Kat & Alfie: Redwater
The TV spin-off is a tricky mistress. For every Frasier, there’s a Joey, for every Lewis, a Burnside (Google it). As for Redwater, in which EastEnders’ Kat and Alfie Moon head west, swapping Walford for a picturesque coastal town in Ireland, I can’t help feeling it’s on the back foot before it’s even started due to the fact it’s forced to exist in the same fictional universe as Phil Mitchell. And is therefore inherently ridiculous.
That said, they’ve gone to a lot of effort to put clear blue water (and I’m not talking about the murky Irish Sea) between this and the parent show, even bringing in a Borgen director to apply a layer of Nordic noir to the proceedings. Seriously, on the list of things I never thought I’d see, a Scandi drama starring Shane Richie has to be pretty high up there.
Kat (Jessie Wallace) has come to Redwater to search for the baby boy she was forced to give up 30 years ago. While she flies in feet first, asking questions and arousing suspicion among the locals, her husband urges restraint and diplomacy. But Kat’s so stubborn and headstrong, it would be challenge for Ban Ki-moon, let alone Alfie.
Meanwhile, Alfie’s having visions. ‘Something’s coming,’ he said ominously, as a sea fret rolled in. ‘Something horrible.’ I hope it’s not Phil Mitchell. Or maybe it was just a premonition of the next day, when he nearly died while trying to scale a cliff face in moccasins.
Wallace and Richie were always one of Albert Square’s more likeable couples, and they’re supported here by a fine Irish cast, including Maria Doyle Kennedy, Ian McElhinny and Fionnula Flanagan as fabulously steely matriarch Agnes. But for all that, Redwater is a bit of a furry fish, which can’t seem to decide if it’s a soap or a thriller.
At the end of the first episode, it was revealed (minus the dum-dums, sadly) that Kat’s long-lost son is the local priest and, as an aside, a demented psycho-killer. Well what other type of happy family reunion did you expect from an EastEnders spin-off?
Yorkshire Wolds Way
Forever overshadowed by the Dales and the Moors – Herriot and Heathcliffe country respectively – the Yorkshire Wolds Way is, according to presenter Paul Rose, ‘one of the least-trampled parts of the UK’. It’s an oversight the chirpy, snow-haired polar explorer (a white Rose, if you will) hoped to correct with this enjoyable trample through the Wolds’ rolling chalk hills, which felt a bit like stepping into the frame of one of David Hockney’s many paintings of the area. In a word: restful.
The BBC was famously founded with a remit to ‘educate, inform and entertain’. Three Girls, the harrowing dramatisation of the Rochdale child grooming scandal, could not, in any sense, be called entertainment. But as an example of public service broadcasting shining a light into a dark corner of British society, it was brave, unflinching and grimly compelling, while its young leads were simply astonishing. Memo to next year’s Bafta judges: you can knock off early.
Published in Waitrose Weekend, May 25, 2017
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