Broadchurch 2

Broadchurch series 2

Broadchurch series 2

I couldn’t watch the first series of Broadchurch. Even though it was filmed on part of the beautiful Dorset coast just near where I used to live and despite the excellent cast that included David Tennant and Olivia Coleman, I was put off by the subject matter. The story of a boy murdered is just too close to my worst nightmare of something happening to one of my kids and I’ve reached that age where I don’t want to be distressed when I watch TV any more than I do in day to day life.

I did watch the first and the last episode of the first series, just to see what was going on and to spot the locations. Then there was so much hype about the programme that I felt compelled to watch the second series. I was disappointed.

The second series of Broadchurch descended into just any old courtroom drama and, as one colleague, put it nothing happened for weeks then it was all wrapped up in a matter of 60 minutes in the final episode. Which ended with the words ‘Broadchurch will return’.

It already felt in series two as if writer Chris Chibnall was deliberately unravelling threads that had been tied up in series one to spin the story out for a bit. Is he seriously going to do that again for a third series? Will the audience stick with it?

It’s a shame that a ratings success cannot breed another, different but equally well acted programme rather than pointless extensions of the same show.

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Newspapers try to stoke row over Dr Who

Matt Smith, Dr Who. BBC

Anyone spot the failed attempt earlier this week by two papers to cook up a storm over the BBC’s choice of a new Dr Who?

Unless you live on Mars, or possibly on another continent (I’m told they exist), you must know that Matt Smith, a little-known but talented male actor aged 26, has been chosen to play Dr Who on BBC 1 from next year when David Tennant finally steps down from the role. The BBC announced the news in a special programme on Saturday night, scuppering ITV’s coverage of an FA Cup footie match. And Liverpool were playing. And they won. I don’t know much about football (the other side was Preston) but this seems strange.

An impressive 30% of all those watching TV between 5.35pm and 6.10pm, more than 6m viewers, tuned in to Dr Who Confidential on BBC 1 to hear the news about Tennant’s replacement. Smith was a complete surprise to most people and the inevitable ‘Dr Who?’ headlines followed. (He was in BBC 2’s This Life-esque political drama Party Animals last year which preceded this blog but was nevertheless a personal favourite.)

What you may have missed was the Mirror reporting a supposed flurry of bets on Matt Smith becoming the new Dr Who just before the news was announced. The Daily Mail followed up the story the next day. But it has quietly died and gone away, rather than generate an investigation and the thousands of complaints which saw Strictly Come Dancing refunding money to phone voters before Christmas or – read this quickly – Jonathan Ross suspended for three months without pay.

It may be that BBC spin-meisters got busy squashing the story before it grew wings. I don’t know; I’m not paid to find out. Thing is, some TV controversies take off – in a perfect storm of names big enough for the general public to care about, sufficient amounts of offence and lax attitudes to PR – and some just don’t. You just read about the first of 2009 to get away.

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Out with the old, in with the noo

Frosted fennel 

lucecannon is stirring from the pit of mince pies and chestnut-flavoured flatus in which she has lain since last posting, to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Recession aside, I can’t help but feel 2009 could actually be better than the outgoing year has been. Forget the even years; they’re for plodding. The odd years are where it’s at. See, I’m an optimist at heart.

Before segueing hangover-free into the New Year, it remains simply to review a few bits of Christmas telly. I do this with a child sliding around the sitting room in plastic, high-heeled shoes singing Abba songs. Forgive any misspellings or inattention to detail.

Wallace & Gromit was the top-rating programme of Christmas day, with an astounding 14.3m viewers. Its scheduling at 8.30pm helped but I can’t help but feel it got a lot of hype for a 30-minute programme, even a painstakingly clever animated one. Feature films last longer, cost more time and money to make but don’t do so well on TV. The Beeb and Aardman Animation must be rubbing their hands with glee. What with re-runs of Nick Park’s other specials The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, the BBC has made a Wallace and Gromit mountain out of not very much new material. One-off specials plus a load of interstitials, some of which were presumably helped by the Pyrex and Kingsmill deal, are clearly the way forward.

As for The Royle Family’s Christmas special, I have distinctly mixed feelings. Maybe it’s the recession, maybe it’s the advent of things like Gavin & Stacey and Outnumbered in the two years since the Royle Family was last on air but I found its brand of ‘poor but happy’ family comedy distinctly depressing this year. The hot water on the cuppa soup for Denise and Dave’s starter was just that, hot water. The turkey still frozen and sitting in the airing cupboard perhaps a bit too close to real-life experiences of finding potatoes still sitting cold and uncooked in their oil and adults asleep at the table, just when you hoped to be sitting down to a meal.

Dr Who was OK. The kids enjoyed it. We knew what to expect, got what we expected and nothing more. Couldn’t quite work out if David Tennant was quizzickly standing aloof from David Morrissey’s over-acting or just being Dr Who. But it doesn’t matter because we all know he’s not the Doctor for much longer anyway. On which note, the BBC 1 schedule felt bereft of new ideas with Wallace and hound, Royle Family, Dr Who and EastEnders dominating Christmas day.

Among the gems were Lead Balloon on BBC 2 with Rick temporarily full of festive goodwill and the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special where the supporting cast now easily outshine the two central characters and Mick’s battles with Nigella’s instructions to soak a turkey pre-roasting were an inspired yet subtle backgrop to the angst inherent in getting two families together at Christmas.

Finally for lucecannon, Rupert Everett made an unexpectedly good Sherlock Holmes on BBC 1 on Monday night playing the slightly aged roue he probably is. Loved it, let’s have more.

That’s it. The rest of the time was spent eating, drinking, walking and mostly making merry. Adieu, 2008.

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