TV review: The Tunnel | Stephen Fry: Out There

Clemence Posey and  Stephen Dillane in The Tunnel. Picture: Contributed
Clemence Posey and Stephen Dillane in The Tunnel. Picture: Contributed
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I PREDICT a remake. It’ll be a take on Scandinavian crime drama The Bridge, but set on the Border between Scotland and England.

The Tunnel, Sky Atlantic, Wednesday, 9pm

Stephen Fry: Out There, BBC2, Monday, 9pm

Dogs: Their Secret Lives, Channel 4, Monday, 8pm

They’ll find the first victim in the middle of the Ladykirk and Norham Bridge, and Detective Bruce Robertson will have to work alongside Rosemary (or Thyme) to solve the murder.

It might just happen. After all, the FX network has already remade the original series (set in Denmark/Sweden), but on the Mexican/US border. And if your brain wasn’t already geographically minced, now Sky Atlantic has screened the first episode of the English/French version, The Tunnel, with the action mainly taking place in Folkestone and Calais.

I watched somewhat reluctantly, as my heart belongs with the brilliant Saga Norén (played by Sofia Helin) from the original series, with her lace-up boots, permanently exasperated expression and behaviour that was indicative of Asperger syndrome.

Saga is now Elise Wasserman, played by ingénue Clémence Poésy. She doesn’t do a bad job in the role, though her tremulous eyes emote way too much. If she says something deadpan in the style of Saga, it’s not altogether convincing while her macaron-sized peepers insist that she’s a freshly orphaned bush baby.

While The Bridge kicked off on the Øresund Bridge, The Tunnel opened in the bleak, concrete, striplight-lit tube of the Eurotunnel, with the discovery of the spliced bodies of a right-wing French politician and a prostitute.

If you’ve seen the original series, you’ll probably remember what happens next, as the storyline is essentially the same. However, this version features alternating French and English dialogue, a Euro crisis backdrop and plenty of riffs on national stereotypes.

While Saga was the star of The Bridge, in this adaptation it’s the male officer, Karl Roebuck (played by Rhys Ifans lookalike Stephen Dillane), who seems the most well-rounded character.

I found him slightly irritating at first, with his cheeky-chappy, The Sweeney vibe, but he grew on me. It’s him, as well as the appealingly gloomy cinematography and the fact that they seem to have plundered the casting closet for the seediest looking baddies they could find, that would make me continue viewing.

Don’t worry, Saga, you’re still my number one, though Stephen Fry is up there too. He was admirably brave in the sobering Out There documentary, which explored homophobia. In the first 20 minutes he had chatted with Elton John and David Furnish in their fancy library, visited last year’s WorldPride march in London and attended a civil partnership – in order, one supposes, to show how far UK society has come in the past couple of decades.

Not so elsewhere in the world. There was nightmarish video footage of young men on the gallows in Iran, where being gay carries the death penalty. Stephen flew to dusty Uganda and confronted besuited bigot Simon Lokodo – minister of ethics and integrity – who is pushing capital punishment as a sentence for homosexuality.

“Homosexuality is wonderful, you should try it,” he says, visibly shaken, after the minister threatens to imprison him. As part of the same trip, Stephen also takes part in a live radio debate with a pastor, who bangs on about sodomy being the cause of various Victorian-sounding cod ailments that cause bits to fall off or cave in.

“You’re obsessed with sex,” says Stephen, the only rational voice. “What about love?” Indeed.

Dogs: Their Secret Lives was a great idea. Stick a secret camera in the house, so you can see what your pup does when you go out. It’ll be great. I bet they do loads of funny things, like, you know, saying “sossashes” and dressing up in your clothes. Right? Wrong.

It seems that most of the time they whine, pace, stare out of the window and tear things up. Unlike Greta Garbo, dogs do not want to be alone. Ever. The programme followed three canine protagonists – Oscar (a miniature schnauzer, and the cutest by far), Bruno and Max – all of whom had severe separation anxiety, even though their owners would only ever leave them for short periods of time.

Under the accusing gaze of presenter and former chief vet at the RSPCA, Mark Evans, the pet owners wept as they watched footage of their woofies flaking out. Then a dog behaviourist developed an action plan so the clingy canines could eventually feel more comfortable on their lonesome.

“Inside that big dog is a very small dog who needs his mum,” said Evans, as Rottweiller boxer cross Bruno pooped on the floor. n