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TV review: Grantchester, Streets of Gold: Mumbai, and Gladiators

19 January 2024


DI Geordie Keating (Robson Green) and the Revd Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) star in the eighth series of Grantchester (ITV1, Thursdays)

DI Geordie Keating (Robson Green) and the Revd Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) star in the eighth series of Grantchester (ITV1, Thursdays)

THE opening of series eight of Grantchester (ITV1, Thursday of last week) was so unengaging that I drifted on to Google to find out when two-part postcodes started in the UK. (I discovered that it was in 1966, in Croydon.) The vicar-detective, the Revd Will Davenport (Tom Brittney), on the trail of the mystery biker Lightning, was passed a Cambridge address on paper that was detailed enough for satnav. This was supposed to be in 1961.

Unfazed by the time-slip, Will and DI Geordie Keating (Robson Green) motored in a vintage car to the wrong side of town, parking outside the suspect’s door. Spotting their motorcyclist, the duo made a pincer movement. A shove downed the cleric, but Geordie’s bear hug left the biker with no choice but to stage a reveal.

Off came the helmet, out shook the tresses of long hair, and drop went the detectives’ jaws — Lightning was a young woman. A lame interview-room scene trying to pin biker Carl’s murder on her — “You loved him, didn’t you? You learned sign language for him” — ended in Lightning’s inevitable release.

But it did not lead to a release from Davenport’s bewilderment. When his new wife, Bonnie (Charlotte Ritchie), declared: “I don’t believe in God or doilies,” the priest looked blank. Confronted by stepson Ernie’s fears about losing his stepfather in a motorbike accident, and Bonnie’s plea for parenting support, Will turned to Cambridge Crows’ tyrannical trainer for advice on “how to discipline a seven-year-old”, later blindsiding Ernie with “No more Eagle comics for a week.” Faced with the prospect of solo parenting, Will argued with Bonnie not to go to her stroke-victim mother, because she was pregnant. “Stop vicar-ing me!” Bonnie shouted — not a sentiment shared by Grantchester parishioners.

Streets of Gold: Mumbai (BBC2, Monday of last week) reflected the lives of Mumbai’s wealthiest one per cent, in a city in which 70 new millionaires are created every day. The elite distinguished themselves by building 36-storey homes and snapping at underlings to stop noisy washing up, but also by using Grantchester retro phrases. Pre-1991 business liberalisation, sluggish providers of cars and utilities, “had us by the short and curlies”. The best-selling author Shobhaa De was described as “the cat’s whiskers”. An event organiser was in “a bit of a pickle”. Beneath the frothiness, glimpses of the Hindu faith were revealed, in a city where 80 per cent are adherents. Prosperity is a Hindu objective, with offerings to the goddess Lakshmi, and a luxury apartment includes a temple to Ganesh, god of success.

Rebooted Gladiators (BBC1, Saturday) was an antidote to gloom and greed. A dog walker, railway repairer, IT helper, and school nurse were transformed into superheroes by facing elite athletes in metallic Lycra, and pushing each other over with foam bats. The crowd waved home-made signs, Gladiator Nitro crossed himself before “Duel”, and everybody hugged at the end.

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