WHAT an unbearably sad end to Broadchurch. A community torn apart by Danny Latimer’s murder comes together for his funeral, his killer caught at last.
Broadchurch - STV, Monday, 9pm
The Politician’s Husband - BBC2, Thursday, 9pm
The Wright Way - BBC1, Wednesday, 10.35pm
A beacon is lit on the headland, and this is copied by other villages, right along the coast. It’s no surprise that Beth Latimer, whose anguish we’ve shared these eight long weeks, glimpses the ghost of her son at this moment. And then... WHUMP!
Why has my screen gone swirly purple and blue? Ah, it’s the STV testcard, or whatever they’re called these days. Someone’s pressed the button too early. But has the purple and blue board shunted the mourners over the cliff, rendering the interlude completely Pythonesque? No, here they are for the very final scenes. STV are going to have to make amends somehow; let’s hope this column’s favourite continuity wifie is on duty. “What a great series,” she purrs in that no-underwear-folks voice of hers. And she’s right; it was.
Overlong, mind. I’m not sure it merited a whole two months. And the steals from The Killing – child murder, mismatched male-female detective team learning how to like each other, multiple suspects, each episode closing with a round-up of the possibly guilty set to a doomy dance track – were pretty blatant. But Olivia Colman as Miller confirmed her greatness – the scene where she discovered her husband was the killer was astonishing – and Jodie Whittaker confirmed her near greatness as the lad’s mum. And David Tennant? I was unsure about him as Hardy but he won me round. It was an unsympathetic role, the cop-shop nicknamed him “Shitface”, but Tennant seemed to enjoy hiding his easy, handsome-devil persona underneath his raincoat, stubble and grumpy Glaswegian accent (“What is wrong with you peepul?”). There’s to be more Broadchurch although presumbly not set in Broadchurch; Miller for one can’t go back there.
Eight weeks is a lot of Tennant. It’s the TV equivalent of a 24-can slab of Tennent’s. And three nights later – guess what? – he was back in The Politician’s Husband. The stubble was gone; instead there are fetching blond streaks. To extend my clunky metaphor a bit, they’re the streaks of a Tennent’s dolly-bird from the 1970s, designed to catch the eye of a Partick Thistle goalie. In this drama, by Paula Milne, he’s Aiden Hoynes, high-flying government minister, husband to a slightly lower-flying one, who by the end of the first episode and a botched leadership bid, found himself doing the school-run while his wife, Freya Gardner (Emily Watson), got a promotion.
Spending more time with his family in Hoynes’ case involves a son with Asperger’s and their relationship is strained. Hoynes’ own father suggested to him that the lad’s diagnosis was “the moment you chose to bury yourself in the cesspit of Westminster power-politics”. Hmm. I shouldn’t have to apologise for clunky metaphors if dialogue is going to be as clunky as this. I didn’t see Milne’s The Politician’s Wife, for which this is presumably a companion piece, but her Swinging 60s series White Heat was let down by its characters speaking in slogans and clichés. The Politician’s Husband, though, has got me intrigued. Hoynes has a plan which could save the show and his chances of getting to No 10. This involves Gardner becoming his Trojan horse. He coaches her, advising what to wear (“Too Theresa May,” he said of some tarty shoes). Don’t be anyone’s puppet, he cautioned (just his puppet). But when he told her to use flattery, Gardner was moved to inquire: “So I’m not just your mole but your whore?”
The Politician’s Wife, if you remember it, goes all the way back to 1995. I don’t know what I was doing in 95, apart from watching a lot less telly than I do now. Ben Elton at that time was sending himself up. One sketch parodying his oh so right-on image had him chasing Page 3 models round a park to reprimand them and tricking heterosexual couples into becoming gay. And did that stem the sneers? Not really, and then he gave his critics more ammo by selling out to the West End and its Tory-supporting high priests. Thus, The Wright Way is his first sitcom in 11 years.
A soft target Elton may be, but some things have simply got to be done: this is dire. Jokes from the 70s. Jokes suggesting The Wright Way might therefore be ironic (it’s not; just dire). Slapstick involving hand-dryers. Knob jokes. Jokes about speed-bumps (the “hero” is a health and safety officer). Jokes about how long women spend in the bathroom. Jokes about the M25. Jokes which end: “…the same excuse the Nazis tried”. Unbelievably, the studio audience laugh. That free wine must have been very good. «