CLAUDIA CONNELL’S My TV Week: Tune in for a big cosy hug
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
THURSDAYS, CHANNEL 5
There’s something about charming, cosy period TV dramas that lures us in at this time of year. Nights are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air and suddenly the thought of people in home-knitted Fair Isle jumpers riding bicycles on cobbled streets is very appealing. The characters might have a few wobbles and dramas along the way, but you know that a soppy, uplifting ending is guaranteed.
And there’s nothing cosier, less threatening or more unapologetically soppy than All Creatures Great And Small, which is back for a fourth series.
Based on the famous James Herriot series of books about the life of a Yorkshire vet, one can only imagine the reaction when the production company first pitched the idea of remaking one of the BBC’s most loved series.
The original ran from 1978 to 1990 and regularly attracted audiences of 20 million – how could Channel 5 top that? When it came to audience figures, they couldn’t.
In the age of streaming, no mainstream telly show gets those numbers any more – yet the fantastic performances, breathtaking cinematography and delightful storytelling still resulted in a triumph.
Claudia Connell says there’s nothing cosier, less threatening or more unapologetically soppy than All Creatures Great And Small, which is back for a fourth series
When the remake first hit our screens in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, it was like a well-timed hug. Three years on and viewers are still relishing its warm embrace. It’s the spring of 1940 as the fourth series opens, and Siegfried (Samuel West) is grumpier than ever. He’s given up smoking for Lent and Helen (Rachel Shenton) and Mrs Hall (Anna Madeley) are feeling the brunt of his temper. The real reason for his misery is the absence of Tristan, his younger brother, (who’s enlisted in the Army), but a grouch like Siegfried is never going to admit that.
Meanwhile, James (Nicholas Ralph) encounters a young local rascal called Wesley Binks whose dog, Duke, is sick. Fearing the lad is mistreating the animal, James calls the RSPCA. But it turns out poor Wesley loves that mutt more than life itself, he just doesn’t have the money or means to get Duke help. James to the rescue! He not only sets Duke on the road to recovery but even finds work for Wesley.
As plots go it’s hardly complicated or taxing, but sometimes it’s refreshing to watch a programme that doesn’t require exhaustive unpicking afterwards, or the need to log on to social media to see if other people understood things better than you.
If anyone jumps on the internet after watching All Creatures Great And Small it will be to Google – as I did – the Yorkshire filming locations. From the opening shot as James drives along country roads to the closing shot of him staring out at the glorious Dales, the scenery is one of the biggest stars here.
The only whiff of disappointment comes from the absence of Callum Woodhouse, who played the lovable and mischievous Tristan.
SUNDAYS, 9pm, BBC1
Andy’s former second-in-command, Carly (Vinette Robinson, pictured), now heads up the kitchen at new restaurant Point North
Boiling Point started out as a standalone movie, first screened on Netflix two years ago. Anyone who saw it will remember it as one of the most brilliantly nerve-jangling, anxiety-inducing films they’d ever seen. Set over one night, it told the story of celebrated chef Andy Jones (Stephen Graham) buckling under the pressure of running a restaurant, culminating in him suffering a heart attack.
Now original director Philip Barantini has continued the story in a four-part BBC drama. As it starts, Andy is recovering at home. Bitter and angry, he’s knocking back more booze than the City bankers he used to feed.
Andy’s former second-in-command, Carly (Vinette Robinson), now heads up the kitchen at new restaurant Point North, serving up reimagined northern cuisine for Londoners with more money than sense. In the opening episode a group of sceptical potential investors visit. ‘This northern food is cute and niche but doesn’t inspire,’ one says, adding that while people go out for an Italian, French or Japanese meal, nobody ever says, ‘Let’s go out for a “northern”.’
Things have to go perfectly if the restaurant is to win the investment. But the night is such a disaster that Point North makes Fawlty Towers look well-run.
Carly was once the calm to Andy’s storm, but staff issues, mounting debt and the demands of her awful mother mean she’s close to a breakdown.
If the adrenaline-fuelled first episode is anything to go by, this series will be just as compelling as the movie.
The drama’s in the decor
When her husband is murdered, Lexie Noble (Morven Christie, above) starts to uncover his secret life – £2 million has gone missing, and why was he planning to leave the country on a fake passport?
There are some dramas where you’re more mesmerised by the main characters’ stunning house than the turmoil in their lives. Payback (Wednesdays, ITV1) is one of those.
When her husband is murdered, Lexie Noble (Morven Christie) starts to uncover his secret life – £2 million has gone missing, and why was he planning to leave the country on a fake passport?
But while Payback is watchable enough, I couldn’t take my eyes off Lexie’s gorgeous kitchen and sweeping Victorian staircase.
Source: Read Full Article