What to watch

🚓 The Responder | ☢️ Chernobyl

10 May 2024

TV

Adelayo Adedayo and Martin Freeman in The Responder

The Responder

“Two years ago,” says Lucy Mangan in The Guardian, “the former police officer and debut screenwriter Tony Schumacher gave us five of the most riveting and harrowing hours of television there have been for many years.” Now The Responder is back for a second series, and it’s just as good as the first. Chris Carson – in “a career-best performance from Martin Freeman” – is a police officer in Liverpool answering emergency calls on the night shift and hopelessly trying to hold back the “tide of crime”. The supporting cast of officers and criminals is “superb”, and Schumacher retains tight control of the action: these episodes unfold “as the first season did, like a classical tragedy, with the unswerving sense of inevitability”.

A new face in this second series is the actor Bernard Hill, who died last Sunday, playing Carson’s abusive father, says Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail. For over-50s, Hill is best known as an unemployed Scouser in Boys from the Blackstuff; for younger viewers, he’s the heroic King Theoden in The Lord of the Rings. But this, his “final performance”, which aired hours after he passed away, is just as gripping. Merely by “sitting in front of the TV and glowering”, as he does in his opening scene, he exudes a “malevolent power” that far exceeds the series’ threats and violence. “What a way to take his final curtain.”

The Responder is available on BBC iPlayer here.

In case you missed it

Chernobyl

This “chilling” drama from Craig Mazin (the creator of The Last of Us) looks at the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster from a number of different perspectives: the firefighters, the miners, the politicians, the bureaucrats. The ensemble cast – including Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Paul Ritter – are terrific, says James Jackson in The Times. And the action is compelling not just as a “pulse-troubling depiction” of the accident itself, but also as an examination of “political buck-passing and Orwellian doublethink”. As the nightmare and its cover-up unfold, it’s “sometimes hard to know which is more chilling” – the nuclear disaster, or the ossified bureaucracy that let it happen.

Chernobyl is available on Now TV here.
Five episodes.

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