TV & Radio

Television drama in both fact and fiction

Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar star in ITV’s Unforgotten.

In the past few weeks I’ve been following the English crime thriller series Unforgotten on ITV. This is series two and the high artistic standards set in series one are thankfully maintained…though really it’s the same plot with different characters – a body is found that has been hidden for years, and gradually the police work out what happened. Several people who have moved on with their lives now find themselves with the truth closing in and their new lives unravelling. 

Nicola Walker is again superb as Detective Cassie Stuart, incisive, perceptive and sympathetic, while Sanjeev Bhaskar is impressive as her colleague Sunil Khan. 

As is obligatory these days, the cops have their own personal baggage but it never gets in the way of the main story (a lesson for the makers of Sherlock?). The actors who play the chief suspects are impressive also – the only one who appears to be thoroughly nasty is the victim, and you alternatively feel sympathy and revulsion for the suspects as they struggle, often dishonestly, to confront the past. 

Their respective spouses, largely in the dark, have their own challenges coping with the dramatic revelations. There is a little bad language, child abuse figures more strongly as the story progresses, and a gay couple trying to adopt a child is a significant plot element. 

But, much as I’d love to be immersed in TV drama, it’s hard to ignore the dramatic developments on the US political scene. Mind you, the Irish media did a good job of ignoring last Friday’s March For Life which attracted tens and probably hundreds of thousands to Washington. RTÉ had a brief clip on the Nine News that night but it was absent from the Late News, and I could find no trace of it on their news website. 

BBC Radio 4 on the other hand continued to give it relatively reasonable coverage on their Midnight News programme. 

EWTN gave over most of the day last Friday to the event. I managed to dip in and out and was glad I caught most of Vice President Mike Pence’s address – it was full of visionary language, that insisted on respect and compassion for all. 

His catchphrase was “life is winning” and it certainly seemed that the pro-life movement was buoyed up by the fact that this was the first time the rally had been addressed by a vice-president. 

Live coferage

American news networks gave the march considerable coverage last Friday, improved on other years, probably because of that historic appearance by Pence.  At one stage I saw NBC doing live coverage, CNN covered it to some extent, as did Fox News – on the latter I saw an impressive interview with the President of the US Students For Life group, though weirdly the presenter thought the march was going to be on the following day. You see, she assumed it would be on a Saturday because the previous week’s Women’s March was on a Saturday! 

Earlier in the week (BBC One, Tuesday), Brainwashing Stacey had challenging issues for pro-life and pro-choices advocates alike. Reporter Stacey Dooley took part in a pro-life summer camp for young people where awareness was tied to activism. She had understandable reservations about how young some of them were and about their methods – graphic abortion images in the street and activism at abortion clinics – but got to like the young people and build relationships with them. 

In a way it was easy because these youngsters were welcoming, articulate and kind. 

Emotions ran high during a ceremony at a cemetery for aborted babies that had been dumped as ‘medical waste’. 

Dooley was disapproving of the dumping, but uneasy about what she saw as manipulation. She spoke at a clinic to a woman who had several abortions who, ironically, railed against ‘innocent children’ being used for the protest, and who, tellingly, felt that she had no choice but to have the abortions. 

This led to a tearful moment between Dooley and one of the leaders on whether this woman had been shown enough compassion. 

This led to the revelation that some from the group had actively supported women they had dissuaded from the abortion path – the sight of one little adopted girl saved from abortion spoke volumes. 

By the end, Dooley’s  pro-choice views had moderated somewhat and she was certainly more thoughtful on the issue. First step on a path perhaps?

 

Pick of the week

IT’S A MIRACLE

EWTN Saturday (night), February 4, 2.30 am
Barbara McGuigan speaks with three Irish teenagers about loving properly.

Songs of Praise

BBC 1 Sunday, February 5, 3.30 pm
On the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, Connie Fisher explores  her – not always flattering – portrayal of clergymen.

PAT KENNY TONIGHT

TV3 Wednesday, February 8, 10.00 pm
New season, dealing deal with the important news and current affairs issues of the week.