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
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
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.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own