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TV review: Shetland, Insane Fight Club make BBC a very Scottish place for once

Tonight, BBC One was very Scottish, confounding those who claim the BBC is trying to sway our September vote by stuffing us full of Britishness.

Dougie Henshall as Jimmy Perez in Shetland
Dougie Henshall as Jimmy Perez in Shetland

From 8pm through till 11.35, it was all Scotland with River City; the first episode of the new crime drama, Shetland; then, after the interruption of the news, a Glasgow documentary called Insane Fight Club.

So I settled down for a schedule packed with Scotland...although I skipped River City because you do, don't you?

But it would have been impossible to ignore Insane Fight Club. This is a one-off documentary following the Glaswegian wrestlers known as ICW (or 'I C DUB! I C DUB!' This is what their fans chant when the mad and hilarious Grado comes prancing into the ring.)

Grado is a gem and deserves his own series. He's a tubby wrestler who boasts 'I'm as fit as my gran' then shows off his moves, all performed to his signature Madonna tunes.

Then he twirls and squats, his glittery spandex bulging and wobbling in so many wrong places, and shouts his catchprase 'It's yersel!'

He symbolises what Mark, the founder of Insane Championship Wrestling, says his brand is all about. 'It's a drama. It's a comedy. It's a performance. It's like going to the theatre but where people get the shit kicked out of them.'

This documentary had room to cheer on the larger-than-life wrestlers like Grado and Jack Jester but there was also a deeper side to it. Mark was driven to start ICW as he needed a better life and his boring 9-5 job just couldn't deliver it.

He found it impossible to fit with the standard rat-race model we're all supposed to slot into and, rather than stick with it and the safety of its monthly paypacket, he took a risk and formed ICW.

The risk has paid off. ICW goes from strength to strength and, more importantly, lets Mark prove to his son that it's OK to be different. Danny is autistic and was reluctant to go to nursery one morning, telling his Daddy that he felt too different from the other children.

Mark admits he went off and cried in another room, then scooped Danny up and showed him some of his wrestling DVDs. He was able to point at the screen and reassure him, saying 'your Daddy's different.'

Mark is a role model for everyone bored by their call centre job or maddened that they may have missed their chance to do something special. 'Fuck the 9-5,' Mark tells the camera and it seems as long as you don't mind the uncertainty, the stress, being a bit skint and having Grado shimmy past you in spandex, then he has the right idea.

But before the inspirational chaos of Insane Fight Club came Shetland. This is the new series of the acclaimed crime drama but I was fresh to it, never having seen the first.

It opened as we expect a crime show to open: with a young, good-looking girl murdered, her body splayed out on the beach. (We have to wonder are tubby men never killed? It was tiresome for them to begin on this well-trodden path.)

Then the show reached for other clich├ęs. A suspect is the local weirdo who lives in a creepy house on the hill, and keeps company with a black raven in a gnarled cage.

The scenes of the misty beach, the darkening hills and the sinister loner with his raven just irritated me. It felt like the writers were clutching too hard at the Gothic and using the safety of typically frightening things to prop up the story.

But if you can push aside the overblown Victoriana and realise you're not in a Wilkie Collins novel you'll see there is a good story ticking away steadily underneath.

If it can fight its way past the ravens and the mist, we're in for a good series.

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