The Nest

9pm, BBC One

Filmed around Glasgow, and actually set in the city (the one doesn’t always follow the other), the five-part series The Nest isn’t without flaws, but its opening episode is more immediately interesting than many of the dramas that land in BBC One’s Sunday night primetime showcase window.

Partly, it’s an intriguing plot that leaves you keen to see how it will develop. Partly, it’s the way that script is delivered by a cast led by Martin Compston, Sophie Rundle and newcomer Mirren Mack, and featuring unpredictable faces like David Hayman and Paul Brannigan. And partly it’s just the way it looks: shot with light, flexible cameras, utilising hand-held work and the odd aerial drone shot, it simultaneously has a high-def sheen and a low-budget feel that lends it an edgy, slightly woozy present-tense texture.

Compston and Rundle play Dan and Emily Docherty, an aggravatingly affluent young couple whose life seems as glossily perfect as a Sunday supplement lifestyle spread. He’s a suited and booted boy from the wrong side of the tracks who has made good, and made himself a fortune as a developer – people mutter darkly about him owning half of Glasgow, and how he managed it. Emily, meanwhile, is posher, hailing from someplace nice down south. She spends her days conducting lovely choirs and looking happy, and they spend their nights together sipping wine in a dream home whose enormous glazed walls look out over shining grey water, talking idly about jetting to Brazil as if planning a trip to Tesco.

But there is a wound at the centre of their life together. Emily is unable to have the child she so wants so badly. After rounds of failed IVF, her sadness is sharpened when Dan’s sister, who had agreed to act as a surrogate, suffers a miscarriage. With only one viable frozen embryo left, and so much pain already, Dan reckons they should leave off the attempt for a while, if not for good. But Emily is growing frantic – which is when she runs into Kaya (a strikingly believable performance by Mack), an eighteen-year-old brimming with attitude, who suddenly looks like being the miracle solution she’s been praying for.

Emily literally runs into her, when, while driving her gleaming Range Rover through town one night, Kaya comes running out from the shadows into the road and goes bouncing off her bumper. The girl clearly has trouble coming after her, but proves sharp and smart when it comes to insinuating herself into Emily’s life and reading her weaknesses. Soon, Kaya has Emily convinced that she is the surrogate she needs. Dan, instantly recognising the kind of trouble and scheming he knew intimately on the streets when he was growing up, is not convinced. But Emily is desperate, and Kaya gets ever closer.

Written by Nicole Taylor – continuing a series of pieces about troubled young women after her Glasgow-Nashville country music movie Wild Rose, and her excellent script for Three Girls, about the Rochdale child abuse ring – it’s a confident, sometimes unsettling updating of the old cuckoo-in-the-nest story, and, around the figure of Emily, a spin on the old noir standby of someone with a comfortable life being dragged into a darker, wilder side.

Even though it plays a little awkwardly in places (some of those drone shots of tasty, shiny architecture can look like something from a from glossy city council promotional video; the soundtrack is a little over insistent; and the pacing of the first episode can be weirdly slow) it gets its hook in. In fact, it’s maybe all the rough edges left lurking amid the gloss that help give it an extra edge of life, and keep you wondering.



Putin: A Russian Spy Story

9pm, Channel 4

“Small, but a fierce fighter” – that’s the summary report of Vladimir Putin’s years as a chippy schoolboy in the playgrounds of St Petersburg, one of the many memorable comments crammed into this fully fascinating three-part profile. This first episode attempts to lift the curtain of the man’s consciously enigmatic persona to chart the facts of his rise: from a lowly stint in the KGB; to his time in the mayor’s office of his hometown; to his still-mysterious leap to heading the KGB’s replacement body, the FSB; to his (first) stint as president in 2000. Exploring how he has employed a knowledge of spycraft to further his political ends, a wealth of archive stills and footage is used to illustrate Putin’s own words and the testimony of some of those close to him – and some who have borne the brunt of his actions.


The Mandalorian

Disney +

Four months after its US launch, the entertainment giant’s much-anticipated streaming service arrives here tonight, offering not only classic and new productions from Disney itself, but content from brands like Marvel (Tom Hiddleston’s Loki series is due next year), and the Star Wars franchise. For many, the first port of call will be this new serial set in the latter universe, following the eponymous antihero (Pedro Pascal), a Boba Fett-style bounty hunter on the trail of a mysterious target. With frequent references to Star Wars lore and tech that fans will adore, writer/ director Jon Favreau crafts a fun, moody sci-Spaghetti adventure, with Pascal in full Clint Eastwood mode as the helmeted killer with no face. The performance to treasure in the opening episode, though, is Werner Herzog’s turn as the shady client who sends the Mandalorian on his secretive mission.



10pm, Sky One

Dyed in the wool fans of Mel (Giedroyc) and Sue (Perkins) will undoubtedly rejoice to see the pair reunited, and might get a lot out of the duo’s new sitcom venture – although more casual admirers might see it as evidence that their style is better suited to the looser, less scripted presenting gigs they’ve become familiar for in recent years. The set up is that they are a pair of contract killers, but still also Mel & Sue, and so spend much of the time bickering and chuntering nonsensical small talk between executions. But every line (and line reading) comes across as very “written,” and the thing begins to flatline quickly. It might have worked better if it had appeared 10 years before Killing Eve. Nice cast, though, with appearances by Jason Watkins, Sian Clifford, and Asim Chaudhry.


Mark Kermode's Secrets Of Cinema

9pm, BBC Four

Where America has its great outdoors for Westerns and its teeming cities for crime movies, Kermode argues tonight, the quintessential genre for British cinema has always been the historical drama. For one thing, from the Romans through the Tudors to a couple of world wars to losing an empire, there’s just more history here to draw on. Exploring how our national story has been portrayed on the big screen (not always with 100 per cent accuracy), Kermode ponders why filmmakers are repeatedly drawn to certain periods, and characters, whether it’s the frontier narrative of the Roman occupation, or the Mafia-like machinations of the Tudor court. Films under the microscope include The Private Life Of Henry VIII, The Favourite, Braveheart and Zulu. Stay tuned afterward for a screening of Cromwell, with Richard Harris’s formidable Oliver up against Alec Guinness’s uncompromising Charles I.


Rock'n'Roll Island: Where Legends Were Born 9.30pm, BBC Four We’re not exactly short of documentaries on the R&B explosion that gave birth to Britain’s rock’n’roll scene in the 1960s, but director Cheryl Robson’s film boasts so much great music and archive it still rips across the screen. Her focus is Eel Pie Island, a tiny speck in the river in South-West London, which in the early 1960s became the crucible from which a sharp new sound emerged, as a generation of young musicians in love with black American music flocked to play the island’s hotel, giving birth to “the Thames beat.” Among the acts to were The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Who, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and The Faces. Interviewees including Rod Stewart, Yardbird Top Topham, and Kinks drummer Mick Avory are among those recalling hot nights on the legendary bouncing dancefloor.