Written by Julia Raeside


Julia Raeside’s Digital Watch

Check out the spring flowers and delightful baby animals gambolling all over the shop. Sorry? What? Julia Raeside’s too distracted by some excellent TV.

Julia Davis's deliciously dark Camping. Photo: Colin Hutton/Sky Atlantic.

Julia Davis’s deliciously dark Camping. Photo: Colin Hutton/Sky Atlantic.

Digital Watch has been away too long. Just look at all the good telly that’s gushed forth from the broadcast pipe unchecked by DW in the last few months. Evil Hugh Laurie vs pregnant Olivia gave-no-fucks Colman in The Night Manager, fighting over consignments of napalm. She won, obviously.

And John Travolta’s madly over-acting hairline/brows in The People v OJ Simpson have almost completely slipped by without a mention. I’ll put my hand up now and confess I’ve watched the David Schwimmer “JUICE” montage more than three times (four times) and laughed like an idiot throughout.

Yet somehow this thigh-slapping account of the US’s biggest celebrity criminal trial manages to utterly grip those who’ve stuck with it. It’s like a pantomime in which all the actors are so invested, you kind of have to admire them, and it. It even comes complete with a mini Kardashians ‘Before They Were Famous’ subplot. I still maintain my unbroken record of never having heard a Kardashian speak. They remain still images to me.

The wondrous Fresh Meat sadly reached its conclusion on Channel 4 as Vod, Kingsley, JP, Oregon and Howard graduated to adult life, leaving a bewildered Josie behind to negotiate her final year without them. I loved that series, particularly because you didn’t have to be a student to appreciate the youthful bravado, the identity crisis of burgeoning adulthood and the gleefully pretentious twaddle we all came out with at that age.

But enough of this backward-looking regret. Television moves too fast to dwell on former glory. So here is what I’m looking forward to as the buds burst forth on every branch and I close the curtains and ignore nature, the better to see all the excellent new spring TV.

Already underway but not too late to catch up with is The Durrells (ITV) starring Keeley Hawes as a single mum on the brink in 1950s English suburbia, upping sticks with her brood to start a new life on Corfu.

The cast of The Durrells, both family and other animals. All photos: ITV.

The cast of The Durrells. Photo: ITV.

It’s based on the childhood of author Gerald Durrell and perfectly conjures the spirit of his novels about growing up surrounded by nature on a pulchritudinous sunshine island. And Hawes is magnificent as the determined matriarch, making her own luck in foreign climes while negotiating the unusual ways of the locals.

I am also up to my eyes in Julia Davis’s Camping on Sky Atlantic. It’s only two episodes in and it already has me squirming uncomfortably in my seat, unable to look away as she and a superb cast of improvising comedy whizzes take us to a very dark place indeed.

A group of friends and family go for a short break under canvas and all their hidden, and not so hidden, unpleasantnesses start to emerge. Davis seems to inspire absolute trust from the folk she works with and there’s nothing more thrilling than watching actors squeezing their emotional spots on screen and really going for it. Catch up if you haven’t seen it. It’s horrible.

Coming soon to Channel 4 (25 April, same day as Game of Thrones – squeeeee) is the very peculiar Flowers. I’m strangely drawn to it, even though I’m not 100 per cent sure I like it yet.

Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh and Olivia Colman of everything else star as unhappily married couple Maurice and Deborah Flowers. They live in a tumbledown house in the country with their dysfunctional grown-up children and a young Japanese illustrator called Shun (played by the show’s writer, Will Sharpe), who draws the pictures for Maurice’s children’s books.

It feels a bit out of time, a touch Royal Tenenbaums-y, and it’s hard to sense the tone from episode one. But Barratt is all charisma with a churning internal maelstrom and Colman is typically brilliant at Deborah’s vulnerability and quiet fury. Plus she gets to wear some pretty fantastic capes. All in all, I’m on board, if a bit confounded. I want to see more.

As I mentioned, Game of Thrones (also Sky Atlantic) returns on the 25th and with it perhaps some answers to the myriad questions left at the end of last season. Is Arya still blind? Is Jon Snow still dead? Is Cersei adjusting to life with her new pixie crop? Will the iron throne remain bumless for yet another series or will someone just get a move on and seize control of Westeros already?

Rumours suggest the show may run out of steam sooner rather than later, but I’ll confess as a latecomer (I started it on series 4), I’d like a few more years yet of this glorious nonsense.


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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.