growing Old gives hope to anyone growing older (ie everyone) that life and sex don’t end when the state pension, eventually, arrives. Esther Rantzen, John Prescott, Roy Hudd, Johnny Ball, Eve Pollard and others show us their wrinkles and share their wisdom.
Unlike football, terrorism, and politics, art is generally not better experienced on TV than in real life. Even so you might enjoy BBC2’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, which offers a preview of the world’s largest open submission art show – some 1,200 pieces, some of which, surely, will constitute great art.
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