Last Night's Television - Around the World In 80 Days, BBC1; The Force, Channel 4

They got the right man

"Unfortunately, it isn't like it is on the TV," someone said, two or three days into the murder investigation featured in
The Force. It was quite like it is on the television, though. There was the isolated country lane where the burnt remains were discovered by someone walking their dog. There was the white scene-of-crime tent and the white boiler suits. There were promising clues that led to a dead end and the cliffhanger race to charge the prime suspect before the statutory 96 hours ran out. Anyone who's watched even a little television over the last few years may feel that they are already half way to passing their exam to make DCI, and we know more about murder than any other crime, even if most of what we know is slightly skewed. So in some respects you'd seen everything in Operation Fletcher before.

What was different was that this victim – Eastern European, as they so often are in the grittier kind of fiction – was a real person. When the forensic scientist poked his swabs into what had ceased to be her private life and murmured, "Poor little lassie... oh dear", there was a real daughter there on the mortuary slab and a real mother back in Poland, not yet knowing why her child hadn't called recently. And there were other differences too. The stomach contents were tactfully fogged out during the dissection, as the pathologist reported that it "appeared to be spicy, not exactly rice but something a bit like vermicelli". And the investigating team weren't a pack of sombre existentialist philosophers, darkened by their daily contact with human evil. They were office workers with a rush order on, and a lot of annoying paperwork to crunch before they could call it a day.

Crime writers could usefully employ some of the details here to jolt their own creations away from cliché. I liked the police officer with the reggae ringtone on his mobile, skanking away loudly at an inopportune moment. And the bit when a policeman had to give the body-sniffer dog a piggyback through a shop because it wouldn't have been halal to let it walk through. But there was also the banality of the hurdles the team encountered. Attempting to track down a paint sample from a car seen the night before the body was dumped, Detective Chief Inspector Hogg, who looked like a Latin teacher, came up against some unheard jobsworth on the other end of the phone, refusing to give out the number of their German supplier because it was against company policy. The chief inspector didn't erupt into an aria of copper bluster; he just sighed and threw his eyebrows up. And when there was just an hour to get the charge sheet across to the Crime Prosecution Service for approval to go ahead, the firewall wouldn't let the email through because the word "sex" cropped up in the attachment.

What wasn't different was that the whole thing was paced like a thriller, partly achieved by editing (although they date stamped their sequences, so you knew where time had gone) but also because the case delivered a chilling late twist of corroboration. They pretty much knew they had their man in Mr Haque, a hotel worker who'd had an affair with the dead girl and fitted much of the circumstantial evidence. But they couldn't find the flat where he'd actually committed the murder to get conclusive evidence. Then persistent house-to-house inquiries turned it up – in a block of council flats – and there buried deep in the CCTV footage was video of Mr Haque casually carrying in a large suitcase in one hand and then hauling it out, with obvious difficulty, a few hours later. Before the case came to trial, Mr Haque hanged himself in prison, a development that one of the investigating team described as the only good thing he'd done. I don't think DCI Hogg felt the same way. I think he wanted his hard work to get its proper reward, which was a conviction. But he can perhaps console himself that all that effort won't have gone unseen.

In Around the World in 80 Days, six pairs of celebrities have been sent on a global relay race, dividing the circumnavigation between them. They mustn't fly – and though this hasn't been stated as rule – they have to be filmed doing a variety of picturesque things on the way. Why, you may well ask, given the overwhelming artificiality of the endeavour. "To raise money for Children in Need," came the answer. Oh, OK.. that's all right then... carry on. Your paperwork seems to be in order since you're carrying the universal carte blanche for factitious, life-wasting television. First leg was Lee Mack and Frank Skinner, and it had its moments of comedy (notably Frank Skinner saying, "It's not a bad old life, is it?" to a Serbian princess, as she showed him round her palace). Not enough to justify the hour, though. If I make a donation now, can I be let off watching the rest?

Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea


In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops


Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

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.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game