Sunday 4 December 2016

Deliverance comes to the ­Scottish Highlands

John Boland

Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30

Hugh Laurie (left) with fellow cast members in The Night Manager.
Hugh Laurie (left) with fellow cast members in The Night Manager.

Halfway through the first episode of BBC2's new comedy-thriller Stag, an adventure-seeking posh guy got shot through the chest with an arrow. "That wasn't on the website", one of his companions remarked.

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These well-heeled young tossers from London were on a stag-party outing in the Highlands, even though a grizzled old local had already warned "You shouldn't be here".

This was Deliverance meets horrible bankers and could have been a lot more fun if the characters weren't all so obnoxious that it was impossible either to chortle at their posturings or to care about their fates.

Indeed, the BBC seems to have lacked faith in this three-parter, consigning it to a Saturday evening schedule rather than lend it the prestige of a Sunday night BBC1 slot.

That, of course, is currently occupied by the adaptation of John Le Carré's The Night Manager, which continues to be classy, beginning last Sunday night with the attempted kidnapping of villain Richard Roper's young son and then backtracking to explain what that was really about.

The action scenes were executed with panache, while Tom Hiddleston remained a likeably intriguing hero and Hugh Laurie (pictured) a charismatic baddie with a sinister line in bonhomie.

This six-parter is definitely worth staying with, as is The People v OJ Simpson (BBC2), which spent most of Monday night's third episode with the lawyers but also had fun with the Kardashians - father Robert (David Schwimmer) assuring his not-yet-famous offspring that "fame is fleeting and hollow". And Courtney B Vance continued to shine as race-card defence lawyer Johnnie Cocrane - even if his client kept insisting "I'm not black, I'm OJ".

Meanwhile, the third episode of Better Call Saul (Netflix) ended with girlfriend and colleague Kim lovingly addressing Jimmy as "Golden boy" and Jimmy responding "That's me", even though both he and the viewer knew otherwise. Wonderfully good.

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