Sue Johnston, BBCATV Today’s Doug Lambert reviews the latest television offerings.

Bonkers – ITV Thursday

Bonkers is the new comedy drama filling up Thursday nights, starring Liza Tarbuck as Helen. A Teacher who on her 20th wedding anniversary discovers her husband’s infidelity, yet it soon becomes apparent that Helen’s family and friends are not all they seem either – with a plot like that I can see audiences not queuing up in their millions to watch it, but we at Newszone like to give everything a fair chance.

It starts with Helen rushing to get to school, the same narrative style we have seen so many times before only added with the look to camera as part of the action talking straight out to the audience. As she begins to arrange the party we meet her various family and friends. We must congratulate the writers being able to convincingly establishing the core characters quickly and effectively but that is thanks to the brilliant writing of Sally Wainwright who’s hit shows have included “At Home With The Braithwaites”. The surreal twist as the show unfolds starting with Helen’s constant dreaming of “Felix” a film star edges us nicely into what we can expect out of the rest of the show. I must admit as the show developed I began smiling more and more. A wonderful turn from Lynda Bellingham as the neighbour who has the pleasure of seeing Helen’s well-endowed son running naked through her garden to escape a dog. The wife of the marriage next door gets the wrong idea when Helen’s affair with her imaginary “Felix” is seen for a real affair with her husband Jeremy the head teacher. The infidelity came in the form of an ex pupil of Helen’s aslo carrying a kid. And finally we reach the “Bonkers” part of the story when Helen wakes up the day after the revelation, she sees the actor she had been dreaming about in her living room. It comes to light that while filming his new movie he fell off some scaffolding and is now in a coma and has seemingly appeared at Helen’s house without any means of escape – the only problem is Helen is the only one who can see and hear him.

A very well written, quirky and comedic twist on life, I don’t know how the rest of the series will pan out but it seems we may have found a show that combines good acting with the barmy and eccentric style of such shows as Footballer’s Wives.

So if you fancy an hour of complete escapism tune in, I cant promise how long the storylines can keep up to the standard set in the first episode but one thing is certain the show is completely and utterly bonkers and we love it!

Benidorm – ITV Thursday

ITV have never been strong with sitcoms so naturally I was edgy even with a cast of comedy greats such as Johnny Vegas, Steve Pemberton, Siobhan Finneran and Sheila Reid. It’s based around holidaymakers in the sunny resort of Solana. These include a Lancashire Pub champion and his doting mother, a couple that like to swing and a gay relationship. For those expecting something like “Duty Free” will be sorely mistaken, the jokes were mainly predictable or grotesquely unfunny, there was also an unnatural amount of flesh being exposed and not in a good way, most with huge bellies. Now I’m not being horrible or fickle about wanting to see strapping lads and stick thin blonde women but really its not comfortable viewing before bedtime.

It was a really long half an hour with the most annoying theme tune bursting in and out every so often in-between scenes. For the potential this show could have had its been wasted. Even the gay couple were sadly predictable and camp looking down on the rest of the people in the resort. A completely pointless waste of 30 minute, if this is what holidaying abroad has in store then I’ll save my money and go to Southend.

Waking The Dead – BBC

Recently we saw the return of this brilliant, well-scripted programme. With Series 6 coming to a close, we have seen stories including Pagan and Druid Rituals, Opus Dei Society, Missing Skulls and a psychiatric patient returning to a childhood in a home, where he supposedly killed three people. This week’s two part chilling story, there is a body in the garden, an escaped mental patient. Did he really kill his parents? Boyd and the team investigate.

The real success of the show is the pure sensational casting of Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston as Peter Boyd and Grace Foley, their regular clashing with Boyd’s fiery temper and lack of patience against Grace’s soft psychological approach to the suspects. This week Grace walks out on the team leaving Boyd alone to solve the mystery. The show has a great supporting cast and we also saw the introduction of Tara Fitzgerald as the new forensic pathologist Eve. The show is quick paced and lively with the revelation just minutes from the end. The format split between 2 days builds the suspense nicely and we can only hope its not long before we see Series 7 beginning. A brilliant success for the BBC with a wonderful website where you can try and solve the cases yourself.

www.bbc.co.uk/wakingthedead

E.R – Channel 4

The show is in its 13th Season, an American hospital drama that has won numerous awards for its style and acting. With the loss of many key characters over the many years many people never thought it would last this long, but with one loss there is always a gain and some fantastic new additions have proved this. The Season ended where Kovac was tied to a bed, Samantha the nurse had been kidnapped and a shoot- out in the Emergency Room leaves Jerry the receptionist fighting for his life and a heavily pregnant Abby collapsing covered in her own blood.

The Season cliffhangers have always been effective and leaving audiences on the edge of their seat, recently we have seen many more sensational storylines but this year seems set to be calmer with the sad parting of the now longest standing character Dr Weaver played brilliantly by Laura Innes. Kovac also comes under fire with a major malpractice suit suing him for suffering a stroke in the ER, this week’s episode is played in flashbacks showing the audience both sides of this and the storyline is set to take control of the series. The conclusion hasn’t aired in America yet but you can be sure that die-hard fans will continue to enjoy the fast paced drama.

E.R has regularly knocked the spots off Casualty and Holby City and shows that with many hit dramas America knows how to keep the audience gripped and excited from beginning to end. We wish Laura Innes well with her future and can safely say that even with the show’s continued to success the audience is going to miss the great matriarchal and bitter controlling Dr Weaver who for many years has run the E.R with a iron rod.

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