The best of the week ahead: your tv highlights with Paul Whitington
The Enfield Haunting, Sunday, Sky Living, 9pm: Things that go bump in the night
I've been looking forward to seeing this new Sky Living drama, which is based on extraordinary and controversial events that took place in a London council house in the 1970s. In August of 1977, during one of the hottest summers on record, an 11-year-old girl called Janet Hodgson began claiming she was possessed by the spirit of a malevolent old man called Bill who'd died in their Enfield council house many years before.
She and her siblings began witnessing furniture flying across rooms, and Janet apparently even levitated. The children and their mother became so frightened they took to sleeping together in one room with the light on, and an eerie audio tape still exists of Janet speaking in a low, male voice as Bill describes in some detail how and where he died. As soon as news of the story spread, the Hodgsons became a tabloid sensation, and competing paranormal investigators descended on their house to find out what was really going on.
In The Enfield Haunting, Matthew Macfadyen plays Guy Lyon Playfair, a suave investigator who begins to suspect that the whole thing might be a hoax. But Timothy Spall's character, Maurice Grosse (above, right), is more convinced, and becomes dangerously involved in the case.
Sunday, BBC1, 8.30pm
Standing up to cancer
Actress Sheridan Smith was hugely impressive in last year’s ITV biopic Cilla, and takes on an equally daunting role in this one-off feature-length drama. In The C-Word, Smith plays Lisa Lynch, a magazine editor who was just 28 when she discovered she had breast cancer, and decided to write about her experiences. Lynch, who died in 2013, contacted Smith personally about playing her in a funny, moving drama that’s bound to be poignant.
Secrets of the masters
Netflix enters lifestyle territory with this very handsomely made new food series that takes us into the kitchens of six of the world’s greatest chefs. Not all of these stars are sufficiently forthcoming, but I loved iconic New York restaurateur Dan Barber’s insight into his success. One day in 2000, Barber ended up with a mini mountain of asparagus after over-ordering the vegetable. So he put it into every dish on the menu, including the ice cream, and was hailed as a genius by a visiting critic.
A long journey home
There are echoes of Homeland to NBC’s new drama American Odyssey, which will be with here shortly and has been very warmly reviewed in the US. Anna Friel stars as Sergeant Odelle Ballard, who’s on a top-secret military mission in Mali when she uncovers evidence that an American corporation has been funding an Al Qaeda terror campaign. Odelle’s just wondering what to do when her group is wiped out by American mercenaries, leaving her to fend for herself in a very hostile environment.