Great British Car Journeys
Great British Car Journeys (Channel 4)
It’s 40 years since Peter Davison and Christopher Timothy met on the set of All Creatures Great and Small, the much-loved Sunday night veterinary saga that itself harked back to a more innocent age. So when the amiable duo began a second run of their Great British Car Journeys with a bumble down memory lane through ‘Herriot country’, it felt like a definite case of nostalgia squared.
Kitted out in tweeds and flat caps, the self-styled ‘honorary Yorkshiremen’ nosed their trusty Morgan 4/4 down their own personal TV heritage trail (Herriotage trail?) that took them from Scarborough to the heart of the Dales, making pit stops along the way to investigate Yorkshire’s contribution to the golden age of motoring. At Wykenham Abbey, for example, they learned how the legendary Aston Martin DB5, of 007 fame, was given a bit more poke by, of all things, a firm of tractor engineers. Naturally, Timothy couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel (of a tractor, that is – he’s James Herriot, not James Bond).
After that, they tackled the treacherous Rosedale Chimney Bank, one of Britain’s steepest roads. At least they said it was treacherous – in practise, it meant them pootling happily up a hill like the world’s most sedate Top Gear challenge.
There were also jolly chats with various classic car enthusiasts (men of a certain age, mostly) while the real James Herriot’s son Jim joined them on Sutton Bank to enjoy what Herriot Snr – real name Alf Wight – once described, with some justification, as ‘the finest view in England’.
A delightful hour of television climaxed with our hosts commandeering an Austin 7 to recreate the famous All Creatures Great and Small title sequence. That’s two men in 2019 pretending to be two men in 1977 pretending to be two men in 1935, with Davison taking the role of his older brother Siegfried, as played by Robert Hardy when he was 20 years younger than Davison is now. It makes his time travels as Doctor Who look positively straightforward…
Dublin Murders (BBC One)
Dublin Murders is billed as a ‘dark psychological thriller’. Oh goody – because we haven’t had one of those for literally hours. Thankfully, writer Sarah Phelps brings the same deft touch to Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels as she did to the BBC’s recent Agatha Christie adaptations, while Sarah Greene and Killian Scott’s career-making turns as a pair of troubled Irish detectives are compelling enough to distract from the critical mass of crime drama clichés.
If you’ve given up on The Walking Dead – which lurches on as relentlessly as one of its flesh-eating antagonists – you might prefer this breezy new take on the genre, in which two sisters (Leah Brotherhead and Downton’s Cara Theobold) attempt to flee a zombie apocalypse by chugging – very slowly – out of Birmingham on a narrowboat. It’s decent enough post-pub fare, if you ignore the fact Shaun of the Dead did it first (and better).
Published in Waitrose Weekend, 17 October, 2019
(c) Waitrose Weekend