Grace Dent on TV: Births, Deaths and Marriages, ITV

The human capacity to carry on loving rang through the hour

TV has been bubbling along nicely for me this week, and not merely because Channel 4 chucked Joe McElderry down an Austrian mountain, or even because The One Show had a rather exciting nine-person ping-pong game, or that charming couple on Channel 5’s Age Gap Love, her aged 78, him 39, indulged in intimate snogging and then a round of Mr Whippy 99s. No, there was more than this, much more. The weather outside is still frightful, but my TV planner is so delightful.

I’m very much enjoying the Sky Atlantic double whammy of HBO’s Girls followed by Looking, currently livening up Mondays. Looking is a gentler, San Francisco-based, Queer as Folk-ish drama for the Grindr app generation. I spent the first 30 minutes of episode one feeling slightly frustrated at the fluffy conversations and angst over the search for Mr Right, but by the second half was tangled up wholly in Patrick, Agustin and Dom’s tangled web of angst and frottage. Oh yes, there’s sex. Not tons of it, but, suffice to say, don’t watch Looking with your nana unless your nana is pretty laissez-faire about three-way bumming.

Of course, Girls and Looking form part of what is known in my lounge as “Mad Monday” on account of the televisual gift of two doses of Coronation Street and one EastEnders. If one is very hardcore, there’s a trip to Emmerdale – Hollyoaks on tractors – at 7pm as a delicious hors-d’oeuvre. The term “Mad Monday” was coined in an interview by footballer Wayne Rooney’s wife, Colleen, in an interview, where she described the perfect night in for her and Wayne, having their tea on their knees with two trips to the Rovers and one down the Queen Vic.  I like anyone who is serious at this level about the act of sitting around in an idle manner watching television. Joe McElderry, you did not leap in vain. Dappy from N Dubz, never think that month you spent locked in a cheaply built plaster-board Borehamwood prison was remotely wasted.


Another lovely, highly endearing waste of time this week was part one of the ITV series Births, Deaths and Marriages looking at the work of the delightfully affable registrar team at the Old Marylebone Town Hall in London. Liam Gallagher loved this place so much he got married here twice. I cannot fathom if this is the mark of a highly complex or non-complex mind. One would imagine that after Liam’s doomed fandango with Patsy Kensit, he might have mooched around in an oversized fishing jacket swearing off weddings for good. But, oh no, back he went to Marylebone Town Hall for Nicole Appleton. He’s not alone in his foolhardiness. This theme of the human capacity to carry on loving rang through the hour.

Divorcées told of decades where they swore they’d never sign another wedding certificate, yet here they were in a silly suit and shoes with the price-tags still on the bottom, making their love legally bound once again. Tommy, the Irish registrar – the natural star of Births, Deaths and Marriages – says that although everyone who walks into Marylebone has a very different story, they are all propelled by love.

There are the people trying to register the deaths of an elderly parent, or the quick passing of a newborn baby with a heart defect who didn’t last the week. There’s the couple registering the birth of the little bundle of screams and impatience who arrived in the back of a car in a pub car park last Friday. “I dunno what happened,” one new father in the waiting room mumbled, his shell-shocked expression speaking volumes. “It felt like me and her had a couple of days of romance and then the next thing, well, y’know.” He nods at the baby in the pram. His girlfriend shakes her head and laughs. Yes, we all know what happened. Life.

And each time life happens, people like Tommy keep an official record. Tommy has the sort of soothing voice that call centres use in crisis situations as he sounds like a lovable, wise Father Ted-style priest. You’d call Tommy, incandescent with fury, to cancel your internet provider and he’d not only talk you down from anger, but talk you around to renewing your annual contract. One needs men like Tommy when you’re sent to tie up the loose administrative ends after, say, losing a mother as we saw in the show. Because until this point a death can feel so ethereal, the funeral plans almost prettily diverting and the trip to see the body macabre to the point of non-believability.

But at Marylebone, this is where the government officially takes tally, and a man like Tommy will ask you the simple question: “Name of the deceased?” and one might need to take a deep breath and say the name out loud officially, and perhaps even spell out the middle name, and then recite their date of birth. “It was at this point,” a woman who was kind enough to let this process be filmed told us, “I realised. That’s it, she is dead.’

A glorious, emotional hour of hatches, matches and dispatches. If they could have only cajoled Liam Gallagher in for a third “once in a lifetime” day, I’d have loved it even more.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?