SHERWOOD MONDAY & TUESDAY, BBC1
Decades-old feuds, fury, simmering resentment, disappointment, a post-industrial landscape as bleak, barren and hazardous as the surface of Mars: right from the start Sherwood, the BBC’s star-studded new detective drama, sets out its stall as one of those atmospheric thrillers where unmasking the identity of the villain isn’t half as gripping as getting to grips with the complexities of the characters.
This is partly to do with a brilliant script from playwright James Graham, who wrote This House and Ink, two of the best things I’ve ever seen on stage, as well as Coalition and Brexit: The Uncivil War for Channel 4. No doubt Graham’s name on the script explains in no small way the stellar cast: in no particular order Lesley Manville, Alun Armstrong, David Morrissey, Robert Glenister, Joanne Froggatt, Philip Jackson, Adeel Akhtar, Stephen Tompkinson: it’s a Who’s Who of British TV talent .
Ian St Clair (David Morrissey), Julie Jackson (Lesley Manville), and Kevin Salisbury (Robert Glenister) star in the BBC series Sherwood
The action takes place in modern-day Nottinghamshire, but harks back to the days of Margaret Thatcher and the miners’ strikes. Opening footage of clashes between police and miners, shots of babes in arms and women shouting ‘scum’ and ‘scab’, of Arthur Scargill rallying the unions, remind us of those turbulent times.
Sarah (pictured) enjoys the dry wit and humor throughout Sherwood
For the characters, it’s a lifetime since those events took place, and yet the after-effects linger. They remain stuck in the past, frozen by the trauma, unable to move on, the anger and resentment ever present – at the pub, over the garden fence, at a wedding.
Graham himself grew up in Nottingham in the aftermath of those events, and so has first-hand experience of those disenfranchised communities. The dark humor, the bitterness, the humanity – it’s all brought to life with intensity by the cast.
Manville (above, with Morrissey and Glenister) is superb as the long-suffering wife of Armstrong’s embittered ex-miner Gary and sister of Cathy (Claire Rushbrook), whose own husband was on the other side of the fence during the strikes.
Lorraine Ashbourne, who I loved as the hard-as-nails grandmother Joan in 2020’s Alma’s Not Normal, Sophie Willan’s bittersweet comedy memoir, gives a star turn as the fear some matriarch of the local crime clan. And Morrissey broods magnificently as DCS Ian St Clair, charged with investigating two brutal murders that force him to revisit some very uncomfortable events.
Beneath all those rivalries there’s shared humanity that binds them
The plot is based on two real-life murders that took place in the area in 2004. But this is about so much more than two unexplained deaths.
It’s about what happens when an entire way of life is overturned and individuals are forced to make choices that haunt them for the rest of their lives, passing their misery and failure to the next generation.
That makes it sound rather relentless: it’s not. There is plenty of dry wit and humor here too, and everyday moments of joy.
And beneath all those rivalries there is a shared humanity that binds them all together – and makes this a compelling piece of drama.
PROFESSOR COX, YOU’RE OUT OF THIS WORLD
BRIAN COX: SEVEN DAYS ON MARS FRIDAY, BBC2
Professor Brian Cox (pictured) pursued his childhood dream of traveling to NASA HQ to spend a week with the scientists in charge of Mars rover Perseverance as it searches for signs of life on the red planet
There is something of the eternal schoolboy about Professor Brian Cox, not just in his appearance – still slim-hipped, fresh-faced and lavishly be-mopped at 54 – but also in his enthusiasm for his subject. It’s simply inconceivable to Cox that the rest of the world would not be as obsessed by science as he is, and for that you can’t help loving the man.
‘On the battlefield you embark on a voyage of self-discovery, a life-changing test.’ A veteran on Our Falkwards War, Sunday, BBC2
This was especially in evidence here, as Cox pursued his childhood dream of traveling to NASA HQ to spend a week with the scientists in charge of Mars rover Perseverance as it searches for signs of life on the red planet. This is every boffin’s dream.
You’re essentially talking about a multi-billion-dollar Lego Technic set operating by remote control on a planet over 200 million kilometers away. It’s mind-blowing.
As is the fact that it’s trundling around what, several billion years ago, used to be the bottom of a vast lake which may or may not have contained organic life.
The whole thing was utterly fascinating. Not just for the scientific insight, but also for the glimpse into that world.
Who knew NASA is full of glamorous women scientists and men who speak like they’re in the movies?
- Anyone tuning into Who Do You Think You Are? with Matt Lucas (Thursday, BBC1) hoping for a laugh was going to be sorely disappointed. Lucas may be a comedy icon, but his genealogical journey turned out to be a rather sad and serious one, heartbreaking in fact: most of his beloved grandmother’s family was wiped out by the Holocaust. Thanks in large part to the efforts of the woke bigots, Lucas has now all but withdrawn from public life. But this offered a touching insight into the true character of the man behind the headlines, a rather wistful, sensitive individual whose comedy, one senses, comes from a place of pain.
Spot on for an 80s child
Stranger Things is back for a fourth series and Sarah Vine is loving the 80s hairstyles, seen here on Winona Ryder
Nearly 40 years since its release, Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill has suddenly found itself back in the charts after it featured in an episode of the fourth series of Stranger Things (Netflix). Having never seen the show, I decided to start from the beginning, and now I am too obsessed.
It’s completely bonkers, of course, but as an 80s child, I just love everything about it, from the hairstyles to Winona Ryder.
Source: | Dailymail.co.uk