Irvine Welsh's Crime review: Edinburgh in all its Jekyll/Hyde, fur coat/nae knickers glory

In his new show, Dougray Scott languishes in a crack house, which should be the last place his character would want to be.
Dougray Scott as the demon-laden detective in Irvine Welsh's CrimeDougray Scott as the demon-laden detective in Irvine Welsh's Crime
Dougray Scott as the demon-laden detective in Irvine Welsh's Crime

Or is the last place an abandoned well, walls crumbling on top of him, horrors at the bottom about to be revealed?

Mind you, Scott, a Hibernian supporter in real life, must also pretend via acting to be a fan of Heart of Midlothian. Randomly, he must recite the career stats of notable players. Then, at an empty Tynecastle Park at midnight, he must stagger into the centre-circle and break down in tears. Truly, the man is suffering for his art. Bafta, please!

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Scott’s tortured tec, Ray Lennox, is the anti-hero of Irvine Welsh’s Crime, now in its second season on ITVX. Lennox has no wife or girlfriend or piled-up sink or empty fridge or classic car or unusual hobby - none of the traditional trappings, which is welcomed by this quirk-weary viewer. But, trying to hold it all together after a stint in rehab, Lennox does have a therapist, played by Laura Fraser, who correctly deduces: “You’re only a cop because you want to solve the disturbing cases, the ones that bring you to your knees.”

Neighbours is back and it starts with a wedding - Toadie and Terese tie the knotNeighbours is back and it starts with a wedding - Toadie and Terese tie the knot
Neighbours is back and it starts with a wedding - Toadie and Terese tie the knot

Once again for Welsh, his native Edinburgh proves an irresistible setting. He’s always loved the Jekyll/Hyde, New Town/Old Town, fur coat/nae knickers, Jenners/junkies, public school/Pubic Triangle juxtapositions of Scotland’s capital. For a storyteller there’s gold in them thar seven hills, especially if it’s tarnished.

Det Insp Lennox is a class warrior who explodes when told he must drop inquiries into how a guest at a swanky hotel had his goolies very nearly chopped off because - this from the Scottish Office - “there are people pulling the levers of power who must be protected at all costs”.

The grisliness is leavened with vivid humour, lingo (“radges”, “giruls”) and camerawork rendering even the city’s brutalist edifices bonnie. Sub-plots involve the working girls podcaster, the far-right bampot politico, Lennox’s former sidekick (a she who used to be a he) and his current sidekick (Joanna Vanderham) who’s all poise at work but off-duty glugs wine from one of those lethal XXL Ikea glasses and has landed in a right fankle by sending a sextape to her ex only to be blackmailed by the God-bothering new partner.

Then there’s Lennox’s boss, Det Chief Supt Bob Toal, who must have a nickname in the incident-room - can you guess? - but presumably not one ever uttered to his face. And what a face - Ken Stott’s wonderful walnut. Now, lots of crime dramas these days like to portray cop-shops as reformed, inclusive places but Toal is defiantly old-school. He’s not a bad man; he just can’t keep up with the memos such as the one instructing that “murder” be renamed “homicide” and stay ahead of the threat of being cancelled. So, after 42 years of policing “this magnificent cesspit”, he’s quitting.

Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex EducationAsa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education
Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education

Toal urges Vanderham’s DI Amanda Drummond to go for his job. She wants to earn the promotion, not simply achieve it through positive discrimination for being a woman, but he quotes the examples of Boris Johnson and David Cameron: “Do you think they got anywhere on merit? They went to f****n’ Eton.”

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Lennox should apply, too, he says, because the first to have put his hat in the ring is “a manipulative, racist, misogynistic, misanthropic alcoholic with a short fuse”. Lennox sighs: “So a strong candidate, aye?”

From the mean streets of Embra to the mild ones of Erinsborough and the surprise revival of Neighbours. That’s down to us poms, apparently. We’re the ones who didn’t want to give up on the Aussie soap after last summer’s finale, a kind of factory open-day with a stall for all the bonza stars who’d made it big from the fictitious Melbourne suburb.

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Before that I hadn’t watched since the heyday of Bouncer the dog - no less sure of its cues than the rest of the cast, but no less keen either. So what’s new in Amazon Freevee’s reboot? And can it tempt me back to Ramsay Street?

Tragically, Margot Robbie has not signed up again but the show appears to have just taken delivery of a slow-motion camera. It’s fair chuffed with the technological advance, which is used extensively, and every time Harold Bishop is involved in the action, though action is a bit of an exaggeration as the sun-soaked cul-de-sac’s oracle-grump - who’s previously survived cancer, heart attack and being swept out to sea in a brutal mass character kill-off - is slowing up in both movement and thought and may be about to be hit by another affliction.

Not just slo-mo, the show has also discovered sex. Almost right away - I time it at seven minutes - a couple are at it in the lift at Lassiters Hotel. Maybe this sort of thing happened a lot after I tuned out. Still, it comes as something of a shock and I almost want Harold to open up his leatherette-bound history of Ramsay Street and transport me back to the era of sweet Bronwyn and Henry the gardening lunk who used to cut his hair with a Flymo. Trouble is, the old fool can’t remember where he put it.

Probity is partially restored with a wedding. Toadie and Terese are tying the knot, which everyone seems delighted about apart from Paul who’s brooding in the corner and twiddling the ring meant for the bride the previous year - until he deserted her at the altar. That would have been marriage No 7 - surely a Soapland record. Paul may yet overtake, also on seven, real-life wedding cake addicts Richard Pryor and Jerry Lee Lewis. And even Zsa Zsa Gabor (nine) could be caught if the slowed-down but sexed-up Neighbours is a hit.

Sex Education (Netflix) in its final season may have lost the power to shock. For instance, it is not a shock that Otis is still peddling how-to sessions for the raging of hormone, though most of the pupils at his new sixth-form college seem like they could do with living a little. They’re too much into sustainability, sound baths and the no-gossiping rule.

It is not a shock that at least one of the kids is transitioning (even Edinburghers have done this), nor that Otis cannot shock his mother (Gillian Anderson) because she’s the original sex therapist. Still, if you’ve followed the comedy-drama you’ll want to know how it, well, climaxes.

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Will Adam make up with his dad, the stern ex-head, and will Mr Groff get back with his wife? Will Ruby stop loving herself and find time for another? Will Issac and Aimee click having been stuck in the same lift (nothing happens here, this isn’t Neighbours)? How will Ncuti Gatwa exit as Eric before becoming Doctor Who? And surely Otis and Maeve must walk off into the sunset together.

Lastly, a sad farewell to Winning Time: the Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (Sky Atlantic), which has just been cancelled. It’s been the best-ever basketball drama, admittedly from a field of one. Of recent times, it’s had the best-ever theme tune, admittedly from a field of none. And among shows which ended too abruptly it’s now right up there with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.



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