You have been watching

Apologies for the delay of the blog entry of the 25th Telly Addict, which will be the last regular Telly Addict of 2016. After this week’s promised Zen round-up, which is going to be a corker, we’re taking a break. But Telly Addict will return in 2017. Look out for some special Telly Addicts in the New Year, and – fingers crossed, MPs lobbied, YouTube clips and blog entries “liked”, “shared” and Tweeted – we’ll be back under the same UKTV umbrella, the one which has kept Telly Addict dry for the last 26 weeks, after the Guardian made it homeless in April. (I have genuinely cancelled my subscription to the newspaper.)

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In the last regular Telly Addict, a review of the finale of The Missing (BBC Two), which ought to be far enough in the past now for some footage of three main characters walking through the woods in what is actually Belgium for tax reasons no longer to constitute an active spoiler. I loved this second series, perhaps even more than the first, which for me was at least one episode short of an eight episode drama. This one confidently expanded to fill the slot, and even went so far as to reveal the villain in episode six, without losing our rapt attention. Fantastic work, Jack and Harry Williams, and director Ben Chanan. The cast were top-flight, too: Roger Allam, David Morrissey, Tchéky Karyo, Anastasia Hille, Keeley Hawes (an actress so often called upon to be sad and vexed who will be smiling again in the New Year in The Durrells), Laura Fraser and Derek Riddell.

It’s ongoing, but I’m enjoying the sheer, unvarnished gloom of Rillington Place (BBC Two). Those of us who hold the movie version with Richard Attenborough dear were always going to have trouble erasing his eerie performance from our minds, but Tim  Roth, whispering his way to the gallows, gives him a run for his money, with Samantha Morton particularly strong as Ethel. Considering this is the season to be jolly, there’s not much in the drama department to support that cliché. (Even the Christmas Radio Times seems to be filled with murder and melancholy. Maybe that reflects the shitty year we’ve had.)

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A little treat to remedy the mood: We Have Been Watching (Gold), a simple knock-off of Gogglebox except with the stars of comedy watching comedy, in a couple of cases, comedies they are literally in. It works because of the rapport between the couples doing the watching. We share their excitement as, say, the Father Ted logo fades up.

The happiest bits come from Him and Her, Sarah Solemani and Russell Tovey, who seem to be the very best of pals, and the saddest bits come from Ricky Tomlinson, forced to watch the clip of him and Caroline Aherne from the 1999 Royle Family Christmas special, which has all sorts of emotions flying about and making the party hats look ironic.

Quite how three working MPs fit in to all this festivity and murder, I don’t know, but here they are, Nick Clegg, Naz Shah and the fictional character Jacob Rees-Mogg in MPs: Behind Closed Doors (Channel 5), a valuable one-off doc showing the three of them in surgery, dealing with the people who elected them, or didn’t, including some persuasive and adamant constituents who won’t take no for an answer. Not that politicians ever say yes or no, they just waffle and prevaricate and avoid confirmation or denial. Which is why Nick Clegg comes across the best. Give it a spin on catch-up. You’ll be proud to be part of the electorate, even if you disagree with the assessment that Jacob Rees-Mogg is “quite human.”

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Also recommended, if you have a strong heart as it’s very sad, is UB40: Promises & Lies (BBC Four, where else?), anything but a standard rock doc. I had caught wind of there now being two UB40s, but I had no idea how this split had destroyed the Campbell family, and how ongoing the acrimony seems to be. It’s on iPlayer for a couple more weeks, and needs to be seen.

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The final Telly Addict of the year, and for now, will be up on Thursday, that bumper round-up I was talking about. A year like the one we’ve had requires extra Zen.

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3 thoughts on “You have been watching

  1. I enjoyed The Missing – again, but after episode three I was the only one left in my household. The others dropped out because too many time zones and, worse – since we are living near the Belgium border in Germany, too many familiar places. The location was not only Malmedy in Belgium, but also two “scenic” day-trip locations nearby (former nazi fortress Vogelsang and Olef dam, both in the Eifel mountains in Germany) which didn’t ease the sense of dislocation and confusion.
    Still, last year we visited Huy, the small town in Belgium where season one was filmed and where the local pub owners told us what fun they had with the French flags all over the place during filming.

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  2. Agree about both The Missing and Rillington Place, far from upbeat or seasonal (though there was plenty of snow in the former) but excellent drama that really drew you in. And, a surprise for me, In Plain Sight that started last week was also very good. Despite their supposed recent improvements, and enduring popularity, I’m rarely impressed by the ITV drama department and typically avoid it (and whenever I do give it a go it usually confirms that opinion, most recently with Paranoid, and before that with Marcella, both of which I was regretting watching within the hour). But at least the first episode of In Plain Sight was really good (actually making the most of its good cast), and hopefully it’ll maintain that standard for the next two.

    Andrew, did you see Muslims Like Us, and what did you think? I haven’t seen the second episode yet but the first was pretty good and, what a surprise, showed that most people of that faith are pretty decent but within a group of any size there will be a few who act as jerks as well. Supposedly the second episode is a bit more confrontational and sensationalist though (more of the typical reality-tv histrionics).

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    • Yes, I enjoyed the first ep of In Plain Sight, as I didn’t know the true story (unlike Rillington Place, which held no surprises), and I liked both Compston and Henshall in the twin leads. More dour gloom though!

      I didn’t see Muslims Like Us. I’m behind on a lot of TV at the moment, due to non-TV-watching commitments.

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