Thursday 14th July

Today’s previews by Ceri Thomas

Torchwood: Miracle Day

9pm, BBC1 ★ ★ ★ ★

What happens when, all at once, all over the world, people stop dying? What happens when, from death sentence child killers to CIA agents in usually fatal car crashes, everyone suddenly simply refuses to croak? Hmm, tricky. If only there was an agency out there who dealt with this sort of thing all the time, eh?


Trouble is, Torchwood doesn’t exist any more. Captain Jack (John Barrowman) has run away into space, Gwen Cooper (Eva Myles) is in hiding and everyone else is pushing up daisies. But when files about them appear at CIA headquarters in Langley just as the people of planet Earth stop snuffing it, section chief Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) and his trusty assistant Esther (Alexa Havins) aren’t going to let a little thing like that stop them sniffing out a connection. Soon Rex is off on a plane and a remote farmhouse in Wales is due for a surprise visit…

Torchwood’s last outing, Children Of Earth, was a thing of soul-scouring brilliance, five eps of a telly show that left you feeling like someone had scraped the back of your eyes with barbed wire. Characters died, others left and you could never quite look at The Thick Of It’s Malcolm in quite the same way again. Miracle Day isn’t really in the same league. On the basis of the first two episodes (we’ve seen next week’s as well) this is a much more straightforward, wham-bam, conspiracy adventure, a chance to blow up some helicopters, spit out tough guy one liners and to reassemble the team. And as that, it works very nicely indeed thank you.

Oh, it may all get a *bit* more complicated as the ten-episode run continues, but if it stays at this level or slightly above we’ll be happy enough. Co-financed by US company Starz (the channel that takes the blame for Spartacus: Blood And Sand), Russell T Davis has written an opener that breezes through all the chunky exposition and rattles along like a just-barely more gritty episode of Doctor Who. It’s got just enough edge (and Bill Pullman’s undying child killer looks to add more in later episodes), but basically this is a big dollop of sci-fi fun. Expect no more and you’ll come away perfectly satisfied.

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It figures. You wait ages for one brooding copper dealing with crime in a rainy foreign country to come along on a Thursday… and then two fetch up almost at one. Not only does the perfectly competent US version of The Killing (9pm, ITV1) continue tonight with the press hounding one of the suspects and jumper-wearing ‘tec Linden pursuing a new line of inquiry, but we also get a belated second series of Irish cop show Single-Handed (9pm, ITV1) to watch.

All about a young Irish Garda sergeant dealing with repressed secrets and old grievances in a rural Irish backwater, Single-Handed sounds like something that should be going out on a Sunday night in the Heartbeat slot, but it’s a bleaker and smarter affair than that. Yes, the crimes often take second (or even third) place behind the personal relationships of the characters, but this wind-blown and battered drama is anything but soapy.

The only other new show of note tonight is Rick Stein’s Spain (8pm, BBC2). Now, Single-Handed may not be quite what you’d expect, but this cooking travelogue is everything you’d expect. The cook travels around Spain in an old camper van, meeting locals, sampling food and occasionally banging out his own versions of classic recipes. Even fans of Stein’s over-earnest, patronising and sweaty-faced bumbling might balk at the news that this is the first of four HOUR-LONG shows…

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Golf: The Open – 9am, BBC2

Tonight: Rupert Murdoch, The Power And The Story – 7.30pm, ITV1

Help! My House Is Falling Down – 8pm, Channel 4

History Cold Case – 9pm, BBC2

Mock The Week – 10pm, BBC2

iTunes Festival – 10pm, ITV2

Shameless US – 10pm, More4

Lie To Me – 10pm, Sky1

Classroom Secrets – 10.35pm, BBC1

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Emmerdale – 7pm & 8pm, ITV1

Cain’s already had his way with Amy and now – purely to make Charity jealous (yeah, right…) – he’s chatting up Holly in the pub. He’s rapidly becoming less the village bad lad, more its dirty old man… Meanwhile, Carl is trying to do a good thing and give ex-fiance Chas the money she needs to hire a lawyer to defend her son Aaron, but she doesn’t want to take it. Er, hang on, she didn’t have such a stern set of morals when she nicked a shedload of cash from him at Christmas, did she? (Ceri Thomas)

EastEnders – 7.30pm, BBC1

EastEnders’ obsession with appealing to the “yoof” market continues (well, it does buy you votes in the Inside Soap awards, I suppose…). Tonight sees the sudden arrival of Billy and Julie’s grand-daughter Lola. Yes, yes, we did only find out about her existence in the last episode, but don’t worry too much about realism here. Let’s just accept that she’s suddenly tracked down her absent grandparents, turns up in Walford and is something of a wildchild (natch – she couldn’t be a bookish, intelligent girl because she’d never get past the entrance to The Square). Anyway, she ends up giving Fatboy the ride of his life. No, not like *that*. By driving a car. In a style that makes Lewis Hamiliton look like Mr Careful Road User. (Terry Ramsey)

Coronation Street – 8.30pm, ITV1

Ah, we always knew that there was something unconvincing about Ken’s long-lost grandson James. Admittedly we thought it was just that he was a terrible actor, but it turns out that he’s actually a double threat: a terrible actor who’s playing a two-faced character. Tonight the newly evil James embarks on a scheme to ruin Ken. It’s clearly all he can do not to star at the camera, steeple his fingers and maniacally laugh Mwah-ha-ha-ha! (Ceri Thomas)

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Dumb And Dumber – 10pm, Watch


Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are the clinically dim-witted pair walking the fine line between genius and stupid in this lovable slapsticky chunk of comedy. Yes, it’s a pretty dire night for telly movies. However did you guess? Look, just kick back with an easygoing old favourite, eh? Hopefully the schedulers will get their act together tomorrow… (Ceri Thomas)

Worth A Look…

Grown Ups – 8pm, Sky Premiere

The Karate Kid – 8pm, Sky Family

The Remains Of The Day – 8pm, Sky Modern Greats

The Longest Day – 8pm, Sky Classics

The Devil Wears Prada – 9pm, Film4

Mission: Impossible 2 – 9.45pm, Sky Showcase

Superman Returns – 9.50pm, Sky Action/Adventure

Dumb And Dumber – 10pm, Watch

GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra – 11pm, Sky Sci-Fi/Horror

Double Indemnity – 11pm, Sky Classics

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