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Today's TV & Radio -Banking on gritty tales

February 3, 2014

Steve Pratt

DCI Banks (ITV1, 9pm ) Britain's Great War (BBC1, 9pm ) Helix ( Channel 5 , 10pm ) STEPHEN TOMPKINSON would be wasted behind a desk in a boring nine- to-five office job. As an actor, he has proved he is about as versatile as they come. We have seen him on-screen under the guise of a reporter, a priest, a construction worker, a vet and, of course, dogged cop DCI Alan Banks, back on screen tonight. As we launch into another series of this drama, there are bound to be some tense moments as DS Annie Cabbot ( Andrea Lowe ) returns frommaternity leave. Banks leads the investigations after a man and woman claiming to be social workers visit a mother and tell her they need to take her son away. When they do not return the boy, it soon transpires that the pair are not known by the authorities. Banks pushes DI Morton ( Caroline Catz ) to get closer to the mother to find out why she might be targeted, but the whole thing is a little close to home for the detective in the face of the problems with her son. Meanwhile, Annie believes she might have found a credible suspect for the lad's abduction at his school. It sounds like we will be treated to the usual gritty murder mysteries from the pen of creator Peter Robinson in this third series, as well as delving into Banks' private life, with the introduction of his university dropout daughter, Tracey. Last series, we learnt a little more about Banks' immediate family, as Polly Hemmingway and Keith Barron were cast as his parents. At the time, Tompkinson expressed his delight at exploring the Banks character even further, saying: "With the pilot and the first series, we really wanted to establish Banks for the policeman that he is - dogged and determined - and now we've been fortunate enough to add a bit more colour to his background in a personal way." That they did, and it went down a storm - the second series attracted 4.7m viewers in its first week. COME July, we probably won't be able to budge for documentaries commemorating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and all thoughtswill bewith those who lost their lives fighting for our country. But the Beeb is getting its foot in that door early and Jeremy Paxman kicked off this stunning four-part series, Britain's Great War, last week by focusing on the early stages of the conflict. Tonight he follows up by describing the crisis facing the country as it became obvious that it was fatally unprepared to fight a modern industrial war. While women fill the factories to make bombs, men are forced onto the frontline, and conscientious objectors are threatened with the firing squad. Even the beer was watered down. The landscape of the country had changed drastically, and Britons had to learn to do as they were told. HE may not be a household name, but Ronald D Moore is one of the smartest writers and showrunners in Hollywood , having honed his craft on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the Battlestar Galactica revamp. He is juggling a number of projects, including a TV version of Heath Ledger movie A Knight's Tale, a Star Wars TV series, and drama Helix, which airs days after its premiere on the Syfy channel. It concerns a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , who investigate a possible disease outbreak at a research facility in the Arctic Circle , which may hold the key to mankind's salvation or cause its annihilation. Last week, Julia ( Kyra Zagorsky ) got close to the dangerously infected Peter ( Neil Napier ), but could not remember whether or not he had attacked her. This week, stricken base workers attempt to seize control of the situation.

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Source: Northern Echo (England)

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