It’s summer, you and I both know that. We know that to the outside world we are supposed to be spending any free time we have between June and September hanging about in beer gardens, going to civilised little known festivals in Hampshire and standing around wearing fancy clothes watching people get married. But let’s be honest, all we really want to do is hunker down with a Cornetto and watch the BBC.
Obviously the Olympics is on non-stop which helps the work day fly past (what? – come on we are all friends here). But what about non sport related viewing? What about those programmes with crinolines, unspoken wanton desires and a few nice murders? Fear not! Here are three shows to keep you occupied when you just can’t stomach one more bike ride.
The Secret Agent
Much like that bastion of Victorian industrialisation, good old Tate and Lyle’s Golden Syrup, The Secret Agent is a bit slow to get out of the tin (Christ, that simile was stretched further than a whalebone stay). However bear with it because it does tick along nicely in the end. There are a few tense moments of will they/ won’t they? Both of a romatical and nefarious nature. Toby Jones does well as the spineless Verloc, although generally speaking I think he does better in roles with a bit more bite, where he can exert a touch of menace. Vicky McClure, of This is England fame, is terribly compelling as his ‘making the best of a bad lot’ wife Winnie and there is one moment of tragedy which, if you have a particularly dark sense of humour like yours truly, you will find very amusing.
Just putting it out there, I am obsessed with Versailles. I haven’t been this hooked on a show in quite a while and it is not entirely down to the fact that I fancy everyone in it. That definitely plays a part, but it’s also just really blooming interesting. I’ve spent most of my studying years looking at the carrying ons of those other notoriously debauched lot – the Romans. But Louis XIV and his brocade clad court could easily put even the most bacchanalian Roman to shame.
In truth, I don’t know how many historical cues it really hits, but as a piece a dramatic skulduggery with lashing of
ginger beer fraternal rivalries and romping about thrown into the mix, it made for a very enjoyable nine weeks.
The Living and the Dead
Look! It’s grown up Merlin! But he’s a brooding ex-psychiatrist turned landed squire! And look! His wife is a complete badass! And there are ghosts! The Living and the Dead is like Cider with Rosie meets the Woman in Black. Colin Morgan (because presumably Benedict Cumberbatch is very busy) rolls back into his hometown to take over the reins of the failing family farm, all the while dabbling in some light psychoanalysis on a series of local folk who unfathomably keep becoming possessed. It is a bit slow in parts but the show still makes for good Sunday night telly while we await the Autumn schedule kicking off. Whereupon we can resume doing what every right-minded soul should do to round off the weekend – eat pie and mash in front of the Antiques Roadshow without fear of wilting like lily in an airing cupboard (bloody summer – harrumph).
All of the above are still available on the IPlayer, so you better call your friends and pretend that you have terrible hay fever and you can’t possibly spend the day playing Frisbee in London Fields. You are very welcome.