ACTRESSES used to complain that they went from playing youths to mothers with nothing between or after. That is no longer true. The screens are filling up with middle-aged women, which is a good thing. Alas, they are often to be found playing characters who are a hot mess of insecurities and flakiness, which is bad. Flaky is for dandruff commercials, not women.

Take our Julia, the central character in new drama Gold Digger (BBC1, Tuesday). Julia has just woken alone on her 60th birthday. It is raining. Bit of a bummer, but she has a big house in Devon, three grown children, a villa and investments, so on balance she is doing okay.

She catches a train to London for a celebration dinner with the children, but they have either forgotten or cannot be chuffed, so she takes herself off to a museum instead.

A young man, half her age, initiates conversation. In the glass case they are looking at there is a card saying “object removed” and he, Benjamin, wonders what it was. A 520BC warrior woman, says Julia, who used to work there as a conservator. What’s a conservator, the young man asks. God, he’s annoying. It basically involves halting the march of time, says she. Warrior women, march of time. Are you getting all these heavy narrative hints? I’ve seen “accident ahead” signs on motorways that were less obvious.

Before you can say, “Sorry, luvs, I’m not buying any of this”, the pair are back in her hotel room and he’s asking her to dance, because that’s the kind of thing Strictly-watching women her age fantasise about, innit?

A series of ever more unlikely scenarios and conversations later and she brings him to meet her brats, who are suitably horrified and suspect he is after mum’s money. By episode end, one of six, the kids hate Benjamin and he hates them. Something tells me Gold Digger is going to be a couple of objects short of a full museum display, but not in a good, Doctor Foster, way.

I don’t recall if First Dates (Channel 4, Tuesday) has ever tried a spring-autumn match, but it is six-years-old now, practically ancient in telly terms, so anything might have gone before.

The new season upheld the notion that if the format ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and subsequently was a treat. There was Tom, 18, and Abbey, 19. Tom was unsure if a chicken was a bird. Abbey did not want to goon a second date in the end, but she did offer to give Tom some courting tips. Jessica and Liam laughed their respective socks off, always a good sign, while Keely only said yes to seeing Ben again after asking him to take his top off. (Definitely not one to try at home, kids.) Dottie and Jonathan were old enough to be everyone’s grandparents and got along just dandy, too.

Most had experienced, or were still going through, a sadness in their lives. None of it was pressed upon the viewer, X-Factor-style. Subjects from caring for a loved one to the pain of separation arose naturally in conversation, or as naturally as they can on a reality show, because they were part of who the people were.

More moistness around the eye area was prompted by Gary Lineker: My Grandad’s War (BBC1, Monday). Although it sounded like it was going to be a sort of Who Do You Think Your Grandad Was?, the programme was more nuanced than that. Stanley Abbs, “Grandad Stan” to the former England captain turned television presenter, served in the Italian campaign in the medical corps. Those sent to Italy were nicknamed the “D-Day Dodgers”, as if they had spent the war on easy street. As Lineker, with the help of veterans and historians showed, it was anything but a cushy number. The troops fought their way across mountains and rivers, the Germans bombarding them at every turn. It was the bloodiest campaign the Allies fought in the West, with 46,000 dead at the end of it. Lineker did well to hold off on the tears as long as he did. As one old soldier said: “Anyone who says they weren’t frightened is either telling lies or they weren’t there.”

Quick mentions in despatches to two smashing new books programmes: Novels that Shaped our World (BBC2 Saturday) and The Big Scottish Book Club (BBC Scotland, Sunday). The latter was hosted by Damian Barr (like Lineker another TV natural) and felt welcoming and fun while being serious about the joys of reading.

Finally, there was the finale of Guilt (BBC Scotland, Thursday). For once, the “only for viewers in Scotland” caveat paid off, with us lot getting to see this black comedy gold before the rest of the UK, who have to wait till next Wednesday to find out how the Fargoesque romp ends. Created and written by Neil Forsyth, Guilt has been a revelation, from the quality of the writing and performances to the superb use of location. Bravos and Baftas, UK and Scottish, all round please.