Last night's viewing - Death Unexplained, BBC1; Alex Polizzi: the Fixer, BBC2

 

It's always pleasing when programmes contain practical advice and Death Unexplained delivered fairly early. It came from the police and was passed on by coroner Alison Thompson: "If by any chance you do kill your partner without meaning to, of course the best thing you can do is actually ring and say you've done it as soon as you can. Once you start prevaricating you've had it." Very understanding, the police. These things happen, just don't tell fibs about it. What's the best thing to do if you meant to kill your partner, they didn't say, but then you can't have everything.

As it happened, Death Unexplained also featured an excellent plot twist for any thriller writer out there looking for something new. The mystery would be the unexplained death of a pathologist, found in a locked autopsy room by the opened body of her latest case. Whodunit? Well, amazingly, the dead man did, because, as we learned from last night's episode, people who've committed suicide by taking cyanide can give off dangerous quantities of cyanide gas when they are opened up. Ashley was just about to start the autopsy on a young woman called Jessica, when word came through that a pot of cyanide had been found in her flat and he didn't need a lot of persuading to hand the body over to a specialist laboratory. Death Unexplained is about all those who deal with a death of unknown cause, and a surprisingly cheerful bunch they turn out to be. Alison is herself the raw material for a television series, a breezy, attractive woman who drives a Pagoda-top Merc, wears one of those dashing lawyer's white ties and approaches her baleful task with far more puckishness than you might expect: "We can't now hold courts in public houses," she said at one point, "which is a bit of a shame."

Olaf, one of the pathologists who works with her, is even more upbeat, a positive little ray of sunshine in a place that needs every one it gets. "I do really enjoy coming to work," he said, as we watched him prepare to autopsy Fred, who'd only been found some time after his death, "I'm a very morning person... I really enjoy doing post-mortems." Naturally, Olaf wouldn't want anyone running away with the idea that it's all upside: "When you're looking through the bowel at lots of pooh, all the glamour fades away very quickly." "All the glamour", Olaf? You cut up dead people for a living, some of whom are so ripe that even three pairs of gloves won't stop the smell getting through to your hands. I don't think you need to worry that recruits might be dazzled by the stardust.

Alex Polizzi doesn't play a coroner's role, though you sometimes get the sense that she's dealing with the walking dead in Alex Polizzi: the Fixer, a trouble-shooter format aimed specifically at family businesses. Last night was about the Chough Bakery in Padstow, a business with a good product, a perfect location and Elaine, a founding matriarch with a death grip on the firm's windpipe. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," she growled ferociously, at one modest suggestion. It is broke, Elaine. That's why you've got Alex Polizzi pursing her lips outside the front door. Actually, Elaine's motto also seemed to be "If it is broke, don't fix it", because one of the things that had provoked that moue of disapproval was a broken window pane in the shop front, part of a generally exhausted aspect that left Elaine's prize-winning Cornish pasties looking a bit foxed.

It is absolutely impermissible for these things to end other than with a rosy dawn just beginning to show on the horizon, but Polizzi looked promisingly testy from time to time. I live in hope that at least once she'll just scream, "Oh, sod the lot of you then! Go bankrupt!"

Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
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.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments