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

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • 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.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before