CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Bug-eyed Bas has no hope

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Bug-eyed Basil hasn’t got a hope with the Durrells’ lovelorn Louisa

The Durrells


In For A Penny


No one can do everything. Comic actor Miles Jupp seems to be ubiquitous at the moment — spouting Left-wing blether on Frankie Boyle’s execrable New World Order, keeping contestants (and the braying audience) in line on Radio 4’s News Quiz, and parading in tweeds on The Durrells (ITV).

But he’ll never be a romantic hero. He knows it, of course, which is what made his ardent courtship of Louisa (Keeley Hawes) so entertaining.

As the exiled English solicitor Basil, he declared, ‘I love her like a burning house,’ and sounded pathetic. From another lover, those words could make the earth shake. Imagine Rhett Butler saying it of Scarlett O’Hara, or Cap’n Ross of Elizabeth Warleggan.

During last night’s episode of The Durrells, in the show’s best tradition the plot was rattling off in all directions

What is it about those men that their merest growl makes women swoon, while poor Miles (and, let’s face it, chaps, most of the rest of us) can only make them laugh… or heave?

I have a theory that it’s all in the eyes. It’s impossible to be sexy if you have bulbous, pale or watery peepers. Think of Rhett and Ross, played by Clark Gable and Aidan Turner — the eyes flash like fire in the darkness.

That’s how Spiros (Alexis Georgoulis) keeps the passion kindled, as he scowls at ‘Mrs Durrells’ before turning his back sulkily. She came to her senses briefly, accusing him of double standards — he has a wife he refuses to leave, yet seethes with jealousy if another man so much as compliments poor lonely Louisa.

Miles Jupp will never be a romantic hero,  and he knows it, of course, which is what made Basil’s ardent courtship of Louisa (Keeley Hawes) so entertaining

But he gave her that long, glowering, wordless glare and her heart burst into flames again. It wouldn’t work if he had froggy eyes, and you know I’m right.

Meanwhile, in the show’s best tradition, the plot was rattling off in all directions. Margo (Daisy Waterstone) moved in with eternal bachelor Theo, who has reached that stage in life (as some gentlemen do) where a precisely furnished room is a sacred space, and the feminine touch cannot fail to spoil it.

Leslie (Callum Woodhouse) was planning a wild boar hunt, though his fallback scheme of disguising piglets in hairy pullovers was never going to succeed.

With his novelist brother Lawrence away, Leslie clearly delighted in being the man of the house — ‘I’m the new Larry, but less pretentious!’

Not that this could distract Louisa from her heartache. She was surrounded by male lodgers, and none could make her forget Spiros for a moment. There’s only one way this story can have a happy ending… and it doesn’t involve marrying bug-eyed Basil.

When gameshow host Stephen Mulhern gets over-excited, it’s not just his eyes that goggle and pop — his whole head looks ready to explode. During every minute of In For A Penny (ITV), he was in constant peril of a detonating bonce.

Odd idiom of the weekend:

Am I the only viewer who thinks it’s strange to hear Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) declare: ‘Now we’re sucking diesel!’ on Line Of Duty (BBC1)? Surely it should be ‘cooking with gas’. No one wants a mouthful of motor fuel.

This cheap and cheerful show, based on a segment in Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, sent Stephen out onto the streets of Cardiff to challenge passers-by to take part in some silly games.

At the city’s castle, he was betting visitors that they couldn’t ring their mums and get them to say the word ‘drawbridge’ — without using the key words ‘castle’, ‘wood’ or ‘moat’.

Then he had them snuffling for marshmallows in bowls of flour, and dangled pasties on a string for them to eat without using their hands. It all looked a lot more fun to do than to watch.

Throughout it all, he talked incessantly. There’s a reason his antics used to be crammed into a couple of minutes: any more than that is maddening.

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