Top team

Burning question. How do you pronounce Poldark (BBC One)? I sense that it’s perhaps more authentically Cornish to put the emphasis on the second syllable: Pol-dark. But the more homogeneous acceptance puts the accent on “Pole”, as in Pol-dark. Most people are spending no time worrying about this, as they are too preoccupied with the view. As Francis Poldark says of his condemned cousin in Episode 2 of the surprisingly downbeat new series, “Which of us does not secretly adore him?”

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It took just 20 minutes in Ep1 for Aidan Turner to lose his shirt and oil up down the mine, but there are other lovely things to look at: the cliffs, the hills, sky, the exquisite tailoring. Without a masterplan – as I just review what I have watched on the telly – this week’s Telly Addict, #13 if you’re taking inventory, I seem to have reviewed four dramas, but of four different stripes. Pol-dark/Pol-dark covers costume/historical drama sumptuously, while contemporary drama, albeit one that’s been away for 13 years so still feels distinctly 90s, is embodied by Cold Feet (ITV), which I understand drew a consolidated audience (and what other kind is there?) of 7.9 million last Monday. I have no idea if anyone under 40 tuned in, but if not, there are enough of us ancients to keep it a hit.

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It’s not all hugs, pints, amigos and jokes about James Nesbitt’s hair transplant (“Have you got more hair?”) – indeed, it is to life-chronicler Mike Bullen’s credit that the comeback already hits a gloomy note. “I wish my future was still ahead of me,” says Pete. “I’m not happy,” says David, in some of the  best acting of the show so far. This was not melodrama; it was closer, in fact, to Scandinavian theatre.

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It will not be for everyone, but the return of The Strain (Channel W, as I call it) is a camp, comic-book classic from Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan about a vampocalypse in New York (as usual played by Toronto) , and at least star Corey Stoll (above) has been allowed to lose his ridiculous wig. I can’t imagine how much fun it must be for Brits David Bradley and new arrival Rupert Penry-Jones to play this kind of schlock.

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More fine British acting talent dominates the educational re-enactment show Barbarians Rising (the History Channel), where thesps at the level of Nicholas Pinnock (above) battle against the might of diagrams, computer simulation and retired four-star American Generals as talking heads. I love it. That is all of drama, I believe. And Telly Addict’s Moment of Zen is another fabulous, sentient scene from Ripper Street (Amazon Prime/BBC Two), in which Matthew Macfadyen and Jerome Flynn might well be discussing the resurrected show itself.

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Even though literally NOBODY is interested in the unusual, personal objects I leave on the coffee table each week, I’m sticking with the unloved extra. Anybody have any feelings at all about Top Team?

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No?

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Incidentally, after recording this week’s, the big news about The Great British Bake Off (BBC One/Channel 4) broke. None of us knows exactly what went on behind closed doors during production company Love and the BBC, but it has been mentioned that Channel 4 poached the Corporation’s most successful format by bidding three times what they’re currently paying for it. If that’s true, it reflects badly on capitalism and its precarious relationship with a Tory-diminished public sector. I admire Mel and Sue for declaring their independence so soon; this at least means that a commercial incarnation will not be the same. I can think of nothing more irksome than having to watch a show we have come to enjoy uninterrupted shot through with ads and, worse, bumpers paid for by Mr Kipling or Smeg fridges. Such a transfer from public to private has happened to plenty of beloved US imports like Seinfeld, The Simpsons and Mad Men, which, manhandled by the BBC, found happier homes on smaller, commercial channels, but very rarely has a format migrated. When BBC stars have been transferred, it has nearly always been a terrible disaster – I think of Morecambe and Wise, the Goodies, Trinny and Susannah?

I guess we Bake Off fans will have to enjoy this series while it lasts. It’s not been a classic so far. Although the glimpse of a Red Kite almost made up for its deficiencies of contestant.

gbbobird

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5 thoughts on “Top team

  1. Catching up on a three-week-old Radcliffe @ Maconie 6 Music episode and was startled/delighted to learn The Teatime Themetime answer was “the works of Andrew Collins”.

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  2. I know he’s only doing the same shtick but I find Hugh Skinner really watchable, in a non-serious way. He was the best thing about channel 4’s ‘The Windsors’ which, though never hilarious, often managed to bring a smile.

    Similarly admire Mel and Sue for sticking with the Beeb and rejecting the poached Bake-Off. Hopefully they won’t knead the dough that they’ll miss out on. It does seem a strange move by the producers of the programme. If nothing else the programme will be 12 minutes shorter on Ch4 when advert breaks are factored in. One of the reasons why it hasn’t quite got going this series (though it has still been good) is the same reason it is only really in the later weeks that it tends to get going every previous series too (barring some big, unexpected moment like the bin, or the custard, or the squirrel). That is, there are so many bakers you don’t really get to know them, or to learn much about the particular things each is baking in each round. As the numbers whittle down that issues gets resolved (plus you’ve followed them over the weeks, picked up on their habits, and so on). But it’ll be even more difficult to introduce and cover up to 12 bakers in 48 minutes than it is in 60. Perhaps they’ll reduce the initial number of contestants, or just cover some of the rounds in the early programmes with summaries of some of them. But any such tinkering is unlikely to be popular. Seems like a half-baked decision to move, and they’ll be left raw if it sinks in the middle when it’s taken out of the ch4 oven for presentation.

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  3. Are you not watching Mr. Robot?
    Best thing on TV at the moment given its complexity and all round brilliance.
    Cheers, Will.
    p.s. Maybe I missed the review of the final episode of “The Night Of..” which turned out to be, well, I don’t want to spoil anything.

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    • I am hooked on Mr Robot, just about to watch the finale of S1.

      I didn’t review the final episode of The Night Of (which I binged through in a couple of days), as it’s a whodunit, and it’s a minefield. However, I intend to sing the praises of the cat next week!

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