The late Tim Pigott-Smith’s powerful performance in this adaptation of Mike Bartlett’s verse play turned out to be his swansong, and a fitting one. He plays – without impersonating – a thoughtful King Charles facing a constitutional crisis in the aftermath of the Queen’s death.
In a bold device, the language is heightened and pseudo-Shakespearean, with dialogue in de-dum-de-dum iambic pentameter. And surprisingly, even on the small screen, it works.
The plot imagines how, under pressure from a bullying prime minister, Charles demurs at signing into law a bill to limit press freedom. Despite all he has been through (Diana’s ghost haunts the palace – literally), his conscience won’t let him: “The pen dries in my hand, I cannot write,” he tells the furious PM.
From there a beautifully controlled tragedy unfolds, with Charlotte Riley as a nicely scheming Kate and Oliver Chris convincing as William. The moment of parliamentary melodrama at the heart of the play is a belter of a scene and Pigott-Smith carries it superbly. We shall miss him.
This curious little film can be quite uncomfortable viewing at times, particularly at the beginning, when we eavesdrop at what feels like impertinently close quarters on Aynur and Tony and their newborn quadruplets.
The couple must live with Aynur’s very traditional Turkish parents in north London and her mum and dad make no pretence of hiding their thorough dislike of Tony, who is an alcoholic and has lived in a state-benefits-funded bedsit for 25 years. “Tony is something to do with our daughter, but he will never be anything to do with us,” says her mum.
But, despite prickling with embarrassment listening to Aynur and Tony arguing over his acute discomfort at living in such close proximity to his overtly hostile in-laws, I found that eventually Quadruplets and Homeless turns into something quite touching. And the four babies are completely adorable.
7pm, BT Sport 2 (k/o 7.45pm)
In the semi-final second leg, the two halves of Madrid meet once more – for the fourth season in a row in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Real have ruled every time.
Those four meetings include two finals, including last year’s European climax where Cristiano Ronaldo (who else?) scored the winner in a gripping penalty shootout. The two sides met in the league in April, when Atletico striker Antoine Griezmann scored late, to draw 1-1.
The victors tonight will play the winner of Juventus v Monaco.
Eerie, romantic and operatic, this exquisitely mounted revamp of the undead legend is a supreme artistic achievement. Francis Ford Coppola’s film is grandiose in visual approach and uses every cinematic trick – from the basic atmospheric lighting of the silent era to today’s more sophisticated techniques – to accentuate the poetic sensuality of Bram Stoker’s novel rather than the more exploitative bloodsucking elements.
Keanu Reeves’s acting as threatened estate agent Jonathan Harker may not be to everyone’s taste, but, as the tired count who has overdosed on immortality, Gary Oldman’s towering performance holds centre stage and burns itself into the memory.
A sprawling sci-fi drama from the creators of the Matrix in which a group of young people across different corners of the globe are tethered to one another by a supernatural force that allows them to see into one another’s lives and into the future.