mon 08/08/2022

Waking the Dead, BBC One/ Celebrity Naked Ambition, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

Waking the Dead, BBC One/ Celebrity Naked Ambition, Channel 4

Waking the Dead, BBC One/ Celebrity Naked Ambition, Channel 4

Last hurrah for Trevor Eve and his morbid squad of corpse-chasers

By the trail of dead shall ye know Detective Superintendent Peter Boyd, who bounces back irascibly for a ninth and final series of Waking the Dead. For once, British TV has the edge over its American counterpart. While Jerry Bruckheimer's US series, Cold Case, always feels dragged backwards by its clunking reconstructions of ancient crimes (especially the device of using young actors to impersonate now-elderly perps in their prime), Waking the Dead manages to catapult its back-catalogue felonies vividly into the present.

The unsolved mystery in this first two-part episode, Harbinger, dated back only three years, permitting its tale of wealthy banker Donald Rees to tap obliquely into the public's lingering feelings of rage and loathing towards the credit-crunch community. No doubt about it, Rees was one rich bastard (even though Boyd - played by the increasingly leonine Trevor Eve - harrumphed testily that nobody cut him any slack for donating half of his £4 million bonus to UNICEF). His car had been found at the bottom of a ravine after he'd gone missing shortly after earning himself a lengthy list of potential assassins by brusquely sacking a hefty percentage of his workforce. His body, however, wasn't in the vehicle, though traces of his blood were.

As ever, much of what we were told was being carefully deployed to decoy us away from the true scent (trust me, I've seen part two), but writer Ed Whitmore didn't stint on the reliable Waking the Dead ingredients of mental and physical sickness and an atmosphere of cloying morbidity, enhanced by creepy manifestations of an elderly couple dressed in funereal clothing, as though drawn from Victorian photographs of the dead. The moral turpitude of financial sector gamblers was pitted against a tale of multiple cancer patients, either dead or dying, which verged on the distasteful. There was no milk of human kindness, just a continuous weepy discharge of misery and suffering.

sarahcavendish_smallThe only break in the gloom was the introduction of a new character, Det Sup Sarah Cavendish, played with argumentative vigour by Eva Birthistle (pictured right). Dumped from above on Boyd's post-mortem squad after suffering some kind of stress trauma from her previous posting in counter-terrorism, Cavendish proved eminently robust in her jousts with Boyd, and was soon opening a few old wounds by taunting Spencer (Will Johnson) about his slavish devotion to the boorish Boyd. The BBC is already spinning off Eve Lockhart (Tara FitzGerald) into her own series. If Cavendish plays her cards right, she might find herself fast-tracking in Lockhart's wake.

For no defensible reason, I was strangely drawn to Saturday night's Celebrity Naked Ambition. This hilariously tawdry compilation of Hollywood stars baring their bits followed the well-tried 100 Best... formula of splicing together film clips with a few randomly chosen talking heads (often people from magazines you'd cross several time zones to avoid). It was presented by the gormless Kelly Brook - who is Kelly Brook, actually? (she's pictured below) - whose already limited chances were minimised further by an infantile script ("our hotlist of high-achieving hotties" etc).

Kelly_B_smallNonetheless, hurl enough smut at the wall and a few bits are bound to stick, and every now and again it flung up an amusing aperçu. There was well-deserved ridicule both for Harvey Keitel's much-bared physique and his pontifical Method-style justifications thereof, a ferocious kicking for Madonna's laughable efforts in Body of Evidence (in which she seemed to be wearing Y-fronts), and a fairly serious tear-down of Sienna Miller, dismissed as a mere social-climbing WAG.

The best line came from Greta Scacchi, who became so associated with an absence of clothing that she was puppetised accordingly by Spitting Image. "I didn't take my clothes off any more than any actresses at the time," Greta reflected, "but clearly my body was more memorable."

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