The Mystery of Edwin Drood, BBC2, Tuesday and Wednesday
Coppers, Channel 4, Monday
Borgen, BBC4, Saturday

Screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes makes the most of her licence to finish Dickens's last book

Judging by the feedback, adaptations of Charles Dickens's novels aren't necessarily crowd-pleasers. Too many brothel scenes. Too few urchins. Pip's excessively handsome. London's not grimy enough.

Faced with an author many of us have read, we feel entitled to a stance on the fidelity of each treatment.

For once, the screenwriter was free to take liberties in BBC2's The Mystery of Edwin Drood – Dickens died halfway through writing it, providing enough material to set up the intrigue in the first episode, while allowing Gwyneth Hughes to have a bash at resolving it in the second. Since it's also one of Dickens's lesser-read works, you ended up with a bit of telly that could just about be judged on its considerable merits.

From the off it was a strange, delightfully dark little thing, diving straight in to the opium-addled mind of choirmaster John Jasper, who dreams of murdering his "nephew", the foppish Edwin Drood. As the story unfolded, Jasper's very real fixation with Edwin's fiancée, Rosa, emerged; in one scene he observes a sheen of sweat bloom on her neck with frustrated longing so palpable you felt as unsettled as young Rosa herself.

Much credit is due to Matthew Rhys as Jasper, who brought a madly physical intensity to every word and gesture. By the time we saw him throttle young Ned at the end of the first episode, it appeared that there might not be much of a mystery to unravel.

Come the second, Edwin had disappeared, but there was no body, no other credible suspect, and it looked likely that Jasper had merely been having another laudanum-induced reverie. Less a whodunnit, then, than a whodunwhatexactly. Hughes's twist was finally to reveal that a murder had indeed taken place, but not the one we'd expected.

Young Drood turned up safe and well; lots of previously unknown blood-ties were exposed, and antihero Jasper came to a bad end. A little tidily contrived, but then Dickens was fond of a deus ex machina. All in all, it felt less substantial than classic Dickens, but something in that very lightness preserved the atmosphere and texture that are among his writing's greatest charms.

There were no whodunnits for Mansfield CID in the latest documentary series of Coppers, because the answer generally seemed to be Thomas Hodgkinson – at least when the question was burglary. Much of the week's episode was devoted to establishing whether 23-year-old Hodgey, who enjoys an intimate relationship with his local nick, was behind a couple of break-ins. No easy task when his answer to everything, including inquiries about his shoe size, was "no comment".

The interviews with the various officers and Hodgkinson himself involved much grandstanding on both sides. The coppers had few qualms about labelling Hodgkinson and his ilk as "shit", while he suggested that the police are power trippers who were bullied at school . But the interest developed as the reprobate was brought in for questioning – he vulnerable, if infuriating, the officers solicitous, wearily patient, checking whether he'd eaten and had his methadone.

As we saw the police deal with more serious crimes – the discovery of a body and the arrest of a man who'd attempted to rape a young boy – their rhetoric was shown to spring from a daily coexistence with events rarely encountered by most people. Unlike much TV documentary, Coppers doesn't ask big questions only to answer glibly or fudge them timidly. It presents you with a slice of how things are – reality television in the best sense.

Borgen didn't hook me in its first week and I wondered whether the ins and outs of coalition politics in Denmark's parliament would translate quite as well as murder. Surely there's more fun to be had if you can pick out the real-life resemblances in this kind of thing. However, four episodes in and the characters and personal relationships are so well drawn that it's ceased to matter. And if you can't have fun working out the inspirations behind them, there's a good game of "spot The Killing cast" to be played: two more turned up this week.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?