What Have I Enjoyed Watching in 2015?

This year has been a really busy one — hence the paucity of posts from TVClaw Towers. Apologies to anyone who’s missed me.

last kingdom
The Last Kingdom | Episode Two © Carnival Film & Television Ltd Photographer: Joss Barratt Alexander Dreymon (as Uhtred)

What have I enjoyed watching in the rare moments when I haven’t been working? Here’s what. And if you haven’t seen the good stuff yet, then pull up a comfy chair and get ready to watch some really, really excellent TV shows.

In no particular order, here’s what’s grabbed my attention in 2015:

Ripper Street: the perfect ending to the whole H Division saga. The very end even had a cheery little nod to Spooks. *Sob*

Game of Thrones: gory, sad, frightening. Utterly compelling.

Fortitude: clever plot twists and a knock-out cast. Some completely bonkers moments. Can’t wait for Season 2.

Penny Dreadful: utterly bananas, but Timothy Dalton + stunning production design = a must-watch in the first half of the year.

No Offence: Joanna Scanlon is terrific as potty-mouthed DI Vivienne Deering. Rocking the heels-and-leather combo she turned in one of the most memorable performances of the year. Brilliant scripts from the “Shameless” team.

Pointless: best host banter. Ever.

The Last Kingdom:  in the mood for some Anglo-Saxon Chronicles action but fed up with Vikings‘ insanely violent torture porn? Watch this instead. Clever and well-written, with a winning lead in Alexander Dreymon. A breakout role for superb Ripper Street alum David Dawson.

Man Down: still funny, but I found myself pining for Rik throughout.

Les Revenants: t’inquiete pas — it’s still brilliant.

Yonderland: talc my downstairs! The hilarious Season 2 paid homage to Star Wars and Sherlock among other things and was chock full o’ family-friendly nudges, winks and smutty asides.

30 Degrees in January: have to admit, I loved the first half but found the second half heavy-going. Too many annoying, poor decisions.

University Challenge: obviously I have no idea what Paxo’s asking most of the time, but it’s an oldie that remains a goodie. (Cough, looking at you Doctor Who, cough…)

Last Man on Earth: if I was the last man on earth I would so steal all the great art from every museum and poo in the neighbour’s pool. This makes me laugh out loud every episode. Boris Kodjoe steals every scene he’s in.

River: unbeatable combo of Nicola Walker and Stellan Skarsgard aided and abetted by most of the ex-cast from last season’s Game of Thrones and a Sixth Sense-y vibe. Is River totally batshit crazy, or is he the ghost whisperer?

Great British Bake Off: ’nuff said.



National Television Awards 2013: TVClaw Picks The Winners

Photo: The National TV Awards
Photo: The National TV Awards

The National Television Awards 2013 are being dished out tonight at a suitably star-studded event in London. (I’m still waiting for my ticket *cough cough*.)

Who should win and who will win are often two different bags of chips, so before you cast your vote let’s take a Pat Butchers at some of the runners and riders.

Here are TVClaw‘s entirely subjective picks for winners:

Serial Drama Performance: Adam Woodyatt, EastEnders, Ian Beale

In lieu of a long service medal I’d like to see Woodyatt receive some long-overdue attention. He may not be the best actor in Walford, but he’s taken Ian from chirpy teenager to ruthless business tycoon to homeless with decades of consistently strong, believable performances. Plus, as the sole survivor of the Pete “Alright Treacle?” Beale–Arthur “Christmas Club” Fowler days, I hear he’s promised to put The Banned back together if he wins.*

(*I made that last bit up, but wouldn’t it be awesome if he did?)

Newcomer: Natalie Gumede, Coronation Street, Kirsty Soames

In soap-land, nasty wins, and they don’t come much nastier than evil Kirsty. She’s abusive, she’s obsessive and she’s … possibly leaving Corrie. Gumede told The Sun that, “I’m aware that Kirsty has a shelf life and I’m happy with that. People need to see a consequence and there will be a climax.” What better way to go out than with a bang and a gong?

Talent Show: Strictly Come Dancing

Because of Bruce Forsyth. Because viewers love it. Because it’s family viewing. Because of Louis Smith. Because we secretly dream of sequinned glory. It may lose out to X Factor.

Entertainment Programme: University Challenge

It won’t win of course, because too many people think of it as boring telly for posh prats in bad jumpers (and they’ll vote for TOWIE instead) but I’d really really really like it to. If CAMRA could rock the vote and persuade the pub quizzers to put down their pints long enough to vote, then maybe, just maybe, Paxo could take home the award in 2014.

Comedy Panel Show: Have I Got News For You

Yes, it’s a bit smug and a bit posh and a bit tired around the edges, but it’s still clever and (mostly) funny. Especially when it’s guest-hosted by Dominic West or William Shatner. It will probably lose out to Celebrity Juice.

Entertainment Presenter: Sir Bruce Forsyth

A tricky one, this. Everyone loves Brucie, but Savilegate may have hurt his chances. After months of revelations and arrests that makes the BBC Light Entertainment department in the 1970s sound like the last days of Sodom and Gomorrah, and coming hot on the heels of a rape charge against Stuart Hall (Eddie Waring must be spinning right now), viewers may have been reluctant to vote for a star from that era. In any case, Brucie didn’t make it off the longlist. Alan Carr may benefit from votes being split between cuddly twosome PJ and Duncan Ant & Dec and winsome newlywed Dermot O’Leary.

Situation Comedy: Mrs Brown’s Boys

The lovechild of Les Dawson and Mrs Doyle is a shoo-in for the win. Unless, that is, Mrs B gets her bloomers twisted in The Big Bang Theory juggernaut.

Documentary Series: 56 Up

The best documentary series ever. EVER. It — and Michael Apted — deserves to be showered with plaudits, but shamefully it didn’t make it onto the shortlist. Hopefully David Attenborough and Frozen Planet will win, but I have a nasty feeling it will be Big Fat Gypsy Weddings instead.*

(*Shake head and insert thesis on death of culture here.)

Factual Entertainment: The Great British Bake Off

Hands down the Silver Fox will take home the gong tonight. Everyone loves Mary and Paul and those joky girls from Late Lunch. A fantastic show in which everyone does their best while being sporting and nice to each other, and viewers can titter behind their buns about the  … altogether now … soggy bottoms

Drama: Upstairs Downstairs

Again, this is just wishful thinking on my part as the second (and final) series of Upstairs Downstairs didn’t make it onto the voting shortlist. This is an interesting category though, and is wide open. While Wallander or Whitechapel (yes, it’s hoky, but it’s beautifully shot, and RPJ is so very very good in it) could/should win in other years, the gong will most likely go to Doctor Who or Sherlock. Merlin is the wild card.

Drama Performance Male: Benedict Cumberbatch

While I’d love to have seen Kenneth Branagh take it for Wallander, or Rupert Penry-Jones nail it for Whitechapel, I think Cumberbatch will win tonight. However, there’s an outside chance that Colin Morgan (Merlin) or Matt Smith (Doctor Who) could sneak up on the inside and snatch victory from Bennie at the last second.

Drama Performance Female: Keeley Hawes

She deserves it, but won’t win. Surprisingly, neither she nor any of the Downton Abbey women made it through to the shortlist, so I’m guessing Miranda Hart will romp home with the win for Call the Midwife.

Daytime: Come Dine With Me

Because it’s hilarious and has the best voiceover and the best music of just about any show on television. Dave Lamb is a comic genius.

Serial Drama: EastEnders

A wild guess on my part, based purely on some strong storylines and general public affection for the series.

The National Television Awards air tonight, 7:30pm on ITV