TV Review: Gary Cooke got the wooden spoon but he served up some top-notch humour
By insisting it’s all about the food, ‘Celebrity Masterchef’ judges have starved us of the funniest contestant
Top of the Lake is a slow-moving crime drama like Scandi noir imports such as The Killing or The Bridge, with a strong flavour of Twin Peaks thrown in – but often the dialogue is so stilted it could be a bad translation from Danish. There’s certainly foreboding – and that’s created by the stunning cinematography, thanks to so many beautifully framed shots of the lakes and mountains – but there’s not much in the way of plot-generated tension. Maybe, as the grand theme unfolds – the contrast between the extraordinary natural beauty of New Zealand and the disturbed violence in the small community – it will become more compelling.
The scheduling of Run (Channel 4, Mon-Thurs), a four-part, linked drama had me checking the calendar. Not just the viewer commitment required – it was shown over consecutive nights – but the spirit-challenging grittiness of it. It felt very Novemberish.
Monday’s drama starred Olivia Colman, the most versatile actor on British TV, as Carol, a survivor of a violent relationship living in a rundown London council estate with her two thuggish teenage sons. They are so dense they neglect to wash the blood off their trackies after they kick a Polish man to death on the estate.
Carol’s only moments of joy come from the tins of cheap takeaway lager and the odd karaoke night in the estate’s grim pub. She works in a warehouse where she steals iPhones to sell on to Lin, a young Chinese woman. The script was compelling, the dialogue faultless in its believable naturalism, and the acting from the ensemble cast was riveting. As an exploration of the trauma and drama that goes on in lives lived on the margins, it was powerful, thought-provoking stuff.
The second night’s drama took up the story of Lin, Carol’s customer, an illegal immigrant selling the phones to pay off her violent trafficker. This was more superb quality TV drama, but I’ve kept episodes three and four for dark winter days to match the mood.
So this year’s The Apprentice (BBC 1, Wednesday) came down to two seriously impressive young women, a glamazonian battle between cupcakes and collagen. Luisa Zissman got to the final with her dream of a baking-supplies business but it was Dr Leah Totton, the self-described “business Barbie”, from Northern Ireland who won Alan Sugar’s £250,000 (€290,000) investment to set up a chain of cosmetic-treatment clinics.
Later in The Apprentice: You’re Hired it was presenter Dara Ó Briain’s turn to quiz Sugar. “Have you ever worked with a woman from Derry before? They’re a famously fierce brand of woman.”