It’s that time when all the post-Christmas series are coming to an end, and writing this column is really difficult when there’s sod all on telly, so a couple of the shows could possibly be repeats. They should be just as good as when they were first broadcast though so no complaining.
Lark Rise to Candleford is one of those programmes that is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Set in 19th-century Oxfordshire, the delightful series is based upon an autobiography written by Flora Thomson about a young girl sent to the local market town to begin an apprenticeship with the postmistress. Not many costume dramas manage to effect a whole spectrum of emotion whilst bestowing a few good moral scruples, and that’s what really makes Lark Rise stand out as the epitome of cheer-me-up-it’s-Sunday viewing. It’s just beautiful. The filming of the series must have been terribly difficult due to its dependence on cloudless skies in all but one episode. Postman Thomas’ musings on the “ways of the almighty” and half-witted housemaid Minnie’s constant worryings and faux-pas are funnier than most of the egregious bunk which falls under the banner of ‘comedy’ today.
The rather ominously titled The Chinese are Coming! – thankfully not a government-commissioned porno – tells the story of the said government’s immoral and rapacious ravishment of any African country happening to be in a sufficient state of poverty.
Kenneth Brannagh returned this week in the title role of the BBC’s adaptation of the Swedish detective series Wallander. The Swedish version is occasionally shown on BBC4 and is actually much better – though you really have to be ‘in the mood for subtitles’ to fully appreciate it. Some of the gore-laden scenes are almost as disturbing as Gary Gilitter’s idea of a dirty weekend, but don’t forget to show off how intellectual you are because you watched something on BBC4.
ITV’s new thriller Marchlands, having had a full-page ad devoted to it in The Times, looked as though it may be better than the usual commercial-splattered arse-gravy that ITV generally broadcast. Starring Dean Andrews (Ray from Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes) it is based around the lives of three families in the same (rather spooky) house, spread twenty years apart.
Strange happenings build up the suspense nicely but the (presumably low) special effects budget mustn’t have permitted anything more than a few misbehaving domestic appliances, unexpected faces in mirrors and a fall from a stepladder (…scary times!).
Other than that it’s actually rather good! Commercial breaks are more irritating when experienced via the ultra-low-resolution ITVPlayer because the ad break is long enough to put the kettle on but too short to make a brew. They are obviously not from the North.
If you didn’t get the box-set for Christmas (or your mum didn’t) Julian Fellowes’ (recently Baron Fellowes of West Stafford) pre-WWI costume drama Downton Abbey which stars Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith (also Brendan Coyle and Ruby Bentall from Lark Rise), is definitely a must-see! (And it’s repeating on ITV at the moment).