TONY ON TV: Are TV bosses on the same planet as viewers?

TV bosses seem to live in a parallel world far removed from what the viewers would like see.

By Tony Spittles
Saturday, 30th November 2013, 9:07 am

So, while the BBC’s long-running sci-fi juggernaut ‘Doctor Who’ enters the records books at 50 and gets nearer to a bus pass for the Doctor, the Daleks and all the other out-of-this-world characters, ITV is closing the casebook on the fourth series of the gothic crime drama ‘Whitechapel.’

The demise of this show -- which starred Rupert Penry-Jones, Steve Pemberton and Phil Davies heading up a police unit investigating brutal murders in east London -- joins other recent favourites such as the Sunday evening whimsy of ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ and the offbeat adventures of the Italian detective ‘Zen,’ which fans might look out for as they are recycled on Gold or Alibi.

However, the latter channel is well worth a look as it home to sporadic and random screenings of the must-see ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ (based on the novels of Maureen Jennings).

This cult TV series features sharp scripts and knowing nods to future inventions as straight-laced and serious detective Murdoch works with pathologist Dr Julia Ogden (yes, there is romance amid the blood and gore) to apply cutting edge forensic techniques to solve crimes in turn-of-the century Toronto.

Canadian audiences are currently enjoying the seventh series of this cult whodunnit, whose future was ensured when one of the major channels stepped in after more than 60 episodes and saved it after its first sponsor had decided to give it the push.

A scant knowledge of Canadian geography and weather helps, but the series seems to be a regular employer of British home-grown acting talent with ex-Corrie actor Thomas Craig playing the fiery Yorkshire police chief Brackenreid, being joined on occasions by ‘Celebrity MasterChef’ winner Lisa Faulkner as a femme fatale, Paul Rhys as a testy pathologist, Doncaster-born Thomas Howes (‘Downton Abbey’s footman William Mason who died of injuries in the First World War) as a young Winston Churchill and Colin Buchanan (one half of the ‘Daziel & Pascoe’ police team) as a fraudster who claimed to have invented a time machine.

Travel of a different kind brings audiences back to the UK as the ever-busy Simon Reeve presents ‘Pilgrimage’ (BBC2, Tuesday) as he retraces epic journies of yesteryear across the country and around the world.

In the first of this three-part series -- in which he explores the faith, hopes, desires and food that sustained medieval pilgrims near and far -- he embarks on a 500-mile trek from Lindisfarne heading south via Lincoln, Walsingham in Norfolk and then London en-route to Canterbury.