Moses Jones. [If you can get the BBC iPlayer you can watch it all for the next five days here]
This is a three-part drama by Joe Penhall about a detective investigating the murder of a Ugandan immigrant in London. Moses Jones is the son of Ugandan immigrants so his boss tells him to look into the murder of an elderly man who is found chopped into pieces, piled into a suitcase and dropped into the Thames, on the grounds that they are "his people". Moses objects on the grounds that he was born in Shepherd's Bush. However he gets dragged in, along with an ambitious white police officer, Dan Twentyman (played by Matt Smith, who will be the eleventh doctor some time in 2010), and uncovers grim secrets at the heart of the community.
It's very dark and sporadically violent. There's not a great volume of violence but when there is, it's excruciating. There was a moment at the end of episode two where I actually had to leave the room. It's not without faults or issues but there are some terrific performances, particularly from Shaun Parkes as the lead character; Eamonn Walker as the band leader, Solomon; Indira Varma as a restaurateur who doesn't lose her compassion even in the worst circumstances; Dennis Waterman as a sleazy former boxing champ; and Wunmi Mosaku as Joy, whose uncle is the initial murder victim. The eventual villain is terrifying.
What I like about it is that it's a portrait of a complete world, and one that I know exists but seldom see. It plunges you into this milieu of knocking shops; restaurants; paperless refugees; secret dance clubs and casual and not so casual racism, and makes almost no concessions to unfamiliarity. There's a pleasing, if infodumpy pay-off.
2. The Lilac Time
The Lilac Time were formed by Stephen Duffy, who remains famous for three things
a) Being in one of the original line-ups of Duran Duran
b) This 1985 hit, Kiss Me, which was much-mocked for its lyrics. A little harshly, I think. It's very very 1980s
c) Co-writing most of an album with Robbie Williams before he completely misplaced the plot.
In between (b) and (c) he formed a group called The Lilac Time, who wrote folk-rock much influenced by Nick Drake and had pretty much zero success with it. They were the very definition of music press darlings whose critical acclaim never translated into sales.
Their albums have been rereleased with lots of live and radio editions of their songs and B-sides. I have only two so far but plan on buying more. Here are some favourites from the albums I have
Julie Written On The Fence Belongs in the same category as Disco 2000, a reminiscence about adolescence from And Love For All. From the same album, Fields
The Beauty In Your Body from Paradise Circus
3. Teddy Thompson
Last week I had the pleasure of going to see TT in Shepherd's Bush in the fine, fine company of ravurian, ruric, parthenia14, rhade_rad and some other nice people whose LJ names I don't know. He's excellent live and I urge anyone who sees him playing in their area to go and see him. He's very handsome, has a wickedly dry line in onstage patter and his band play like bastards. His website is here.If the name seems familiar it's because he's the son of Linda and Richard Thompson but he's great in his own right. His most recent album, A Piece of What You Need, lives up to its title. It's varied, funny and rocking.
• The lead-off single you might have heard before. In My Arms is the song you didn't know you needed on your iPod. It works anywhere. I have no idea why it is not ubiquitous. It should be.
• From the online version of the same album, two bonus tracks: Long Life and The Price of Love, an Everly Brothers cover.
• A cover of Leonard Cohen's Tonight Will Be Fine
• From the wonderful album Separate Ways, my current theme tune: I Should Get Up
Apparently Lindsay Duncan is going to be in the Christmas thing, as the new one-shot companion and fail is already hoving into view because she's in her fifties. Oh, people, people, your ageism shames you. When I was young and impressionable I saw an excerpt of Les Liaisons Dangereuses from the original production in London, with Alan Rickman as Valmont and Lindsay Duncan as Merteuil. It defined hotness. (It made such a big impression on me that I went on to see the play twice in my teens and twenties, studied the book for French A-level and wrote an A-level English essay comparing narrative techniques in LLD, Wuthering Heights and Brideshead Revisited and always, in my head, Lindsay Duncan was the Marquise.)
Both of them remain astonishingly hot. No age qualifiers, not "for their advanced years", they are both terrific. And Lindsay Duncan is an amazing screen presence even when the script isn't that brilliant. Anyone says otherwise? Who doubts that she's going to be anything other than top-notch (script permitting)?
They're called glasses. Avail yourselves of the optical technology, people.
I'm a little glum this week. It'll be the bowel-squinching fear of failure that's doing it.