Saturday 21 September 2019

Pick of the week: Mrs Wilson

Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm - Double life

Family affair: Ruth Wilson plays the part of her own late grandmother Alison in the BBC's Mrs Wilson
Family affair: Ruth Wilson plays the part of her own late grandmother Alison in the BBC's Mrs Wilson
The Late Late Toy Show
Lucrative: Louis Theroux looks at adoption in California
Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimor
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

Not many actresses get asked to play their grandmothers, but that's exactly what Ruth Wilson does in this unusual three-part drama based on her own family history. Wilson, who you may know from TV dramas like Luther and The Affair, has a quiet intensity that separates her from other actors, and puts it to good use as Alison Wilson, a recently widowed Englishwoman whose grief is rudely interrupted by a series of startling revelations.

It's 1963, and Alison's husband, Alec, has died suddenly, leaving her to worry about their two teenage sons, when a knock comes on the door. It's a woman who identifies herself as Alice Wilson and claims to be Alec's "real wife". Before her husband is even in the ground, Alison will discover that he lived a breathtakingly complex double life, involving other families and a racy alternative career as an MI6 spy. And the question she must ask herself is: does this new information entirely negate the feelings she had for the man who shared her life?

Ruth Wilson has been haunted by this incredible story since they discovered it after their grandmother's death. Alison Wilson left behind a memoir, detailing all she knew about her husband's shadow lives, which also included a career as a thriller writer. It was a bombshell for the extended family but it convinced the then 22-year-old Ruth that the tale had dramatic potential. "I've been talking about these events to people ever since we all found out," she explained recently, "wondering how you might structure it as a drama." This adaptation by Anna Symon completes an extraordinary family circle.


3 to watch

Altered States

Sunday, BBC2, 9pm

The adoption trade

Lucrative: Louis Theroux looks at adoption in California

Louis Theroux heads west to California, the US adoption capital, where newborn adoption has become a hugely lucrative private industry.

Late Late Toy Show

Friday, RTÉ One, 9.35pm

Christmas kicks off

The Late Late Toy Show

Ryan Tubridy returns to host his 10th Late Late Toy Show, which will kick of with a spectacular fantasy-themed routine. But viewers beware: he may break into song.

Vic & Bob's Big Night Out

Wednesday, BBC4, 10pm

Anything goes

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimor

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer begin a new season of their rowdy sketch show and welcome celebrity guests.

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