TV reviews: Granite Harbour (BBC1), The Traitors (BBC2), Trailblazers - A Rocky Mountain Road Trip (BBC2)
You see, I was rather hoping it might lead to us meeting Arabella Stonehaven, Petronella Banchory, Lucinda Peterhead and Thomasina Cruden Bay.
Well, why not? Inclusivity is a big part of this BBC1 show – and all TV right now, of course – so let’s have a’ the airts namechecked, no matter how clunkily contrived this might be.
To be serious, the second disappointing thing about Granite Harbour is that it isn’t very good.
Fatuously, it’s a pre-watershed detective drama, which defeats the purpose somewhat. “Girls, guns and guts,” went the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band ditty “Big Shot”. This show, with one arm tied behind its back, can offer none of these staples.
For those who didn’t watch at 7pm last night, but find it on catch-up and are unaware of the restrictions, you’re bound to wonder – is this sibling scuffle in the street all we’re going to get for aggro?
Call that a car chase? What about some sexual tension between the sassy tec and her new sidekick? (Actually, I’ve just remembered: sex in Aberdeen is rigorously controlled under ancient by-law).
Davis Lindo, played by Romario Simpson, is the sidekick.
He’s arrived at the local cop shop from Jamaica via a scheme called Duo – “Diversity, Unity, Opportunity” – which must make Granite Harbour the first show to have diversity written into the script and uttered by a cast member.
Previously, Lindo was with the Royal Military Police. The dream of becoming a detective at New Scotland Yard brought him to Britain, but unfortunately he’s only made it as far as north-east Scotland and a dour incident-room that’s befitting the grey cityscape, but doesn’t do much for our entertainment.
Dourest of the lot is Detective Inspector Jay Mallick, though he offers a half-decent line when interrogating a suspect in the killing of an oil baron – “this ‘no comment’ crap might work on the telly, but not in real life”.
Granite Harbour, though, is not real life. If it was, I reckon Lindo, who does his best to brighten up the place with his loud ties and impetuosity, would take Mallick round the back of the station and sort him out.
Not that I’m advocating violence, you understand. And anyway, Granite Harbour wouldn’t be allowed to show it.
So perhaps Dawn Steele, who plays the DCI, could send him on a training course, and preferably one run by a clown school.
From Aberdeen we move across country to “a castle in the beautiful Scottish Highlands”, the setting for The Traitors (BBC1), which is yet another group-jeopardy reality show.
That it comes right after the best-ever I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! is unfortunate timing, with the latter attracting new viewers (me included) for the world’s-gone-mad spectacle of a disgraced ex-government minister embarking on a redemption tour to reveal his “fun” side after all those needless care-home deaths during the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the billing is for “the ultimate game of deception, skill and trust”.
From the 22 assembled strangers, most are assigned the roles of “faithfuls”, but a handful are “traitors” who are out to “kill” them.
No actual murdering happens, of course. So a lot rides on mistress-of-ceremonies Claudia Winkleman’s revealing her “sinister” side.
Does she have one? I’m not sure.
Her ditzy girlie Strictly persona is, like her eye make-up, not so easily shifted. But she isn’t the main problem with The Traitors. Answers on a postcard, please, if you can remember a more irritating bunch of screechers to have appeared on primetime in pursuit of a cash prize.
Everyone is over-excited all of the time. It’s like they’ve never seen a castle in the beautiful Scottish Highlands before.
It’s like they’ve never drunk cocktails before. And when Winkleman appears from behind an ornate door to issue the latest decree, I’m sure that at least half a dozen of them are actually peeing themselves.
The contestants, we’re told, have come from “all over the British Isles”. Yes, yes, but are they “diverse”?
Well, there’s a spa therapist and a cheerleading coach, both men. During the opening task someone remarks about “all the alpha males” having formed themselves into a team. Really, alpha males? Where?
The task is a sort of tribute to The Wicker Man. What, you mean Edward Woodward was flambe-d alive for this, for The Winkle Woman and these perishers?
The least annoying competitor is Andrea, who’s the oldest at 72. “How good are you at lying?” Winkleman asks. “Pretty good,” she replies. “I used to work for the British Government.”
Celebrity travelogues – don’t they curl your teeth? Well, Trailblazers – A Rocky Mountain Road Trip (BBC2) is good fun.
An unlikely line-up of Ruby Wax, Melanie “Scary Spice” Brown and Emily Atack set out to re-trace the epic expedition through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado of Victorian explorer Isabella Bird.
The trio bond well, but the revelation is Atack. The Inbetweeners actress is tabloid catnip, her tumultuous love life the subject of near daily bulletins. But, finding herself so far from her gadabout life, out of range of her celeb version of Tinder, meeting a man who lives atop a lofty peak on his lonesome, learning about kindling, is the equivalent of a spiritual awakening.
“I think the chaos of London is the most important thing, but I’m ignorant,” she says, laying bare all her emotional self-indulgence.
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