“There’s something of Hunderby about it… Only this doesn’t have the laughs.” Read on for the verdict on last night’s TV.

“I did fear at first that they might ruin things by making it halfway believable. But they had that sorted out in a big way by the end. It turned out to be a near-perfect Downton substitute… There was something rather touching about Linus Roache’s performance as a regimental type, fairly recently widowed and proposing marriage more as a kind of convenient business arrangement than a meeting of souls… Between his constipated English politeness and her pained surrender, you had the potential for something intriguing – a self-arranged marriage awkwardly ripening into something warmer. Unfortunately, it ripened instead into silly Victorian gothic.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

“It potters along like a well mannered, well-groomed mare at a gentle walk. Then, about halfway through, it’s as if it suddenly realises how dull it is, or the mare is stung in the arse by a hornet, and it goes crazy… Suddenly it’s period melodrama – quite entertaining, utterly preposterous. There’s something of Hunderby about it – a woman in a big scary house, pregnant, a bunch of people who don’t want her to have the baby. Only this doesn’t have the laughs. Well, not the intentional ones.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

The Killing III, BBC4

“No more Lund, with her rough-knit sweaters and her rough-knit attempts to unravel the mysteries of emotional dependency. They ended well by returning, with an almost shameless fidelity, to the narrative formula that had made the first series such a success – a cocktail of political ambition, parental agony and unreliable friends. And the drama deserved the occasionally hysterical attention it got. No moping now, though. It’s left a perfect space for British television to show that it can refresh the old genres with equal ambition.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

“Even better than The Killing I. At 10 rather than 20 episodes it was tighter, its twists less cynical, its characterisation deeper. Writer Søren Sveistrup finally declared his over-arching theme. The programme that began in 2007 (although we did not see it here until 2011) by anatomising the anguish of one family whose daughter had been murdered, ended as universal testament to the importance of functional families, God’s apology for colleagues, and for much else besides.”
Andrew Billen, The Times

Sports Personality of the Year, BBC1

“The night started with the three presenters – Gary Lineker, Sue Barker and Clare Balding – flying in on a helicopter. Hardly Her Maj and James Bond but a nice reminder. Of course, the show had its predictable moments – Lineker welcoming sailor Ben Ainslie with ‘Big Ben was right on time at the Olympics’, Emeli Sandé bookending the show just as she did the Olympics closing ceremony, and ‘incredible’ being used by athletes to punctuate every sentence. But who am I to complain? It was an incredible year, and simply revisiting so many golden moments was pure serotonin.”
Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage: Three Go Mad at Christmas, Channel 4

“Kathy Burke plays the anti-Christmas Grinch, as well as being all ‘cor blimey, I’ll pretend I’ve never been ou’a Laaaandan’. Mark Heap, a hero of mine ever since Green Wing, can’t really go mad, as he appears to be very much there already. And his Green Wing co-star (and star of just about everything else) Stephen Mangan provides exaggerated facial expressions and goat puns. The three – four with Hugh – go well together; they’re good company.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

Him & Her, BBC3

“I bloody love Him & Her; it’s just about the warmest, funniest thing on the telly right now. It’s whatever the opposite of dregs is? The bubbles? The cream? Whatever – that.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian