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Warming to charismatic Isaacs

The previous series of Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs as Edinburgh private eye Jackson Brodie, two years ago left me, if not quite cold, then lukewarm at best. British television hadn't really had a classic gumshoe since Hazell, way back in the Seventies, so Brodie seemed the perfect fit.

Alas, the scripts, based on Kate Atkinson's novels, walked a thin line between the graphically violent and the irksomely quirky. Maybe it has something to do with the switch from a two-part format to a 90-minute one, but this adaptation of Atkinson's oddly titled novel Started Early, Took My Dog was crisper and altogether more entertaining than Brodie's previous outings.

Having been duped in a custody battle child-snatch in Munich, which earned him 20 grand in hard cash, but left him scarred with guilt, Brodie, whose own daughter lives in New Zealand with his ex-wife, returns to Edinburgh to a mountain of bills, an untimely invitation to the wedding of the woman he still loves, and the news that someone appears to be impersonating him.

suicide

A young woman called Hope wants Brodie to find her biological parents, an apparently routine inquiry that brings him into contact with an ex-cop called Tracy (an on-form Victoria Wood), who drags him into a mire of murder, suicide, abduction, illegal adoptions and a long-buried police cover-up.

Despite the jarring shifts of tone here and there, this was a satisfying tangled mystery that coasted along on Isaacs' effortless charisma.

After a mesmerising opening episode, The Fall continues to exert a grip like wet rope. Gillian Anderson's frosty detective Stella Gibson proved she likes everything her own way – even in bed. Having summoned a hunky DS to her hotel room for some strictly stress-relieving sex, she coolly discarded him the way the rest of us throw tissues in the bin.

Meanwhile, Jamie Dornan's Paul Spector is turning out to be the most chilling serial killer since The Silence of the Lambs' Buffalo Bill, gently washing his latest victim in the bath before painting her nails, then calmly posing her on her bed and stealing one of her bracelets as a gift for his young daughter. If writer Alan Cubitt can maintain the suspense at this level for the remaining three episodes, we're not just looking at the best thriller of the week, we're looking at the best one of the year.

clever

Just when you think Doctor Who, which has enjoyed a patchy season, has lost momentum, it springs a delightful surprise like Saturday's series finale, which combined old footage with some clever work by doubles to summon up a gaggle of past Doctors, including Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee and the very first, William Hartnell.

And then, right at the death, it introduces a completely new one, played by John Hurt. It sets things up nicely for November's feature-length 50th anniversary special, which will reportedly see Hurt, Matt Smith and David Tennant join forces. Great fun.

On Saturday, I wrote that perhaps it's time Ireland started taking Eurovision slightly more seriously. That munching you hear is me eating my words. Ryan Dolan's song was no worse than most of the dross in this punishingly protracted ordeal, yet it hardly warranted a humiliating last place.

Given we entered a puppet turkey one year and a matching pair of muppets for the following two, maybe it's the Eurovision that has stopped taking Ireland seriously.

Case Histories HHHII

The Fall HHHHH

Doctor Who HHHHI

Eurovision Song Contest HHIII

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