Don’t you just know that when Sarah Lancashire stars in a new drama, it’s always worth watching? The ex-Corrie star has a West Country accent this time, as opposed to doing “northern”, as she leads Channel Four’s Kiri, where she plays a genuinely caring Bristol social worker dealing with kids.
Kiri has been penned by Jack Thorne, who brought us another cracking Channel Four drama, National Treasure, a couple of years ago starring Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters, and so that means that he’s not scared to rattle a few cages.
Kiri is a young black girl that’s about to be adopted by a white middle class family, but things go tragically go wrong after a visit to her grandfather, and we watch the consequences unfold with Lancashire’s character unfairly blamed for not doing her job properly and a debate on the old issues of class and race. It works well in a gripping hour packed with top performances throughout the whole cast. Jack Thorne and Sarah Lancashire have done it once again.
ITV have not learned from last year’s mistake of putting up a new and enjoyable nostalgic hotel drama, The Halcyon, up against the BBC ratings warhorse that is Silent Witness on a Monday night. The Halcyon was wrongly pulled, and this time a provoking drama called Next of Kin has been thrown to the ratings wolves.
Next of Kin at last brings a leading UK TV role for Brit Archie Panjabi, who made a deserved name for herself in the fabulous US drama, The Good Wife. It brings us a Muslim family that are shown to be loving and caring and normal, rather than the old cliches of the past, but sadly for them, there is a dark link to some nasty terrorist goings on back in Pakistan, where a family member is executed, and we find out that his son is out there as well, having gone missing from his UK university. There’s some graphic (but relevant) violence, and though elements of the script were predictable, this was something different that ITV should be applauded for commissioning and deserves to be watched.
Also worth watching is an enjoyable bit of nonsense on a Saturday night on BBC 1, Hard Sun, which follows in last year’s footsteps of the Beeb putting on something different with the likes of Taboo and Gunpowder. We’ve conspiracies all the way in a show brought to us by Luther creator Neil Cross, and our leading stars are two coppers played by Agyness Deyn and Jim Sturgess, who have plenty of skeletons in their own cupboards. As bodies start falling everywhere, they uncover something a lot nastier, namely a cover up over the potential end of the world. It’s very well made fun and Neil Cross says that he would like to do a five-season arc of the story, and I hope he gets a chance to do it. As a fun bit of TV trivia, the closing credits brought us the name of the production company, namely Euston Films, who back decades ago under the Thames TV banner brought us gems like The Sweeney and Minder.
The king of TV conspiracy shows, The X Files, is back after a two-year break, and I can tell you that the opener for Season 11 just fizzed and produced some great revelations in what I thought was a vintage quality episode, with plenty from the old enemy that is The Smoking Man. Forget some of the dodgy episodes (including the finale) from Season 10, as this show is bang on form. Channel Five have the UK rights, but have not even bothered to declare when they will screen the latest adventures of Mulder and Scully. Fortunately in Spain, we have other outlets to keep bang up to date with what’s going on.
Also on form is Season four of the US vehicle for the brilliant Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder, which started on Sky Living this week. Davis is just fantastic, but I also applaud (having seen the first half of the season already) the change in direction of the show and the way the old characters have been placed, plus Jimmy Smits joining the cast as a psychiatrist who has his own demons.
I can only produce two printable words for my opinion of BBC 1’s Saturday night disaster that is Wedding Day Winners:- utterly awful. The only novelty was seeing Rob Beckett in a suit, whilst co-presenter Lorraine Kelly just looked like she did not want to be there, or simply just did not know what was going on, which is what the viewers thought. At least Len Goodman and Partners in Rhyme can relax in the knowledge that an even bigger weekend turkey has appeared to eclipse their televisual nadir of the autumn.