Tag Archives: Russell Tovey

What Remains: House of secrets

What RemainsI’m very much enjoying the BBC’s four-part drama What Remains, and not only because it has the wonderful Steven Mackintosh in it. It’s mysterious and gripping and there are great acting performances all over the place.

In last week’s opener, seven months’ pregnant Vidya and her partner Michael (Amber Rose Revah and Russell Tovey) moved into a flat in a big Victorian house, and found something nasty in the attic – the mummified corpse of the woman who used to live in the flat above them. David Threlfall’s DI Len Harper – wouldn’t you know it, on his very last day at work before retiring – is called in to have a look, but as there’s little forensic evidence to be had and no one seems to know much about the deceased, the police don’t think it’s worth following up. Len does, though, based on a bit of old-school instinct, and he carries on investigating even after he’s officially retired.

What RemainsThere are inevitable comparisons to Broadchurch in the way that the whole community (in this case, the residents of the house past and present) is under suspicion. In episode two, the finger of suspicion was pointing very firmly in the direction of stroppy Elaine Markham (Indira Varma) and her photographer girlfriend Peggy (Victoria Hamilton). There’s a feeling that Peggy feels more empathy for the dead girl than most – could it have been a crime of passion? Then there’s the mysterious schoolteacher/caretaker who lives on the ground floor. The other residents think he lives alone, but newcomer Michael knows different.

Everything is shot with a sickly, green hue and the house seems like a character itself, from the outside always shot from ground level and seeming to loom menacingly, and from inside all skewed angles, shadows, hidden corners and flaking paintwork. Flashback scenes are gradually filling in some of the background of the dead girl, Melissa. There are two episodes to go, and lots of secrets still to be exhumed.

The first two episodes are available to watch on iPlayer.

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Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville

I'm up here, you idiot.

Sherlock invariably ends with me turning to Mr Qwerty and saying, ‘ But what about the bit where…’ in the hope that he will shine a searchlight into what looks like a large plot-hole and tarmac it over for me. In the case of The Hounds of Baskerville, in which Hound turned out to be a not very plausible acronym (after all, why would a group of dodgy scientists feel the need to give themselves an acronym, and what’s more get I’m-with-the-band t-shirts made noch?), I turned to Mr Q and said, ‘So why did the kindly bloke who was the baddie kill the posh bloke’s dad?’ And the best Mr Q could come up with was, ‘I guess he knew something bad they were doing.’ Well, yes. But what? It troubles me a bit that I don’t know for sure. Was it the paranoid gas thing (or lighter fluid as we called it when I was young)? Big slathering dogs? Fluorescent rabbits? (Actually a luminous bunny would be handy; you could nip out to its hutch at night and feed it without having to find a torch.)

Anyway despite not knowing exactly what the important-enough-to-kill-a-man thing was, I enjoyed this heavy-handed Freudian interpretation of the H of the B’s.  Or as I now think of it, ‘The Little Hans of the Baskervilles’, a not very amusing psychologist’s joke referring to Freud’s classic case in which Little Hans was scared of horses because they reminded him of his father’s penis. Or something. I graduated a while ago and the details are hazy. As indeed were Henry Knight’s of the night his father was killed – seemingly mauled by a huge slathering black beast with red eyes. Arrrrr-oooooooooh!

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Being Human 3.01: I’m so sorry, but I’m afraid you’ve just died

Regular readers will know of my love for Being Human, primarily as being one of the only half-decent things on BBC3. And, as our dear friends at Smash Hits were wont to say, it’s back Back BACK!

We pick up from the end of the last series. Annie the Ghost (Leonora Critchlow) is trapped in purgatory and frantically appealing to her friends and housemates Mitchell the Vampire (Aidan Turner) and George the Werewolf (Russell Tovey) through a series of TV screens and radios. As charity appeals go, it’s not exactly Band Aid/Live Aid/Lemon Aid (oh come on, citrus fruits have rights too!) but it’s moving enough.

The Fantastical Four

Meanwhile, the chaps and George’s girlfriend Nina (for readers new to all this, is also a werewolf, have been bitten by George in the first series) have fled Bristol and are being shown round an abandoned B and B in Barry Island. Well, if it worked for Gavin and Stacey. The singular charms of Barry Island are colourfully outlined by a heroically lugubrious Estate Agent (“I bet heaven doesn’t have chemical toilets”). George and Nina (Sinead Keenan) are particularly taken with the basement, as it provides the prefect space for them both to transform into werewolves in the comfort their own home. Stick that in your Sales Particulars and smoke it, Heroically Lugubrious Estate Agent Lady! Proceedings are nearly derailed by Mitchell frantically walloping a tv set in order to reach Annie. “She’s our friend! We don’t have much time!”. Fortunately, George is on hand to calm the situation by hurriedly supplementing “it’s our friend, she’s, erm, appearing on Midsomer Murders later…”

Indeed, following a somewhat dour second series, Being Human has brought the funny back in a big way. And it’s brilliant. Despite its attempts and indeed some level of success at being a British Buffy the Vampire Slayer equivalent, it puts its own peculiarly British slant on the whipsmart one-liners.

We take a break from the B and B to be introduced to what turns out to be two new werewolves having a conversation in a transport caff. So far, so bonkers. But even better still, one of them is a Jake Gyllenhaal lookalike and the other one is ROBSON GREEN! We follow Robson as he uses a pair of bolt cutters to break into a locked up fairground to pinch scrap metal. Insert your own tenuous Robson and Jerome/Unchained Melody joke here, dear reader (note that I have not been arrogant/unrealistic enough to pluralise this). Unfortunately, he is rudely interrupted by a transit van full of thugs and DENNIS PENNIS! I am loving all these cameos. Also nice to see the producers nicely fitting in with my “British Buffy” hypothesis (take that, Popper and your black swans) by making Paul Kaye look even more like a mangy Billy Idol lookalike than Spike From Buffy (yes I know he’s got a real name, but this is my lunch break here).

We switch back to the main action, which largely involves George and attempting to, erm, y’know but suffering a number of difficulties including that old glasses-tangled-in-hair chestnut and then Mitchell bursting in and stealing the radio. As well as being very funny, Being Human is also very sweet. Cleverly, for a programme allegedly about the supernatural it says a great deal about the human condition. This is best encapsulated by a scene where George and Mitchell sit at the bed of a hospital patient about to die so that Mitchell can follow him into the afterlife to go after Annie. They bicker about Jewish Prayers and attempt to do the crossword, but switch to touching tenderness when the poor bloke actually carks it and his puzzled spirit self enquires what is going on. “I’m so sorry” says George gently “but I’m afraid you’ve just died”. It’s a fine line to tread between black humour and compassion. Being Human may not be viewed as a serious programme in some quarters, but it does a better job of this than most dramas. Continue reading

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