CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews Shetland and The Great British Sewing Bee
Shetland’s tourist board should beware – a bloodbath is coming! CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV
The Great British Sewing Bee
Pity the tourist board of Britain’s most far-flung holiday paradise. Shetland (BBC1) seems to be attracting the wrong sort of publicity.
The ‘Discover Shetland’ website is plainly proud that the dark crime serial, starring Douglas Henshall as detective Jimmy Perez, showcases the wild landscapes so invitingly.
But the internet ads seem obliged to emphasise that the mass murders are all just fiction, shouting in giant bold letters about ‘the lowest crime rates in the world’ and ‘one of the safest, most crime-free places on the planet’.
When the council feels compelled to reassure visitors that they’re not going to be dismembered and dumped in sacks along the seashore, you’ve got an image problem. It’s like saying: ‘Shetland! Where you’re unlikely to be shot in the head during a gang war, provided you stay indoors.’
Douglas Henshall (as DI Jimmy Perez) and Alison O’ Donnell (as Alison McIntosh) in Shetland
Any place you need to wear a stab-vest to the pub will struggle to project a warm and welcoming vibe. Compare that to the Orkneys, 120 miles to the south, where chef James Martin was barbecuing shellfish on the dockside this week in his new travelogue on daytime ITV, Great British Adventure.
Up and down the country, channel-hopping travellers planning their summer hols will be asking themselves: ‘What do we fancy this year? Scallops or serial killers?’
On the strength of the opening episode of Shetland, I’m heading for the mass murder capital.
This was a creepily noir tale that collected all the best components of Scandinavian crime thrillers —people-trafficking, drug-smuggling, prostitution, vice of all kinds —without ever feeling rushed.
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Henshall has perfected his character, a lonely and incorruptible policeman who tells a witness: ‘Let’s just get one thing straight. I don’t turn a blind eye to anything.’
But he’s resigned to the fact that everyone he loves will leave him —except for his old mate Duncan (Mark Bonnar) who stole his wife and is forever dropping round to drink his whisky or kip on his sofa.
His police sidekick Tosh (Alison O’Donnell) is a perpetual teenager who pouts sulkily with every arrest and would say ‘Duh! Whatever,’ instead of reading a suspect his rights.
Crime connoisseurs will have spotted that Derek Riddell (Midsomer Murders, Happy Valley etc) made a cameo appearance, as a newcomer to the islands. He only had one line, but it’s a general rule of TV dramas that when Riddell shows up briefly in episode one, a bloodbath is coming. The tourism department had better brace themselves.
Pictured: Joe Lycett, Esme Young and Patrick Grant in The Great British Sewing Bee
Fans of The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC2) were braced, too, as presenter Claudia Winkleman was replaced by camp sauce merchant Joe Lycett.
As soon as we spotted that Joe was wearing the same sky-blue nail varnish as judge Esme Young, it was obvious the show was getting cheekier.
As the contestants tackled the pattern for a Fifties cotton wiggle dress, I thought Joe’s voice-over was getting lewd. But then I listened again, and realised that he’d actually said: ‘All of them have begun by sewing the bust darts.’ Bust darts…enunciate more clearly, Joe.
Tailor Patrick Grant, as the other judge, is now so confident with the camera that he stole much of Joe’s limelight. Inspecting the cut of a tight-fitting jumpsuit, he announced: ‘A little “hungry in the bum” is the technical term for that.’ And when an amateur seamstress said a pair of trousers fitted the model ‘like gloves’, Patrick retorted: ‘She’s got five legs?’
Even if you know nothing about clothes, this show is worth watching just for the quips.
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