After last night’s departure of Shelley Unwin, one of the most satisfyingly real characters to grace The Street in years, Coronation Street (Monday 7.30/8.30pm ITV1) turns its attentions to another storyline that’s been slow-burning for a few months now – the birth of Claire and Ashley’s baby after a troubled period for the couple. Last week, I advised the powers that be at EastEnders to be looking toward Claire and Ashley as the type of characters they needed to lend an emotional heart to the BBC soap. Tonight’s brace of episodes is no exception, as Ashley is forced to turn arch nemesis, Dr Matt Ramsden, for help when Claire goes into labour… Will dad and dad finally put the past behind them? I wouldn’t bet on it.
The Beeb fires off another salvo as drama returns to the schedules with a vengeance. Sorted (Tuesday, 9pm, BBC1) looks at the lives of six Manchester posties, featuring, amongst others Neil Dudgeon, Hugo Speer and Will Mellor. It feels like a gentler version of Clocking Off and The Street, with each episode focusing on one of the lads. Tonight, Harry (Dudgeon) is emotionally shattered when his wife is in a car accident, at the same time as he nearly gives in to temptation with another woman. At some point, letters might get posted, but let’s keep it real, eh?
Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive (Tuesday 10.30, BBC3) is a curious beast. It’s part tedious panel game show, part Larry Sanders riff, with the premise hung around Brydon’s host being an unpleasant arse. That Brydon hasn’t chosen to create a new character is quite a brave move, as you have to wonder how much of the audience might believe the faux backstage material of the actor being nasty about that night’s guests and showbiz in general. I’m not sure how far this go (certainly it seems to be a one series trick), but Brydon is always worth watching and can usually turn a sow’s ear into TV silk with some deft needlework, and this is no exception.
Pauline Quirke flexes her acting muscles in The Thieving Headmistress (Wednesday 9pm, BBC2), a one-off dramatisation of the true story of how headmistress Colleen McCabe frittered away £250,000 of funds from the school she was in charge of. Quirke is fantastic, and the piece serves as a lesson in not getting away with it. Still, ten grand a month to pour into a credit card is an alluring thought…
Meanwhile, if you want something a little frothier, Jane Hall (Wednesday 9pm ITV1) hits its second episode, with the charm of Sara Smart’s central performance as the eponymous Jane papering over the cracks of what is otherwise a fairly pedestrian comedy drama.
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (Thursday 8pm, BBC1) continues to confound my expectations by managing to get recommissioned year after year. It’s nothing special, and Nathaniel Parker is straightjacketed playing the rather dull, silver spoon in his gob detective. The fun is always had by Sharon Small’s DS Havers. In this feature-length case, while Lynley goes off the rails a bit, Havers is teamed with DI Fiona Knight, a heavily pregnant, plain speaking superior, played by Liza Tarbuck. As they investigate the body of a woman found in a lake, you start to wish this was the beginning of a new series, and we could let Lynley disappear into obscurity. We can but hope.
And of course, there’s always Bad Girls (Thursday 9pm, ITV1). For this, we can be truly thankful.
Finally, as EastEnders (Friday 8pm, BBC1) awaits its UN food parcel to be dropped in (we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again – Camille Coduri!), there’s always the second wedding of Billy Mitchell and Honey Edwards to look forward to. The sight of Perry Fenwick running through Albert Square clothed in nothing but a compost bag following his disastrous stag night will erase the memories of last Thursday’s 3.9 million. Won’t it? Still, we can always hope that Peggy will get off with Honey’s dad to help restore some drama to the situation…