Tuesday, 3 May 2016

TV and Radio Review

What possessed the BBC to show “Underground”, about an undercover policeman, the week after the finale of “The Night Manager”, which is itself about an undercover secret agent? To be frank, “Undercover” seemed flat in comparison, and I gave up watching.

The same cannot be said of “Line of Duty”, which has managed the neat trick of keeping its surprises undercover, and asking the actors concerned to act in real life. Daniel Mays, portrayed as the third bent cop in the new series, was on the cover of the Radio Times.

Each of the two preceding series have had a central character, but in this case, he gets killed off at the end of the first episode. Keely Hawes, returning as Lindsay Denton, lied – as she was told to by the writer – that she would not be returning – so when she did return, it was a huge surprise. Even more so, was her character being killed off later. That meant that the final episodes left the view completely in the dark as to whether the “Caddy”, the bent undercover cop – whom we all knew, but the team didn’t – would get away with framing another member of the team.

The production values have been excellent, with a mix of action, and interrogation scenes. I think no series has had such long interrogation scenes, as evidence is displayed bit by bit, and we see the innocent protest, and the guilty sip water. They are some of the most compelling scenes in the show, but just when you think it is deskbound, it explodes into action once more.

On the Drama channel, I’ve been watching re-runs of Dangerfield, which I missed the first time around. After Nigel Le Vallaint left, Nigel Havers took over but only remained for two seasons. I can see why! While the stories are still good, part of the charm was the fact that Dangerfield and his successor both also were GPs in a general practice, so there was a “grounding” in a medical clinic as well as the police work.

In what was clearly a budget cutting measure, the clinic was disposed off, along with the sets and the actors involved, the title sequence with the memorable music by Nigel Hess (lot of Nigels involved in this series) was not reshot but just replaced with a single caption or two and a few bars of fairly unmemorable music.

Meanwhile, Havers’ character, Dr Paige, was given a love interest who vanished after half way through, another love interest who ended rejecting him, and the female Detective Inspector. For consistency of character, it seemed to be very badly thought out and rather unconvincing. It was no surprise that Havers decided he had enough and would move on to pastures new.

On BBC Radio 4, I enjoyed “Portrait of Churchill”, a play about the portrait by Graham Sutherland. For his 80th birthday on 30th November 1954, an all-party committee of MPs decided to present Churchill, still the Prime Minister, with a portrait of himself. It was to be Churchill's for his lifetime but then to hang in the House of Commons. The commission was given to Graham Sutherland, aged 51, then at the height of his fame. It was a painting which was to prove highly controversial, and which was destroyed after Churchill’s death by his wife.

Dan Stevens was excellent as Sutherland and Benjamin Whitrow managed to capture the nuances of Churchill’s diction without slipping into parody, and there was a sparkling dialogue between the two. When it was first unveiled, Churchill described it as "a remarkable example of modern art" to laughter from his audience. Graham Sutherland later described the disposal of the portrait as an "act of vandalism".

No comments: