Last Night's TV - The Day John Lennon Died, ITV1; Accused, BBC1; Coronation Street: the Historic First Episode, ITV1

A tragic day in the life

Those of us who are slightly too young to remember where we were when news broke of the momentous political assassinations of the 1960s at least have vivid compensation in the big music-biz deaths of the 1970s and 1980s. I won't bore you by explaining where I was when I heard that Elvis Presley, Keith Moon and John Lennon had snuffed it, but it is of almost inexhaustible interest to me.

The Day John Lennon Died brought it all back; indeed, so numerous were the talking heads that I felt I was only one step away from being asked to contribute my own rather prosaic memories of 8 December 1980. After all, the quotidian are what these celebrity-death documentaries are mainly about. Apparently, John Lennon went for a haircut on the morning of the day he died. "Maybe I have those hairs still, I don't know," said Yoko Ono.

Paul Goresh certainly would have kept them. He was a devoted fan of Lennon's, so devoted that he spent hours standing vigil outside the Dakota building in Manhattan even while the Beatle was alive. Like Abraham Zapruder, the dress manufacturer who happened to take some cine-film of President John F Kennedy's motorcade through Dallas on 22 November 1963, Goresh rather unexpectedly found one day that the whole world was interested in his camera skills, for the fellow-fan he snapped having an album signed by Lennon turned out to be Mark Chapman, the weirdo who later that evening would end Lennon's life.

There are, of course, different grades of weirdo, and while we shouldn't judge Goresh by the beard he sports 30 years later, almost big enough to accommodate Eleanor Rigby and a yellow submarine, there was plainly something more than a little unnatural about his own Lennon worship. Still, the difference between a zealous but harmless fan and a crazed and dangerous fan, and it's never easy to tell them apart, is the difference between life and death.

Commendably, there wasn't much else in this programme about Chapman. He's had more than enough media attention in the three decades since he achieved his warped ambition to attach his name in perpetuity to Lennon's. And just as commendably, it resisted presenting Lennon as a saint.

Thelma Pickles, briefly the future superstar's girlfriend when they were both teenagers at art college, popped up to recall an evening when she refused to have sex with him. "He absolutely whacked me one, and I didn't speak to him after that. I didn't care who he was, how interesting he was, how funny he was, how caring he was, I was not going to be hit by a lad and continue a relationship." Whether she later wished she had, she didn't say. Whatever, she was working as a journalist for Granada TV when more than two decades later she got a call in the middle of the night calling her into the studio.

Actually, an interest in journalism was a prerequisite for enjoying this programme almost as much as an interest in Lennon, notably the testimony of Alan Weiss, who had been a young ABC news producer at the time, and fortuitously had just suffered a motorcycle accident in Central Park on the fateful evening. At Roosevelt Hospital the doctor about to treat him was suddenly called away to attend to a shooting victim. It was Weiss who made the breathless phone call breaking the news that the victim was Lennon. He also recalled, poignantly, that the Beatles song "All My Loving" had just played over the hospital's muzak system when he heard Yoko screaming her disbelief.

It is sometimes hard to know, though, where poignancy ends and mawkishness begins. I'm still not sure what to make of the recollection that ended this documentary, that of the doctor himself, Steven Lynn, who tried to massage life back into his famous patient. "John Lennon's heart looked like everybody else's heart," he said. "Unfortunately, at the moment I found it, it was empty and devoid of blood and lifeless and not beating. But it was a good heart." And it was a good moment for the credits to roll. Otherwise, I might have switched channels.

There's no switching channels when Accused is on, unremittingly miserable though it continues to be. Last night's episode was as superb as it was grim, with a mesmerising performance by Andy Serkis as Liam, a Manchester minicab driver whose life, already on the brink of collapse, caved in completely as a consequence of his obsession with an attractive young fare (Jodie Whittaker). Serkis's considerable feat – with the considerable help, of course, of writers Danny Brocklehurst and Jimmy McGovern – was to imbue Liam, compulsive gambler, housebreaker, stalker and out-and-out creep, with a degree of humanity. That said, McGovern, who in a previous episode had his main character convicted after finding £20,000 of forged banknotes in the back of a taxi, has done nothing for the minicab industry.

It wasn't the most perilous mode of transport in the Greater Manchester area last night, however. There was a spectacular 50th anniversary tram crash in Weatherfield, which presented a slightly dispiriting contrast with Coronation Street: the Historic First Episode, in which not much happened, but happened beautifully. Death and destruction is all very well, but I'd rather have Ena Sharples telling Florrie Lindley that "it's very bay window" down Esmerelda Street.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

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 appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas