Catch up TV review: The Widow, Lee and Dean S2, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, Derry Girls S2 Finale
Ivan Radford | On 14, Apr 2019
Lee and Dean Season 2 (All 4)
Lee and Dean arrived fully formed on Channel 4 last year, thanks to its two lead stars and writers: Miles Chapman (Lee) and Mark O’Sullivan (Dean). They immediately convinced in their portrayal of two BFF builders who harbour feelings far deeper than that for each other, a set-up that made for nuanced character work amid the blokey banter. Season 2 picks up the pieces after Season 1’s dramatic finale, and exploring that fallout makes for a meatier, subtler piece of television with real depth and understanding. That’s particularly the case because it starts with Dean dealing with a tragic loss, one that brings the duo back together in the most awkward of circumstances. While the superb writing remains expertly precise at awkward circumstances, though, the laughter count takes a hit, perhaps as a result of the serious subject matter, which makes for a slightly underwhelming but welcome return of a series that knows its characters better than ever, but needs a few more giggles to elevate that cringe-worthy conflict above the winces. With many comedies struggling to have that kind of substance to back up the laughs, though, Lee and Dean is certainly in a good position to head in the right direction.
The Widow (ITV Hub)
Kate Beckinsale makes a very welcome move to the small screen for ITV’s new drama, which follows a widow, Georgia, who discovers that she isn’t actually one at all. Years after she thought her husband went down in an internal flight in the Congo, she spies him on the TV, during news footage of riots there. Can it really be him? To answer the question, she heads from Wales to Kinshasa to do some investigating. It’s a premise that sounds familiar, perhaps, to Strangers, also exec-produced by writers Harry and Jack Williams, but while there’s intrigue (albeit Anglocentric) to someone hopping across the sea to navigate a different country, there are also a few too many bits in the mystery puzzle being assembled: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, for example, interrupts events to play Ariel, a blind Icelandic man undergoing experimental treatment for his sight in Rotterdam. That strand, too, is curious, but leaves the series’ focus feeling stretched and the pace too slow to un-stretch it. Ólafsson and Beckinsale are both excellent, but expect to be relying on them to hold things together until the plot kicks into gear.
Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back (All 4)
Joe Lycett is in his element here, with a new Channel 4 series that tellingly puts his name before its title. Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back is a programme that shouldn’t work on paper, as it sees the comic host what is essentially Channel 4’s answer to Watchdog. Consumer reporting has an important place in a society that’s seen inequality increase in recent years, and the show’s opening episode doesn’t waste time, diving into a dispute with a bank that refused to refund a customer after she was duped by scammers to transfer her money into fake accounts. Lycett responds in kind with the kind of pedantic passion that has made him famous for challenging a parking ticket, and the result is satisfying as well as entertaining, right down to Lycett’s own use of social media fraud to make a point. With amusing commentary from guest Kathy Burke and assistance from a deadpan Mark Silcox, the result balances stunts and sharply focused campaigning with a charisma that’s all Lycett’s own – finally, someone answers the question of what it would be like if Anne Robinson did stand-up comedy.
Derry Girls Season 2 Finale (All 4)
“You’re a Derry Girl now.” Those are the words that see out the second season of Channel 4’s irrepressible, unique comedy. The series has always excelled as balancing The Troubles in the show’s background with understanding its central characters – and squeezing in constant laugh-out-loud between them – and the final episode once again nails that juggling act. While the town is all in a whirl over the arrival of President Clinton to deliver a key speech, writer Lisa McGee keeps the focus firmly on Erin (Saoirse Monica Jackson), her cousin Orla (Louisa Harland) and friends Clare (Nicola Coughlan) and co., and particularly on Wee English Fella James (Dylan Llewellyn), who reveals that he’s headed back home to England – but also comes to learn that being a Derry Girl is a state of mind, and that he’s long been accepted as one o the group. The result is a political reminder of the importance of the peace process that ended The Troubles, but also a heartfelt celebration of the gang of friends we’ve long since come to love. The best news of all? They’re all returning for Season 3 next year.