The Weekend's TV: Murder, Sunday, BBC 2 / Bad Sugar, Sunday, Channel 4


There was something very Nordic about Murder, despite the Nottingham accents and backdrop of washed-out council estates.

It opened with a similarly slick montage of images that accompanied the Danish series The Killing – a woman's dead body, the bloodied scene of the crime, incriminating handprints. There was also an oddly rousing anthemic theme tune reminiscent of the same series and the digital record of days into the investigation (Day 1 after the murder, Day 15, Day 148).

None of it was surprising, given that Birger Larsen, Nordic noir director extraordinaire (The Killing and the Swedish Wallanders), had directed it. The result was a slow-burn success, once we realised that beyond these stylistic frills, the drama wasn't going to stray into familiar territory. The way the story unfolded was so unfamiliar it was initially off-putting, built on scene after scene of confessional monologues that were occasionally spliced with CCTV footage and flashbacks. Each character, from the two main suspects (the murdered woman's sister, Coleen, and an ex-soldier, Stefan) to the smarmy defence barrister and investigating detective, spoke directly to camera, in tones ranging from conspiratorial sotto voce to defensive.

The question of why Coleen was talking about the murder from her bathroom on Day 1, and which invisible presence she was talking to (the police? The jury? A friend? ) remained hanging. It seemed like a fanciful preamble that might end when the real acting began, but it never did, and for a while, it looked mannered and static, as if "gritty crime thriller" had been forcibly mashed-up with Alan Bennett's Talking Heads.

But it ended up working, perhaps because of the combined strength of the script and the acting. Conflicting versions of the truth left us confounded and doubt infected every account. The testimonies reeled us in and kept us at a distance. This dynamic of uncertainty was turned on its head in the final, revelatory flashback, when we were sped back to Day Zero and witnessed the killing. The re-enactment was riveting in its cold conclusiveness after all the doubt and it wouldn't have worked half as well if it hadn't been for the swell of tension preceding it. It was also refreshing to see a short, self-contained TV drama done well in an age when we are more accustomed to long-running series. It had to set off all its fireworks within the hour and, overall, it managed to do so.

That said, it didn't come without flaws. While Coleen was superbly drawn, Stefan appeared cartoonishly clichéd. As a soldier, he had served in Afghanistan, where he got his leg blown off, he had an unhappy family history (of course) and was shown doing angry press-ups in his prison cell while talking meanly into camera, as if he were channelling Robert De Niro's discharged Marine from Taxi Driver.

Stereotypes abounded in Bad Sugar, a star-studded pilot spoof, written by Peep Show's Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong and based on telenovelas and old American TV soaps – Dynasty, Dallas, The Bold and the Beautiful. Except this dysfunctional, filthy-rich family of lip-glossed gold-diggers and useless husbands was British, with a tight-fisted mining billionaire father at its helm. Julia Davis and Sharon Horgan performed their "rich bitch" parts perfectly adequately ("bitch is as bitch does"), as did Olivia Colman as an animal-loving frump. Given everyone's calibre, this wasn't as funny as you might have expected. There were some good lines – when Davis's daughter ran to her in her nightdress, crying, "Mummy, I'm scared", Davis retorted: "Tell teddy about it. He'll listen." But I suspect watching repeats of Joan Collins's Dynasty might actually be funnier.


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
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
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.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower