TV review - The Fall (BBC2) paints an alarmingly intimate portrait of a killer

Simon Hopkinson Cooks, More4

"You try and establish a rapport," said Stella Gibson, explaining her interrogation technique to a young colleague in The Fall last night. Well, you shouldn't have too much trouble with that, Stella, should you ever come face to face with Paul, the serial killer at the heart of Allan Cubitt's drama. Not an episode has passed so far without a pointed reminder that there's a kinship between the two of you.

Last night it was exercise, the camera cutting between Stella cleaving the water at a local swimming pool and Paul jogging along a local river bank. Both of them driven, self-disciplined people, you see, who like to keep in trim. Should I really be first-naming either of them, though? DS Gibson would seem more appropriate for Gillian Anderson's character, unnervingly indifferent to her own beauty and unnervingly in control of it. And the killer perhaps doesn't deserve that intimacy at all, except that our sense of him as something more than a mere monster is precisely why The Fall has so gripped its viewers.

There were two scenes last night that distilled the quality of the thing. The first occurred shortly after Rob Breedlove, Jimmy Olson's police partner, had been brought in for questioning about his moonlighting work for one of Belfast's power brokers. And what a tangle it was. Not only was he implicated in prostitution and drugs but the phone records showed that he'd almost certainly been having an affair with Olson's wife, adding to his guilt and grief. Rather than live with either, he shot himself (always a hazardous moment, getting a disgraced policeman's gun off him).

And the aftermath of that event was beautifully done, the interrogating policeman shocked into catatonia and Gibson briskly commanding, ticking off what needed to be done in a way that showed you exactly why she'd risen in the ranks. His emotional vulnerability and her efficient strength were a knowing inversion of standard procedure in such fictions, in which men overwhelmingly comfort women.

The second scene was another mirroring, in a way, the killer Paul counselling a client about her abuse at the hands of her violent husband. And what a tangle this was too, in the most unsettling way. A man who we already know to be guilty of the worst abuse of all against women gently steered this woman towards safety, his voice soft and urgently tender. "I'm offering you a lifeline... take it," he said.

But was this ambivalence in his character – good fighting with bad – or just another facet of an appetite for control? Cubitt nudged you towards the darker reading with the scene that followed, in which Paul reacted to a dressing-down from his boss with a childish aping of everything he said, and a sudden flash of mad arrogance. We've seen some of the things in The Fall far too many times already, the moments that turn us into mere voyeurs of female distress. But these things we haven't seen before are why we keep watching.

Simon Hopkinson Cooks was, I regret to say, composed mostly of clichés. Regret because there are good reasons why Simon Hopkinson is the cook's cook and because there's limited scope for invention with the chef-presented cookery programme. They make something delicious, you watch them do it, you think, "Ooh, that would be perfect for when X and Y come round for dinner," then you don't bother.

But I wish someone would come up with some alternative to the most tiresome cliché, which is the bit where the chef tastes the dish and goes into raptures. Hopkinson's negroni cocktails were "brilliant", his gnudi were "insanely good" and his paella was "fantastic". This relentless self-praise simply doesn't honour the experience of all cooks (however good), which is that things don't always turn out perfectly. Dare I point out that his crème caramel didn't look quite as "smooth and silky" as he said it was?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
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.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice