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TV Dek's TV Diary

Banged to rights

By
Many people get completely turned off by Shakespeare during their schooldays. That's hardly surprising. Shaky wrote his plays to be enjoyed, not analysed and studied. It's good that the BBC is doing its bit to rejuvenate interest in The Bard with its Shakespeare Re-Told season.

Much Ado
Much Ado About Nothing was not a play I was over familiar with, though when it started memories of the Kenneth Branagh movie came flooding back. Unfortunately this meant that my girlfriend spent much of the time trying to match up the characters in this version to the Hollywood stars of Branagh's effort. "The security guard is definitely Michael Keaton. Which one's supposed to be Denzel Washington?"

It was an enjoyable piece, helped by a marvellously spiky performance from Sarah Parish and the idea of transferring the action to a TV newsroom was a good one. Sadly the ratings weren't brilliant so perhaps the word Shakespeare is putting people off which is a pity.

The BBC should have loads of Shakespeare in their archive (assuming they didn't re-use the tapes to record things like Bazaar with Judi Spiers in the eighties) so it would nice if they followed up these revisionist efforts by showing the real plays on BBC Four. Methinks they've missed a trick.

Rome if you want to

Drama Connections wound up with a look at the marvellous I, Claudius which is all the more interesting at the moment as it ties in nicely with the screening of Rome

While Rome has the advantages of a big budget and a vast set, I Claudius looked as if it was shot between episodes of Jim'll Fix It and it was left to power of the performances of the actors to overcome the cheap looking nature of the sets. Fortunately they managed it superbly and its high time this piece of landmark television was honoured with a prime time repeat.


Bedside manner

One of the stars of I, Claudius was the great Margaret Tyzack so it was great to see her popping up as Doc Martin returned to our screens.

I'm not normally a fan of those lightweight feel good dramas. I find Heartbeat intensely irritating and as for Rocket Man, as far as I'm concerned Robson Green can stick his - well you can guess the rest.

Fortunately Martin Clunes' sour faced, socially inept and at times downright nasty Doctor Ellingham balances out the unbearable niceness of the folk of Portwenn. It's a testament to his playing that he can still make us care and even sympathise with this outwardly appalling character.

Caroline Catz is great as the love interest and any excuse to get Stephanie Cole on the box is worth it in my view.

It's great to see it back.

Lost Moon
Moving

The Armistice Day episode of EastEnders was a welcome change of pace following all that Chrissie nonsense. There was a moving little cameo from Trevor Peacock and Shane Ritchie was at his best. The scene when he was desperately trying to get Nana to eat steak and chips was very moving.

Hilda Braid is a national treasure as far as I'm concerned and she'll be sadly missed when she departs. To catch Hilda in full comedic flow it's worth catching the repeats of Citizen Smith on UKTV Drama.

Banged to rights
As for Chrissie's undoing, Tracy Ann Oberman seemed to be having to do the acting for two, all wild eyed, nostrils flaring and the hairdo seemingly going for its own BAFTA while Jake showed all the emotion of a brick.

When Sharon finally clobbered Chrissie at the airport all that was missing was a Miss Piggy "high-ya!" If I was in the sound department, I'd have been desperately tempted to dub one on.


Sensitivity

Watching Sensitive Skin put me in mind of Carla Lane. Carla was one of the few writers prepared to risk the melancholy alongside the comedic and it's good that Hugo Blick has taken up the cudgels. The show works well.

A couple of things jarred a bit. Central to the piece is Joanna Lumley's character worrying about her looks. The problem there is she looks fantastic; causing some of her angst to appear somewhat hollow.

The other thing that took me aback was when Freddie "Parrot Face" Davies turned up as her "frustration," the surrealism of which seemed out of pace with the rest of show. It felt a bit like Butterflies meets Dream On.

I can't help thinking though that it's a mistake for writers to direct their own stuff, a problem which is also affecting the disappointing Blessed. I get the feeling that comic beats are being missed and a skilled director can do much ensure that the gags are subtly telegraphed, which is very important if there is no laugh track.

This week's Blessed featured another supermarket rant by Ardal O'Hanlon and a pratfall. We got the idea that we were supposed to find the woman slipping on the Tonka truck funny.

We didn't actually laugh though.

That's that for Platt
Dull exit
After all the trials and tribulations Martin Platt has been through over the years, you'd think he'd deserve a more dramatic send off than the one he got in this week's Coronation Street.

Surely they could have come up with something more interesting than him moving to Liverpool with a desperately dull new girlfriend. Far more drama could have been wrenched out of the situation. Why not bring back Nurse Rebecca for a couple of episodes. That really would have put the cat amongst the pigeons.

Corrie is now such a shadow of it's former self that I find it difficult to watch. I used to care about the characters but frankly, I couldn't care less about Mike Baldwin's new family, who seemed to have materialised in the last couple of years with no reference to the show's history and I really couldn't care less about Lloyd from Streetcars or that lecherous baker.

It seems to be becoming a home for former Emmerdale stars and I can't say that the performances of either Vicki Binns or Glenda McKay have been convincing.

And do we really want to see Gail with her libido in full sail? I think not.


Avengers Night

It's a shame that The Avengers Revisited and The Avengers? Must See TV were screened on the same night and covered much of the same ground.

The BBC effort had the edge, partially because the ITV version had got past the commercial break before it delved into the history of the show while the presence of Joan Collins was more of an irritant than a help.

For me, The Avengers was a great show but it seems painfully dated now. While the chemistry between Patrick Macnee and both Honour Blackman and Diana Rigg worked really well and they were superb action girls, the later episodes with Linda Thorson didn't work as well, partially because the fantasy elements of the show got way out of hand but mainly because there was something slightly dirty-old-manish about Steed's relationship with the youthful looking Tara King.


and finally?
Flying the Irish flag

Has Louis Walsh finally lost the plot? He inexplicably axed Maria from The X Factor in favour of The Conway Sisters, an act so woeful their own mentor, Simon Cowell has little good to say about them.

More of my X Factor views available here

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