(1/2) When it’s on top of its game, ITV1 is so good at these enthralling two-part psychological thrillers and A Mother’s Son is a belter. Hermione Norris is Rosie, mistress of a deli in a charming Suffolk seaside town, chatelaine of the most beautiful house and new wife of widower Ben (Martin Clunes). Between them Ben and Rosie have four teenage kids and everyone is trying to settle into their new lives.
But it looks like this domestic idyll could be ruptured for ever when a schoolgirl is murdered and a terrible suspicion bubbles up in Rosie, one that, however hard she tries, she cannot dismiss.
Chris Lang’s taut script is brilliantly adept at leading us in many different directions as, thanks to Norris’s febrile performance, we feel every single pinprick of bafflement, fear and disbelief. We wonder just how far she will go to protect those she loves the most. Alison Graham
(4/4) Tonight’s concluding film is brutally sad. Jimmy McGovern and his co-writers generally like to put their characters in a vice and then crank the handle with a twist of the plot. This week their victim is played by Anna Maxwell Martin: by the end you might be in pieces.
Maxwell Martin is prison officer and mum Tina. When we meet her she is taking Stephen, the teenage hero of last week’s episode, to prison. Stephen has mental health problems, you’ll recall, and ended up stabbing his stepmother as a result. Tina is concerned for his wellbeing – as well as she might be, in the chaotic pit of horrors that is the prison block where she works.
What evolves from there takes in the failings of the prison system, institutional cover-ups and shocking agonies for Tina. Ewen Bremner is superb as her boss, while John Bishop, so good last week, returns as Stephen’s dad – and is even better. David Butcher
(1/5) Great Train Robber Ronnie Bigg’s status as a geezer folk hero probably won’t be dented by this drama centred on his wife, Charmian, played by a subdued Sheridan Smith.
Young Charmian, the daughter of an austere headmaster who insists his daughter addresses him as “sir”, is swept off her middle-class feet by the charming Ronald (Daniel Mays). “She’s a bit of class. I’m going up in the world,” twinkles Ronnie to his mates.
Poor Charmian falls so quickly under his spell that she’s soon stealing from her employer. Of course it’s her fault that he robbed that mail train, suggests Mrs Biggs. If only Charmian hadn’t insisted he find the deposit for a house. Women, eh? Alison Graham
(1/3) Really? Yet another drama featuring a shadowy man who abducts, tortures then murders the women he has tied up and imprisoned in dark places?
Well, yes, but you have to hand it to The Bletchley Circle for being more ingenious than the usual serial killer fare.
The circle of the title is a quartet of female code-breakers who, bored and directionless after the Second World War, pool their cleverness and pluck to hunt a murderer.
Anything that stars Anna Maxwell Martin is special (she broke our hearts in Accused on Tuesday) and, even though The Bletchley Circle will stretch your credulity until it cries for help, you’ll be swept along by a neat story and lots of lovely arcane details about postwar London railway timetables. Maxwell Martin is Susan, the leader of the group, who insists that their knack with establishing patterns will reveal the killer. Alison Graham
(2/4) After a visceral start, this starts to meander as it decides what it might be. A story of an urban avenger who clears the Liverpool streets of scum? A crime drama? Or a bit of both?
I suspect it sees itself as a modern parable of a decent man – John Paul Rocksavage (Warren Brown) – forced into doing bad things, but for the right reasons, after seeing his partner beaten to death. He is a good cop; he generally does the right thing both at work and at home, where he reads James Bond novels to his ailing dad (Michael Angelis). But Rocksavage is trapped in a murderous vortex. Alison Graham.
(1/6) Tonight’s documentary revisits 30 of Britain’s most popular TV crime series, including DCI Banks, Appropriate Adult, Lewis and Foyle’s War, and reveals the surprising ways in which they are linked, from actors appearing in more than one show to dramas sharing the same filming locations.