Review: The opening credits of the 'News at Ten' are beyond satire. Thankfully, the same cannot yet be said for our royal family

News At Ten, ITV1; Shrink Rap, More4; Damages, BBC1; The Palace, ITV1
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The Independent Culture

ITV news has been shifting round the evening schedule for nine years; now News at Ten is back with bombast. Hyper-orchestral music plays; fiddles go into overdrive. We are in Space. Then the World. Then England. Then London. Then we take a computer-generated dash up the Thames, careering round the London Eye like a drunken pigeon or a particularly daring Quidditch player, lurching up to Big Ben and settling face-to-face with the clock. By this time you feel a bit sick. But what is this? Behind the clock, where you would expect to find springs and time-keeping mechanisms, sit Sir Trevor McDonald and Julie Etchingham. A clock face stencilled behind them, plus a view across London, add to the illusion that Julie and Trevor are inside the Clock Tower. You've got to hand it to the News at Ten team. They couldn't have designed a news intro less humble or more gloriously impervious to satire. Chris Morris, eat your heart out.

Perhaps this display of self-importance was over-compensating for the fact that the evening news "event" is increasingly irrelevant, edged out by rolling news channels and online updates. To ITN's credit, some of the reporting – the analysis of flood defences from a helicopter, the interview with Gordon Brown – was good enough to make the "appointment to view" worthwhile, even if the face-off between Sir Trevor and Gordon Brown was as stiff as a tailor's dummy meeting a talking clock.

More 4's Shrink Rap makes psychotherapy entertainment, an uncomfortable and fascinating perversion of a private process. Doubly uncomfortable and doubly fascinating when the subject in question was Chris Langham, only a few days out of prison. The interview balanced precariously between what he had to gain from it (rehabilitation into public life, any hope of working again), and what we had to gain from it (a rare insight into the mind and history of someone who breaks the law by supporting the trade in child pornography). The balance sometimes felt in danger of tipping in his favour.

Nothing seemed to come out fresh, nor did Langham appear to make any discoveries. This was a man perhaps beyond therapy: by his own admission, he had spent most of his life lying to psychiatrists. Now it was different, he claimed. "I'm an alcoholic, therefore I don't drink. I'm a drug addict, therefore I don't take drugs. I'm a congenital liar, therefore I tell the truth." This felt over-thought, like Cretan riddling.

Dr Pamela Connolly tried to assert control of the interview, interrupting his flow with a long pause in an attempt to set the rhythm of the exchange on her terms – but she didn't manage to get him to clarify some of his more obscure explanations. "If these children could endure what they endured then the least I could do was to sit there and watch it," he said. An hour could have been spent unpacking this gnomic sentence. Instead she let him go on, in some detail, about his resentments against the way his case was handled by the police. But while the programme did not give great general insight, it was a compelling personal portrait of a man who had clearly suffered enough.

Damages is a ridiculous legal drama on import from the US. A witness finds her dog, Saffron, assassinated and a bloody note saying "Quiet" pinned to her wall by a knife. Who is behind this abomination? A mobster? No, top legal eagle Glenn Close. We realise this when Close unwraps a delivery: it's Saffron's collar. Close gives a tiger's smile of satisfaction and chucks the collar into the sea. It's pure camp.

Not unlike our own drama mini-series The Palace, which promises a lot of fun by putting Dynasty into Buckingham Palace. Top performances included a cameo from Harriet Walter as a tough interviewer ("She once made Gadaffi cry") and Sophie Winkleman, deliciously witty as the power-hungry daddy's girl, Princess Eleanor. This is royal life as Jilly Cooper might have spun it; January's guilty pleasure has arrived at last.

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