IN THE name of Nessie, what have ITV done with this attempt to cash in on the Nordic crime drama scene, with its wild, wet and windy backdrop? The Loch, (STV, Monday) was harder to watch than Harry Kane’s goal, with a storyline as convincing as John Sessions’s chief inspector’s hair colour.

The plot? Laura Fraser’s DS Annie Redford investigates the death of a nice, gay music teacher who has been thrown over a cliff, but first he’s had his brains extracted. Via his nose.

Just to mix it up a little, DS Annie has to contend with a fake news Nessie, made up from old bones and animal entrails. But the culprit is Annie’s own daughter.

Loading article content

The Scots cast are all very good but clearly the network didn’t trust them alone to capture viewers, hence the parachuting in of (another) top cop, Siobhan Finneran.

And the arrival of Don Gilet as forensic superman Blake Albrighton was laughable. I haven’t witnessed such heightened anticipation since poncho-wearing Clint last rode into town.

There were a few nice lines of earthy, post-modernist Taggart, however, such as when Sessions’s chief inspector says to his abattoir boss buddy: “I’d give my right ball for a cup of tea.”

Yet I heard myself yelling at the screen: “Yeah, John? I’d give my right one for a decent, believable storyline.”

A final thought – why did the victim go over the cliff?

If he had his brains sooked out it’s a fair bet to assume he was dead, and without a brain he wouldn’t be able to reveal his murderer. Can people without throbbing grey matter produce meaningful thought? Are ITV’s commissioning editors a case in point?

Writer Patrick Harbison made a clear attempt to create a stand-out female heroine for mini-series Fearless (STV, Tuesday).

Daring, bold, crusading solicitor Emma (Helen McCrory) goes in search of the truth and fearlessly defends a man charged with paedophilia.

But a discernible groan emerged from my diaphragm early on when Emma’s dying mother declared in tremulous voice: “I’m worried about you, Emma. No husband, no family … You’re getting on.” (But why would any mother worry if her daughter’s boyfriend was John Bishop?)

From that point, it was me who was worried – worried that we’d arrived at Trope Central, where the bold heroine has to have lots of character flaws to make her real.

Hence, we discover she’s a nicotine fiend, drives a battered Volvo and takes in refugees.

The storyline seems well crafted, however, and it becomes more dramatic when we learn Emma is being watched by mysterious people in a large room containing banks of tellies. Where are we? GCHQ? Dixons? An Amazon warehouse?

We didn’t learn too much during Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime (BBC One, Thursday), an hour-long homage to the comedian.

John Byrne painted the Bin Yin as he is now – older, a little grumpy-looking. Jack Vettriano painted the Connolly of the 1980s, beardless and fearless, challenging the elements of northern Scotland. Rachel Maclean dressed him up, coloured his hair and spread on white makeup like she was buttering a chicken and revealed how Connolly would look if he’d been created by Lewis Carroll.

Along the way, there were lots of expected performance clips, lots of archive shots of Glasgow in the 1950s and 60s. And the comedian’s chat with his artists didn’t offer much colour.

Yet that didn’t matter one jot. The tribute to the man who is arguably the world’s greatest comedian featured so much of Connolly doing what he does best: talking and being funny.

“I think the Lord Provost should be made to wear this every day,” he said cheekily of the Alice in Wonderland outfit.

But it revealed so much more. The programme was awash with sentimentality, underpinned by the realisation that the legend is ill. It was a distinctly Scottish way of honouring the man, telling him we think he’s smashing – but not being entirely obvious about it.

Connolly has long had a paradoxical relationship with Glasgow; a man never quite sure if his love was entirely requited.

When his teary eyes saw his 50ft-high imagery on the city’s walls, that notion was painted over entirely.