TV COLUMN: Little Boy Blue, Line of Duty, General Election

James Waller-Davies
James Waller-Davies
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Columnist James Waller-Davies gives his view of some of the recent events on television...

Two knocks on the Jones’ family home door began the gut-wrenchingly tragic dramatisation of the real life shooting of 10-year-old Rhys Jones in Little Boy Blue (ITV).

The first knock was young Rhys racing home for his football subs. The second, just four minutes into the drama, was the football coach coming to say Rhys had been shot.

The sheer randomness of the mundanity of domestic life ripped apart by the randomness of a stray gangland bullet.

Rhys is seen just three more times. First in the car park where he was shot, a pool of blood oozing a red halo from his head. Then the desperate and futile rescue attempts in the emergency room. Finally, the morgue. Ten minutes of drama. A minute for every year lived.

Little Boy Blue is the story of the police investigation. An investigation where everyone knew who had been shot and everyone knew who had done it.

The problem was evidence and fear of the gangs.

The pressure on the police investigation, led by Detective Sergeant Dave Kelly, superbly played by Stephen Graham, was intense.

The patience needed in the face of evidence and procedure, and the cocksure repeated ‘no comment’ from the suspects would test a saint.

Up against the graphic realism of Little Boy Blue, Line of Duty (ITV), now just one step away from conclusion, is becoming a fantasy of the absurd.

Certainly, it’s been riveting, but the plot has so many threads, it’s difficult to keep a handle on them all.

The murders of the first two episodes, having been neglected for the internal intrigues of the investigators, remain to be solved.

And to top it all off, Huntley has had her septic arm amputated – but managed to go through discharge, rehab and return to work in less time than it took to lop it off in the first place. Such are the twist and turns, if it grew back in time to make a final appearance next week, few would be surprised.

The general election is yet to get real television traction. It’s not looking like a vintage year. The entire campaigns have been reduced to alliterative sound bites repeated ad nauseam, with the leaders doing passable impressions of those 1970s dolls with the string in their backs.

The Daily Mirror chicken was out and about doing its best to goad Mrs May into a TV debate. Following Mr Corbyn’s refusal to do a TV debate without Mrs May, the smaller parties are threatening to get their own chickens out for him too. The 2017 election may yet be defined by a flock of giant chickens in pursuit of politicians.

Mr Farron at least dared to be different, launching his campaign on a walkabout in Cambridge with the invitation to ‘smell my spaniel’. If there is some euphemistic value to ‘smelling the spaniel’ in Cambridge, Mr Farron kept it to himself. The spaniel itself looked nonplussed. Not a spaniel to be sniffed at.