Aidan Smith's TV reviews: Bodies (Netflix), The Real Wagatha Story (Disney+), The Ex-Wife (Channel 5), Breeders (Sky Comedy)

Why is it that just about every time there’s a fast-forwarding into the future, TV imagines that we’ll all be sporting the hairstyle of Dave Hill from 1970s glam-rockers Slade?

I think this is the first time I’ve ever prefaced “Slade” with “1970s glam-rockers”. This has become necessary, I feel, because it’s now a long time ago that Dave and his misspelling mates hogged the Hit Parade. They had a great sound and a great look, or rather a ridiculous look, with the guitarist’s fringe uppermost. It was cut high on the forehead, as if at a brain surgeon’s request, in readiness for frontal lobotomy.

Admittedly there’s only one of these in Bodies, Netflix’s new sci-fi drama, at least in the first episode. It comes right at the end, sported by a detective who’s found the naked body of a man in a London lane in 2053 with an eye missing and a strange tattoo on his wrist.

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I’m not giving anything away here because exactly the same discovery is made by polis in 1890, 1941 and the present year. The show, based on a graphic novel, surfs the different timelines, so the more we stop off in 2053, the more Hill-style barnets that might appear. But enough about hair. I’m all wrapped up in Bodies’ ambition and the intrigue of a four-for-the-price-of-one mystery.

Coleen Rooney relives the Wagatha Christie trial.Coleen Rooney relives the Wagatha Christie trial.
Coleen Rooney relives the Wagatha Christie trial.

Beyond the corpse, what links the stories? Some element of persecution, perhaps, with the 1890 detective almost certainly gay, but who dares not come out. The 1941 tec, who’s Jewish, endures anti-Semitic “banter”. The 2023 one, who’s black, is screamed at by far-right thugs brandishing “England’s Glory” placards.

Bodies is exciting. One minute the quadruple-packed action is shrouded in Victorian fog, the next it’s being battered by film-noirish rain. The big star is Stephen Graham, who’s possibly glimpsed in the shadowy background in 1890, but there’s no mistaking that’s him in 2053, the subject of a giant wall mural and looking awfully like Chairman Mao. Curiouser and curiouser (and indeed curiouser and curiouser).

How many friends do you have? It’s a question often asked, with the answers boiled up into survey results, which prompt surprise and often sadness. Social circles were already shrinking before the pandemic. WFH has increased the casualty rate.

Men are not at all bashful about admitting to a tiny number – indeed, this is one of the few areas where smallness is something they will boast about. And a recent study confirming that most interaction now happens on the internet found one in ten Brits claiming to have just a single “real” friend.

Stephen Graham in the time-jumping murder mystery BodiesStephen Graham in the time-jumping murder mystery Bodies
Stephen Graham in the time-jumping murder mystery Bodies

Coleen Rooney? Oh, she has “more than 300”. This includes family, but still I’m amazed by the number when she reveals it in The Real Wagatha Story. Included in her “close circle” is – or very much now, was – Rebekah Vardy.

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You’ll remember how Wag versus Wag made it all the way to the High Court of Justice. How the catnip of the catfight with its epic triviality pushed the hardest of hard news for a generation off the front pages and out of the opening headlines. Since then there’s been a stage show. A TV dramatisation. What’s been left unsaid? Surely the litter tray is empty.

Well, how about the real story of Coleen and how she went, in her mother’s words, “from grade-A student to men jumping out at her from behind bins”? Not pervs, you understand, but paps. When Wayne Rooney’s football went stratospheric, the world wanted to know about the schooldays sweetheart he’d first kissed behind a church.

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Arguably her fame has now overshot his. For while he sits in semi-darkness, cowed and contrite about the drink-driving in the company of a woman who was not his wife that sparked the seismic spat, she’s glowingly backlit while recounting, in three instalments, the gross invasion of her privacy.

Tom Mison and Celine Buckens in The Ex-WifeTom Mison and Celine Buckens in The Ex-Wife
Tom Mison and Celine Buckens in The Ex-Wife

Yes, three are three parts to this. Just like the Beatles’ Get Back, another monumental Liverpool saga funded by Disney+. Aagh! I hear you – how can this possibly be? Well, just about every emoji from Coleen’s incontinent Instagram pops up again.

Also every ellipsis. “It’s … Rebekah Vardy” was the big reveal at the conclusion of her sting to discover which of those great mates had been leaking messages from her private account to The Sun. And there’s quite a lot of Coleen invading her own privacy.

Three hours are needed because she must act out key scenes in the reconstruction. Such as packing for a stay at her mother’s house to leave Wayne to stew. Packing to take the kids to Barbados for further stewing. Packing for court.

Truly, I can’t decide on my favourite moment. Is it Coleen revealing the libel trial excited Wayne so much he actually contemplated a new career in law? Or the Rooneys, noses pressed against windows, bucket of Haribos at the ready, but waiting in vain for Halloween trick or treaters because the thickness of their mansion’s steel gates and the length of the drive specifically exist to scare off visitors?

No, on balance, I think it’s when the doc goes round all the contributors – mother, agent, proper chums – to inquire about the culprit being unmasked: “Where were you when …?” This was the 9/11 question.

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My favourite answer comes from the girlfriend who at the epochal moment, just after the school run, was having her eyebrows waxed. One of Wagdom’s Twin Towers ended up tumbling down. Ah, but Vardy has her own version of events in production. Hud. Me. Back.

As the outrageously obnoxious posho in Showtrial, Celine Buckens was sensational. In a story reminiscent of the real-life “Foxy Knoxy” case, she responded to being charged with a campus murder with 2021’s most chilling line of dialogue: “But I’m meant to be in Paris for a friend’s gallery opening.” I’ve been awaiting her next move with keen interest and here’s The Ex-Wife.

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All the ingredients for an irresistibly schlocky melodrama from the masters, Channel 5, are present and correct: Grand Designs house, glass-fronted for snoopers. Kitchen porn moments with a coffee machine based on the Tardis’s control console. Husband with a nebulous job in “media” who’ll announce: “I’m going to grab a quick sauna.” (Said facility is within the home). Sexy young wife (Buckens).

All of this is thrown into the pot, or pot-boiler, along with the key ingredient – the sexy and only slightly older ex-wife who’s kept a set of keys and is always turning up announced. The question is – why? Another question: whose car explodes into a fireball in the opening scene before flashback? Even more urgent: what kind of parents have a baby chair in on-trend dark grey that perfectly matches the rest of the decor?

I gave up on Breeders (Sky Comedy) a while back. Paul (Martin Freeman) and Ally (Daisy Haggard) were just too angry. But at the start of the final season they’re getting on a whole lot better, having decided to divorce, not least at the back of the church while sending up friends renewing their vows. It’s Christmas – not the most wonderful time of the year for Ally’s mum who says: “I reluctantly go along with it like those Jersey residents who were essentially good people but collaborated with the Nazis.”



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