sat 13/07/2024

tv

Criminal Record, Apple TV+ review - law and disorder in Hackney

Adam Sweeting

It’s not easy to find a new way to package a drama about that perennially popular topic, the dark side of policing, but Criminal Record at least gets its ducks in a row with some strong writing by Paul Rutman and a strength-in-depth cast.

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Mr Bates vs The Post Office, ITV1 review - a star-packed account of an incendiary story

Helen Hawkins

There isn’t a troupe officially called the Worshipful Company of British Character Actors, but there probably should be, given the sterling service it does for the nation, acting in prestige TV dramas based on real events. Toby Jones and Monica Dolan regularly top the bill in this genre, as they do in ITV’s Mr Bates vs The Post Office.

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The Tourist, Series 2, BBC One review - an amnesiac Jamie Dornan explores his Irish roots

Adam Sweeting

It was barely a month ago that screenwriters Jack and Harry Williams astounded viewers with Boat Story. Now they’re back with a sequel (or maybe just a continuation) of The Tourist, which debuted a year ago with its mind-bending story of the amnesiac Elliot Stanley (Jamie Dornan), who found himself all at sea in the Australian outback.

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Best of 2023: TV

Adam Sweeting

TV viewers can hardly complain about a lack of choice these days, though they might baulk at funding an ever-lengthening list of subscriptions.

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The Kemps: All Gold, BBC Two review - bickering with the Ballet boys

Adam Sweeting

This is the follow-up to 2020’s The Kemps: All True, in which rock satirist Rhys Thomas assessed the Spandau Ballet boys as the band reached its 40th anniversary. This time, we rejoin Thomas as he spends a year as a fly on the wall in the chaotic lives of Martin and Gary, culminating in their plans to appear in the BBC’s New Year celebrations as 2024 dawns.

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Murder Is Easy, BBC One review - was this journey really necessary?

Adam Sweeting

Well at least they haven’t changed the identity of the killer this time around, but the BBC’s new version of Agatha Christie’s 1939 novel has been modified in other ways. Screenwriter Siân Ejiwunmi-Le Berre and director Meenu Gaur have opted to move the story into the mid-1950s, introducing themes of racism, class prejudice and capitalist exploitation.

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Mad About the Boy: the Noël Coward Story, BBC Two review - the making of The Master

Adam Sweeting

They called Noël Coward “The Master”, and Barnaby Thompson's 90-minute documentary marking 50 years since his death reminded us why. Though there was nothing here in the way of hitherto unknown revelations, the tale of how a boy who left school at nine and had no musical training yet became one of the world’s most prolific playwrights and composers undoubtedly has something fantastical about it.

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A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249, BBC Two review - mummy's boy unleashes hell in the halls of academe

Adam Sweeting

Having previously brought us adaptations of M R James’s ghost stories, reviving the BBC tradition inaugurated by Lawrence Gordon Clark in the 1970s, Mark Gatiss has now turned to a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle for his annual Christmas chiller.

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The Heist Before Christmas, Sky Max review - the Santa Claus wars

Adam Sweeting

Not just one, but two Santas in this agreeable seasonal romp. It’s set in small-town Northern Ireland, where single mum Patricia (Laura Donnelly) is struggling to bring up her two young sons, Mikey (Bamber Todd) and Sean (Joshua McLees).

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Blood Coast, Netflix review - mayhem in Marseille

Adam Sweeting

The original title of this French crime drama was Pax Massilia, a reference to the classical roots of its setting in what is now known as Marseille. Dating back to the 6th Century BC, it’s supposedly the oldest city in France. An atmospheric mix of architectural styles, dramatic views, a Mediterranean climate and multiple ethnicities, it makes the perfect stage for this fast-paced and sometimes horrifically violent thriller.

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