The Weekend's Viewing: A Downton substitute and The Killing returns to its roots at the death

The Making of a Lady, Sun, ITV1 // The Killing III, Sat, BBC4

They're so thoughtful at ITV.

Understanding that audiences might find it difficult to make it all the way to the Downton Christmas special without an interim top-up of starched shirt and candelabra-topped oak, they'd scheduled The Making of a Lady as a kind of interim feeding station.

What's more, it had Joanna Lumley in it as a formidable aristocrat, a kind of thespian methadone to ease the cramps that accompany a sudden withdrawal of Maggie Smith. And it had a class-challenging romance. And disapproving house servants. I did fear at first that they might ruin things by making it halfway believable. But they had that sorted out in a big way by the end. It turned out to be a near-perfect Downton substitute.

Based on a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett called The Making of a Marchioness, it told the story of Emily Fox Seton, a respectable young woman living in reduced circumstances. Emily's best hope of getting a room without wall-to-wall mildew is to be taken on as the personal secretary of Lady Maria (sound the Dowager Klaxon now, please). Unfortunately, Emily makes the fatal mistake of changing the placements at an heiress-snaring dinner Lady Maria has laid on for her favourite nephew, and is told to pack her reticule and get out. Fortunately, she has snagged the eye of the nephew before she goes, and after a courtship consisting of one long walk after dark, he asks her to marry him.

This bit wasn't bad, actually. There was something rather touching about Linus Roache's performance as a regimental type, fairly recently widowed and proposing marriage more as a kind of convenient business arrangement than a meeting of souls. "You're pragmatic. You'd require little from me," he says bluffly, in the closest he actually gets to sweet talk. And Emily's acceptance of the proposal seemed to acknowledge the social realities of a life that was never going to stretch to the luxury of marrying for love. Between his constipated English politeness and her pained surrender, you had the potential for something intriguing – a self-arranged marriage awkwardly ripening into something warmer.

Unfortunately, it ripened instead into silly Victorian gothic, with a cashiered cousin turning up intent on removing the only obstacle that stands between him and the country estate. It also became clear that Emily must be fearsomely thick – dutifully drinking down the drugged milk supplied by the cousin's sinister Oriental sidekick and writing hilariously brusque letters to her husband, who had been called back to India to forestall a mutiny. I can quote the complete text of the heartfelt missive in which she informed him that he was to become a father: "Dear James, I am pregnant, which is a great surprise. I am very pleased. I know it is what you wanted. Your Loving Emily." Astonishing, really, that she didn't write it in crayon, and that she survived the skulduggery long enough to be rescued by his surprise return.

Will our own melodramas look so fusty 100 years on? One supposes they will, but this close to them, the clichés are less easy to see – or maybe we simply cherish them for the pleasure they give us. That was certainly the case in The Killing, which concluded on Saturday night, not just for this series but for ever. No more inky cellars, light-sabered into chunks by Lund's trusty torch. And no more Lund, with her rough-knit sweaters and her rough-knit attempts to unravel the mysteries of emotional dependency. They ended well by returning, with an almost shameless fidelity, to the narrative formula that had made the first series such a success – a cocktail of political ambition, parental agony and unreliable friends. And the drama deserved the occasionally hysterical attention it got. No moping now, though. It's left a perfect space for British television to show that it can refresh the old genres with equal ambition.

twitter.com/tds153

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
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.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own