A fortnight ago, a 20-year record was set for a television series, with nearly 13 million people tuned in live to watch the latest episode of Line of Duty’s latest series hit BBC One.
We’re unlikely to see numbers like these anytime soon, but this week the Beeb has done a great job reminding us that another great new TV is also available.
Sunday night’s opening slot was The Pursuit of Love, actor-turned-writer and director Emily Mortimer’s period adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s 1945 semi-autobiographical novel.
It stars Lily James as Linda Radlett, a brilliant young girl of the 1920s, born in the stately and eccentric Oxfordshire mansion, Alconleigh; “Almost middle aged,” she moans, despite being a teenager for much of this episode.
Emily Beecham is Linda’s visiting cousin, Fanny Logan, educated and sane, in stark contrast to her own mother (a cameo from Mortimer), who is known as the “Bolter” for her habit of leaving one man for another. .
The young people live in fear of Linda’s father, Matthew, who practices his whipping technique on the lawn at dawn and hunts his children on horseback.
A role played with terrifying horror
Dominic West plays this role with terrible horror, cackling with a sneer at Fanny’s education and flying into a rage at the news of Linda’s engagement to the “Bloody Hun” Tony Kroesig.
James plays the difficult role of Linda well, walking a tightrope between a seductive teenage desire to escape and precocious, capricious sex. The show is lively and a lot of fun, although it does have a number of audiences to please, who may not benefit from the compromises made for each other.
Where Mitford fans might find the author’s scathing humor planned by the demands of Sunday night prime time, period drama-watchers can be rocked by The Who’s soundtrack, T-Rex. , Marianne Faithfull and 2000s feminist punk like Le Tigre and Sleater. -Kinney.
Certainly, however, the arrival of Lord Merlin, dandyish and dovecote of Andrew Scott, in the midst of a glam-rock harlequinade, is one of the most memorable entries of the year.
On Monday night, meanwhile, Anna Maxwell Martin refrained from harassing Line of Duty’s AC-12 as cold-hearted copper Carmichael and returning to her other defining role of nervous, mom Julia constantly stressed. in the third series of Sharon Horgan’s comedy Motherland, strengthening his reputation as one of the actors of the moment.
Talking at the school door
Alongside Diane Morgan’s scathing Jurassic Liz, Lucy Punch alpha-snob Amanda, and stay-at-home Paul Ready dad Holly Willoughby, Kevin, the topic of conversation at the doorstep of the school this time in the low-key but top-notch sitcom was the nits, grabbing a bit of the zeitgeist with a sharp comparison of the coronaviruses in the first scene; because what parent hasn’t wondered why the lockdown hasn’t eradicated things?
Finally, another of the biggest comedies of recent times also returned on Monday night with the sixth series of Inside No. 9, by League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton.
This time, they featured a unique collision between classic commedia dell’arte and Reservoir Dogs-style high-energy heist action that packed a lot of high and low humor in half an hour – including the fourth story. clever of Gemma Whelan. , Paterson Joseph’s gruff gang boss and stage thief, some intentionally bad puns, Queen’s lyrics, exquisite clown montage, and the evergreen humor value of drawing penises on chalkboards.