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DEBORAH ROSS: Keep it real, mums… or you’ll totally lose the plot

DEBORAH ROSS: Keep it real, mums… or you’ll totally lose the plot


Monday, BBC2 


The Name Of The Rose

Friday, BBC2 


The Capture

Tuesday, BBC1


Motherland, the comedy series created by Sharon Horgan and Graham Linehan, is back for a second series with the same excellent cast headed by Anna Maxwell Martin. But I’m wondering: how much do I like it now? I shall try and work that out as we go along, so hang on for the ride, which may not be worth it, but do you have anything better to do? Really? 

Maxwell Martin plays Julia, the middle-class working mother who is always on the back foot, and now there is a new mum in town, Meg (Tanya Moodie). Meg is a high-flyer with five kids, who may know original City super-mum Nicola Horlick. Julia is resentful of Meg, naturally, but chastised for being ‘unfeminist.’ She retorts, ‘I thought that we were all agreed, as feminists, that it’s unfeminist to have it all?’ I did laugh at that. But Julia and her gang – deadpan Liz (Diane Morgan) and drippy, ingratiating Kevin (Paul Ready) – soon see where Meg is actually at, via a night out involving drunken snogs, flashing at bus-drivers, vomiting, being arrested by the police for urinating in the street and then escaping from a half-open window. Oh dear. 

Dunne, Lucy Punch, Anna Maxwell Martin, Diane Morgan, Paul Ready and Tanya Moodie in Motherland

Dunne, Lucy Punch, Anna Maxwell Martin, Diane Morgan, Paul Ready and Tanya Moodie in Motherland

This show is at its best when it has the ring of truth to it, as in the opening sequence when Julia has to race to the shops just as they’re closing as it’s the new term and she’s yet to buy her kids’ shoes. Because we’ve all been there. But when it goes all-out psycho like this? It loses all relatability. The danger with Motherland is that it will go too big story-wise, when it should be small story-wise but big observations-wise, if that makes sense. So how much do I like it now? Not as much as I once did. But still: no mum left behind! 

The Name Of The Rose is an eight-part adaptation of the novel by Umberto Eco that has ‘international’ written all over it. It’s primarily an Italian and German production with American, British and French actors thrown in for good measure and, in one instance, we even have an American playing an Italian – John Turturro as William of Baskerville – but with a British accent. Go figure. 

Set in 1347, the story seems to be set against a fight between the Pope and an emperor concerning the separation of politics and religion. I kept having to pause and head to the plot synopsis on Wikipedia to make any sense of this, but perhaps if you are a medieval historian you will have more luck. 

We start with Adso (Damian Hardung), the young man who decides to become a monk after seeing Baskerville, a Franciscan friar, hug a smelly beggar. The two then schlep to a monastery in Italy to argue about politics v religion (I think), but on arrival they discover there has been a murder. As it’s hard to tell one monk from another – we are introduced briefly then expected to remember – it’s hard to care who might have done it. The only character who comes alive at all is a sadistic inquisitor as played by Rupert Everett in a camp get-up and with his face set permanently to a pantomime snarl. Meanwhile, I should add, this also speaks the international language of soaring violins – oh God, the violins – and the international language of gratuitously naked women. The first one is at two minutes and 28 seconds in, should you wish to head straight there. 

The Capture was such a smart thriller it kept me gripped right to the end, even if it didn’t begin to make any sense at all until last week. And this week it was the finale, so now we know for sure: Shaun Emery (Callum Turner) was framed and Hannah Roberts (Laura Haddock) was killed so the security services and the police and the CIA, who were all in it together, could protect ‘corrections’. That is, faking CCTV footage until it is ‘correct’ and terrorists can be sent down. ‘Corrections turns intelligence into evidence and keeps extremists off the street,’ is how it was explained to DI Rachel Carey, played by an absolutely terrific Holliday Grainger. 

True, there were plot holes aplenty. Someone at the school attended by Shaun’s daughter must have seen it wasn’t her father who took her? What happened to the other members of Pilgrims for Justice? But it was exciting, kept you on your toes, stayed one step ahead and – let me check I got this right – Shaun took one for the team because the footage from Afghanistan was manipulated to show he was innocent when he wasn’t? So it’s justice, in a way? As we left it, Carey has been recruited to the ‘corrections’ team – ‘When do I start, sir?’ – but there is still the matter of the SD card she placed behind the framed family photograph. So, a second series, surely – as who is going to find it if there isn’t? Had you asked yourselves that?



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