What an emotional week of television. I could barely contain myself on the sofa, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, or both as two shows came to end in a fine style, while another put its best foot forward in a promising new series.
First, Beyond Paradise (BBC One, Friday), the strangely likeable detective show that eschews nasty murders for gentle burglaries and quirky mysteries, concluded its first series, with arguably the worst street fight since Hugh Grant and Colin Firth slapped each other in Bridget Jones.
Here, Kris Marshall’s detective inspector and Jamie Bamber’s wine dealer had a scrap by the seaside in fictional Shipton Abbott. It was terribly good. It was one of those brawls, in which no one really wants to throw a punch unless they hurt their hand in the process.
So they did a lot of wrestling around on the ground, harrumphing and cursing each other before a well-meaning citizen prised them apart with a stern word or three
That role fell to the relatively diminutive PC Hartford from the same nick, threatening them with his baton, then pepper spray, neither of which he’d used since the queue at the chippie got a little unruly.
The issue? Bamber had kissed Marshall’s fiance Sally Bretton, setting off a whole chain of events which made Beyond Paradise a credible contender for the role of “the new Cold Feet”. Just throw in another three love triangles and you’re there.
In order to solve their troubles the couple had to go to Saint Marie from Death in Paradise (DIP) where Kris Marshall’s Detective Goodman was “born” as a character. Once there, he met up with his old boss Selwyn, and newish detective inspector Neville (Ralf Little), along with bar owner Catharine. They got on famously. Indeed, if Ben Miller had turned up it would have been the DIP equivalent of Avengers Assemble.
Love prevailed, you’ll be pleased to hear, and we hope another series beckons, not least because it has the poshest burglars in fictional Shipton Abbott. Whoever heard of someone called Atticus Styles committing a house break-in? FYI the suave Fifties detective in Magpie Murders (BBC One, Saturday) is Atticus Pund. I rest my case.
What’s been the happiest show of the year? It’s certainly not a category for Bafta though maybe it should be. The clear winner is Anton and Giovanni’s Adventures In Sicily (BBC One, Tuesday). It’s terribly camp and the greatest bromance ever filmed for the BBC, but it’s been highly entertaining.
They visited a monastery in the final episode, prompting me to think that the two of them would enter the priesthood and continue to share that nice twin room in which they were billeted – Giovanni in his boxer shorts, and Anton wafting about in his satin PJs.
We moved on then to Gio’s home town of Palermo, the capital of Sicily, in which I even forgave the obvious staging of two local cops pulling over Anton & Gio in a black Maserati, attended by a local police captain. I was disappointed to learn that Capitano was the only member of Gio’s clan.
It was only a matter of time before we met the entire family, Gio’s mother declaring “it was an honour” to meet Anton. Little did she know that he started as a bed salesman in Sevenoaks, he later confessed to Gio. He’s been a dream partner ever since.
Just as Anton went from dancer to judge, I expect Giovanni to follow the same route one day. Bruno could be his role model. Just stand up, and flail about like a windmill.
Thirdly, a new series of the Pilgrimage (BBC2, Friday) got underway with the Road Through Portugal. At a brutal distance of more than 500 km, notwithstanding some bus travel, it looked arduous on paper particularly for Abdul Rashid, the Muslim comedian, who was carrying 25 stone. But as the trek loomed large it was his walking partner ex-reality star Vicky Pattison who praised Rashid for his passion for religion. “I’m jealous,” she confessed in tears. Living down your racy TV past can’t be easy.
Finally, one of our greatest comedians, Billy Connolly, continues to thrive in a new series from Florida. In the second episode of Billy Connolly Does… (Gold, Thursday), he told us about this new hobby cloud-spotting, deciphering all sorts of unmentionables, while reliving his glory show business days – from chat shows to Live Aid (Bob Gedolf “continued to behave like a punk”), and his current obsessions — Say Yes to the Dress, and Real Housewives – “they just start fighting!” The hair is longer, there’s a grey beard, but the Big Yin has lost little of the great wit that made him such a loveable star.
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