Catch up TV review: Little Boy Blue, The Durrells, Don’t Ask Me Ask Britain, Kevin Can Wait
Ivan Radford | On 30, Apr 2017
Little Boy Blue (ITV Hub)
After The Moorside, 2017’s true crime trend continues with this four-part drama about the murder of an innocent child amid a wave of gang violence. The child in question? 11-year-old Rhys Jones, who was shot in a car park on the way to football practice. We learn about the murder at the same time as mother Melanie (Sinead Keenan), when a knock comes on the door within the opening minute. She rushes to the car outside, and the camera whisks us along with her, not stopping to pause for breath. The drama doesn’t let up from there, gently teasing out the devastating impact of Rhys’ death in an immersive, moving fashion.
Stephen Graham (fast becoming one of the best – and most prolific – actors in Britain) is superb as DS Dave Kelly, who leads the police investigation to find out what happened, delivering a speech with the kind of emotion, humour and sympathy that rings with sad truth.
Jeff Pope’s writing is as sensitive as it is accomplished, crafting a string of powerful vignettes, from Melanie fighting to kiss her son’s body in the hospital to the hordes of fans at a football match the following weekend holding not a minute’ silence, but a minute’s applause. Heart-wrenching viewing.
The Durrells (ITV Hub)
The Durrells is as old-fashioned as the eponymous family’s name suggests. The ITV series follows a group of Brits living in Corfu. Oh look, there they are struggling to learn the language. Oh look, there’s one of them being hit by a goat. Oh look, there’s mother Louisa flirting with the hot local men again. But for all its tired and dated premise (it’s based on Gerald Durrell’s memoirs, including My Family and Other Animals), there’s a deceptive charm to the programme. That’s less to do with the writing, which introduces a nasty landlady to the mix of eccentric villagers and daft family characters, and more the cast themselves, from Callum Woodhouse as idiotic gun-loving Leslie to Daisy Waterstone as teenager Margo, who’s falling for a local monk. But Keeley Hawes is the undisputed star of the show, bringing the tenacity and frustration of a mother’s life falling to pieces, but mostly revealing her pin-sharp comic timing – the sight of her trying to flirt with the town’s residents while selling olives is worth tuning in for alone.
Kevin Can Wait (All 4)
Kevin James stars in this new CBS sitcom, which has been snapped up by E4 for broadcast in the UK. And that’s all you really need to know about this disappointingly staid affair, which is all too happy to plod along offering exactly what the phrase “Kevin James sitcom” suggests. From James’ retired policeman just wanting to hang with his immature man pals to his disapproval of his daughter’s nerdy boyfriend, it’s like watching a time capsule from the mid-1990s, but with words such as “app” added. At one point, Kevin James eats four hamburgers when they were meant to be for the whole family. Hilarity ensues. Fans of James may be entertained, but for all of his skill at physical comedy and harmlessly likeable charisma, this does nothing to stand out from the busy TV crowd.
Don’t Ask Me Ask Britain (ITV Hub)
What were you doing on 18th April 2017: talking about Theresa May’s announcement of a general election, or watching Don’t Ask Me Ask Britain? The very fact that ITV’s new gameshow was overshadowed by the election is oddly fitting, as the whole thing centres around a simple gimmick: asking people to vote along live with the programme. The panel game sees comedians (led by Jonathan Ross and Frank Skinner) guess how Britain votes on hot button issues. You know, the important questions like how eggs should be cooked. Alexander Armstrong is typically slick as the presenter, but the idea of people downloading an app to provide real time statistics does little to disguise the old-fashioned Family Fortunes format. The questions themselves are as slowly served up as they as bland (probably to give audiences time to interact), only adding to the underwhelming post-Gogglebox post-Brexit vibe. Start asking some real questions about the EU, capital punishment and the NHS and this might get our vote.