TONY ON TV: A welcome return for the small screen cops

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IF Saturday night’s ‘Splash! keeps going splat, and Channel 4’s icy ‘The Jump’ has been a joke, then I’m glad those small screen cops are back in action.

However, I can’t see them having time to sort out this latest TV trash as they have plenty of their own cases to investigate.

Two of TV’s crime-busters are already following up clues with ITV1 leading the way with three new, two-part cases for ‘DCI Banks’ (Monday) to solve as he returns for a third tour of duty.

Fans of Peter Robinson’s Yorkshire-based thrillers may have baulked at the casting of Stephen Tompkinson in the title role, but he seems to have won over the critics as he plays the dogged detective to perfection.

The crime scene moves up country to the north-east on BBC1 with Martin Shaw back on the case in the sixth series of the 60s-based ‘Inspector George Gently.’

Viewers may remember from the cliffhanger finale to the last series that it looked as if Gently’s sidekick, Sgt John Bacchus, was a goner after he was shot and floored inside Durham Cathedral, but he hadn’t counted on Gently’s persuasive powers in getting him back to work as they investigate the death of a man in custody.

For those who don’t mind travelling further afield for more mystery drama there’s windswept and desolate ‘Shetland’ later this month on BBC with Douglas Henshall reprising his role as Det Jimmy Perez in three of the remaining stories from Ann Cleeves’ ‘Shetland’ series -- ‘Raven Black’, ‘Dead Water’ and ‘Blue Lightning.’

And if you’ve still got time on Saturday night, BBC4 switches from Swedish/ Danish now that ‘The Bridge’ has finished to Flemish in ‘Salamander,’ a 12-part thriller focusing on a group of robbers who break into a top Belgium bank -- but they’re not after cash, only safe deposit boxes and secrets that could topple the nation.

Bodies alive, in whatever shape, are more the theme of ‘Big Ballet’ (Channel 4, Thursday) as dancer Wayne Sleep aims to shape up a group of overweights to get on their toes and get into star mode in Tchaikovsky’s ever-popular ‘Swan Lake.’

This seems an impossible task when the line-up ranges from size 12 (considered to be too big for ballet) to size 26 at the auditions, but as in all good TV shows there’s a guardian angel in the shape of Wayne’s co-star, ballerina Monica Loughman, whose byword is “never say never.”

Once you’ve got your body into shape, stay tuned and you can review your tattos or not, as the case maybe, in the continuing series ‘BodyShockers: My Piercing Hell’ as model Katie Piper meets people intent on dramatic body modifications.