Sometimes I wonder what television would do if it wasn't for intertextuality. This is a fancy word for creative rip-off, or rather - since that is a touch too harsh a description - the helpful fact that writers can always rummage through past successes for working parts, like a man in a breaker's yard putting together the components for a home-built kit car. In just two of the big popular dramas this weekend, for example, you could detect the presence of bits from Cyrano de Bergerac (BBC1) (the whole chassis in that case) Henry IV, Educating Rita, Les Diaboliques, Shirley Valentine (and the works of Alan Ayckbourn passim). None of which greatly matters as long as the build quality is reasonable and the resulting vehicle can stay on the road. That will partly depend on who is at the wheel, of course. In the case of The Student Prince, it was Robson Green, a performer of dapper inscrutability. He's always struck me as a actor who makes a little go a very long way, but I don't think his popularity is simply mystifying; he possesses that most important quality for a screen star - an alluring blankness onto which the audience can project their own moving pictures. And though he performed perfectly creditably in the one scene that called for acting - a passage in which Rostand's words finally give utterance to his repressed feelings (thus folding yet another layer into that already pleated drama) - for the most part, he's just required to be dependably Robson Greenish; a deadpan remark here, a meerkat tilt of the head there.

The story itself was nonsense - a twisted buddy movie in which Green is assigned as personal bodyguard to a young prince at Cambridge and ends up tutoring him in love and literature (quite incredibly, the two men share a set of rooms, allowing for various embarrassing intimacies at the cost of the drama's last vestigial shred of plausibility). When both men fall for Tara Fitzgerald, a sassy Fulbright scholar, Green assumes that his lack of formal education rules him out - the intellectual equivalent of Cyrano's deforming schnoz. He has reckoned without inner beauty, naturally; not only does his doctorate from the University of Life impress her, but his over-the-shoulder studies are so effective that he ends up taking a First in the finals - in other words, this is a Cyrano in which the hero's nose is straight out of a plastic surgeon's catalogue. That suggests The Student Prince took very few risks with the emotional volatility of its storyline - but its heart was in the right place (literature matters), it had several good jokes; and Lee Hunt, the writer, deserves a knighthood for the unequivocal republicanism with which he named his prince Mr Windsor. "If Edward can do it," says the genially dimwitted Prince as he auditions for a student play, "then it must be a doddle".

Deadly Summer (C5) was that rare thing - an original Channel Five drama. It was not quite that equally rare thing - a successful black comedy - but it came close. The plot detailed the comeuppance delivered to two monstrous emotional bullies by their wives - Celia (Francesca Annis) accidentally dispatches her husband Donald with a boule and is helped to cover up the deed by Linda (Pauline Quirke), who has recovered her sexual confidence in the arms of a leathery Gallic charmer. The film's ambience owed much to Les Diaboliques, Clouzot's thriller of husband murder and corpse disappearance. This was slightly unhelpful because that film's infamous last-minute twist - and some careful indeterminacy about the exact status of Donald's body - led you to brace yourself for a final shock that never came. Having crafted the incrimination of Linda's husband with some care (various loose ends in the earlier sections suddenly pull into a noose around his neck), the writers sailed on past their own ingenious machinery - opting instead to have Linda push her whining husband into the canal. This satisfied one's desire for revenge and gender triumph (she and Celia did a final unwitting imitation of Thelma and Louise, standing at the wheel of their getaway barge in shades and head scarves), but it meant that the drama ended with a whimper rather than a satisfying bang.

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