I love Brummies, having worked for the Beeb in their wonderful Pebble Mill building (now sadly demolished) and being brought up in the Midlands, where back in the sixties and seventies, you only ever heard of Birmingham in the regional television bulletins. From Amy Turtle and Meg Mortimer/Richardson in the Kings Oak motel in Crossroads through to Jasper Carrott, and now the Shelbys on Peaky Blinders, I’ve always found Brummies to be straight-talking with a sense of fun.
There was a cliffhanger and a half on the last series of the splendid Peaky Blinders, and the gangster drama bounded back onto BBC 2 on Wednesday with the hangman’s noose in evidence, only for a last-second pardon to be executed (if that’s the right word) with Tommy (Cillian Murphy) using his contact with Winston Churchill to undo what he did at the end of the last run. We’ve a new enemy for the Shelbys in the shape of Adrien Brody looking for a revenge, plus there’s still Tom Hardy’s wonderful character, Alfie Solomons to still pop up, and there’s that great contemporary soundtrack to feast on. I love every second of it.
Sajan was the latest candidate to be shown the door by Lord Sugar on The Apprentice (BBC 1) this week, but I reckon the good Lord must be soiling himself over who, if anybody, deserves a quarter of a million quid for an investment. I’ve never seen such a useless bunch, but it doesn’t half make for some entertaining television, as both sides made an almighty dogs dinner over marketing a new car. The Norman village setting for a car advert had me in stitches and, of course, there was the florist aka Wicked Witch Elizabeth at the centre of it all. Does she ever shut up? Not to disagree with Lord Sugar, but why is she still there? She is, of course, television gold and the producers must have whispered in his ear that she has to stay on because she is the star of the show.
I got very excited about the return of Howard’s Way on a Sunday night on BBC 1 until I realised that I had misread the listing, and instead it was the start of a sumptious adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel, Howard’s End. So much for hearing old Jack Rolfe chuntering on about the merits of wooden boats, but instead we have got Agent Peggy Carter from the Marvel movies and the television show in the shape of Hayley Atwell as prim and proper Margaret Schlegal in a top quality Sunday night treat. This look at class and society in 1910 felt just as relevant today and you quickly forgot the Edwardian settings and got hooked into the story with Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen leading a raft of super performances, with the only negative being some poor sound quality in some scenes. This is far from the first time this has happened and why are quality broadcasters like the BBC allowing this to happen?
Howard’s End was the third part of a “killer” trifecta for BBC 1 on Sunday, as 10-million plus audiences watched the Strictly results show, followed by the wonderful Blue Planet II. What an advertisement for everything that a public broadcaster should be doing in terms of variety, whilst poor old ITV is stumbling along with just four million viewers for The X Factor. It’s actually a bit of a shame for them as this current season has in my view produced the most original group ever plus three outstanding solo singers. Give it a shot and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Alongside Lucky Man, Tin Star starring Tim Roth, is easily one of the best dramas that Sky has produced, and they needed it after some top draw duds earlier in the year. If you thought Peaky Blinders had a heck of a finish in the last series, we’ve also been given one at the end of the current run, but how stupid of Sky, as their continuity announcer babbled on about the price of fish over the closing credits, not to tell viewers that a second series is in production. In fact, it was commissioned even before series one aired, and not to have mentioned it at the end showed a disrespect for the audience, who would largely have been unaware that there’s more to come.