What to watch? Sunday night drama


10th October 2010

To paraphrase Churchill; never has so much been given to so many by so few. Of course I'm not talking about the RAF (although, thanks lads), I'm talking about BBC, ITV and Sky. Because to my warped tellymind, Sunday night drama scheduling is like the war effort. Oh yes.

It’s clearly autumn time; fallen leaves and first frost are crunching underfoot, Christmas decorations have arrived in Tesco and quality homegrown TV dramas are back with a vengeance. Perfect to keep your mind occupied from the fact you might not experience daylight till March.
Tonight there is a plethora of excellent television to choose from.

Unfortunately, it all happens to be on at exactly the same time, 9pm sharp. Now if you're the owner of a fancy DVR, two tellies and a computer, this sort of quandary doesn't really impinge on your night. However, if you are a regular schmoe with Freeview, one telly and limited bandwidth issues this sort of thoughtless timing is a bit more of a problem. What to watch indeed…

It would probably help if I clarified which shows exactly we were talking about here, wouldn't it.

Thorne: Sleepyhead
Sky1, Sunday 9pm

First off the bat, and easiest to annihilate, is Thorne: Sleepyhead starring David Morrissey on Sky1. Despite having an adorable title, this is not a guide to napping. It is a three part crime thriller based on the novels of Mark Billingham, which sees Morrissey slip into his hard-bitten policeman's Mac as the titular character (Thorne, not Sleepyhead).

Granted this isn't a stretch for such a great actor, and it could be argued that there are plenty of hard-bitten police dramas around already thank you very much. I’m a big fan of the genre when it’s done well – see tomorrow’s Whitechapel for an example, or Sweden's original Wallander - and this mini-series about a psychologically paralysed and silent victim could well shape up to be excellent.

But then you have to have Sky1 to watch it, and more people don't than do. So I'll have to recommend you catch this another time.
Downton Abbey
ITV1, Sunday 9pm

ITV have thrown their bonnet into the ring early, with the very popular costume drama Downton Abbey starring the venerable Dame Maggie Smith. It says a lot for Downton that it has managed to maintain an audience: commercial television is not the period drama's friend.

Written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes, watching this Edwardian drama unfold is like a big warm hug from your television as you follow the lives and gentle adventures of the (mostly ghastly) Crawley family. Tonight is the third episode in the series, so if you're not already watching, you can probably give this a miss and catch the full series on the excellent ITV Player (*snigger*).
Looking For Eric
Channel 4, Sunday 9pm

With Looking For Eric on Channel 4 (which you already knew of course), they're out of the drama drama. It's a great film, and if none of these new shows grab your fancy, this thoughtful Ken Loach movie comes highly recommended.

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