Catch up TV review: Blind Date, Fearless, The Loch
Ivan Radford | On 18, Jun 2017
What’s available on-demand on Freeview? Keep up-to-date with our weekly catch-up TV column, including reviews of shows on ITV Hub, new releases on All 4 and a guide to My5.
(For BBC TV reviews and round-ups, see our weekly Best of BBC iPlayer column. Or for reviews of the shows on All 4’s Walter Presents, click here.)
Blind Date (My5)
Blind Date is back on our TV screens. It’s a strange spectacle to see in 2017. Can the dating show still cut it in the age of Tinder and Take Me Out? Channel 5 does the smart thing with its reboot: it doesn’t change a thing. The format is exactly the same as before, as a girl sits down behind a wall and and asks novelty questions of three male suitors, who compete to offer the worst reply possible. Then, the roles reverse and a guy sits down and asks the same of the girls. In 2017, you hope the show will have some episodes for homosexual or bisexual contestants, but otherwise, the dated central concept will be welcomed by fans of the original – after all, there is little sense in messing with a classic set-up to try and appeal to younger people. They have Tinder and Take Me Out. There are only two changes introduced: firstly, due to the show’s new home on Channel 5, the programme has an amusingly smaller budget, sending people to play crazy golf rather than to Paris, and secondly, they’ve naturally had to find a new host. And who better to take over from Cilla Black than Paul O’Grady? He’s a perfect fit for Blind Date, casual and down-to-earth, sincere but not too serious, and happy to turn any word into an innuendo at a moment’s notice. He begins the show with a tribute to his old friend, “the woman who gave me two heart attacks and broke my nose in a Jacuzzi”, and then, it’s business as usual. One man tells his prized lady that he’s like a lion – only for O’Grady to point out that they can rip your head off. They’re game for the nostalgic matchmaking, but it’s Paul’s timeless charm that makes Blind Date still enjoyable to watch.
The Loch (ITV Hub)
There’s a machine somewhere in the unseen corridors of British TV that generates crime dramas on autopilot. Pretty backdrop, unexpected body, tightly-knit community, hidden family drama, outside copy. Copy. Paste. Repeat. That’s presumably the production process behind ITV’s The Loch, a crime drama that takes place on the shores of Loch Ness. It starts off promisingly, as the camera dives into the murky waters with sinister music, before revealing a submerged body. The death of a gay piano teacher later and things are settling into Broadchurch territory, but they full notably short of that high watermark of ITV drama. The main problem is that it just doesn’t ring true, from the showy forensic psychologist, who predicts the culprit is a young man in want of attention, to the grouchy veteran cop (Siobhan Finneran), whose swearing tirades against “boring” nature feel far too forced to seem genuine. The Missing’s Laura Fraser does well as Annie, the first-timer detective assigned to the case, bringing an unusual youth and witty enthusiasm to the tale, but by the time we see a teacher asking his class about Carl Jung, things have swerved right back into unbelievable territory. On the plus side, that doesn’t completely rule out Nessie herself turning up.
Fearless (ITV Hub)
Helen McCrory is one of these people you would happily watch doing anything. In Fearless, ITV’s new drama, she’s doing more things than you can count. She plays Emma Banville, a lawyer with as much passionate drive as her name suggests. Her passion, judging by the scandalous tabloid headlines she creates, is mostly for helping to prove wrongly convicted people innocent. Her latest case? Kevin, a man in prison for over a decade for the murder of a schoolgirl, whose confession may or may not have been coerced. It’s no surprise that her investigations throw up enough suspicious elements in Kevin’s original prosecution that things go to a retrial. What is a surprise, though, is that, in her spare time, she and her husband are trying to adopt a child. Oh, and they’re sheltering the wife of a doctor who’s a Syrian refugee and has heading back to his home country to help treat people. If you’re already losing track of all these subplots, you’re not the only one, but there’s a confidence in the storytelling that suggests the complexity will reward rather than frustrate, as Homeland writer Patrick Harbinson eagerly tackles as many topical issues as he can squeeze into an hour. And, of course, there’s Helen McCrory to watch. Everything else going on (including Michael Gambon in a supporting role) is a bonus.