Apologies to my international readers (oh how I love saying that) who don't have access to UK terrestrial television but it's been a bumper weekend for both TV and the BBC. Friday saw the return of Ashes To Ashes - the third and final series - and yesterday saw the return of Doctor Who.
Suddenly weekend television is great again.
Given the media stir that both these programmes create surely TV executives everywhere must be able to interpret this as a clear vote for more quality drama on our televisions and less of the (comparatively cheaper to make which is why so much of it is made) reality TV tosh that infects UK programming schedules like slugs around a lettuce bed?
But back to the plot: the first instalment of Ashes To Ashes was shockingly dark. The actual crime story of the episode almost took second place to the black undercurrents of trouble occurring within the police team that Alex Drake finds herself trapped within. The apparently unassailable Gene Hunt suddenly finds himself confronted with a sly nemesis in the shape of Discipline and Complaints officer, DCI Jim Keats - a strange mix of East End wide boy and geeky university post-grad. A cocktail that is never going to appeal to the Gene Genie. And there is nothing poetic about Keats. He is wheedling, he is smarmy, he is two-faced. He is courting Alex Drake - albeit only professionally at the moment - but has already voiced his hatred of Hunt to the great man's face. There was a lovely TV moment when, caught within the glass of Hunt's closing office door, Keats's reflections passed across the image of Hunt like a glowering cloud. Matter and antimatter. Dark and light.
There are uncomfortable secrets about to be revealed. Keats promises to reveal the truth about Hunt... and by extension, the truth about Drake's predicament in this 1980's world. And I suspect it's going to be nasty.
I have to be honest and say that Keeley Hawes could be dressed as a tramp and I'd still watch her but Alex Drake is a fabulous creation and is actually a better foil for Hunt's blustering machismo than Sam Tyler ever could have been. In the end, Sam became one of the boys. This is something Alex Drake can never be. Certainly not with those amazing legs anyway...
...and talking of legs, Karen Gillan made a rather long legged splash onto our TV screens as Doctor Who's new companion. Dressed as a policewoman kissogram with legs longer than the double doors of the Tardis (but, I suspect, leading to a box far more exciting - sorry, couldn't resist; am high on chocolate this Easter morning) Amy Pond established herself within the Doctor Who world with serious redheaded aplomb. In a single episode Steven Moffat has again proved himself to me to be one of this country's finest screenwriters. This first episode crackled with tension, humour, in-jokes, Whovian references and technological cleverness. Unlike R.T. Davies who, God bless him, knows drama from a soapy / emotional standpoint, Moffat understands science and technology. He understands time as well as people. Without blowing too much of the plot for those of you who are still to see it, he establishes a truly emotive link between Amy Pond and the new doctor with ease and without it feeling too clunky or contrived. This is what I like most about Moffat's writing. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is throw-away. Everything is well used.
And what of the new Doctor?
I give him - Matt Smith - a thumbs up. I'd seen a couple of interviews with him and found him curiously "not quite likeable" but having watched last night's episode I can't knock his acting skills. Tennant is a hard act to follow but Smith has done it. He has the energy of Tennant's old doctor but also brings something more to it. An Englishness. An eccentricity that appears to be genuine and is, I suspect, as much a part of Smith's true real-life make-up as that of the character he plays. By the end of the episode I had accepted him fully as the Doctor. He had stamped his Gallifreyan DNA indelibly all over the role.
So. A victory for Moffat, Smith and Gillan.
A victory in fact for the BBC.
A proud morning to be British. Happy Easter everyone.