Last Night's TV - DCI Banks: Aftermath, ITV1; The Classroom Experiment, BBC2

Another routine investigation

Stephen Tompkinson used to be all over our television screens like static electricity. For two or three years, it seemed as though we could hardly switch on without finding Tompkinson emoting in a drama, narrating a documentary, or voicing a commercial. But every dog has its day. After Tompkinson, it was Robson Green who popped up everywhere, and after Green it was Martin Clunes. Favoured women go through this ubiquitous phase too. For a while, it was similarly difficult to avoid Sarah Lancashire, then Caroline Quentin.

It's normally ITV that confers this treasured actor/actress status, and Tompkinson seems to be getting another burst. If you stayed up late enough last night there was another chance to see Stephen Tompkinson's Australian Balloon Adventure. "Rain stops Stephen from flying over Canberra and he has to take a tricky flight to 10,000 feet," went the synopsis in the Radio Times, which was a little disorienting for those who not two hours earlier had begun to believe in Stephen as a taciturn detective, leading the investigation into some particularly grisly killings, nowhere near Canberra and certainly not from 10,000ft, in DCI Banks: Aftermath.

It is fanciful of me to assume the role of a detective myself in considering the quality of DCI Banks: Aftermath, but please indulge me, because you don't spend 20 years as a TV critic without becoming a forensic specialist in the police procedural. This two-parter carried many of the scene-of-primetime hallmarks familiar to us grizzled veterans. These included the fractious relationship between the copper and his uniformed boss, his messy private life, his personal torment, and of course the attractive female junior. Much like the women who read the news, female police officers on television are never the physiological equivalents of their male counterparts. When did you ever see a TV policewoman with a double chin or pitted skin? They all look like models.

This is especially so of lovely DS Annie Cabbot (Andrea Lowe), who works for the professional standards department, policing the police themselves, and is assigned to find out whether PC Janet Taylor (Sian Breckin) went overboard in beating up a serial killer called Marcus Payne (Samuel Roukin). Not unreasonably, Banks (Tompkinson) finds this distraction wholly unwelcome, though there is consolation when he and DS Cabbot overcome their mutual enmity and cosy up together. Indeed, they are closing in on a snog, almost certainly to be followed by a good deal more, when both their phones ring, a classic case of what we in police-procedural forensics know as coppus interruptus. This is the near-certainty that just as our crime-buster is about to enjoy himself in bed, if only by getting his head down for some quality kip, his phone or bleeper will ruin everything.

Still, on the basis that every police procedural is required by editing-suite law to feature such clichés, I shouldn't be too hard on DCI Banks: Aftermath. It is stylishly shot, and has more than enough plot idiosyncrasies to distinguish it from stuff we've seen a thousand times before. Intriguingly, it began with Payne being caught, in the basement that he had converted into a torture chamber. Only as the thing unfolded did we make certain relevant discoveries – for instance, that he had been having an affair with the nervy Irish artist in the house opposite.

There were, I should add, some implausibilities along the way. Whether these were true to Peter Robinson's original novel or introduced by Robert Murphy, the dramatist, I don't know, but a detective superintendent pal of mine assures me that under no circumstances would the chief investigating officer ever turn up alone in a hospital room to question a significant witness (in this instance Payne's long-suffering wife). There remains a world of difference between the modus operandi of TV cops and real cops, and for dramatically expedient reasons, of course, because who would want to watch even Morse or Jane Tennison hunched over paperwork for hours on end? But I still kind of wish that television would treat us more respectfully, and it could start by offering us police procedurals that aren't about serial killers. I think we're mature enough to get excited by plots that don't involve rape, torture and murder.

Anyway, except for the unfortunate detail that the psychopath in DCI Banks: Aftermath was a secondary school teacher, let me now change the subject completely, and turn to The Classroom Experiment, which concludes this evening. It was conducted over the course of a term in a Hertfordshire school, focusing on a class of 12- and 13-year-olds, who were guinea-pigs for the methods of an education adviser called Dylan Wiliam, a softly spoken but slightly alarming-looking fellow with a shaven head, an earring, and slugs for eyebrows.

Dr Wiliam believes that the centuries-old practice of children putting their hands up to answer questions is wrong, because it encourages a kind of classroom apartheid, whereby only the brighter kids get involved, while the others get bored and demotivated. He favours a random selection process, offering children nowhere to hide. He also thinks that every school day should start with exercise.

I could see the logic of these ideas, and had the bright idea myself of watching with my own 12-year-old, Jacob, to see what he made of it all. I am truly sorry to report that after 20 minutes, Jacob got bored and wandered off to watch something more interesting.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

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

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker