Vera is a British detective television series staring Brenda Blethyn and David Leon. Blethyn plays Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope of Northumberland & City Police, a thick skinned, dedicated if somewhat curmudgeonly character. Each week Vera and her offsider and “surrogate son” DS Joe Ashworth (Leon) tackle a different case and over the course of the series, unveils some of the back story behind Vera’s motivations and history. The first episode of season two finds Vera reunited with her first DS, Stuart Macken under tragic circumstances when his house is petrol-bombed leaving his daughter in intensive care. The investigation uncovers the darker side of Stuarts personal life, and Vera is left questioning what has happened to the man she once knew and trusted. It is also revealed that Macken and Vera lost touch when another officer in their team, Peter (possibly an ex lover of Vera’s) died.
This show is trying hard, but unfortunately I didn’t find that these insights mitigated the abrasiveness of Vera’s character, and on the whole found it difficult to be sympathetic to her quirks. The mother/son dynamic between Vera and DS Ashworth is also quite disconcerting and on the part of Ashworth condescending at times towards Vera. The episodes are quite long (90 minutes) and think that if they saved some of the clunky relationship building and focused more on the methodical police work, the show would be much punchier for it. Vera airs on ITV1 on Saturday’s. Season one is available on DVD
Set in Glasgow, Lip Service is a British television serial drama portraying the interwoven love lives of a group of gay women. Season one aired in 2010, and the second season has just started airing on BBC Three. The show stars Laura Fraser as Cat, Ruta Gedmintas as Frankie and Fiona Button as Tess.
Cat currently has it all – a loving girlfriend (Sam) and a new and exciting exciting job. However when she is passed over to head up a new project she starts to question if being good is going to get her where she wants to go in life. Tess’ acting career is starting to blossom, but is finding it hard to compete against her girlfriend’s obsession with football. Frankie is still in love with Cat and trying not to fall back into her old self destructive habits. Season two sees Cat and Sam arrive back in Glasgow after a South American holiday which was an attempt by Cat to end the affair she was having with Frankie. Tess and Frankie are now flatting together when potential new housemate, Lexie appears on the scene Tess is immediately attracted to her.
Despite some initial trepidation, I was very quickly sucked into this show. The characters are interesting and despite most of them being total fuck-ups, they are still sweet and endearing. The show is fast paced with a smattering of humour in amongst the drama and features a great soundtrack. Season two will run for 6 episodes and currently airs on Friday nights. Season One is available on DVD
Filming is currently underway on a new BBC One series based on the PG Wodehouse stories based around Blandings Castle. The Castle was the basis for 11 of Wodehouse’s novels and 9 short stories, each focusing on the absentminded and porcine obsessed Clarence Emsworth, ninth earl and master of Blandings Castle and his chaotic family.
Timothy Spall and Jennifer Saunders will star as brother and sister Clarence and Connie Emsworth. Also slated to appear is Fast Show actor Mark Williams, Benidorm’s Tony Maudsley and David Walliams will guest start in two episodes.
This will be the third adaptation of the Blandings stories, having made a six part series in 1967 (which has all but been destroyed) and a 95 minute telly movie in 1995. Other Wodehouse creations have successfully made it onto the small screen, most notably Jeeves and Wooster which ran for Four seasons on ITV1 during the early 90’s and starred Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. The BBC has not yet released details as to when the series will air, but as an avid fan of the Jeeves and Woster series, and of Wodehouse’s novels I will be looking forward to seeing it.