LOTS to love about BBC1’s current Line Of Duty series, including the script, acting, its lack of political agenda and those absorbing interrogation scenes.
The thing that’s really been obsessing me though, is everything about The Edge Park Hotel, where Ted Hastings has been ensconced, in room 336, these past five weeks.
Line Of Duty’s script, acting and lack of political agenda have been great so far this season[/caption]
It starts with the fact it seems to be entirely nocturnal, despite an enticing poster for a “Cooked breakfast, from as little as £5.75”.
There’s just a chance, of course, The Edge Park could turn into the Beverly Hills Peninsula during the day, with a rooftop pool and a pianist tinkling away in the lobby.
But it seems unlikely. According to the receptionist’s screen, occupancy is at 65 per cent and there are 17 free rooms, though you could’ve fooled me. No other guests have ever been sighted and its only two visitors have been the conniving Mark Moffat, with his brown envelopes of cash, and lawyer Gill Biggeloe, who seemed prepared to spend the night in room 336, at end of episode three.
A move which either says a lot for Ted’s animal magnetism or her level of desperation, because the toilet cistern in his room hasn’t been working since episode one. Nor has the lift, as far as I can tell, and the maid hasn’t even been round to take down the ironing board Ted’s had up since he checked in on February 19.
The Edge Park Hotel is, in short, the most perfectly bleak and fascinating location on television and I’ve been kind of longing for it to take centre stage and shift the plot along from the start.
ONE OF TV’S GREATEST EVER CREATIONS
Imagine my delight then, when, with the net closing in on “H”, on Sunday night, it all kicked off outside room 336 and Ted was arrested by DI Michelle Brandyce, who immediately sent my lookalike email queue into meltdown as she is quite the most startling-looking police officer ever to grace this fine television show.
The most surprising thing about Brandyce, however, is she’s just the sidekick. The real star is her passive-aggressive boss, “Patricia bloody Carmichael”, Ted’s nemesis from AC-3, who’s played with scene-stealing brilliance by Anna Maxwell Martin and is a creation of true genius.
She needed to be as well, as the first 38 heavy-going minutes of Sunday’s episode had really added to the feeling Line Of Duty has overdone more than the sub-plots this series.
The abbreviations are now beyond parody, a lot of the violence has felt like it’s been tagged on to sell the show in America and — just when you thought Line Of Duty couldn’t get any more confusing — writer Jed Mercurio added a load of IT-related dialogue that lost me the moment Amanda from cyber crime revealed: “H has got an encrypted dongle.” Which must hurt like old buggery.
Line Of Duty’s always had a happy knack of hauling itself back from the brink though, and every one of those problems was forgotten in about the time it took Ted to demand Carmichael address him as “superintendent” and she replied, with the thinnest of smiles: “Ma’am will suffice.”A scene which reminded us that, for all the dongles, burner phones, abbreviations and biker gangs, with no bikes, Line Of Duty is simply trying to establish whether Ted Hastings, one of television’s greatest ever creations, is the criminal mastermind behind all this mayhem.
If he’s not, The Edge Park looks good for another couple of series.f
If he is, all bets are off.
But, surely, to paraphrase the great man, they “wouldn’t have the temerity to. P***. Us. Off”, Would they?
- Line Of Duty finale, BBC1, Sunday, 9pm.
Everything about The Edge Park Hotel, where Ted Hastings has been ensconced, is obsessing me[/caption]
RANDOM TV IRRITATIONS
The One Show dancing to Emma Thompson’s right-on political agenda.
Britain’s Got Talent falling back into its tired old sob story ways.
The incredible expressionless face and self-cleaning grey T-shirt of The Widow’s Kate Beckinsale.
BBC2’s rape joke practitioner Frankie Boyle seriously imagining he’s in a position to lecture anyone about morality and compassion.
And George Monbiot, who called for “the overthrow of capitalism”, on New World Order, three weeks ago, moving on to phase two of that operation, in his newspaper column, by announcing: “What does a better system look like? I don’t have a complete answer.”
Nice work, Baldrick. Keep us posted . . .
Great TV lies and delusions
GREAT TV lies and delusions. BBC1 continuity: “It’s Friday, it’s (BBC) Three time and, seriously, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Sex Tape, Enlli: “No, I don’t think Brian’s a dick. I honestly don’t.”
And Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, Jeff Brazier: “Without wanting to boast and say ‘I’m a natural leader’ . . .” Guess what? He’s a natural leader.
Sexless, sleazy and snoozy
TV’S race to the bottom got serious, on Friday night, as our two “public service broadcasters” engaged in a battle of the sex therapists.
First up, at 10pm, was Channel 4, with a real stomach-grumbler called Sex Tape, presumably because Bedroom Argument wouldn’t have had quite the same pull.
Channel 4’s Sex Tape featured couple Brian and Victoria[/caption]
Here we’ve got relationship adviser Anjula Mutanda holding an open-ended/filthy discussion, in a suburban house setting, with three couples, who are so low-rent I last saw one of them, Brian and Victoria, dragging the “good name” of Just Tattoo Of Us through the mud, on MTV.
All have a pre-prepared Sex Tape, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much. It’s not Tommy Lee and Pammie we’re talking here, just bickering and headaches.
You’ll still need about three showers, however, before tackling BBC1’s 11.25pm offering Sex On The Couch which (classic Beeb) has got four times the number of therapists and a very expensive-looking set, but only two couples, who aren’t anything like as easy on the eye as some of the Channel 4 mob.
It’s a lot more PC, earnest, tearful as well.
The only significant advantage the BBC’s got, in fact, is a very foxy receptionist called Kirstie Beckman, who dropped the case study bombshell of the night when she said: “There was this one couple who, after eight o’clock, would pretend they were wolves.”
What? Playing in a 3-4-3 formation? With big Ryan Bennett at the back? Well, it’s different, I suppose.
What unites everyone on both shows, though, is their total incompatibility and the bleeding-obvious quality of the advice, summed up by a C4 client called Enlli who reckon- ed: “Aaron and Lebo’s sex life could improve by having sex.”
In Britain? Are you mad, woman? It’ll never catch on.
QUIZ SHOW DOUGHBALLS OF THE WEEK
The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “The United Arab Emirates holds an annual beauty contest for what humped animals?
Bradley Walsh: “In the film One Chance, Julie Walters plays which singer’s mother?”
James: “Whoopi Goldberg.”
Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Pink Floyd’s 1973 album was called The Dark Side Of The what?”
And Ben Shephard: “Which English university city is situated on the river Cam?”
TUESDAY’S This Morning saw a return to the show for “Asparamancer” Jemima Packington, “the woman who can predict the future by throwing asparagus”, with Phillip Schofield kicking off proceedings by asking: “What have you got right in the past?”
“You name it,” she challenged him.
OK then, let’s try, Jemima on This Morning, in April 2017: “Boris Johnson will be leader of the Conservative Party by the end of the year, Jeremy Corbyn will not be leader of the Labour Party and Far Eastern stock markets will be unstable.”
It’s bawl over for DJ Dev
IT was escape and evasion time, in the dark, cold Chilean Andes, on another memorable episode of Channel 4’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, Sunday night.
A delicate military task which Wayne Bridge and Jeff Brazier attempted to execute by wandering around aimlessly, shouting: “DEV! . . DEV! . . DEV!” at the top of their voices.
Radio 1 DJ Dev Grifffin quit Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins in floods of tears[/caption]
Foolproof tactics, as far as I could see.
Yet, in no time at all, Ant Middleton and the Special Forces guys had them captured, hooded, tied up and were “subject- ing them to loud and disturbing noises” (pig squeals and worse), which unlocked some quite primitive fears within number two, Radio 1 DJ Dev Grifffin, who quit, in floods of tears, sobbing:
“F***ing hell. It’s so f***ing hard. I just can’t handle this s**t. It’s f***ing with my mind too much. The f***ing noises. The noises. I can’t, I can’t . . . ”
Nonsense, man. You’ll go to Glastonbury and pretend to enjoy it like the rest of the BBC.
TV Gold: Anna Maxwell Martin’s game-changing performance as passive-aggressive Patricia Carmichael in Line Of Duty.
Dev Griffin’s SAS: Who Dares Wins meltdown. Charlie Nicholas’s beautiful Sky News tribute to the one and only Billy McNeill.
Sven, the tap-dancing reindeer, saving this week’s Britain’s Got Talent. The prospect, however remote, that Tunde may try escaping and get eaten by one of the alligators surrounding the Florida penitentiary on C4’s Teens Behind Bars.
And This Morning guest Leo Sayer explaining why he recorded his new album alone: “Vincent van Gogh never got anyone else to do the blues and yellows. Artists make it themselves.” Still got it, wee man!
SUBTITLE of the week, BBC2, Snooker: “Ronnie O’Sullivan, the greatest player ever to lift a cucumber.”
MOST READ IN OPINION
Sent in by Francis Harvey, via email.
Picture research: Amy Reading.