What an absolutely splendid week it’s been for violence and sex.
Strange though that the only place we found either that might have been placed in the gratuitous category was on good old trustworthy, 10-year-old Springwatch (BBC2, Monday-Thursday).
But more of that in a while.
Let’s start with the magnificent Happy Valley (BBC1, Tuesday), the Yorkshire-set tale of violence, rape and anguish, so realistic and horrific that some scenes left you trembling. For once a true reflection of modern urban life and the police force. It made The Sweeney look like The Magic Roundabout.
The gripping six-parter concluded this week with national treasure Sarah Lancashire (above) as Sergeant Catherine Cawood finally getting the chance to stick the boot in (literally and sickeningly) to her nemesis, the psychopathic Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) – the man who had raped her daughter and driven her to suicide.
It all reached a sweaty-palmed climax on a narrow boat with an incendiary stand-off between the two. Would petrol-soaked TLR flick the lighter and blow them into Lancashire?
Unfortunately, no. The depressed sergeant got her man. This was wrong and my only beef with this stunning series. Her survival and the happy ending in this vale of tears was out of keeping with everything that had preceded it.
It obviously paved the way for an unwanted and unnecessary second series .Writer Sally Wainwright (Scott & Bailey, Last Tango in Halifax) clearly deserves a free pass to write what she likes. She should do so, not get drawn into spinning out what should remain a one-off, multi-award-winning series.
We had to turn to Dublin pathologist Quirke (BBC1, Sunday) for a rare glimpse of mature sex, and how welcome it was. At last, peak-hour television admitting the over-55s can enjoy a bed room romp.
This beautifully-shot series, starring the broodingly enigmatic Gabriel Byrne in the title role, is a slow-burn but one with which you should persevere. His bed scene with Geraldine Somerville was as tasteful as a prevocatively-poured Guinness.
Springwatch – the best series ever. We’ve seen a bittern chick eating its sibling, baby rabbits gobbled by corvids, a slow worm fed live to Grub the mucus-covered tawny owl and a black-backed gull snatching a new-born chick. Gratuitous violence? Of course. It’s nature red in tooth and claw and long overdue. It has come of age. Finally.