TV preview: Broadchurch (ITV Monday 9pm)

Plus Prime Suspect 1973 (ITV, Thursday 9pm), Meet the Lords (BBC2, Monday 9pm), The Nightly Show (ITV, Monday to Thursday 9pm), This Country (BBC1, Saturday 11.50pm and BBC3/iPlayer, Wednesday)

Sean O'Grady
Thursday 23 February 2017 17:29
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Catch me if you can: Broadchurch returns for its third – and final – series
Catch me if you can: Broadchurch returns for its third – and final – series

Broadchurch is back on Monday, which is very good news. The bad news is that ITV say it will be the third and final series, so we won’t be seeing that much more of detectives DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller (David Tennant and Olivia Colman). So you’d best make the most of this run, I suppose. OK, it’s a little formulaic in the modern detective drama idiom, all blue rubber gloves and evidence bags, but the fashionable obsession with showing the viewer the forensic stuff in, well, forensic detail doesn’t intrude too much. As ever Colman and Tennant’s performances lift the action, and they’re joined here by some excellent support from Sir Lenny Henry and Julie Hesmondhalgh, who has liberated herself from her Coronation Street role of Hayley Cropper. Hesmondhalgh plays the victim of a sexual attack with just the right balance of the mundane and the extreme, and the writers give us just enough to start our minds thinking about suspects without giving the game away. There’s dozens of suspects, in fact, some familiar to us and some not so. You’ll want to watch the next episodes.

Prime Suspect 1973 is also formulaic in its own way, indulging us once again in the British passion for intricately constructed retro-feel drama. In this case the young probationer WPC Jane Tennision, played with wide-eyed vulnerability by Stefanie Martini is routinely subjected to some authentically delivered sexism, but of course that isn’t going to stop her from using a murder case to break through all that blokeish nonsense.

She’s pretty convincing as a nascent Helen Mirren, but I wonder if the sexism stuff is a bit overdone, the point about a woman having to try so much harder than a man to make progress laboured a little too much, but, then again, it must be true. Anyway if you like your crime dramas served with casual male chauvinism, Austin 1100 panda cars, tank tops, electric typewriters, Zapata moustaches and teleprinter machines, Prime Suspect 1973 will not disappoint. The only thing missing is a cameo from Gene Hunt.

Stefanie Martini plays in the young Jane Tennision in the new 1970s-set Prime Suspect

Meet the Lords was probably a well-intentioned exercise in democratic transparency, but the tales that some “senior” peers (after all, they are jolly senior citizens on the whole) tell about their colleagues has tarnished the nobility of their lordships’ reputation. Evidently it is the best club in town, with lots of tradition, flunkies in tights and tabards, plus an enormous amount of Ruritanian charm.

The most telling detail for me isn’t the revelation that some peers abuse the £300-a-day attendance allowance (one allegedly keeping a taxi waiting while he “attended” for the shortest possible time, but hearing Lord Armstrong tell us how much he enjoys the tasty range of milk puddings the stewards serve up at dinner time. Here is someone who was once one of the most powerful figures in the country, Cabinet Secretary to Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minster for eight years, a first-hand witness to some of the most tumultuous events in our history – the Falklands conflict, miners’ strikes, IRA bombings and all the rest. To borrow one of Winston Churchill’s celebrated phrases, used in a different context, the House of Lords is full of such curiosities, extinct volcanoes the lot of them.

Another busy day for mockumentary stars Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe (Daisy and Charlie Cooper)

I should also mention The Nightly Show, which embarks on an eight-week run on Monday, taking the traditional News at Ten spot (which moves, unaccountably to 10.30pm). Anyone would think ITV wanted to finish off the bongs, like in one of their many crime shows. Perish the thought that they’d ever wish to abandon their public service duties. Anyway, The Nightly Show is prepared near-live with a different host each week, and opening host David Walliams has the awesome task of trying to make entertainment out of the current grim newsflow. Walliams is a braver man that I thought.

Finally, as they say, another reminder to catch This Country, now midway through its run. It’s on BBC3/BBC iPlayer and squeezed in after Match of the Day on Saturday nights. This week sees Cotswold cousins Kerry and Lee “Kurtan” Mucklowe welcome Uncle Nugget home after his brief spell inside for twocking a coach from Swindon bus station. He was only having a laugh, you see. The best comedy out there. I’m having a laugh, anyhow.

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