Last Night's TV: Lennon Naked, BBC4
Peckham Finishing School for Girls, BBC3

Lennon Naked began with a splash – a late-period John in what appeared to be mint condition plunging into the pool of his stockbroker belt mansion to the sound of "Come Together". The device might have felt a little overfamiliar (how many times has the off-the-peg transcendence of an underwater shot been employed in such things?), but it was all but impossible to resist the jolt of that music – a cameo appearance by the real thing in a drama that was largely going to be a triumph of similitude. Even more reassuringly, Robert Jones's script instantly showed that it had got the weight of Lennon's wordplay. A jump cut deprived us of the final resolving cadence of the song and plunged us again, back to Beatlemania, as John and Brian Epstein made a scrambled getaway down a fire escape and John demonstrated the rasp of his wit. "Kiss 'im," he says as fans beg for contact. "'E's never been kissed by womankind... or unkind." And the joke scrapes close to unkindness itself, a teasing poke with just enough thrust in it to hurt, but not enough to make the malice deniable should things turn nasty.

Jones's biopic has been scheduled as a contribution to the BBC's Fatherhood season and you could take it as male companion piece to Sam Taylor-Wood's recent film, Nowhere Boy, which traced the origins of Lennon's discontent and disruptive talent down the matrilineal line, through his relationship with his Aunt Mimi and his erratic mother, Julia. Both films feature Lennon's Merseyside version of Sophie's Choice – taken to Blackpool by his warring parents and forced to choose between them by the father. The five-year-old John first took his father's hand but then turned to his weeping mother, only to see his father walk out of frame for 20 years. Jones's drama began with the first awkward reunion with Freddie Lennon, as they met up in a London hotel room, where Freddie's inadequate clichés were given a brisk roughing up by Lennon: "You look after yourself, John," his father says as they part. "I do... that's right," replies Lennon bitterly.

The bitterness was the top note in Christopher Eccleston's performance – vocally pretty sharp to my ear, though I wasn't listening with a worshipper's vigilance. This was a Lennon exasperated to find himself one of "the nation's little pets" and venting his unresolved anger against anyone available. On the rare occasions when his father is on hand he's the recipient: "Who do you think this disreputable get is Julian?" is the question that introduces Lennon's son to his grandfather, when the latter arrives to stay in his Surrey country house. But Cynthia, Lennon's first wife, gets worse, verbally needled by John until he finally delivers the legal coup de grâce: "'I must have loved you once, but I don't anymore.' Will you communicate that to her?" Lennon tells his divorce lawyer, unremarkable as marital bile but for the fact that Cynthia is sitting three feet away from him when he says it. And his friend Pete – one of the few people prepared to tell him how badly he's behaving – is rewarded for his honesty with a cruel sneer ("You're a shopkeeper, Pete... keep your little thoughts to yourself"). It wasn't a flattering portrait, to put it mildly, though it came with the fierce mitigation of Lennon's insecurity, which can't be eased by the generalised adoration of stardom: "Everybody loves me?" he says at one point. "That's like saying nobody does." In the end, though, impressively performed and tightly written as it was, it wasn't clear that it took you any deeper into Lennon's pain than his own songs have been doing for years. Lennon Naked, perhaps, but still not much more than skin deep.

"So you've come to Peckham to see the poor people," said a local to one of the moneyed participants in Peckham Finishing School for Girls. The short answer to which was "yes", the dubious conceit behind the programme being to match up four privileged young gals with four inner-city counterparts who missed out on a silver spoon at birth. It's essentially My Fair Lady in reverse – the four blonde show ponies who have taken up residence in a Peckham council flat will be taught important lessons in deportment and behaviour by a spell in the inner city. The Henry Higgins of the operation is Peaches Cadogan, a formidable youth worker, whose job it is to smooth ruffled feathers whenever the blithe flippancies of the posh girls scrape against the raw sensitivities of the street girls.

To be fair to it, it is about the erosion of prejudices, although in this regard the Peckham girls are the biggest beneficiaries. We learned in last night's episode that posh girls can be bullied too, but that revelation paled into insignificance against the history of serial abuse, violence and neglect that the Peckham crew have endured. What the outsiders take as feral aggression is actually scar-tissue, a thickness of skin acquired from repeated wounding. The posh girls might charitably be described as slow learners. "It's just not like going to Champney, is it?" one said to a friend after a day's work experience in a Peckham beauty parlour. Another excruciatingly tried out her street talk on the regulars in a Peckham pub, blithely unaware of how condescending and touristic this would sound. But... very slowly... they are getting there. Thanks to Peaches, there even looks to be a good chance that they'll get home without the word "finishing" taking on a terminal aspect.

t.sutcliffe@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism