Crowning glories and crackling dialogue on the cusp of change
“People adore the whiff of sex coming off our crowd,” said Sylvia over breakfast while reading about the latest upper-class scandal in the newspaper. The sense of class division based on mores as well as money was skilfully created. “The hotel notepaper is simply shaming,” said Sylvia, sitting in a French hotel to which she had flitted with her latest lover. She was writing to Tietjens, begging permission to come home after she realised there wasn’t much fun in being unfaithful if your husband didn’t seem to care.
By the end of episode one, Tietjens had fallen for a suffragette, the gorgeous Valentine Wannop (Adelaide Clemens), a modern woman full of scruples, ready for the new changed century. And the recognisable cast included Anne-Marie Duff (she was having a good week, and giving a very different performance as a mother of a gang member in a grim sink estate in Jimmy McGovern’s gritty drama Accused: Mo’s Story, BBC One, Tuesday); Stephen Graham, Janet McTeer, Miranda Richardson, Rufus Sewell, Geoffrey Palmer and Rupert Everett, barely recognisable behind a beard as Tietjens’s best man, who advised him on the way to the wedding not to be “trapped by the Papist bitch”.
I WAS SORRYI had watched Cutting Edge: Endgames of a Psychopath (Channel 4, Monday) because even the passive act of looking at the documentary felt oddly like being manipulated by Ian Brady, the Moors murderer who has spent nearly half a century of incarceration unrepentant and attempting to psychologically manipulate and gain power over all who have come into contact with him. The pre-publicity for the film promoted the claim that Brady had given a letter to his mental-health advocate Jackie Powell. The letter, to be opened after his death, was purported to detail where the body of his fifth victim, 12-year-old Keith Bennett, was buried.
In a desperately poignant piece of timing, the child’s mother Winnie Johnson, who had for all that time begged Brady to reveal the whereabouts of her son’s body, died last weekend. The film left too many questions unanswered. What are the powers, obligations and qualifications of a mental-health advocate? Why did Powell feel it appropriate to take part in a documentary, other than her apparent enjoyment of the limelight? Was there ever really a letter? Powell said she gave it back to Brady, unopened. He has been on hunger strike for more than 12 years, but is being force-fed to keep him alive. But why feed his ego by making a film about him?
Get stuck into . . .Some crime dramas are so corny they seem like spoofs of the genre, but this intentionally funny one A Touch of Cloth, starring John Hannah and Suranne Jones (left) seems worth a look
( Sky 1, Sunday).