Last night's viewing - The Syndicate, BBC1; What Do Artists Do All Day? BBC4; Edwardian Insects on Film, BBC4

 

Double lottery wins aren't completely unheard of, even though they do occasionally crop up. But the writers of television series quite regularly get the five-number payoff of a repeat commission. It happened to Kay Mellors, whose drama The Syndicate, about a group of Bradford supermarket workers scooping a big prize on the lottery, went down well enough to get another booking.

Generally speaking, when this happens the original cast get to share in the good fortune. Commissioning editors don't much care to mess with the ingredients of a winning recipe. But obviously, double lottery wins being rare enough to stretch credulity, in this case they didn't have much choice. Apart from one survivor from the previous series (Denise, implausibly hired as an adviser by the lottery company), Mellors has gone for a new set of numbers – a fresh syndicate of hospital colleagues to discover just how corrosive and troubling good fortune can be.

The drama began with a frantic search, air-headed Becky having lost the ticket she'd been sent off to buy just the day before. The syndicate know they've won something big, because they always use the same numbers (Helen's, in fact, who dropped out of the syndicate, but appears breezily confident that no one will object if she back-dates her membership). But without the ticket they can't be sure. And without the ticket, it's likely to be academic anyway. The problem is that Becky is a little vague about the previous night, having ended it with one too many Bacardi Breezers. So we realise before she does – courtesy of a flashback – that the telephone number she pressed on the nice lad she met at the uni bar was written on the back of a very special kind of receipt.

Mellors' first episode was largely concerned with getting the ticket back – a narrative mostly played for comedy. But at the same time, she's sketching in the dilemmas and desires that the big windfall will exacerbate. "First thing I'd do is buy myself a new pair of knees," said Rose (Alison Steadman) when the win was still unconfirmed. But will Rose go private? And what will her NHS colleagues think of that? Another couple are trying for adoption, there's a recovering alcoholic who's already raised eyebrows by tucking in to the celebratory champagne, and there's Mandy, Becky's mum, who has been keeping her abusive and controlling husband quiet of an evening by furtively medicating his beer. Intriguingly, there's a suggestion that while Mandy is inured to the idea of sharing a miserable life with horrible Steve, the prospect of having to share a happy one may just tip her over the edge. And Helen, one hardly needs to add, has a face on her like a slapped arse.

Last night, BBC4 offered two delightful films about men rich in passion, for whom, one suspects, money is and was a by-product, never a goal. What Do Artists Do All Day? was about the print-maker Norman Ackroyd while Edwardian Insects on Film was about a pioneering natural-history film-maker called Percy Smith. Both offered the deep pleasure of patient process and uncertain end result, with Ackroyd's anticipation as he peeled back a print very similar to Charlie Hamilton James's nervous excitement as he waited to see whether he'd successfully replicated Smith's first big hit – a short film called The Acrobatic Fly, which featured a juggling specimen of Calliphora vomitoria.

What Do Artists Do All Day? wasn't quite as instructive about the technology of print-making as Edwardian Insects was about Smith's early attempts at time-lapse photography and microscopic close-up, but it shared the lovely sense of men completely consumed in perfecting their art. Smith was so taken with the moulds and fungus he filmed that he let them consume his house, buying another one nearby when the original became a bit too dank even for him. For a lucky few, work is the lottery win.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

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.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker