Waking the Dead is back

A welcome return. The best the BBC has to offer?

So. Another term has passed. By now, I’m assuming that most of you have either packed your suitcases or have unpacked altogether and are now reading this from the comfort of your house, wherever that may be, having decided that the 4:15 lecture on the final Friday of term is worth a miss. Not claiming any moral superiority, but I happen to being going to mine, but only because my dissertation supervisor is delivering it.

The end of a term brings lots of contemplation for everybody, looking back on the last (believe it or not) nine weeks can often be satisfying for all of us. As I reflect on what the term has had to offer I found my mind drifting toward the television. I hope I speak for many of us in saying that the post-Christmas trash in the form of Come Fly With Me did little to inspire the imagination, and even an excellent return of Upstairs Downstairs and the brilliant finale of Lark Rise to Candleford did nothing to dispel the garbage that would be New Year television. Episodes turned out to be disappointing, hilarious in places but ultimately I feel a programme which contained the Green Wing Greats of Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig, not to mention Joey, should have been a lot better than it was.

True, it would be nigh on impossible to replace last terms highlights, as Spooks and Downton Abbey, not forgetting Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor, provided us all with alternatives ranging from nail-biting spy drama, bonnets and the sound of hooves on gravel, the cringe worthy yet comforting jokes of Brucey, and the quest to find the world of Pop’s latest star. It was, unquestionably, a good term for television.

Therefore you can imagine, as I settled down to pen this article last Saturday, that I was on the verge of writing a complete article on how this term has been so low grade and not provided ample procrastination time in front of the screen. However, just before I started I wandered downstairs for a cup of tie and was excitedly informed by my housemate that Sunday would bring with it a return of a BBC classic. Waking the Dead.

Thus, I have my silver lining and a restoration in faith of the BBC to fill a Monday night with something other than mindless gags about the size of Matt LeBlanc’s penis. My saving grace. Peter Boyd would undoubtedly be moodily pacing the basement corridors of his lair, kept in check by the steadfast Grace. Spence would be in action, running full tilt after a criminal whilst the forensics amongst us would be fascinated when Eve would brush delicately away at the latest crime scene, uncovering hidden clues. So, I settled down on my sofa on Sunday evening to watch the first instalment.

Finishing this on Monday, having completed the customary two part episode, I am now tempted to leave any review of Waking the Dead until the end of the series. The next month or so will inevitably serve up more labyrinthine plots, diverse story lines and moments, if you happen to find old German people dressed up in funeral attire disturbing, of gripping terror. What adds a little more spice to proceedings is the revelation that this is, apparently, the final ever series of Waking the Dead, which means the writers could be inclined toward a Spooks-style culling of characters. Somehow though, I doubt this will happen. Like Spooks, Waking the Dead is one BBC drama that has great durability, for differing reasons. Firstly, the series is held together by the stalwarts that are Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston. I find the former’s character one of the most superbly portrayed of any series. Drawing comparisons with Spooks, I would definitely suggest that Peter Boyd merits a place alongside Harry Pearce in a BBC hall of fame.

Another intriguing development is in the form of new actress Eva Birthistle, playing Sarah. Naturally her cagey past was deliberately blurred whilst developing tension with Peter Boyd, who finds himself alongside a fellow Detective Superintendent, began to brew up nicely. The conclusion, and I hope I am not going to spoil anything here, was interesting, the flashbacks to the young girl in the hospital fascinated by the bright ambulance lights was filmed beautifully, again an example of Waking the Dead doing what it does best. Peter Boyd is looking tired, maybe on purpose, as if his character may well have seen enough of the world of cold cases, but the still impatient and impetuous desire to unearth the real answer remained.

Like I stated, I don’t believe I could do the series justice at such an early stage in proceedings by attempting a full review yet. However, I shall conclude by stating how happy I am that for once this term, albeit right at the very end, something worth watching has graced our screens. The New Year Trash has now finally dispersed, leaving an all time great in its wake. As we look toward the Easter holiday and the conclusion of the series, more mouthwatering stuff is on the horizon.

More of the same please, Trevor Eve.

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