Temple (Sky 1)

You’ll no doubt be familiar with the concept of the ‘elevator pitch’ – an idea so snappy and succinct it can easily be presented in the short journey between floors. We can only speculate, then, what mind-bending substances were being pumped into the lift when Temple – about a surgeon who conducts illegal operations in a secret clinic below Temple tube station – was pitched to TV execs.

Except they probably didn’t even need to, as it’s actually a remake of the Norwegian drama Valkyrien, shown on Channel 4 a couple of years ago. But whatever skewed logic that slice of Scandi-noir might have had has clearly got lost in translation somewhere over the North Sea. 

Mark Strong – a fine actor seemingly doomed to live out his days propping up below-par thrillers – is Daniel Milton, a grieving surgeon driven by personal tragedy to carry out dodgy procedures in a gloomy operating theatre-cum-Batcave in tunnels deep beneath the Circle Line. Like you do. (It certainly brings a whole new meaning to ‘going private’.)

He’s assisted by a disgruntled London Underground worker (Daniel Mays, doing that jack-the-lad geezer shtick he keeps saying he wants to move on from), who’s either the Jesse Pinkman to Strong’s Walter White, or the Lurch to his Gomez Addams, depending on how charitable you’re feeling.

Then there’s medical researcher Anna, played by Game of Thrones’ witchy priestess Carice van Houten, who Daniel was playing away from home with while his wife Beth (Catherine McCormack) was dying, and who he has now kidnapped and secreted in his underground lair in order to siphon off some of her blood for a local gangster. True story.

But we had to wait for the final seconds of this week’s opener for the big twist, in which it was revealed that reports of Beth’s death have been exaggerated, and the whole underground-Batcave-clinic thing is actually a very elaborate way of keeping her alive. 

Well, I mean, why didn’t you say? Suddenly, it all makes perfect sense.


Defending the Guilty

BBC2, Tuesday

Adapted from Alex McBride’s book, this highly promising new sitcom about the dog-eat-eat dog world of pupil barristers could do for chambers what The Thick of It did for Whitehall. Will Sharpe is excellent as the idealistic but flustered Will, who dreams of fighting injustice but, when he’s not acting as a gofer for his cynical pupilmaster Caroline (the brilliant Katherine Parkinson), only seems to succeed in helping keep violent criminals on our streets.


Comedians Giving Lectures (Dave)

The latest in Dave’s inexhaustible supply of comedy formats involves comedians creating stand-up routines based on the titles of real academic lectures. This week, that meant Nish Kumar riffing on 10 Ways the World Might End, Natasia Demetriou sparing no blushes on the subject of female anatomy, and Tom Allen largely ignoring the premise of Why We Make Bad Decisions and talking about his love of Denise Van Outen instead. In comedy terms, it’s a solid 2:1. 

Published in Waitrose Weekend, 19 September, 2019

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