Television choices: David Tennant helps to raise the bar in another murder case


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The Independent Culture

TV pick of the week: The Escape Artist

Tuesday 9pm BBC1

The Spooks creator David Wolstencroft has written this three-part thriller that has David Tennant as Will Burton (above with Ashley Jensen), a hot-shot criminal defence barrister who has never lost a case. "Everyone deserves a defence," he tells a rival QC played by Sophie Okonedo, who accuses him of glory-seeking.

However, his next case comes back to bite him when he agrees to defend a young man (a chillingly arrogant Toby Kebbell) accused of the sadistic murder of a young woman – yes, another of those, but unlike, say, BBC2's The Fall, this doesn't dwell lovingly on the crime. A top-notch cast includes Jensen as Burton's wife, Anton Lesser as his head of chambers, and Roy Marsden – who seems these days to be morphing nicely into Alec Guinness.

Boardwalk Empire

Saturday 9pm Sky Atlantic

Peaky Blinders may or may not have been a "British Boardwalk Empire", but here's the return of the real thing, as Nucky (Steve Buscemi), Al "don't-call-me-Alphonse" Capone and the rest resume the struggle for control of Twenties Atlantic City. With Nucky licking his wounds after his run-in with Gyp Rossetti, Patricia Arquette joins the cast as a speakeasy owner.

A Very English Education

Sunday 9pm BBC2

"You come here to acquire the right habits for life," the headmaster of Radley College tells his charges in the 1979 BBC documentary series Public School. Caught up with in middle age, the former public schoolboys don't all conform to stereotype. Tim Huxley, for example, was a vicar's son from Tyneside. "He had a regional accent," recalls an ex-classmate. "Was it Yorkshire?"

Ripper Street

Monday 9pm BBC1

Set in Whitechapel but filmed in Dublin, the Victorian police procedural returns with a yarn about an assault on a policeman in the newly emergent Chinatown. Matthew Macfadyen and Jerome Flynn reprise their roles, as does MyAnna Buring – Downton Abbey's recently sacked maid Edna – and there's an unintentionally hilarious cameo by the Elephant Man.

The Dark Matter of Love

Wednesday 10pm BBC4

Claudio and Cheryl Diaz from Wisconsin decided to adopt three Russian children who had grown up in institutions. Sarah McCarthy's film tells of how the children were unable to bond with their new family and how the Diazes turned to developmental psychologist Dr Robert Marvin to find a scientific way to teach the youngsters how to love for the first time.


Thursday 9pm E4

From the makers of Inbetweeners, and developed by and starring Jessica Knappett from The Inbetweeners Movie, this is (no surprises) a female Inbetweeners. Except that Meg, Bunny and Laura (Knappett, Lydia Rose Bewley and Lauren O'Rourke) are graduates living in Leeds with terrible jobs and even worse boyfriends. Bob Mortimer and Arabella Weir also star.

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here

Friday 9pm & 1.35am BBC4

A trilogy of documentaries about the ultimate prog-rock band begins with the making of Pink Floyd's 1975 album, Wish You Were Here, with its tribute to founder member Syd Barrett, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". Surviving members Roger Waters, Nick Mason and David Gilmour are all present and correct.