Television choices: Jane Campion's TV debut 'Top of the Lake' plunges into deep waters


TV pick of the week: Top of the Lake

Saturday 9.10pm BBC2

Jane Campion becomes the latest movie talent to embrace the novelistic possibilities of television. Returning to the majestic scenery of New Zealand's South Island for the first time since her 1993 Oscar-winner, The Piano – and claiming it back from Peter Jackson's Tolkien blockbusters – her six-part drama tells of the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl. Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss plays the investigating officer; Peter Mullan, in a long greasy wig, is the missing girl's bad-ass father, while the star of The Piano, Holly Hunter, here plays the wacky guru of a women's refuge. Interested more with character than outright storytelling, Campion's off-centre television debut is more Twin Peaks than The Killing or Broadchurch.

Hunt vs Lauda: F1's Greatest Racing Rivals

Sunday 9pm BBC2

It was 38 years ago at the infamous Nürburgring during the German Grand Prix that Niki Lauda suffered his near-fatal crash that was to help James Hunt to win the 1976 world championship. This documentary recalls the friendship and on-track rivalry between the ice-cool Austrian and the sometimes reckless playboy "Hunt the Shunt".


Monday 10pm Channel 4

This year's Bafta-hogger, Olivia Colman, puts on her best sarf London accent as fag-smoking single mother Carol, in the first of four inter-linked dramas (showing on consecutive nights) aiming for a gritty snapshot of contemporary urban life. Carol's boys have killed a stranger – but will she do the right thing and shop them? Neil Maskell (Utopia) plays her ex-husband.

Family Tree

Tuesday 10pm BBC2

Created by Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap) and starring Chris O'Dowd, this improvised BBC-HBO comedy begins disappointingly. O'Dowd plays no-hoper Tom, who inherits a trunk of mementos, going on a picaresque journey in search of his forebears. Nina Conti is a rare bright spot as Tom's sister, while Tom Bennett channels Ricky Gervais as his best mate.

The Apprentice: the Final

Wednesday 8pm BBC1

The first all-female final, and you don't envy Lord Sugar the prospect of working with either the poisonous Luisa (one-stop baking products) or pouty ice-queen Leah (cosmetic-surgery outlets). Anyway, they each have two days to create a brand, a website and a launch campaign, assisted by fired former co- contestants – none of whom look like they give a damn anymore.

The Briefs

Thursday 9pm ITV

"The perfect client," is how the criminal lawyer at the Manchester firm Tuckers describes the scarred 23-year-old offender Kyle: "He's repeat business." Kyle, career house-breaker Alex, and Gary (aggravated burglary with a claw-hammer) are among the opening case-load in this eye-opening but faintly depressing look at the business of defending habitual criminals.

The Mating Game – Natural World Special

Friday 9pm BBC2

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it – and while none of the above might actually "fall in love", they have their own mating rituals – and are as funny, complex and inventive as any human being – as this David Attenborough-narrated compendium demonstrates. A polar bear playing hard-to-get and a faithful lizard feature.

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