Top UK dramas wasted

By Lin Ferguson

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Lin Ferguson
Lin Ferguson

I need to have a serious gripe about TV One's programming again. I find it an absolute wanton waste to have two superb British dramas on Sunday night Call the Midwife (8.30pm) followed by Mr Selfridge (9.40pm).

Sunday night is a rubbish night for a very late, but great watch. Can't we have them scheduled on two different nights? Or are these two sumptuous programmes low in the pecking order because TV One dramas are considered stuffy and for the elderly and infirm who watch tele from their beds no matter what the hour?

Tomorrow night is the final of this first series of Mr Selfridge which, like the glorious Downton Abbey series, will be missed.

Set in 1909, Mr Selfridge features a fantastic cast of characters whose lives and fortunes become intertwined with their boss, Harry Selfridge, and his magnificent department store.

These characters are a rich cross-section of London life from fashionable society to the bright lights, glamour and mysterious goings-on at some of London's theatres to ruthless big business deals and the mean back-street cafes of working class Londoners.

It really has the look and feel of the dawn of a new modern era, it's that convincing. I have loved it and can't wait to see more.

Award-winning actor Jeremy Piven leads the cast as American entrepreneur Harry Selfridge and although critics (mostly American) wrote scathing reviews about his performance, I wonder if this nit picking wasn't born of "why him, why not one of our rather more glitzy well-known male stars".

However, all the characters are well defined, the sets are luscious and the costumes are perfect from the shop girls to the society darlings.

You can identify easily with all the characters and a storyline which moves swiftly and with great aplomb.

On Sunday at 7.30pm new local programme My Country Song made its debut on Maori Television.

Made by Blue Bach Productions this entertainment series showcases emerging songwriting and singing talents in small-town New Zealand. It's touted as a whanau show for a whanau audience which discovers new talent and features national and international stars of country music.

It is celebration of the singer and the song; it's not a competition or a talent quest.

With that in mind it took me back to the days when families would entertain each other on Sunday afternoons after the midday roast.

Great Aunt Mavis warbling I Dreamt I dwelt in Marble Halls, three uncles singing a rendition of O Sole Mio not to mention most of the small fry popping up to sing, recite or hop around in a vaguely balletic way.

The show's two hosts, Dennis Marsh and Saelyn Guyton, dive off into the wings as each act comes on then reappear wreathed in smiles with encouraging words for the performer like "primo", "awesome" and "fantastico". This is down-home, no frills television, Kiwi No8 wire but with no real edge.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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