A strong cast make the first series of Innocent highly watchable, even if the storytelling never quite catches fire
“Do you still think he did it?”
Matthew Arlidge and Chris Lang’s Innocentpassed me by when it premiered on ITV in 2018 but with the arrival of a second series and an unavoidable publicity push, I thought I’d go back and visit the first, not least because Lang’s stock has never been higher as the creator of Unforgotten. And before the review proper starts, a mildly silly note about names in dramas. I went to school with a David Collins so found it highly amusing but to name his brother Phil? And then never reference it…madness I tell you!
The show centres on the case of Collins who has spent seven years in prison, convicted of murdering his wife Tara. When a legal technicality sees him acquitted, he attempts the process of rebuilding his life. But with his sister-in-law now in custody of his two children and a high degree of suspicion still floating around the air as the police reopen the case to try and find out once and for all who killed Tara, that is much easier said than done. Continue reading “TV Review: Innocent (Series 1)”
Laura Carmichael emerges as a late MVP in the second instalment of Philippa Gregory’s The Spanish Princess
“Maybe we could have some lemon cake”
Based on the Philippa Gregory novels The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse, The Spanish Princess was split into two chunks of eight episodes by Starz, a decision which might have made sense for them but didn’t quite come off dramatically. Losing heavy hitters Henry VII and Margaret Beaufort leaves something of a vacuum which is never really replaced as we enter the final straits of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon’s marriage.
I’m not someone who gets particularly hung up on notions of historical accuracy, particularly with accounts of events of 500 years ago. And when you’re talking about about a Gregory-inspired version which races through 14 years in 8 episodes. that goes double. What is more of an issue here is the fact that Charlotte Hope’s portrayal of Catherine doesn’t really change, physically or emotionally, so that she feels the same as a teenager as she does the 40 year old we end with. Continue reading “TV Review: The Spanish Princess, Series 2”
Series 1 of Philippa Gregory’s The Spanish Princess introduces Elliot Cowan and Harriet Walter to the mix with great success
“I won’t be passed around Europe like a colection plate”
Following on from The White Princess, The Spanish Princess is based on the Philippa Gregory novels The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse, and the first instalment of eight episodes tackles the arrival of Catherine of Aragon to England to meet the man she has been betrothed to since they were both children, Arthur, heir apparent to Henry VII.
The biggest problem, aside from the weather and the racism (members of her court had Moorish and descent), is that the epistolary courtship that had so wooed her teenage heart, was actually written by his younger brother Henry…plot twist. But when Arthur died young, it meant that the plan for peace between England and Spain could still be found in another marriage. Continue reading “TV Review: The Spanish Princess, Series 1”
Elements of David Renwick’s writing starts to show signs of flagging as the magic starts to fade in Series 3 of Jonathan Creek
“What exactly does all this add up to?”
After a decent first coupleof series, the third season of Jonathan Creek sees the show start to wobble a bit as the raft of impossible crimes sways from ingenious plotting to improbably convoluted. Episodes tackle disappearing aliens and a man who thinks he has sold his soul to the devil and it doesn’t always come off.
That said, there’s still some classic tales in here too. The revelation of ‘The Eyes of Tiresias’ is artfully done and ‘Miracle in Crooked Lane’ is properly, admirably fiendish even with its meta-theatrics. Alan Davies and Caroline Quentin both continue in good form but David Renwick’s writing doesn’t permit more than piecemeal character development which, three series in, leaves them a little flat. Continue reading “TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 3”
Sean Bean does Sean Bean in the slight oddity that is Series 1 of The Frankenstein Chronicles, good work too from Vanessa Kirby
“This will be my penance”
Just a quickie for this, as it was one of those shows I’ve been meaning to watch for ages due to the list of actors in its first series (rather than its subject). Elliot Cowan, Anna Maxwell Martin, Ryan Sampson, Ed Stoppard, Sam West…a supporting company right out of Clowns central casting.
Created and mostly written by Benjamin Ross and Barry Langford, The Frankenstein Chronicles plays out as an “inspired by” Mary Shelley’s novel rather than a direct adaptation. It is essentially a 19th century police procedural but given we open with the discovery of a stitched-together body and its dramatis personae include William Blake and Shelley herself, it is clear what kind of universe we’re operating in. Continue reading “TV Review: The Frankenstein Chronicles, Series 1”
The National Theatre has announced a further five productions that will be streamed as a part of the National Theatre at Homeseries. Established in April to bring culture and entertainment to audiences around the world during this unprecedented period, National Theatre at Home has so far seen 10 productions streamed via the NT’s YouTube channel, with over 12 million views to date. These will be the final titles to be shared for free via YouTube in this period. However, future digital activity to connect with audiences in the UK and beyond is planned, with further details to be announced soon.
A free screening of the critically acclaimed A Doll’s House, adapted by the award winning Tanika Gupta and directed by Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan will be available for one day only via the Lyric’s YouTube from 2.30pm until midnight on Wednesday 20 May, 2020.
Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan said:
‘A Doll’s House was the first production I programmed and directed as the new Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, it embodies everything I want the Lyric to be for our audience – world-class theatre, a reimagined classic text, showcasing exceptional talent and celebrating our 125 year old theatre. I’m delighted that we’re able to share this recording for free so that more people can enjoy this production within our beautiful theatre. Alongside our work onstage at the heart of the Lyric is supporting emerging talent from all backgrounds and I’m very much looking forward to personally hosting a series of masterclasses to continue this engagement and support.’
Ever behind the curve, I present 10 of my top moments in a theatre over the last ten years (plus a few bonus extra ones because whittling down this list was hard, and it will probably be different tomorrow anyway!)
Extraordinary Public Acts for a National Theatre
The establishment of the Public Acts programme at the National Theatre offered up something sensational in Pericles, an initiative designed to connect grassroot community organisations with major theatres, resulting in a production that swept over 200 non-professional performers onto the stage of the Olivier to create something that moved me more than 99% of professional productions. A truly joyous and momentous occasion.
Series 5 of Peaky Blinders plots a particularly dark path for Tommy Shelby but leaves a little too much up in the air – spoilers abound
“It was a consequence of good intentions”
Getting Elliot Cowan into the new series of Peaky Blindersmade my heart sing, getting him to play a closeted gay journalist was just gilding the lily, so naturally he didn’t make it past the end of the first episodes. Such are the ways that this show breaks your heart.
As the race through the years carries on apace, we’re now in the time of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the rise of fascism with the arrival of Oswald Mosley, and these two points are the main drivers of this fifth series. The recalibration of the family business to cover their losses, and Tommy’s burgeoning political career serving his increasingly varied ambition. Continue reading “TV Review: Peaky Blinders Series 5”