THERE were two major new television dramas this week.
ITV launched child-murder mystery Broadchurch, while BBC1, as you’ll no doubt be aware, went for the ridiculous – Ian Beale and Denise Fox’s blossoming romance on EastEnders.
But it also gave us Mayday which was, in complete contrast to ITV’s offering, a child-murder mystery that turned out to be, let me assure you, no less ludicrous than events inWalford.
Five hours it lasted, over successive nights, making the extended cut of The Return of the King feel like a shortened episode of Peppa Pig.
You may have ducked out after episode one last Sunday night, so allow me to recap very briefly.
A teenage girl who’s “fed up with being the local saint with the little halo on” is abducted on her way to a May Day parade and murdered in the woods.
Everyone in the community is a suspect and, as events unfold, most are revealed to be hiding a dark secret.
In other words, it really wants to be Twin Peaks, minus the surrealism and damn fine coffee, but falls a country mile short primarily because, in comparison with the underbelly of David Lynch’s television masterpiece, the characters and their personal demons are, well, how shall I put this?
Just a bit rubbish.
There’s a secretive widowed dad who could be a hitman hiding the girl’s body in a cupboard and jetwashes his car suspiciously in a way that suggests it might recently have been a bit muddy, but is actually an ordinary bloke who can’t overcome his wife’s death, yet we’re supposed to square this with him sleeping with every female in the town between the ages of 16 and 25.
A man named Steve is in a disagreement with the mother of his son over child access, while his brother likes to live in the woods and burgles houses to steal kids’ teddy bears, presumably to answer that age-old question about bears’ toilet habits in forested areas.
And if that isn’t rock ’n’ roll enough for you, most of the early exchanges involved property magnate and closet peeping Tom Malcolm’s unsuccessful planning application for a housing development on greenfield land.
Edge-of-your-seat stuff, isn’t it?
It took 3hr 21min before the dead girl was finally found – around the same time in the third Lord of the Rings movie that Frodo was considering getting on that ruddy boat – by which point I would have gladly volunteered my own body.
The fact is that if you’re going to ask an audience to devote five nights on the trot to a television drama, it’s got to be outstanding with a pace as rapid as Channel 4’s Homeland.
That hasn’t happened with a British show since BBC1 Iraq war drama Occupation four years ago, coincidentally made by the same production company as Mayday, and crucially lasted just three successive nights.
I can’t deny, however, that this week’s series didn’t get one thing bang on – the programme title.
Mayday is, after all, the international distress signal.
● Ant and Dec’s Jeremy Kyle USA prank on Saturday Night Takeaway.
● Saturday night TV hero Richard Osman hailing contestant Ben Miller as the comedy half of Armstrong and Miller, telling host Alexander Armstrong: “When Ben’s on I’m laughing, I’m doubled up, and then you’re on and I think here he is, the comedy grim reaper.”
● All-Star Family Fortunes having the nerve to ask Penny Lancaster’s team the question: “Name a bird that has very long legs.”
● Vanessa Feltz as Cher (mutton dressed as Spam) on Let’s Dance For Comic Relief, with judge Arlene Phillips telling her she was: “Channelling the 80s,” when she could have carved the Channel Tunnel dancing like that.
● The BBC playing the youth card with 61-year-old Bonnie Tyler as the UK’s Eurovision representative, which leads me to this conclusion: Bonnie Tyler, 1976, Lost in France.
Bonnie Tyler, 2013, Last In Sweden.
● The BBC axing voice of cycling Hugh “lit up the burners” Porter.
● Rolling news channels believing Justin Bieber apologising for being slightly late for a gig is “breaking news”.
● Dancing On Ice’s Gareth Thomas suffering “motion sickness and memory loss”, when I’d give anything for those symptoms at 9pm on a Sunday night.
● Phillip Schofield on Wednesday’s This Morning: “Forget Gangnam Style. Today it’s all about Rylan style.” Isn’t it flippin’ always.
● David Tennant saying Chris Chibnall’s Broadchurch script has: “Great humanity. Chris shows immense understanding of the human condition.” Just a pity, then, that the immense understanding of a Dorset accent was from the Norfolk area.