Written by Julia Raeside


Julia Raeside’s Digital Watch

If you’re looking for warm and fuzzy as the nights draw in, the returning small screen offerings are probably not what you had in mind. But TV authority Julia Raeside reckons there’s much to be enjoyed among the murders, blood and grit. Just keep a cushion close by.

The Fall returns to unnerve us

As my confinement enters month two – there is no question of me going out with all of this television to watch – I’d been hoping for a cloyingly sentimental Dickens adaptation or similar to toast my toes in front of.

But perhaps the schedulers are holding those back for Christmas because this coming month it’s all about grit, dread, horror and more grit.

If you subscribe to Amazon Instant Video, you’ll be able to have a first look at the new series of BBC One’s Ripper Street, the Victorian crime drama with an above-average IQ starring Matthew Macfadyen and Jerome Flynn.

It was scandalously cancelled after its second series, but thunderous disapproval from the show’s legion of fans convinced the BBC to strike a deal with Amazon as long as they could show it to their subscribers first. (BBC viewers only have to wait til early next year for their turn.)

Set in east London after the terrible crimes of Jack the Ripper, many won’t have tried its delights because it sounds like it’s going to be the usual crime drama about men killing women.

But it turned out to be a superbly-written, nuanced study of criminal behaviour of all kinds set against the background of Victorian London.

Women don’t just hang around gin palaces looking consumptive. Their storylines are driven by actual human motives, they run businesses, dream of a better life and have just as much fun as the men.

In a period drama where sexual inequality is a fact of life, this is no easy thing to pull off.

And talking of a drama about men who kill women, the much-discussed detective series The Fall returns to BBC Two this month.

Yes, it’s about Jamie Dornan’s sinister yet uncomfortably sexy serial killer, Paul Spector, sneaking into women’s houses and strangling them. But it’s much more about Gillian Anderson’s icy cool detective, Stella Gibson, who spent the first series edging ever closer to cracking the case before Spector fled the city with his family and audiences up and down the country yelled at their TVs for the lack of a resolution.


Both shows sound like they’re going to be a misogynist load of old reactionary balls, but both have so much more to offer than that. Give them a go.

Over on Channel 4, we finally get to see a full series of Babylon, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong’s satirical swipe at the Metropolitan police. Starring US import Brit Marling as their new communications director and James Nesbitt as the Met’s under-fire Commissioner, the pilot shown earlier this year promised much and included direction by Danny Boyle.


Both shows sound like they’re going to be a misogynist load of old reactionary balls, but both have so much more to offer than that. Give them a go.


It combined Bain and Armstrong’s rapid-fire wit (they wrote Peep Show, Fresh Meat and Four Lions) with Boyle’s hepped-up visual style and throbbing dance soundtrack. If they can sustain that pace and excitement for a whole series, I’ll be impressed.

Finally, for those who haven’t been sufficiently spooked by Hallowe’en, the actually wonderful Michael Palin makes his first return to television drama since Alan Bleasdale’s GBH in the early 90s, with BBC One’s ghostly new chiller, Remember Me.

In it he plays a pensioner who witness an dreadful crime on the day he moves into an old people’s home. Ghoulish happenings ensue and he teams up with care assistant Hannah (newcomer Jodie Comer) to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Not exactly a comfort blanket of dramatic cosiness to snuggle up in this month. But you can’t say there’s nothing on the box, that’s for sure.

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Written by Julia Raeside

Julia loves TV and writes about it for the Guardian and other people. She also enjoys talking on the radio which she mostly does for the BBC.