BBC1, Saturday

TV review: Doctor Who - The Doctor's back, with his snog box

3.00

But with a low-kley start to the new series, perhaps it's time for a spot of role reversal

The new season of Doctor Who began last night, introducing his new "assistant". We'll touch on the sexual politics of the Tardis later. In the meantime, I'm happy to report that Jenna-Louise Coleman seems, to me at least, an improvement on the rather stroppy presence of Karen Gillan, who played side-kick Amy Pond. Coleman, so far, plays Clara Oswald as a cutely poised complement to Matt Smith's breathless nerd.

Which is fortunate, because the writers of Coleman's character already seem fidgety. In last night's episode, she was a nanny to a suburban London family, but you might remember that Coleman played a Victorian governess in the show's Christmas special. Indeed, she has popped up in a few other episodes too. As the Doctor said at one point last night: "Right then, Clara Oswald, time to find out who you are." I'm not a regular viewer of the show, which in its increasingly self-referential form can make a Saturday tea-time entertainment more obscure than it needs to be.

As it happens, last night's season opener was less forbidding. Apart from a prologue which found the Doctor holed up in a monastery in the 12th century, it was set in contemporary London, the better, it seemed, to allow the two leads to flirt uninterrupted by any big sci-fi set pieces . Unlike Amy, Clara doesn't come with a boyfriend, and reckoned the Tardis no more than a "snog box". The story was curiously unambitious: a sinister plot to upload human souls via the internet to a virtual cloud. At one point, Matt Smith squared up to a humanoid with a satellite dish where the back of its head should have been, took a deep breath and said: "It's a walking Wi-Fi base station, hoovering up people!" Here and there, citizens were shown logging on and dropping off on trains, in bedrooms, sitting rooms like ... well, like the glass-eyed fictional viewers in the BBC's own recent promotional campaign promoting the virtues of watching its iPlayer device on the hoof.

Perhaps Steven Moffat and his team should focus their creative talents on the show itself. The pairing of an intellectually bright but emotionally dim male with a techno-illiterate but wised up female is a tired old trope of much drama and comedy, not just Doctor Who. It has been pointed out that there are no female writers of the show. There have also been rumours that Smith's days at the controls of the Tardis are numbered. Cue a female Doctor? About time.

The zealots of the Inquisition had many ingenious implements to torment the unfortunates in their grasp. The experience of watching last night's historical drama (concluding tonight) Labyrinth (Channel 4, Saturday *), was, thankfully, unavailable to them. An adaptation of Kate Mosse's novel, it follows the misadventures of two heroines: a young British woman who becomes involved with a clandestine sect in south-west France; and, in the same place only eight centuries earlier, the daughter of an aristocrat who is protecting the local heretical Cathar community. When I say community, I mean a single woman with the sort of pasty-faced dourness that often passes for devout faith in dramas such as this.

It's a pity that in the first hour and a half, the makers couldn't be bothered to explain the nature of the Cathar heresy – a heresy irksome enough, let's remember, to provoke the Catholic Church to get its inaugural Inquisition up and running.

The action staggered back and forth between the streets of 21st- and 13th-century Carcassonne like a dehydrated tour guide lost in one of those medieval fetes that the French have a passion for. John Hurt popped up now and then looking as confused as I felt.

All I can recall now is a lot of smoke bombs going off, someone putting the name Roger through a big Gallic mangle ("Hrrorgerrr!"), and the Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort, presumably on sabbatical from the uni, declaring: "I'll make honest Christians of these people even if I have to kill every last one of them to do it!"

Revolution (Sky1, Saturday **), an apocalypse drama that Sky has imported from America, did at least open with an arresting image: airliners falling from a night sky over a city whose electricity is cutting out. That's the premise of this series: the battle to restore power – and therefore grab power – 15 years after a mysterious and permanent worldwide blackout. By the looks of its salon-fresh and toothsome cast, though, it would appear that hairdressers and dentists had a few batteries put by.

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
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.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy