Enough of TV’s needlessly complicated psychological thrillers – I want drama that celebrates the power of love

Sweep me away in a colossal nightie, pleads TV editor Alison Graham


Every week, every single week, Poldark makes me want to put on a big dress, run to a clifftop and look out at the horizon with a heart full of yearning and a soul full of love.


And as for Victoria… give me a tiara and a colossal nightie and let me be swept away by the Torrid Teuton as the curtains flutter prettily on our marital doings. You’ll have gathered I’m a romantic of the worst kind, a soppy fool with a marshmallow centre.

I love big blustery tales of windswept adoration and bewitched glances. As a girl I adored Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre and like every daft Yorkshire youngster before and since I ran around murky moors on school trips yelling “Heathcliff! Heathcliff!”

I’m so glad television appears to have rediscovered what I will call “simple” romances – and I don’t mean that in any unkind way. It’s just that I’m growing weary of needlessly complicated psychological thrillers where everyone hates everyone else and women characters are run through the TV drama abattoir.

Such as Marcella, for instance, or currently the dismal Paranoid (Christmas isn’t too far off and this is shaping up to be a nice, fat turkey). It began with a woman stabbed in public and the detectives on the case, particularly the woman, are a weird bunch of needy misfits.

Then there’s The Fall, of course, halfway through its third series. The first series was famously a sick-making confection of pretty perversion and murder as a kind of love, thanks to a hunky serial killer who adoringly took his time with every binding, chopping and snipping.

But he drew his victims afterwards so he obviously has an artistic soul. In the current series the killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) is prone in a hospital bed after being shot, but it looks like his intensive care nurse might just become that bit more intensive and caring, such is Spector’s power over women. Honestly, I cannot stress enough how much I really don’t want to see this happen.

But the big canvases and even bigger loves of Poldark and Victoria give us passionate nuggets of escapism, either along the rugged Cornish coast or in a succession of lovely candlelit state rooms, and romance rather than death and sex (often the same thing in television dramas).

At their core these romances aren’t necessarily uncomplicated – Ross loves his former kitchen maid wife Demelza while still holding a blazing torch for his serene, almost ice-maiden of a first love, Elizabeth. And in Victoria the young queen must hold together a country and a government that isn’t wholly keen on the person she loves, the man they call the “German sausage”.

I’m glad television has found what Frankie Goes to Hollywood would call the power of love, and not just because it’s the perfect opportunity to put your hunky leading man in a tin bath by the fireside (last week’s episode of Poldark).

No, there’s a particularly tender scene between Ross and Demelza on Sunday involving a pair of stockings (no one is tied up) that speaks volumes for their feelings and which might just elicit a squeak of a sigh from the audience.

And when did you last do that? We live in a cynical age of chilly digitalism and access to real horrors, round the clock, thanks to swamping 24-hour news channels. So now and again it’s good to be swept away by the power of a big story that’s full of big emotions. We all need to hide from reality sometimes. Preferably in a big dress.


Poldark and Victoria both air on Sundays at 9pm, on BBC1 and ITV respectively