Catch up TV reviews: A Confession, 50 Years of the Troubles, The Rob Rinder Verdict, Taskmaster S9
James R | On 08, Sep 2019
A Confession (ITV Hub)
Martin Freeman is on typically excellent form in this ITV drama, which tells the true story of the disappearance of 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan, and the determination of one detective to find the person responsbile. Freeman plays DS Steve Fulcher, a man who’s nice and well-meaning but whose polite demeanour threatens to snap as he is immersed deeper and deeper in the case – a sinking into the material that we know will lead to questionable behaviour. Jeff Pope sets the scene with his signature ability to balance tension and natural drama with respect and sincerity, and it’s here that A Confession really impresses, as its opening hour spends time with the family of Sian and their growing worry after she goes missing – balanced by the story of Becky, whose mother (Imelda Staunton) is concerned that her daughter has disappeared too, and not for the first time. A compelling, thoughtful piece of television laced with sadness.
50 Years of the Troubles: A Journey Through Film (All 4)
There are some people whose voices you could listen to for days on end. Firmly in that select few is filmmaker Mark Cousins, whose lyrical vocals are on enchanting form in this reflective documentary. In typical meta-media style, it sees him consider the history of Ireland – specifically, the Troubles – through the lens of cinema, taking us through depiction of Belfast on the big screen, both to positive and negative effect. It’s a reminder of the people who have been – and (thanks to Brexit) continue to be – impacted by the tensions between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and a meditation on their dreams and fears that made their way from real life to the silver screen. A packed, rewarding, and moving hour.
Taskmaster: Season 9 (UKTV Play)
“So you’re changing the entire scoring system?” asks Little Alex Horne, as Greg Davies runs through the points being awarded in the latest round of Taskmaster – and, sure enough, the Taskmaster himself has gone completely off book for its ninth run, making things up as he goes even more than usual. But if that sounds worryingly like Dave’s brilliantly low-fi comedy contest getting too self-indulgent, the good news is that the essentials of the wonderfully ridiculous tournament remain unchanged – tasks this season include such pointlessly daft requests as drawing a snake on a toilet roll then rolling it back up again, sorting ice lollies by colour with a blindfold and making a dramatic entrance. What’s also true is that the series’ success depends largely on the contestants taking part, and Season 9 is an impressive bunch, with David Baddiel providing an enjoyably mix of pedantry and laid-back irreverence, Ed Gamble diving into the challenges with enthusiasm, Jo Brand lacing everything with delightfully withering sarcasm, Rose Matafeo thinking outside of the box and Ghosts scene-stealer Katy Wix proving as funny and silly in each challenge as she is in the studio as they watch each clip back. Combine that with an inspired task to hide an aubergine and you’ve got a promising start to what by now really should have lost its novelty. After a dip several seasons ago, it’s a joy to say that it hasn’t yet.
The Rob Rinder Verdict (All 4)
Topical satire series are two-a-penny these days and with Channel 4 welcoming fresh new talent, such as Mo Gilligan and Tez Ilyas, to TV studio sofas, anyone else has got to do a lot to stand out. Rob Rinder (of “Judge” fame) has his name to help do that, and he’s exactly the kind of presenter you’d expect for this late night series, which is a showcase for his blend of dry, sarcastic, suggestive comedy – somewhere between Graham Norton and Kryten from Red Dwarf. A segment that involves electrocuting his mother backstage is a moderately novel touch, but the show is right to leave the gimmicks behind to let Rinder be himself instead. When his guests include Jason Manford and Jeremy Paxman, the result is a welcome melting pot of withering barbs and warm laughs, but whether Rinder’s producers can judge his guests so well every week remains to be seen.