“That’s Fetid Pond,” I declare of the striking shade of green behind Anna Maxwell Martin in Hollington Drive (ITV). The wife groans. “Around the Gills, then? After the Stag? Phlegm Brulee?” My better half must be tired of me taking the mickey out of the fact she can read the colour chart from 100 yards away. I’ll never be able to do that but reckon I can spot a telly cliche when I see one.
That kitchen for starters. And the drone shot of the houses, neatly arranged on the estate, all big enough to hide many secrets. And the slo-mo Stepfordy vibe, that’s quite familiar. And the trip-hoppy soundtrack which must make DJ Shadow wail: “Whatever happened to my career after TV made me the background to everything?!” And, look, here’s some folks at a barbecue, friends and family, but there’s a distinct undercurrent, of course there is.
Martin’s Theresa is irritated by her partner Fraser but that’s nothing compared to her sister Helen (Rachael Stirling) who can’t stand her man David. Fraser doesn’t like how Helen “drowns” Theresa. Meanwhile Fraser’s brother Eddie annoys everyone with his showing off (“Honestly, this is the best watch I’ve ever owned”).
But all of this is forgotten - temporarily - when ten-year-old Alex from the estate goes missing. “If he’s been snatched, my money’s on the drone operator,” I say. “Either him or the lazy soundtrack guy.” Cue more groans from my wife.
Then the secrets start to be revealed. It’s as if everyone’s opened up the backs of the Audis to display their skeletons, almost like in a car boot sale, though Hollington Drive probably has rules banning such plebeian activities.
Theresa has a son, Ben, and surely she must be thinking “There but for the grace of God … ”. No, what she’s thinking is: should I admit to Fraser that the story I’ve always told him about Ben’s father walking out on her is a lie - that she doesn’t know the identity of the dad? There was a party, she says - “lots of strangers.”
Helen is the local headmistress who’s a bit shrill and her office is far too well-appointed but I’m banking on her to rise to the challenge of this crisis, show good leadership and keep everyone together.
Well, it turns out she’s shagging Adam’s father, and when she pops round to ask if there’s anything she can do to help and discovers the boy’s distraught mum is out, very probably continuing the desperate search, these two get down to it again. What a mess. And that kitchen is so nice, too.
It’s funny that Hollington Drive and the week’s other new crime drama, The Chestnut Man (Netflix), both feature little figurines. In the former they’ve been carved by Adam’s dad and may not turn out to be crucial. But there’s a very good chance that by the end of the latest Nordic noir from Soren Sviestrup, the ghoulish genius behind The Killing, you will no longer look at conkers in quite the same innocent way.
The drama begins with a bloodbath - three dead in a farmhouse, followed quickly by the investigating policeman - and doesn’t let up, with the mutilated body of a nurse found in a playground.
Naia Thulin (Danica Curcic) is the single-mum detective on the latter case, with both of them linked by the chestnut-and-matchstick dolls. Meanwhile, a top Copenhagen politician, Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner), is returning to work a year after the murder of her daughter when the girl’s fingerprints are discovered on one of the figurines.
As usual in Nordic noir, the light fittings are gorgeous and, as usual, they’re never turned on very often. In the gathering gloom Naia never flinches. She’s not made of chestnuts and looks to be a steely Scandi heroine in the Sarah Lund mould.
She’s always arguing with her boss who demands more from less as force cutbacks bite. She’s been saddled with an oddball sidekick from Interpol who seems certain to clodhop through the investigation, though he redeems himself when coaxing info from the dead nurse’s son, rendered mute by the shock.
From tiny brown bodies on spindly legs to Gino D’Acampo who looks like a chestnut man as he smears himself with mud from thermal springs on the island of Santorini. But at least on Gordon, Gino & Fred Go Greek (ITV) he gets his shirt off; Gordon Ramsay is a big jessie.
Can I still use that term of endearment? Ramsay would. He’ll say anything, and while I quite enjoy his swearing when trying to sort out bozo American restaurateurs, the f-word jars here amid the drop-dead gorgeous vistas and gentle pace of these laddish excursions. I guess, though, it’s expected of him. It’s his f****n’ calling-card.
Imagine The Trip with no impersonations, more food, contrived spontaneity, a chucked-together soundtrack and comedy which consists entirely of fnar-fnar jokes about sausages. Benny Hill, Frankie Howerd and Dick Emery - sorry, Ramsay, D’Acampo and Fred Sirieix - seem to be the only visitors to an island which normally attracts two million a year. Probably just as well. Who wants to hear them discuss manscaping with D’Acampo revealing how he likes to “keep the games room nice and tidy”?