Aidan Smith on return of Bridgerton (with only a sixth of the sex). Also in the TV week: the finales of This is Going to Hurt and Rock Till We Drop

Heaven forfend! Bridgerton has cut down on the sex. The story’s been everywhere that the Netflix smasheroo from lockdown can no longer be nicknamed Bonkerton or Rogerton. Is there any point in watching?

A new season of Bridgerton and a new season for the debutantes, hope to snare a dashing chap like Jonathan Bailey's viscount.
A new season of Bridgerton and a new season for the debutantes, hope to snare a dashing chap like Jonathan Bailey's viscount.

Only about 16 percent of the raunchy scenes of last time, apparently. Who’s calculated this and how do you apply for such a job? More crucially, who’s scripting the second series? Have all the writers been sacked and replaced by resident gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, now revealed to be Penelope, already Bridgerton’s best character anyway?

“Women need to be valued for more than dancing skills and comportment,” she writes in her bulletin at the start of a new debutante season. And by extension maybe a drama needs to be valued for more than just the constant and furious unshackling of corsetry to titillate a cabin-fever audience. Time will tell if this is a brave or foolish move. Meanwhile it’s my duty to report that the first episode contains just one bare bahookie (male).

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Don’t worry. If you love the dresses and the wigs (Queen Charlotte appears to be wearing two embracing sloths on her head) and the lush lawns and Madonna hits played on violins and the spritely quadrilles then you should be okay. You’ll just have to love them a bit more, that’s all. But watch out for Kate Sharma, just arrived from Bombay to up everyone’s game.

Two outstanding shows have ended. I want another series of Rock Till We Drop (BBC2) and would say the same about This Is Going to Hurt (BBC1) but am not sure I can take any more blood, any more screaming - and any more horrific stats, e.g. one doctor in the UK takes his or her own life every three weeks.

The latter comes right at the end as Adam (Ben Wishaw) faces a “fitness to practice” hearing. The adjudicators think they’ve heard enough from him but he continues to rant about 90-hour weeks - a “broken system”. And then he hits them with the suicide of colleague Shruti.

What I’d miss though, if ex-doc Adam Kay doesn’t dramatise any more of his previous life, is the blacker-than-black humour. Such as when our hero finds a rookie medic sobbing in the locker-room having panicked during a delivery, almost resulting in fatal consequences. Realising he’d been quite hard on the newbie, he recommends: “Take the afternoon off. Decompress, phone your mum, have a w**k.” Adding quickly: “Separately.”

I thought Adam was going to hug the guy. He does hug his mother after their latest squabble. He almost hugs the ward sister before suggesting: “Can we just go back to insulting each other?” The person he most wants to hug is Harry, his ex, blaming his impossible job for their split.

I’ve sometimes found Wishaw quite mannered but this might be the best thing he’s done. That jittery, obsessive style has found its place and he ends the series as he began it, delivering a baby in the hospital car park. This is Going to Hurt has been brilliant at capturing the utter uselessnes of brand new dads. This one, initially worried the car upholstery would be ruined, wails on baby’s arrival: “What do we do now?” Adam: “I think you feed it for a few years, let it live in your house and then send it to school … ”

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Rock Till We Drop (BBC2) has followed a battle of the bands all the way to the Isle of Wight Festival. Who wins isn’t important; they’ve just to make it to the big gig and realise dreams. Sadly Carol, 72, doesn’t. The bass guitarist with the tip-toeing moves a la Tina Weymouth from Talking Heads calls off with Covid.

Brian, 65, is her replacement. “This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life,” says the painter/decorator, rooting around in his van and finding lyrics he’d scribbled on the back of an old letter from his kids’ school.

Leburn, 64, rehearsing his guitar solo for Free’s “All Right Now”, declares: “I was born for this. I actually could die right after and that would be fine.” (Please don’t).

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Richard, 72, chooses his wardrobe - Hendrix t-shirt and Donovan cap. Arty, 73, who plays drums from his wheelchair, is still moaning about hating reggae but he’s a hoot like the rest although my favourite has to be Eileen. At 80 she’s the oldest and while this retired head teacher from Aberdeen might have to be helped onto the stage she performs with such exuberance that audiences chant her name. Come on, Eileen!

These energetic oldsters probably haven’t been sat around watching Not Going Out (BBC1), now on its 12th series. The only previous episode I’d seen was the finale of the 11th and I was glad I did, that being the last appearance before he died of Bobby Ball, star of Babes in the Wood at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre when I was a masterful rear end of the pantomime horse.

Here, Ball played the dad of Lee (Lee Mack, as a fictional version of himself) who’s married to Lucy (Sally Bretton). He reappears in portrait form, painted by mother-in-law Wendy, and it’s not a great likeness. No one admits this, at least not at first, so everyone performs that familiar sitcom dance of awkwardness and over-politeness. This is quite sweet, and almost a tribute to when Terry and June walked the earth. It’s like The Office - and Bretton was in that - never happened.



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