TOUCHING a doorbell. Hugging the kids. Making a cuppa. Everyday acts, requiring hardly a thought. How could such mundane behaviour, as seen in The Salisbury Poisonings (BBC1, Sunday-Tuesday), become the stuff of recoil?

There had been some doubt over whether now was the right time to screen a drama about the real-life 2018 attempt to kill a former Russian spy and his daughter. We are, after all, currently caught up in our very own health emergency. Would this be the last thing viewers would want to see?

The timing turned out to be perfect. Since we are all virologists now – or at least we think we are – we knew exactly what touching the wrong surface could mean in certain circumstances.

Since filming of The Salisbury Poisonings began last October, the writers could hardly have known the context in which their drama would screen. That it should ring so true is testament to the level of research carried out by Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson, both of whom, you may not be surprised to learn, used to work on Panorama.

Although the drama began with the chilling sight of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia convulsing on a park bench, the Russians were at the centre of the story but not at its heart. The extraordinary tale of the Skripals, and the rogues who travelled from Russia to administer the deadly novichok, were delicately nudged to one side in favour of looking at how the ordinary lives of the people of Salisbury were turned upside down. A trio of characters stood out: the public health official (played by Anne-Marie Duff) whose decisions truly were a matter of life and death; the detective first on the scene

(Rafe Spall); and the only fatality, Dawn Sturgess

(MyAnna Buring).

Over three nights the story unfolded like a thriller. Each strand was strong, but Dawn’s was particularly poignant. An alcoholic who was trying hard to get her life back together, and her daughter home, Dawn did not have much luck in life. But as we saw here, she had a family and she was loved. She mattered.

A wonderful performance by Buring, ditto Duff and Spall. As for the villains of the piece, they remain at large.

I had been looking forward to Art Of Persia (BBC4, Monday), a three-part look at Iranian history and culture. Every documentary-maker boasts about the astonishing access they have managed to secure, how you will never have seen anything like it, roll up, roll up, etc. In the case of Samira Ahmed, however, the bragging rights seemed justified. It is rare indeed to find a western presenter given such freedom to roam. The last one, indeed the only one, I can recall was Monty Don for his Paradise Gardens.

You could see why the Iranian regime might give the green light to a series about gardens, hardly political after all, but history and culture … that could veer into contentious territory. Not on the evidence of the first episode.

In general, Ahmed stuck strictly to the past. Here were tales of ancient kings and battles, palaces filled with magnificent objects, the tide of history coming and going. It ought to have been gripping but it was like trekking through a very large museum with a speed-walking guide who insists on telling you absolutely everything about each exhibit. After half an hour I was desperate for a break.

Remember 1986, when Aussie soap Neighbours hopped on to British screens like a ‘roo on acid? How glamorous it seemed: the houses, the sunshine, Kylie and her perm, the sunshine, Bouncer the dog (played by Bouncer the dog), the sunshine.

The arrival of The Heights (BBC1, Monday) showed a few things have changed with Aussie soaps, but not a lot. Set around a Perth tower block, The Heights was more down to earth than Neighbours. Otherwise, all the soap staples were there: a pub, a prodigal son returning home, stroppy teens and, a classic this one, an abandoned baby.

By the end of episode one (of 30) there was not much to recommend The Heights save for its uniquely Aussie temperament. At a wake for Bill, the recently departed pub landlord, his grandson told mourners: “Bill wasn’t perfect. In fact he was a pain in the a***.” Admirable candour, and not something you ever heard Harold Bishop say. Now, Madge …

Telly welcomed the round ball game back with Premier League Football (Sky Premier League, Wednesday). I only noticed because I had a FaceTime chat with someone of the male persuasion who, I twigged after a while, was clearly not listening to a word I was saying.

Elsewhere, racing fans had to content themselves with ITV Racing Live: Royal Ascot (STV Tuesday). No crowds, everyone in masks, and viewers urged to take part in the fun from home by wearing hats. I fashioned one out of that morning’s Herald. Times are hard.