The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Easter Sunday, 9pm, BBC1)
A drama premiere that’s tinged with sadness as Anthony Minghella, director of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, passed away earlier this week. Now commissioned for a 13 part run following this feature-length pilot, Minghella had attempted to bring Precious Ramotswe, the delightful heroine of Alexander McCall Smith’s hugely popular books, to the screen for years, and his efforts have paid off. Jill Scott is Precious, who decides to set up Botswana’s one and only private detective agency. Gentle is the order of the day here (as it is in the books), and the producers have wisely decided not to tamper with the elements that make Smith’s books so charming. Of note amongst the guest cast is Idris Elba, aka Stringer Bell in the cult HBO show The Wire, making a welcome return to British screens.
He Kills Coppers (Easter Sunday 9pm, ITV1)
I had to check twice to make sure I hadn’t got my channels mixed up for He Kills Coppers. This adaptation, from Ecosse Films and director Adrian Shergold, of Jake Arnott’s second novel is beautiful, stunning and elegant. Those are three words that haven’t been associated with an ITV drama in decades, yet here we have a prime time show from the channel that has struggled to find credible drama showing its peers just how to do it. It’s complex – the story follows the lives of three disparate players against the backdrop of 1966 London: bent Flying Squad copper Frank Taylor (Rafe Spall), small time criminal Billy Porter (Mel Raido) and seedy journo Tony Meehan (Steven Robertson). Their lives collide through a shocking event that will criss-cross back and forth over the coming weeks. And if it wasn’t enough that He Kills Coppers was this good already, it’s rendered just about perfect by the porcelain beauty of Kelly Reilly as prostitute Jeannie. If ever the camera loved an actress, here she is – and she has the talent to back it up. The whole piece is shot with such brooding economy by Shergold, adapted by Ed Whitmore with alchemic powers that do the book justice while possessing its own identity, and performed with verve by each cast member that you’ll be weeping by the close of episode one. Why weeping? Because you know that, once the remaining two episodes have played out, we’ll rarely have it this good again. Hyperbole? Maybe, but it’s still damn good.
Gavin and Stacey (Easter Sunday 9pm, BBC3)
I won’t lie to you, you know what we think about Gavin and Stacey here at TV Today, so there’s no point in going into any more detail at this stage. Just watch it, cos it’s brilliant, okay? Tidy.
Pulling (Easter Sunday 9.30pm, BBC3)
BBC3 bolsters its position as the strongest channel around for comedy with the first of a new series of Pulling. Sharon Horgan (who also co-scripts the series) returns as Donna, along with her gaggle of 30-something mates who head out to seize the day. Or something. It’s ever so slightly seedy, but in a very honest, almost nice way.
The Colour of Magic (Monday 6pm, Sky One)
Beginning last night (but with the drama cup running over, there wasn’t much room for anything else) this latest adaptation by Sky of a Terry Pratchett novels is a perfectly passable bit of fluff for a Bank Holiday weekend. The Colour of Magic is the the first of Pratchett’s Discworld novels, and having been there from the beginning, I’d hazard it’s not the friendliest of books for a TV audience. There’s much better fodder further up the canon, and I’m not even going to point out that they got the wrong Trotter brother as Rincewind – Pratchett’s hapless wizarding hero was, if I recall correctly, based on Rodney. But that’s by the by – this looks great and is perfectly entertaining.
The Fixer (Easter Monday 9pm, ITV1)
John Mercer and the team are charged by Lenny with destroying the business of a recently arrived Albanian gangster. As always, things don’t go according to plan and Rose is kidnapped, so Mercer has to sort it out. Soppy idiot, doesn’t he realise this would be a much better show without Tamzin Outhwaite? Just leave her to her fate and go out and shoot some bad guys. Job done.
Bear Grylls: Mission Everest (Easter Monday 9pm, C4)
Harry Hill be praised, Bear Grylls is back! Any suggestion that this great, inspiring man might occasionally bed down in a Travelodge will be given the contempt it deserves.
The Frost Report is Back (Easter Monday 9pm, BBC4)
Showing as part of the Curse of Comedy season, this retrospective celebration of David Frost’s influential sketch show is a rich run-down of the launch pad of some giant sized comedy careers. John Cleese and Ronnie Corbett, amongst others, reminisce about the two series of The Frost Report and how it changed their lives. And of course, Sir David himself is there, having a grand old time of it.