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
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
TVDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
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

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
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

art
Arts and Entertainment
Laugh a minute: Steph Parker with Nigel Farage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Comic Ivor Dembina has staged his ‘Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show’ for the past 20 years; the JNF UK charity is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories
comedy

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
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.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?