The Loch

A serial killer at large on the shores of Loch Ness? It’s such a nailed-on premise for an ITV thriller, it’s amazing no-one’s thought of it before, really.

Stephen Brady’s drama certainly requires a strong stomach: the first episode gave us two dead bodies and a fake Nessie carcass made from animal entrails – and, as it turned out, a human heart. By part two, they were picking bits of brain out of a roadside cairn. Eeeuw. Still, at least the scenery’s nice – in the scenes that aren’t set in a mortuary or an abattoir, anyway.

It’s not the sort of crime local copper Annie Redford (Laura Fraser) is used to: ‘Her last case was the theft of an inflatable Nessie’, sneered Lauren Quigley (Siobhan Finneran), a high-flying DCI who’s blown in from Glasgow, gleefully informing the doughty chief inspector (John Sessions, his transformation into Ken Stott now complete) ‘You’ve got a cold-blooded predator in your town!’ She’s also called in Blake Albrightson (Don Gilet), a celebrity forensic psychologist given to colourful turns of phrase like ‘The killer dances ahead of us, leading us to his story’.

It’s not the sort of drama where you have to search very hard for the metaphors – not least because people keep pointing them out in chunks of flashing neon dialogue. ‘I tell tourists there’s no monster,’ said a murder suspect. ‘I wish that was the case,’ replied Quigley. ‘Most people, their monsters are in here,’ the same suspect added later, tapping his head. Meanwhile, just in case we’d missed the point of all those dark, swirling undercurrents and things coming to the surface, our one-man Greek chorus declared: ‘You think this is a community? It’s a bunch of people drawn together by lies.’

It’s all about as plausible as Nessie herself, frankly. But with its terrific cast, spaghetti tangle of interweaving plotlines and slow-burning personal feuds, and hints of a shift towards full-blooded pastoral horror (including a truly terrifying scarecrow), consider me gripped. The real test, though, is whether it can avoid being sunk by the ratings monster that is Poldark.

TV extra:

 

Pitch Battle

Saturday night’s latest karaoke contest takes its cue from Hollywood’s Pitch Perfect movies (even nicking their musical director, Deke Sharon) as 30 vocal groups go head-to-head to impress the unlikely judging panel of Kelis and Gareth Malone (Harlem sass meets Harry Potter). Mel Giedroyc, no stranger to a showstopper, presides over a format that’s fun and uplifting but, at 90 minutes, left me recalling Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice: ‘My dear, you have delighted us long enough.’

 

Theresa v Boris

A week is a long time in politics – and in TV scheduling. This gripping docu-drama lifted the lid on the ‘betrayals and backstabbing’ that dominated the scrap to become PM following last year’s Brexit vote, using a mix of talking head interviews and actors in funny wigs. (A very funny wig, in Boris’s case.) It was hugely entertaining – like an episode of The Thick of It, only even more farcical – though it now seems it may be far from the last act of this particular saga.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, June 22, 2017

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