The Last Post

British TV execs love a good colonial drama – they go faint at the mere thought of a pair of khaki shorts – and the BBC is clearly hoping The Last Post will be one of the jewels in the crown of its autumn schedule.

Inspired by writer Peter Moffat’s memories of his father’s Military Police service in 1960s Aden, it’s a reassuringly expensive looking affair – though not quite what you’d call ‘glossy’. On the contrary, it’s a grittier proposition than your standard Sunday night period fare: less a dose of sunshine than a prickly, collar-dampening blast of heat and dust. And the sex is fairly steamy for the Sabbath, too. (‘I’d give anything for a wet weekend in Haslemere,’ sighed one officer’s wife. She wasn’t the one who’d been enjoying the steamy sex, obviously.)

The first episode was also suffused with a sticky sense of dread, as the unit’s well-loved captain packed his bags and prepared to go home. From the moment he handed over his sprig of lucky heather, it was clear he had as much chance of making it to the end credits as a detective pulling one last shift before retirement.

His replacement, Capt Joe Martin, played by matinee idol-handsome newcomer Jeremy Neumark Jones, now has the job of winning the respect of his men, despite looking barely old enough to shave, while his wide-eyed new wife Honor (War & Peace’s Jessie Buckley) is already finding her Arabian adventure isn’t quite the honeymoon she’d hoped for.

Elsewhere, Lieutenant Ed Laithwaite (Stephen Campbell Moore having his second crisis of conscience in as many Sundays, following last week’s The Child in Time) is troubled by the British treatment of the local Yemenis, and his wife Alison is just trouble generally: bored, frustrated, sexually liberated (she makes a show of hanging out her smalls in front of the men) and knocking back the gin from dawn ‘til dusk, it’s a sultry, scene-stealing performance from Jessica Raine.

A promising start, then: let’s just hope going head-to-head with Victoria doesn’t cause the sun to set on this corner of the Empire too quickly.

TV extra:

 

Star Trek: Discovery

Anyone expecting the first Start Trek series in more than a decade to boldly go where no Trek has gone before may be surprised by how curiously dated this Netflix revival feels. From the putty-faced prosthetics and galactic bafflegab (‘That noise is some sort of electro-magnetic subspace waveform’) to humans and Vulcans snarking at each other about logic versus emotions, much of it could have fallen straight through a wormhole from 1987. It’s Star Trek, Jim, and largely as we know it.

 

Doctor Foster

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who initially struggled to see the point of reopening Doctor Foster’s still fresh wounds after last year’s perfectly self-contained drama. But while the second run of Mike Bartlett’s torrid revenge tragedy – a primetime rewrite of Medea, no less – has become increasingly detached from reality (falling victim to TV’s ‘law of hysterical returns’), it was never less than compelling, thanks in large part to Suranne Jones’s astonishing, hell-hath-no-fury central performance.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, October 5, 2017

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