TONY ON TV: TV sleuths fall victim as planners wield the axe

WHEN the gothic crime drama ‘Whitechapel’ was given its marching orders by ITV, I didn’t realise that this would be the start of a trend

Within weeks of Rupert Penry-Jones and the team being given their P45s, BBC followed suit by axing ‘Ripper Street’ and its investigations into murder and mayhem in Victorian London.

The drama -- filmed in Dublin, but set in the capital’s East End -- starrred Matthew Macfadyen as the sharp-witted DI Reid and Jerome Flynn as his sidekick, a partnership that proved popular with viewers, but not enough to please BBC planners.

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They said that the second series would be the last as it hadn’t brought in the audiences they had hoped for and in order to make room for creative renewal and new ideas.

So, that’s OK or not, as the case maybe, but I hope that the future is kinder to the upcoming new ‘Father Brown’ series on BBC.

This enjoyable adaptation of G. K. Chesterton’s clerical detective books proved a surprise hit for afternoon viewers (surely it was better than some of the stuff in the evening schedules) as Fr Brown (Mark Williams from ‘The Fast Show’) solved some oddball cases in the Cotswolds.

The new casebook, which is an an early New Year treat with the story of a missing woman and exorcism, is upstaged on New Year’s Eve by the fourth dollop of ‘Celebrity Wedding Planner’ (Channel 5).

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This is presented by that outstanding soap actress Helen Flanagan -- who is rumoured to have tweeted “RIP Nelson Mandela. Great in ‘Shawshank Redemption” -- and ‘Made in Chelsea’ escapee Hugo Taylor as they are put in charge of arranging the nuptials of a young couple.

Why such an important day should be entrusted to two such apprentices doesn’t seem to bother 32-year-old Rob and his bride-to-be, Emily (24), but why should they when C5 pick up the £12,000 bill as they aspire to an A-list wedding in a converted barn.

You’ll have to wait just over a fortnight to join the couple on their big day, but before then there’s a couple of must-see shows ahead of the Christmas/ New Year TV overload.

Wednesday 11th -- Crime drama ‘Lucan’ (ITV1) starring Rory Kinnear as the flamboyant aristocrat still wanted for murder.

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Thursday 12th -- Jonathan Ross reveals the winners in the ‘British Comedy Awards’ (Channel 4).

Friday 13th -- Channel 5 screens a three-hour Abba fest, including a profile of the group, and the fashion styles of their time, plus their ‘Live at Wembley’ concert in 1979.

Saturday 14th -- Me, You and Doctor Who (BBC2). A Culture Show special on the enduring appeal of the series.

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