TV View: Fortitude - A Rich part as one cool cop in the Arctic
The programmes to watch and the ones you really want to miss
I haven't quite made my mind up about mega-budget-Arctic-Brit-thriller Fortitude yet. It certainly ticks all the right "gripping telly" boxes.
A touch of Fargo here, a dash of Twin Peaks there, an unhealthy dollop of illicit sex, the odd petrified mammoth and a beautifully bleak tundra as backdrop to all the woozy intrigue. Oh, and it also boasts the most impressive cast since circus act Steely Stan The Unbreakable Man was sued for trade's description.
Yet so far, like the mammoth carcass discovered in episode one, it's a bit woolly. I'm sure that the current opacity of this who/what/whydunnit will start clearing just in time for the series climax. But for now, the wilfully tricksy plot is still excruciatingly winding itself up, like an intricate clockwork trap, ready to snap down hard on our carefully constructed preconceptions come episode 12. Or to put it another way, maddening and slightly confusing though it is, it's bound to clear everything up within the allotted episodes, leaving just enough "huh?" to take us through to a second series.
However, like an epiphany in the fog, one thing is startlingly clear amid the murk. That chap who plays the pivotal role of shady Sheriff Anderssen, Richard Dormer, is rather good, isn't he?
Lisburn's (nay, Norn Iron's) current best actor fits as seamlessly into this stylishly-shot shebang as I don't into my old 28-inch waist drainpipes. OK, there's no real way of measuring degrees of good acting. It's a craft, not an Olympic sport after all. But if it were, could you imagine the freestyle emoting event? Barry Davies would shriek: "And they're off! Cumberbatch is out of the traps early with a wry look of bemused innocence, but from out of nowhere, Tom Hardy's pulled puckish insouciance out of the bag! And it's all over! Now over to Colin at the final qualifying heat of the iambic pentameter."
But I digress. Frequently. My point is, it's something you can't quantity. It's more a quality that you sense. Dare I say (I dare), it's an instinctive reaction you have when watching great acting. Perhaps because truly great actors have an instinctive sense themselves. And Dormer's been provoking involuntary purrs of viewing pleasure for quite a while, on film, TV and "the boards". Some may remember him from way back, and his great, award-winning self-written one-man show Hurricane, about the high life and troubled times of Alex Higgins. But for most screen-heads, this permanently busy (always a promising trait) actor came to popular prominence through his one-man, one-eyed tour de force as "godfather of Northern Ireland punk" Terri Hooley in the excellent Good Vibrations. He didn't just capture Terri Hooley's essence, he tied it to a radiator and psychologically interrogated it until he'd reshaped the somewhat mercurial man into glorious celluloid myth.
It's a sterling performance at the heart of the best movie to come out of Northern Ireland this century. Following that he had a mesmerising turn as that other one-eyed bloke, you know the one in Game Of Thrones who couldn't die? Then he deployed his full complement of eyes in the impressive Troubles flick '71 - a film tenser than your average pluperfect subjunctive.
The best thing about Dormer, though, is that he goes about the business of being a great actor with a minimum of fuss. Perhaps the fuss will be unavoidable after Fortitude, but for now I'll keep scouring the frozen wastes of this fictional part of Spitsbergen, waiting for the rest of the cast and plot to catch up with Lisburn's finest.
Live TV can make a buffoon of anyone... just ask Cameron
I was one of the people invited onto UTV Live Tonight earlier this week to talk about the following morning's front pages.
There must have been a run on self-proclaimed experts shampooing their hair that evening, but this self-proclaimed - and hairless - news-buffoon was grateful for the opportunity to unchain myself from the laptop for half-an-hour.
Anyway, I became the stuff of TV mockery myself when I completely forgot what I was talking about in relation to the 4% pay rise just offered to work-to-rule water staff. I meant to say that I'm sure it had been pre-factored into the recent Stormont budget agreement.
But instead said something akin to "blah blah Stormont agreement budget blah factor".
Thankfully, I was in salubrious company this week. The Beeb's Inside the Commons found Eton thoroughbred David Cameron describing the place as "half like a museum, half like a church and half like a school".
And UTV's usually rocksteady Sara Moore got into a tizzy when talking about Jamie "Mr Grey" Dornan, describing him as the "world's most sexiest man". In hindsight, I think she was attempting to differentiate him from the world's sexiest man, who as we all know is John-Michael Fassbender-Hamm.
Still, goes to show you, even the pros flup it up once in a while.
With manners like that, Lady Victoria has got to be kidding
"Christ on a bike!" exclaimed my friend as we watched The Jump together earlier this week.
I pointed out that even JC would be disqualified from the Skeleton if he tried to bring his Pashley Clubman onto the competition track in the qualifying rounds.
Actually, though, I think he was exclaiming at the fact that "Lady" Victoria Hervey (by the way, is there anybody these days without transient epileptic amnesia who constantly needs to be addressed as "Lady"?) was talking about herself.
Specifically, she said this by way of self-explanation: "I'm an international socialite and I wear lots of glamorous dresses." Then she was a bit of an unpleasant arse with Jodie Kidd.
The Lady really is a tramp, it seems.
Who was it who said cancer is a complete b*****d? Well they were right. And like the Troubles, we all know somebody whose life has been touched by this most brutal of diseases. The Truth about Cancer with Steven Nolan was unflinching in its honesty and unbearably emotional to watch at times. But it was essential viewing nevertheless.
The BBC’s Democracy Season - Taking Liberties seems thus far to be a complacent and rather smug celebration. A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Which I suspect is exactly what the approaching general election will be, not least over here.