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
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
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.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable