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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn