There’s only one show in town this week on Telly Addict, and it’s the one about the big house in Yorkshire with the servants and masters and Labrador. Downton on ITV dominates, but there’s drama, too, from The Fried Chicken Shop on C4, Peaky Blinders on BBC2 and Whitechapel on ITV; plus, a glorious BBC4 history of soundtracks, Sound Of Cinema with Neil Brand, and a bafflingly-scheduled new sitcom on BBC1, Father Figure, which I would have loved as a kid.
It’s grim up Telly Addict this week. With C4 having made the strategic decision to own August, the historically authentic 19th century austerity reenactment The Mill began last Sunday, and this week it was joined to form a sort of wrist-slitting “theme evening” by Southcliffe, a fictional smalltown rent asunder by tragedy to sit alongside Broadchurch and, less fictionally, Hungerford and Dunblane. With a week having passed since the intrinsically disappointing finale of The Returned, also on C4 and also low on canned laughter, we tot up how many questions remain unanswered in that waterlogged Alpine hamlet; and, for double light relief from all this death and doom, on BBC1: competitive cookery with Celebrity Masterchef series eight, and codger crime-solving with New Tricks series ten (and the first episode of this hugely popular show I’ve ever seen).
There is a period drama theme to this week’s Telly Addict. Not my doing, really, but the overworked drama departments, whose current obsession with the past might well be due to a commissioner-led preference for the “theme park with safe rides” option, as persuasively discussed by Mark Lawson in, oh yes, the Guardian the other week. We catch up with BBC4’s Room At The Top (delayed by a mere 18 months due to rights issues); BBC1’s The Paradise; and Sky Atlantic’s Boardwalk Empire, back for its third season and as vital as ever. (Unless you don’t have Sky, in which case, it will be back for its third box set in the New Year.) Also, back in the real world, nods to Doctor Who and The Great British Bake Off, specifically, Cathryn and her old-fashioned, family-friendly exclamations while under teacake pressure.