CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: The to-die-for luxury house that's a cruel prison

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend’s TV: The to-die-for luxury house that’s a cruel prison for an abused wife

Angela Black

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Tom Parker: Inside My Head

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Where will it end? The standard of living is spiralling on our TVs as every new domestic drama features ever more palatial homes.

If you thought Anna Maxwell Martin’s house was swanky on Hollington Drive, with its bi-fold doors and colossal kitchen, Joanne Froggatt goes several degrees grander in Angela Black (ITV).

One immense glass wall, the size of an iMax cinema screen, frames her lounge. The wooden floor is broad enough for a ballroom. When she has guests over, they’re dotted on sofas drifting like scattered lifeboats. The place even appears to have a wine cellar.

When Angela fancies a bottle of plonk, she specifies Rioja — and her husband Olivier (Michiel Huisman) offers a choice of vineyards.

Joanne Froggatt as Angela Black in the tense ITV drama

It’s enough to give some viewers an inferiority complex. My wine cellar is a half-empty box of M&S white at the back of the fridge.

What’s puzzling is that, with all that wealth, Angela works at the local kennels.

It might make sense if she was surrounded by friends there, but the other staff barely speak to her — she just gets dirty looks.

Even the dogs hate her. One husky called Jackie almost takes her arm off after she removes its muzzle. That’s the problem with Angela Black, a tense domestic drama about violent abuse. Bits of it don’t add up.

Joanne makes a convincing abused wife. She ought to — she’s played the role often enough, in ITV shows from Liar to Downton Abbey. Devoted to her two young sons, Angela tiptoes around her hard-drinking husband and lies to other mums at the schoolgates after Olivier punches her hard enough to knock a tooth out.

‘Woman versus door,’ is her excuse. Olivier slips a few hundred quid under her pillow as an apology and jokes that it came from the tooth fairy. It seems Angela’s never stopped to wonder where her husband’s money comes from. She shows no interest when he talks about his work.

Love story of the weekend: 

A gargantuan game of kiss-chase, never seen before, was captured by underwater cameraman Doug Anderson for The Mating Game (BBC1). He got terrifyingly close to courting humpback whales as they raced and canoodled. Soppy great beasts!

Yet when a stranger called Ed (Samuel Adewunmi) approaches her, claiming to be a private detective hired to follow her, she cross-examines him like a trained barrister.

Finally, one dark and stormy night, Ed shows up and knocks on the iMax glass. ‘I’m sorry, I had to see you. Your husband wants me to kill you.’ Instead of screaming and calling the police, Angela slides open the door. Ed is a wild-eyed hitman in the pouring rain but she takes it for granted that he will do nothing to hurt her — work that one out.

I’m surprised she didn’t offer him a glass of snooty Rioja.

It’s also hard to make sense of the catastrophe that has struck boy band star Tom Parker and his young family — but real life at its most gruelling rarely does.

In the midst of a family holiday, the 32-year-old was diagnosed last October with an inoperable and terminal brain cancer.

Tom Parker: Inside My Head (C4) was an emotional portrait of a young man given everything good by fate: an adoring wife, two lovely children, a high-flying career. ‘I got to achieve everything I dreamed of, then had a beautiful family,’ he said.

In one shattering moment, he discovered he faces losing it all. His mother Noreen summed up his illness and its treatments as ‘a horror movie’.

It’s a curious twist that his band, The Wanted, had their biggest hit with a song whose chorus asks: ‘How do you get up from an all-time low?’

This documentary followed Tom as he fought back, organising a benefit concert for Stand Up 2 Cancer at the Albert Hall.

It was unspeakably sad, but also deeply moving. His calm courage is an inspiration.

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