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The Aids Memorial

Critics, Television : Of scary spooks and space

Par Euan Ferguson - 6 mn

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Alexander Skarsgård, Florence Pugh and Michael Shannon in The Little Drummer Girl. Nadav Kander/BBC

The BBC’s latest Le Carré was a wonderfully gloomy trip across the globe, Sean Penn shone on a mission to Mars, and the right baker won

The Little Drummer Girl BBC One
The First Channel 4
House of Cards Netflix
Hitler’s Holocaust Railways Channel 5
Black Earth Rising BBC Two
The Great British Bake Off Channel 4

“If you saw The Night Manager,” intoned the continuity, breathlessly, “or even if you didn’t, you will not want to miss this.” Sorry, but what are you actually talking about, man? “Even if you didn’t...”? In which case, why mention it at all? Still, I suppose it breaks the monotony of having to intone that dreary “ contains some scenes some viewers may find disturbing/upsetting/mildly challenging/interesting” before every single programme that is not airing on CBBC or Nickelodeon.

Other than the fact, then, that both were stamped with the Cornwell/Le Carré imprimatur, ...