The Last Wave, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, Writers Raphaelle Roudaut and Alexis Le Sec, Director Rodolphe Tissot.

I’m a bit of telly snob. If it’s on BBC 4 and its got subtitles I’m usually watching it. Part of my hangover from bingeing on Wallander. The Last Wave is a French drama with subtitles, therefore it ticks one of the boxes. Unfortunately, there’s no introspective morbid detective with a booze problem and a non-existent home life, he’s trying to drown out. But hey, hang on a second. There’s a big cloud hanging over the seaside town of Brizan. None of the adults seem particularly happy and their kids are pretty fucked up. So it’s almost Nordic in its promise, but without the snow and ice and grumpy faces. The ever smiling mayor acts as concierge as she promotes the annual surf party headlined by local-bad-boy made good, Max Alcorta (Roberto Calvet) who is one of the top surfers in the world. He’s joined in the water by other locals. Mathieu Ketchak (Theo Christine) is the black guy whose white dad is a bit of a sleaze. He sets himself up as a self-help guru for people with cancer, which he’s also got. Lena Lebon (Marie Dompnier) is also in the breaking surf. She’s the mother of the girl Ketchak fancies and he fancies back, but it’s complicated. Ben Lebon (David Kammenos) is the geeky science teacher in the school, but his daughter, their daughter stays with him, rather than their mother, because she’s been suicidal and left them after the death of a child. It’s not been explained yet, what happened to the kid, but I’m sure we’ll get there. He watches on the beach as his wife enters the surf and you know they’re estranged, but still in love. Thomas Lewen  (Gael Raes) is the speccy kid that kicks his heels and refuses to go into the water. Mummy is the town’s doctor and daddy is the town’s developer, trying to cash out in real estate and promote it as the new eco-friendly Biarritz. He has to drag his son into the water. He reassures him, it’ll be OK.

You know what Billy Connolly (the Big Yin) says about sharks, also the Big Yin.  Stay out the fucking water. But just like any young virginal looking type with big tits can’t help drifting down to see if Dracula is indeed in the basement, this crowd surf out into the waves.

Where were you when the cloud rolled in? Anyway, to jump ahead a bit because I’m getting bored writing this. Max comes out of the water changed, as they all do. It takes a wee bit of time to find out what their new superpowers are. Max seems to be able to breathe underwater, which is useful trait for a surfer and for fish. The speccy kid no longer needs specs. His mum’s a doctor and she explains to her perplexed husband, that the colour of his eyes has also changed. Dads in my experience don’t notice things like that, but if you fluff a chance at schoolboy fitba they certainly don’t miss that one. Speccy kid now can see through things.  Lena Lebon’s powers are more ambiguous. She gifts her ex-husband the horn and they seem set to give back together. The injuries to her wrists, slash wounds, disappeared after her return from the surf, but I’d guess her ongoing gift of the clould is love (generally and not the horn, specifically) or something similar.  Ketchak’s powers is to heal. He’s starts with a pigeon and then heals his dad’s leg pain and then one of his patients. Sleazy dad is quick to claim the credit.

I claim credit for treating myself to the first two episodes and would have binge watched all six, but they’ve been rationed. Look forward to more.

Hidden 9pm BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, directed by Gareth Bryn


As any of my long-term blog readers knows (which numbers about two and a bit) the embourgeoisement thesis that was used to determine whether working class folk can become middle class by becoming Luton car workers or continually watching BBC 4 programmes shows I’ve been infected by BBC values. I’m almost middle class.

Hidden on BBC 4 shines. If we use my old favourite Wallander as a benchmark (not the Kenneth Branagh shite, although it wasn’t that bad) then Hidden hits the mark without being Wallander of being Wallenderish.

We get away from the metropolis and big-time policing and here we are in Wales, a place so far from civilisation that sometimes they use subtitles as if everybody was speaking like a Glaswegian drunk.

Then we have the magnificent DI Cadi John (Sian Reese-Williams) who has to return home to the land of the subtitles because her father Huw (Ian Saynor) is poorly. He’s an ex-cop and she’s in his patch. Her sisters aren’t that impressed and give her stick.

DI Cadi’s got a bit more help on the work front. Her sidekick DS Owen Vaughan (Sion Alun Davies) is there to mope about, but we know he’ll come up (we can no longer use the word trumps) like a dog with a bloody stick.

There’s a body, of course in a rural outpost of streams and natural beauty. There’s been a murder, as they used to say in Taggert (I appeared in the Glasgow series as the back of somebody’s head in a bar as did everybody else in Scotland that voted for Scottish Independence) and it’s a young girl, Mali Pryce (Greta James) that her dad Alun (Owen Arwyn) had reported going missing in 2011. He’d been in jail and Mali had been acting up. Class issue. Alun didn’t think the authorities and the police in particular took her disappearance seriously. He’s been proven tragically correct.

DI John and her colleagues now know she’s been held somewhere local for the last few years. And in the last frame identifies a bracelet that Mali wore that another missing girl is pictured wearing. That gets the clock ticking, because there’s another Hidden girl.

All good dramas line up the suspects to be knocked over like fairground ducks. Here we have the brooding presence of backwoodsman Dylan Harris (Rhodri Meilir) and his volatile and dominating mother, Iona  (Gillian Elisa) who beats him and makes him sleep outside. He doesn’t, of course, but slips into a cell that looks suspiciously like the kind of place you’d keep a young girl.

Then there is the question of the young girl sleeping upstairs in Iona and Dylan’s house. She’s too young to be Iona’s and Dylan doesn’t look the fathering type, too socially awkward. There’s the suspicion here that Mali Pryce had a child, Dylan is the father and I might be totally wrong because there’s always red herrings.

Throw in exhibit A, district nurse, salt of the earth type Lowri Driscoll  (Lois Meleri Jones) she knows something, but the viewer doesn’t know what it is. Her boyfriend is a violent thug and seems to be stalking her. And he seems to have smashed her car window.

Hidden shouldn’t be hidden on BBC 4, it’s the best drama on telly. It should be on BBC 1, prime time. I’ll be watching this and as usual, I’ll get bits wrong and bits right. Write…

A Frozen Death, BBC 4 iPlayer, 9pm, written and directed by Harve Hadmar.

A Frozen.jpg

I love Wallender and I’m a big fan of The Killing, wouldn’t say no to A Bridge or two, in fact, put subtitles on it and stick it on BBC 4 and there’s a more than fair chance I’ll be watching. The eight episodes of A Frozen Death will take us up to Christmas. Time to clean out that freezer and make way for fifteen dead bodies found frozen like turkey-wings on a bus that leads nowhere. That’s the kind of mystery that gets any detective chewing over the facts. This is France, the home of Zola and Rimbaud, so we don’t have a motive but a motif. It’s scrawled on the bus-stop wall. ‘Crazy mothers drop their children/who smash their skulls. ’

Easy-peasy, you might say, anybody that likes turkey wings in Paris the capital of French cuisine is a nutter and must be stopped.  This job falls to Sandra Winckler (Marie Dompnier). Her fatal flaw isn’t bevvying, she’s French, and likes the odd glass of wine, or even smoking, that’s allowed as long as it chic and she can carry it off. She does. She’s pretty impressive. Her fatal flaw is she has children. Let’s face it. Kids get in the way when you’re trying to solve the mystery of 150 frozen fingers. Her eldest Chloe (Nina Simonpoli-Barthelemy) is twelve and drips disdain and treats her mother as some kind of bag-lady, as all kids do, but made worse by mama always nipping out for another dead body to work on. There’s a subplot that Chloe wants to go and live with papa, who’s downsized to someone younger, but not prettier than mama. Sandra’s youngest, I don’t know her name, let’s call her baby, is a problem easily solved. Sandra just takes her in the car seat to scenes of crimes. There must be a law against that. Specifications for what size of baby to take to what crime scene are stringent in this county, but over the other side of the Channel it doesn’t matter. The baby’s pretty cool about it and will, no doubt, be a top detective when she grows up into mama’s petite feet.

What baby has to watch out for is not sleeping on the job, but amnesia. There’s an epidemic of it about. I Know Who You Are is a series based on the fact that no you don’t. Here Catherine Keemer (Audrey Fleurot) has been brought out of the deep freeze, where she’s been held for three years, like the victims on the bus, but she can’t find a thing. And conveniently seems to have lost her baby. She gave birth when in captivity. All the victims on the bus seem to be her former lovers. But she has amnesia and forgotten what she did with her life and her handbag. Roll on Christmas with all those weird delights like a guy that kidnaps women, and stages mock marriages with his victims, and makes their former partners watch the ceremony while being sloshed enough with non-prescription drugs not to care. Amen to that.

Black Lake, BBC 4, 9pm, 9.40 pm, Directors: Jonathan Sjoberg, David Berron, Peter Arrhenius.

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I watched episodes one and two of Black Lake last night. I’ll be following the other six episodes. I’m a bit of a Wallander anorak, loved wooly jumpers and The Killing, so a Swedish thriller with subtitles is a must see. A group of friends meet and drive to the Black Lake hotel complex, a remote ski resort that is so near the Norwegian border they joke they’re not even sure they’ve crossed it. Johan (Filip Berg)  is the young, hip financier that plans to make a killing on the land and property and takes his friends along for the ride. His girlfriend and later fiancée, Hanne (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina) who look like a young Winona Ryder isn’t sure about the hotel, isn’t sure about the noises coming from the basement and therefore isn’t sure about him. Her sister Mette (Mathilde Norholt) who is doctor ask Hanne if she’s still taking her meds. Their brother drowned when Hanne was twelve and she has never got over it. She’s off-kilter as some of the locals. The caretaker Erkki (Nils Ole Oftebro), for example, refuses to open the cellar door and threatens to punch the putative owner Johan when the latter gets a bit stroppy and challenges his lame excuses for doing nothing. Then there’s the appearance of those strange children’s drawings (a dramatic device I used in my novel (Lily Poole and the way Jessan (Aliette Opheim) suffers from mysterious pains in her bloodshot eye, sleepwalks and is drawn to the cellar door. Her boyfriend,  Frank (Philip Oros) seems powerless to help when she sleepwalks and when she becomes possessed by drugs or something more malevolent. Nobody can offer any answers. Osvald (Victor von Schirach) cook and bottle- washer in the hotel complex is filmed entering the cellar, but he claims he too sleepwalks and has no recollection of it. He also claims to have no knowledge of another party making a bid for the complex, but Johan doesn’t trust him. The key to what happened twenty years ago is the local Lippi (Valter Skarsgard).  He’s nearer in age to Hanne that the distant Johan and teaches her to ride a motorised snow-ski. It doesn’t take much delving to uncover the facts and guess they’ll get together. Here we are in Stephen King’s The Shining territory. Isolated hotel. Hannah’s psychic presence and the backstory of murders that took place in the hotel when it first opened. Father, mother, and children, holding hands as they were all smothered. An open and shut case.  Helgesen (Christian Skolmen) is shown confessing to the crimes on an old betaxam tapes Hannah watches and replays. Then she spots it. He said something made him do it. The hotel is built on the grounds of an old mental sanatorium. Local myth is that murdered children return to capture souls. Johan is also captured kissing Elin (Anna Astrom) by Hanna’s sister. He’ll be punished for his sins.


Cordon BBC 4 9pm iPlayer


I’m a bit of a cultural snob. I loved Wallander. Then The Killing. And I’d a brief fling with 1874. Now I’ve gone all Flemish and I’m six episodes into Cordon. It’s a very simple premise: what if a disease as contagious as Ebola arrived in a city like Antwerp and the authorities decided to seal off that zone for 48 hours. Then that time frame is extended. Those inside the cordon find that the only laws that apply are the laws of the jungle. Adding to the tension there is a prison inside the zone and the prisoners break out. Food is rationed. People starve. People die. We’re at Day 18 now. All the main players have been on board long enough to establish themselves.

The teacher Katja, for example, is fragile and pretty. She’s caught in the war zone of the cordon when her class visit the Antwerp Institute for Contagious Diseases where the virus originated –or so the authorities have us believe. Katja’s son is entombed with her behind the barricade. She tries to rescue her pupils from a burning bus and has caught the virus.

Katja’s love interest is Jokke. He’s one of the riot police enforcing the cordon that was left on the wrong side after an earlier inciting incident. He links inside and outside the cordon, mainly through the sluice, the name of an area between zones, and is in contact with his best mate, Lex, who leads enforcement of the no-go zone. There’s a two meter, no touching policy behind the zone. Katja and Jokke share an erotic charge whist Jokke is showering with a see-through shower-curtain acting as a giant condom. Flemish sex leaves lots to the imagination.

Lex is also in love. His girlfriend Jana is in the wrong side of the cordon. She’s a computer expert locked in the top of a block with other staff members. She knows about viruses and is extremely cautious.

Dr Cannaerts is the chief surgeon and specialist in the Antwerp Institute for Contagious Diseases. He’s the big hope for a medical breakthrough and vaccine.

Sabbine Lommers is the government official trying to keep a lid on things. She’ll do whatever it takes and is backed by state authority.

Gryspeerts is the burnt-out journalist. He gets another chance in life and is reborn blogging about what is happening inside the cordon. This puts him in a direct path with Sabbine, but he’s found an ally in Lex.

At the end of this series I should be able to spit in Flemish and I’d guess that somehow the shady Lommers is involved in the virus. Truth will out. Not in real life, of course, but on telly. Watch this.