Television choices: Fanciful pair of escapists whose dreams hit the buffers


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The Independent Culture

TV pick of the week

Mrs Biggs

Wednesday 9pm ITV1

The Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, now a free man but too ill to talk, has apparently given this lavish five-part drama about his relationship with his ex-wife, Charmian, "the double thumbs up". That and the fact that Charmian (who divorced Biggs in 1976 after he fathered a child in Brazil) acted as a consultant should have alarm bells ringing louder than a smash and grab at bullion central, although what emerges is a warts-and-all portrait of an unlikely marriage between a headmaster's daughter and "flash Harry" Ronald Biggs – their first meeting – ironically enough – on a train. It won't appease those fed up with our 50-year fascination with this mob, but Sheridan Smith is appealing in the title role, and Daniel Mays at his most spivish as Biggs.

Doctor Who

Saturday 7.20pm BBC1

The Daleks croak their welcome to Matt Smith's (above with Karen Gillan) Time Lord in a new series of 45-minute "Hollywood-style blockbusters" (a top earner for BBC Worldwide), as the Doctor and assistants must escape a planetary prison for insane Daleks. Split into two, the new season's first five episodes lead up to the exit of Gillan as Amy Pond.

Toughest Place to Be a Nurse

Sunday 9pm BBC2

Drugs-ridden Cuidad Juarez in Mexico has become even more dangerous than Baghdad, with 10,000 people slain on its streets every year – a murder rate 100 times that of Greater Manchester, where Maria Connolly works as a nurse. Protected by armed guards, this sensible woman looks shell-shocked as she is engulfed by those caught up in the city's gang turf wars.

A Mother's Son

Monday 9pm ITV1

A straight acting role for Martin Clunes for a change, but the real acting duties in this two-part drama filmed in Southwold are carried out by Hermione Norris as a mother who comes to suspect that her son (played by Alexander Arnold from Skins) may be a murderer. Nicola Walker – Ruth Evershed in Spooks – plays the dead girl's mother.


Tuesday 9pm BBC1

The first of two starring roles this week for Anna Maxwell Martin (see also The Bletchley Circle on Thursday) is in a quasi-sequel to last week's episode of Accused. She plays Tina, a happily married officer at the young offenders' institution where Stephen (Robert Sheehan) has begun his sentence. Tina's problems begin when Stephen commits suicide.

Wartime Farm

Thursday 8pm, BBC2

Edwardian Farm regulars Peter Ginn, Ruth Goodman and Alex Langlands immerse themselves in Second World War agriculture, "the biggest revolution seen in the history of the British countryside". In recession for 20 years by 1939, farming was now required to double its output as it became (in Churchill's words) "the frontline of freedom".


Friday 8pm Channel 5

The Eighties soap gets a re-boot as a new generation of Ewings bitch and back-stab their way round the Texan oil industry. Original cast members Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray foregather at Southfork, along with good-looking youngsters like Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe. Camp, a bit mad and possibly a hit in the making.