The Weekend's Viewing: The clues had the semaphored clarity of a creakier kind of crime drama

Mayday, Sun, BBC1 // Being Human, Sun, BBC3

"Why would my husband lie to me about walking the dog?" asked Gail at
the beginning of Mayday. Gail was worried about Duke, carrying a lot
more about the midriff than a dog should be. And Gail's vet had just
suggested that his corpulence simply wasn't consistent with the two-hour
daily walk Gail thought he was getting. Gail looked pensive, and she
wasn't the only one furrowing her brow in the first episode of BBC1's
new thriller. "Alan, where have you been?" asked Fiona, when she found
her husband showering in the middle of the day, her confusion only
increased when he screamed at her to get out of the bathroom. "Why
aren't you at work, Dad?" asked Linus guilelessly, arriving home to find
his father struggling to heave a large holdall into a padlocked
cupboard. Linus's Dad was a bit testy too: "What you don't know won't
hurt you," he snapped when Linus asked what was in the bag.

All of these questions acquire a larger significance when those asking them learn that a local girl has gone missing – the May Queen no less, seen by us at the beginning of Mayday, cycling towards her moment of glory like a personification of Flora. Before long, the camera is closing in on the ticking wheel of an abandoned bike and there's a blurry glimpse of a fugitive figure in the woods. Something has happened to Hattie and the prime suspects have been arranged before us with a symmetrical neatness. Each suspect comes in a banded pack with a fretful and uncertain partner. Each suspect behaves with a perfectly matched degree of shiftiness. And just to round things off, the man who whips up a posse of paedo-hunting locals also has something to worry about. His brother happens to live rough in the local woods, the kind of oddball who'd always be top of a lynch mob's wanted list.

Put that way, it sounds as programmatic as Death in Paradise, which I recently berated for its Cluedo plotting. And you could, theoretically at least, object to Mayday on similar grounds. The clues – unexplained blood on a shirt, cigarette butts in a woodland clearing, that very heavy bag – had the semaphored clarity of a creakier kind of crime drama. I found it tricky to do so in practice though, because Mayday is less about who dun the crime than about what the crime does to the community. A peculiar strain of sylvan gothic began to emerge at the end of the episode, as the search party walked through the woods and one of their number started muttering in a peasanty way about "something ancient" resenting their presence. But the enticing mysteries in the thing remain grounded in ordinary human woes and the knife-edge uncertainties of everyday relationships. Mayday runs for five consecutive nights until Thursday, which means four hours of the coming week are already accounted for.

Sometimes a line just seems to speak to you. "You're trying to make sense of something that fundamentally doesn't make sense," someone said a little way into Being Human, which is about the day-to-day travails of a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf in a flat-share. You're telling me, I thought. I don't watch often enough to fully understand what they were referring to here. It may have been the vampire's ongoing struggle with substance abuse or some folderol about satanic resurrection. I don't much care, frankly, this sort of comic-book cosmology not being one of my things. But every time I do watch, I find myself caring about the characters and relishing Toby Whithouse's writing, which can do funny and heartfelt and wryly offhand with equal facility. It's full of utterly improbable scenarios energised by credible (and recognisable) emotions. The series ends next week, for good apparently, but if you missed it there are ways you can catch up. On telly there is an afterlife.

twitter.com/tds153

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
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

  • 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