IT arrived about 20 minutes too late, on Sunday night, but Vigil’s distress signal was still appreciated when it came.
“Sir, the ballast hall valve is open,” yelped Lt/Cdr Hennessy, “There’s a high level bilge warning.”
A great tsunami of bilge, in fact, that threatened to engulf Vigil’s cast, plot, script, DCI Amy Silva, her on/off lesbian lover Kirsten and even their cat, back in Glasgow.
In the event, only XO Mark Prentice died while the rest of Vigil’s nuclear submarine crew limped back to port, still carrying the heavy threat of a second series.
Not a cause for celebration, in my book, because the opening run had me in its grip for just eight minutes of the first episode.
Then they killed off Martin Compston’s whistle-blowing CPO Craig Burke and sent out police officer Amy to investigate in an RAF Sea King helicopter, hastily plastered with the words: “ROYAL NAVY”.
A one-woman crime and forensics unit, this girl, who was also a claustrophobic pain in the arse, which probably explains why both friend and foe kept locking her in very confined spaces on board the incredibly spacious Vigil.
Even if the main character had been remotely likeable, though, it’s unlikely I’d have been taken in by the BBC1 drama as the creator, Tom Edge, who’d been influenced by everything from Line Of Duty to The Hunt For Red October and Carry On Cruising, had decided there was a jarring line to be drawn between the two services.
Everything about the police was entirely worthy and wonderful, while the Royal Navy was such a short- tempered, foul-mouthed shambles I’m surprised the MoD hadn’t built a cocktail deck and swimming pool on top of that submarine.
As you can imagine, it played havoc with the script which lurched from standard procedural cliche (”You don’t have the authority”) to high camp in about the time it took one subordinate to shout: “Sir, half the scrubbers are in refit.” (And the other one’s having it off with the Coxswain.)
None of it bore any resemblance to reality, obviously, but I’d have been prepared to suspend disbelief if Vigil had kept things relatively simple and made sense.
Indeed, Vigil was such a confusion of subplots, political agendas and characters that it actually took me two viewings to register the detail that, as well as boiling two civilians alive, in Port Havers, Comm- ander Screwup and his crew had nearly blown up the whole of Florida on a previous mission, which has to go down as a dreadful missed opportunity.
Vigil was such a confusion of subplots, political agendas and characters that it actually took me two viewings
Still, I’d have forgiven the oversight if Vigil had managed to tie all the loose ends together during its episode six finale.
Once again, it didn’t, mainly because it had resolved the biggest issue at the end of episode five when we learned the on-board Russian spy/murderer was Doward, the sonar operator, who’d locked Amy in a torpedo tube just before the credits rolled.
Naive fool that he was, Prentice rescued her and, by way of thanks, she left him to be stabbed to death.
A lot of corridor-chasing followed before an arrest was eventually made by means of (as far as I could tell) slamming on the submarine’s brakes.
In the normal course of things, this would leave 20 minutes to answer the question that had been echoing around that boat for the previous five weeks: “What the hell’s going on?” Satisfactory answers came there none.
Doward gave no explanation for his treachery and the Russians, it transpired, had just been trying to lure Vigil to the surface for: “A PR stunt.”
The dramatic equivalent, in other words, of Boris on a sodding zipwire, but nowhere near as funny.
The real sucker punch arrived, though, 12 hours after the episode had finished when it was revealed that more than seven million viewers had watched the final episode of Vigil
The one issue that was resolved, naturally, was Amy and DS Kirsten Longacre’s relationship, because if you thought the BBC was going to give up easily on a lesbian crime-fighting duo, in the current climate, you’re made of far less cynical stuff than me.
The real sucker punch arrived, though, 12 hours after the episode had finished when it was revealed that more than seven million viewers had watched the final episode of Vigil.
An impressive number that could well prove I’m hopelessly wrong about this show, just as it could well prove the Great British public will watch absolutely anything on a Sunday night.
Either way, I’m staring straight down the periscope of Vigil II.
SAY NO TO 'I DO' ON TV
MARRIED At First Sight UK is further proof the most important word any parent can teach their children is “No”.
If they don’t, 20 years from now they may end up marrying a complete stranger, on E4, like spoilt little madam Morag or the overly controlling Franky, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Daniel Craig, in ventriloquist dummy form, and boasts that his sexual conquests are in “triple digits” (2.05).
These two aren’t the worst of it here either.
Of the eight couples who Married At First Sight, you’d give only Matt and Daniel a decent chance of celebrating their first anniversary together.
A guesstimate that must also have been rattling around the head of resident “expert” Paul C Brunson even as he was describing the seventh series as “the biggest and boldest experiment we’ve ever done”.
By which he meant, of course, shamelessly copying the lowest common denominator Australian version and selecting couples who could be goaded, prodded, humiliated and filled with alcohol until the point they either got off with someone else (see Megan and Jordon) or exploded with the sort of rage the network was supposed to get out of its system when it ditched Big Brother in 2010.
Quite how any of this fits in with its public service remit, I don’t know, but if you think something beautiful, enduring and deeply spiritual can’t emerge from the human wreckage of Married At First Sight, then get a load of Nikita.
“At the end of the day, I’m not being shallow, but you can’t shag a personality.”
Parents. Just say “No”
UNEXPECTED MORONS IN THE BAGGING AREA
TIPPING Point, Ben Shephard: “Launched in 1937, which brand of round sugar-coated chocolate sweets, that come in eight colours, is typically sold in hexagonal tubes?”
Umar: “Coronation Street.”
The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “In football, how many yards apart are a set of goalposts?” Lynne: “330.”
Ben Shephard: “In the title of the 1970s and 80s TV show, starring Jack Klugman, which two letters follow the word Quincy?”
Confession of the week
254 episodes and 35 minutes into the life of The Last Leg, host Adam Hills admits: “I’ll tell you what’s not easy. Being funny.”
Though not nearly as hard as you make it look.
RANDOM TV IRRITATIONS
BBC2’s continuity cretin talking all the way through Gone Fishing’s Cracklin’ Rosie credits.
Foxy’s Fearless 48 Hours turning out to be Pro-Celebrity Bunjee-Jumping.
Fred Sirieix playing ITV gooseberry to Gino D’Acampo and Gordon Ramsay, who really should get a room.
News footage of all the country’s most selfish, panic-stricken morons queuing for petrol.
And the Government failing to reintroduce the death penalty for any journalist writing an article headlined: “Why the next James Bond should be a woman.
On what television show was the following commentary heard last month?
“They’re rubbing bulges. A bit of chat-bait. There’s a– licking galore going on. “It’s quite a frenzy of a- licking. It’s an a**-licking bonanza.”
A) Sex Actually With Alice Levine?
B) Nigel Farage Talking Pints with Geoffrey Boycott?
GREAT TV LIES AND DELUSIONS OF THE MONTH
Good Morning Britain, Alastair Campbell: “Coming up, Omid Djalili reveals how the pandemic actually made him funnier.”
The One Show, Rylan: “We haven’t drawn the short straw, it’s Josh Widdi- combe.”
And BBC1 continuity announcer: “Coming up, Greg Davies’s new comedy The Cleaner, above, will definitely put a spring in your step.”
As you dance and frolic your way down to the local pub.
LOOKALIKE OF THE WEEK
THIS week’s winner is This Morning’s resident alien expert Shaun Ryder and Captain Underpants.
Emailed in by Kaz Maguire. Picture research: Amy Reading
Great sporting insights
TALKSPORT’S resident McFlurry-for-brains Jamie O’Hara: “We need to get Mason Greenwood ready, ’cos he’s a ready-made superstar.”
Gary Neville: “He wanted the pass just in front of slightly behind him.”
And Mark Chapman: “Without going down that ‘Burnley are in trouble route’, Burnley are in trouble, aren’t they?”
(Compiled by Graham Wray)
SKY Crime’s admirably thorough documentary series The Bambers: Murder At The Farm.
The toy box smuggled out of Germany, during the Holocaust, which was brought back to life on a beautiful episode of The Repair Shop.
Balding colossus “Dilksy” reappearing in the closing credits of C4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins.
And Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Odudu, who has the looks of a supermodel, the voice of steeplejack Fred Dibnah, but is poetry in motion on the BBC1 dancefloor and a total joy to behold.
TUESDAY’S Loose Women and the big question on Ruth Langsford’s lips is: “Do you know where Janet Street-Porter’s passport might be?”
Getting processed at Defra or lost property at Heathrow’s quarantine pound, is my best guess.
Otherwise, search me.
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