KATHRYN FLETT’S My TV Week: Vigil’s explosive return (with one major flaw)
When Vigil premiered in 2021, viewing figures were off the scale. With a whopping ten million watching the first episode, clearly the combination of Suranne Jones and Rose Leslie as a couple of detectives who are also a couple was a great idea: it was the biggest drama launch since 2018’s The Bodyguard.
So expectations were high for series two of the crime thriller with a military twist and The Gentle Touch. And yes, that is a reference for viewers with long memories!
TGT (ITV, 1980-84) was the first British series with a female police officer as the lead (Jill Gascoine’s DI Forbes), hitting screens just months before the Beeb launched Juliet Bravo.
Vigil’s DI Kirsten Longacre (left) is played by Rose Leslie while her partner and boss DCI Amy Silva is played by Suranne Jones
And look how far we’ve come in four decades, sisters! Now we don’t just get one female DI (Leslie’s DI Kirsten Longacre), we get a two-for-one DCI too (Longacre’s partner and boss, Jones’s DCI Amy Silva). However, we still can’t ‘have it all’ just yet, ladies: Vigil’s creator is a man, Tom Edge. And it shows.
First things first, however. Vigil hits the ground running, the first 15 minutes making for intense, adrenalised telly.
Plot: Britain is looking to sell a new military drone system to a fictional Middle Eastern country – but the hardware’s demo results in horrific multiple deaths at a Scottish RAF base.
DCI Silva and DI Longacre are soon probing the tricky interface between the military and the private sector, and the moral ambiguity surrounding notions of any country’s ‘best interests’.
As current events play out in the Middle East, this is painfully timely, skilfully plotted stuff (‘Let’s not get lost in the whole terrorist-versus-freedom fighter debate,’ advises the man from MI5).
The trouble is, Jones and Leslie’s characters feel like (and talk as if) they’ve been written by a bloke busily shoehorning tiny slices of women’s emotional and domestic lives into a testosterone-fuelled plot.
Kathryn Flett was disappointed that the two female protagonists feel like they’ve been written by a man
DI Longacre is heavily pregnant and DCI Silva has an all-but-invisible (at least in the first three episodes I’ve seen) young daughter, Poppy.
Yet beyond an occasional ‘I love you’, a brief scene with cosy hugs on the sofa or earnest brow-furrowed advice to Longacre from Silva (‘Would you have another think about stepping away from frontline duties?’ ‘No!’), there’s little sense of these partners in crimes also being partners in life.
Obviously, we don’t need endless scenes about who’s doing the school run, but an occasional glimpse into how a (busy, professional, same-sex) couple’s home life rubs up against demanding day jobs would have ensured Vigil had five stars from me. Don’t let that put you off too much though – it’s still great telly.
Star strippers reveal too much
THE REAL FULL MONTY: JINGLE BALLS
I know not how, but ITV’s The Real Full Monty: Jingle Balls – in which Loose Women’s Coleen Nolan and Ashley Banjo (of street dance collective Diversity) cajole a crew of celebs into stripping in front of a theatre audience – had entirely passed me by until now.
And watching Countryfile’s Julia Bradbury, TOWIE’s Gemma Collins and Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell, among others, collectively gird their loins, grit their teeth and adopt the ‘brace’ position before baring all was quite the journey.
This isn’t a fundraiser, it’s a consciousness-raiser; all the participants have been touched, some more directly than others, by cancer. The aim is to raise awareness of life-saving cancer checks.
Loose Women’s Coleen Nolan (pictured) and Ashley Banjo (of street dance collective Diversity) present The Real Full Monty: Jingle Balls
Unfortunately, while the message was noble enough – check your bits for bumps, ladies and gents – the medium gave me the ick and the Sentiment-o-Meter ran at full throttle.
Readers of a sensitive disposition look away now – if naked reality stars, with a side order of hen-night favourites Dreamboys, is your idea of a good night in, you’ll have enjoyed seeing Paul Burrell’s buttocks, tattooed with a Welsh dragon.
‘Wales… Princess of,’ he informed us, instantly making the phrase ‘too much information’ his very own. Fortunately, we were spared the ‘crown jewels’.
Jaime’s life’s work, shown in the final episode of Planet Earth III (iPlayer), is saving amphibians from extinction. He and his partner Francesca were delightful.
However, their high-stakes trek through the cloud forests of Ecuador in search of a mate for lonely frog Sad Santiago (one of the last of his species) revealed Jaime’s devotion to frogs may exceed his love for Francesca. Good news: they found Santiago a girlfriend.
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