Aidan Smith on TV: Supersex, The Gentlemen, Mary & George and The Push: Murder on the Cliff

From a drug dealing toff to romps in the court of James I, elder brothers are pushed aside in three wildly different shows




Julianne Moore and Nicholas Galitzine in Mary & George. Picture: ©Sky UKJulianne Moore and Nicholas Galitzine in Mary & George. Picture: ©Sky UK
Julianne Moore and Nicholas Galitzine in Mary & George. Picture: ©Sky UK

The Gentlemen



Mary & George

Fawziyah Javed whose murder is the subject of The Push: Murder on the CliffFawziyah Javed whose murder is the subject of The Push: Murder on the Cliff
Fawziyah Javed whose murder is the subject of The Push: Murder on the Cliff

Sky Atlantic


The Push: Murder on the Cliff

Channel 4


I guess “spares” have a lot of spare time on their hands. Well, if their poster boy, Prince Harry, is at a loose end right now he might be interested in a cluster of new dramas. In all three, you see, the second son also rises.

It’s remarkable sometimes how TV shows from the same week seem to have been eavesdropping on each other. In two, patriarchs are laid to rest, families mourn at gravesides, the wills are read and - shockaroonie - wee brothers nip ahead of the first-borns.

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In the third, the younger boy suffers playground cruelty. “Stretch it! Stretch it!” cry his tormentors. Elder sibling Tomasso, examining the damage, senses a great opportunity. “This is huge!” he shrieks. “And now you, Rocco my brother, you’ve got the biggest d*** in the world. Hold your head up proudly!”

This is Supersex (Netflix), a biopic of Italian stallion Rocco Siffredi, one of the world’s most prolific, and fastest-recovering, adult movie star with 1,300 X-rated flicks to his name. I know that Harry is always looking for new money-making opportunities but perhaps this would be, er, a stretch for him. And I’m not sure he’ll find much comfort in Mary & George or The Gentlemen either.

The latter, also on Netflix, is Guy Ritchie’s reworking of his 2019 film of the same name, still with poshos rubbing up against right bad yins as the action shifts from very big house in the country to seedy boxing gym and back again. Who remembers the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band? Not many now, but their number “Big Shot” had the line “I’m a G-man … girls, guns, guts”. That’s Ritchie, who finds another role for Vinnie Jones, this time as a camp florist. No, I’m kidding.

The star is Theo James as Eddie who avers: “Freddy’s the heir and I’m the spare.” Except the brothers’ old man (Edward Fox), even though he’s delirious on his deathbed and dribbling about some fellow having “killed 15 Frenchmen before lunch”, clearly doesn’t trust Freddy (Daniel Ings) with the estate. “You f****r!” the latter roars at Eddie, turning as puce as his corduroys. “You’ve leapfrogged over your older brother!”

James is interesting. “Hot, you mean,” remarks my 15-year-old daughter. Well, he’s had an interesting route to here, his first lead role coming via The White Lotus, just like One Day’s Leo Woodall. If there’s been a sexier drama than The White Lotus then I’ve missed it. Previous to that the part-Scots, part-Greek James was Downton Abbey’s Turkish diplomat, bonked to death by Michelle Dockery who was in the movie version of The Gentlemen. See how everything’s connected?

But I’m afraid I’m bigging up the small-screen version and, really, it’s too slow-paced and suffers from the uncertainness of tone which afflicts many crime capers. Mentioning The White Lotus is perhaps unfortunate because there isn’t a clever line to rival any from that show. Mind you, I don’t object to corny, although am not sure the payoff from “Big Shot” can ever be bettered: “Got a light, mac? … No, but I’ve got a dark brown overcoat.”

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If Harry was to copy Eddie he’d find himself surprisingly in charge of an underground cannabis farm with Scouse gangsters lurking for his cokehead brother’s £8 million debts. Mind you, that might be preferable to George in Mary & George (Sky Atlantic) who’s pimped by his mother to become a monarch’s toyboy.

Did this really happen? Did social-climbing Mary Villiers really connive to get her second son - preferring him “by quite some margin” to his “hollow” older brother - into the bed of King James I? Historians can’t be absolutely certain of this but let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a good and bawdy romp.

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In 1614, James pitches up at the Northamptonshire pile of Mary’s new husband, who she married just two weeks after his predecessor was declared potted heid. A carriage full of brawny lads brings up the rear. “The Well-Hung Crew,” Mary is told. “Men of the king’s bedchamber - all Scots.” Well, hooray for us.

James is of course Scottish and Tony Curran relishes the opportunity for a Sauchiehall Street accent with Jacobean tinges (“Issa wee joke, for f**k’s sake!”). Julianne Moore, playing Mary, was telling 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne only the other day how much she loves Greenock and her tartan roots, but in the carnality of the court her character clearly believes Caledonia wields too much clout. There’s a role for her boy now that he’s back from France where he learned refinement, also what happens at an orgy.

Costume dramas didn’t used to be so quick to cast off the costumes. It was The Forsyte Saga, after all, not The Forsyte Shagger. I never watched them before but, well, there must be a truth to all the sex, given that in olden times there would have been so little else to do and, honestly, it’s the veracity I enjoy about these programmes now. Both Moore and Curran are tremendous and Nicholas Galitzene as George possesses the kind of plump, pouting lips that girls - and doubtless boys - would hop over to Turkey to replicate.

“Are you familiar with the extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh?” These are the first words in The Push: Murder on the Cliff (Channel 4), spoken in court by Alex Prentice KC, a voice I know from my old high school but which is becoming increasingly familiar to viewers with Scotland allowing trials to be filmed. Last year he led the prosecution into the murders of Renee and Andrew MacRae, one of Scotland’s most notorious and longest-running unsolved mysteries. In the dock here was Kashif Anwar, accused of pushing his pregnant wife Fawziyah Javed to her death from the craggy summit in 2021.

This is stunning work from documentarist Anna Hall, painful at times, though that’s nothing compared to the agonies of Fawziyah’s family, listening to a phonecall of Anwar screaming at their daughter: “You’re a disease … the sooner you’re dead, the better.” But it’s also gripping in the skill with which the case is constructed for a crime without eyewitnesses.

It feels like important work. Many watching won’t be familiar with honour-based abuse. Anyone watching in coercive relationships will appreciate the value of recording conversations. Fawziyah’s mum Yasmin says: “She was an angel, perfect in every way, gave so much to society and had many great plans for her life.” Our legal eagles bring quiet dignity to the trial process. Other true crime docs, where participants are more aware of the cameras, are available.

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