Jane Bowron: TV Review - The Coroner
UKTV's new feel-good, crime procedural The Coroner (Wednesday, 8.30pm), originally made for daytime TV in the UK, begins screening in prime-time this week in New Zealand.
Should we feel patronised and insulted?
Fear not, The Coroner is no dog and the first 10-part instalment went down so well it was granted a second series. The same thing happened to the 1950s murder mystery series Father Brown, which shares the same production team and also debuted in the daylight hours, before being promoted to the evening slot.
It's the story of Jane Kennedy (Claire Goose), a solicitor who, after a failed relationship, returns to her hometown – the fictional seaside location of Lighthaven in South Devon. She brings with her, Beth (Grace Hogg-Robinson), her 15-year-old daughter, whose dark eye make-up, purple hair and obsession with death indicates she is of the Emo persuasion. But a very sweet Emo.
They reside with Jane's mother, Judith Kennedy, a lusty Earth mother type played by Beadie Edney, last seen on our screens as the warm-hearted Prudie in Poldark. Gulls cry and the sound of waves are the constant seaside noises in this gentle murder-solving drama set against a winning backdrop of quaint coastal village life.
The theme of loveable landscape worked for Doc Martin and it works here as Jane investigates the suicide of a young male, after the deceased's girlfriend knocks on her door insisting the boy didn't intentionally throw himself off a tower.
Despite the serious nature of the death, an interesting choice to start a light-hearted series with, this first episode of The Coroner, with its low-key mix of drama and gentle humour isn't mired in teenage grief.
The real story here is the chemistry between Jane and Detective Sergeant Davey Higgins (Matt Bardock), who affectionately calls her "Calamity".
Back in the 1990s, Jane and Davey were an item, before a teenage Jane fled Lighthaven after having her heart broken by Davey. She'd caught him with another and now she has to work alongside him, begging the question – will there be a rekindling of the old flame?
The series is written by experienced soap writer Sally Abbott, who is said to have based her main character on the sexual chemistry that sizzled between Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey in Adam's Rib. Davey is in fact taken. He is married to someone called Annette we never get to see, but is constantly referred to as a reminder of the impediment that lies between them.
The Coroner isn't without controversy. Best-selling author M R Hall, who also wrote a book called The Coroner, was said to be unhappy about the similarities to his book about a 40-something woman who returns to her home in the West Country after the breakdown of a relationship. However, the BBC insisted their show wasn't based on, or inspired by, M R Hall's book.
Meanwhile, for sheer yuksterism, give Toddlers and Tiaras (Sky's TLC, Wednesday, 9.30pm) a quick butcher's to see how today's toddler pageant entrants are required to have good bodies and a complete dedication to skin care and healthy lifestyles.
Grossly obese, pushy parents shell out big bucks for their precocious progeny to have collagen sprays, acting classes and hypnosis sessions. Apparently fake tan and fake teeth are just the baseline to front-foot it in today's pageant world.
"Get brown and get a crown," is the motto. After all, it worked for Donald J Trump.