“It was like a very satisfying long narrative read in an American magazine.” Read on for the verdict on last night’s TV.

Murder Trial

The Murder Trial, Channel 4

“This has not been a play or a film,” said the Advocate Depute as he began summing up. He was spot-on in court, but it wasn’t quite true if what we saw at home, which included sudden artful cutaways to lonely first tracks, apropos of nothing but a sense of rising tension. I don’t suppose the jury got the thriller soundtrack either, ratcheting the tension up at critical moments, or the artful echo-effect as previously unheard testimony was suddenly revealed during the closing speeches.
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

It was restrained, balanced, protected the jurors’ anonymity betrayed no sign that the lawyers were showing off in front a lens. This does not mean it was not, also, fun: Nat Fraser’s chuckling as the detective who first interviewed him was tripped up; the destruction of the witness Hector Dick; the prosecutor’s fluent final speech…

It was like a very satisfying long narrative read in an American magazine or Errol Morris’s The thin Blue Line but with the message that sometimes justice can indeed bear scrutiny.
Andrew Billen, The Times

This programme may well affect the way fictional courtroom dramas are presented in future, not because screenwriters will see it – they presumably go to court all the time – but because we have. The non-trial-attending public now knows the many small ways in which real court is not like TV court. Real court looks like a stuffy open-plan office; the gap at the front where one imagines lawyers standing while they orate is filled with people sitting at computers. There is no shouting – everyone speaks in a low monotone, into microphones. The atmosphere is workaday, dispassionate.

For all that, when artfully presented – as here – real-life courtroom drama is no less compelling.
Tim Dowling, The Guardian

Piper Alpha: Fire in the Night, BBC2

“An anniversary film about the world’s worst offshore oil disaster, was a restrained and effective account of an event that left 167 men dead. There’s nothing like an eyewitness just allowed to talk.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

It did not dwell on the culpability of Occidental, who ran the rig. It was not that sort of film. It was merely the most visceral immersion into hell. ITV was crazy to sit back and watch its affiliate, STV, sell it to the BBC.
Andrew Billen, The Times

How The North Was Built, ITV

It’s a strange thing but when Robson Green was just an actor I couldn’t bear him. That was less his fault than the fault if the programmes he starred in but the taint was unavoidable. I say it’s strange because when Robson Green is being Robson Green and presenting programmes on subjects he is interested in, I think he’s splendid.

Much of this story is well known to anyone who’s had a little education or read the odd book but what Green brings to it is a genuine enthusiasm for the human detail.
Matt Baylis, Daily Express