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TV review: Taggart | Don't Stop Believing

Taggart STV, Sunday Don't Stop Believing Five, Sunday

Yes, it's still on. With everything that's been happening in ITV drama lately - the cancellations of long-running series like The Bill and Heartbeat, the awkward row with STV about their decision to stop automatically showing all the network productions - combined with the usual question marks over any veteran show which has survived cast and format changes, it would be forgivable to think that Maryhill's finest detectives had sleuthed their last.

But Taggart has now reached the 101st episode mark, with yet another batch in production after these new episodes, which have already been shown abroad. It's hard to keep track, though less so than it might be, as over the years Taggart has reined its characters in, avoiding ongoing storylines and keeping their personal lives either off-screen or confined to individual episodes, each mini-issue resolved along with the crime.

Once, most continuing drama was made this way but it's now the tendency in crime shows for the detectives to be as traumatised and angst-ridden as the villains. After the extremes of the BBC's recent Luther, in which Idris Elba's entire acquaintance ended up as either murderers or victims, it's quite relaxing to return to cops for whom murder is just a job, to be investigated in a sensible, professional manner.

This story was a traditional one, about a gambler murdered at a greyhound track, which led to revelations of race-fixing, insurance fraud and sex tapes in various dour, grim-looking locations. But then that's what Taggart does and, after all this time, it's unlikely to change.

There is a certain amount of dry humour though, mostly from DCI Burke's deadpan lines, which Alex Norton delivers in full bulldog-sucking-wasp style. To a betting shop assistant who's "just trying to run a business here" he replies: "I'm sure you're givin' Alan Sugar sleepless nights." Burke couldn't be more jaded if he was coated in green stone.

But then you can hardly blame him: in Taggart's Glasgow, everyone's guilty; if not of the murder of the week, then of something else. Perhaps that's why we don't see much of Burke, Reid, Ross and Fraser in their off-hours: they must all finish their shifts and go straight to the pub to blot it all out.

Mind you, it's still not as depressing as Don't Stop Believing, Five's new bandwagon-jumping talent show which combines the Glee-style Broadwayification (a technical term) of pop songs with the usual X Factor/Lloyd Webber search for stars.

The result is a predictable mash-up of the talented and deluded on their own "journeys" being patronised and sniggered at by a judges who seem like they've just been introduced to each other 30 seconds before filming began.

There is the second most handsome one out of Blue, Tamzin Outhwaite out of EastEnders and some West End shows, some bloke who choreographed High School Musical and at-a-loose-end gravelly-voiced popstar Anastacia, who is the only one who'd have a chance of pulling off the Simon Cowell "tough one" role if she could only hold back the Californian positive therapy-speak. Do stop believing, Anastacia.

Taggart

STV, Sunday

Don't Stop Believing

Five, Sunday

 
 
 

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