WEATHER forecasters can be a brutal bunch. All that raining on parades for a living must harden the heart. The other day one announced, straight out, that summer was over. Finito. End of. From here on it was one long slide into winter and black ice on the pavements. Thanks, pal.

What the weather bletherer should have done is tie the bad news to something good. Certainly, the arrival of autumn involves saying goodbye to any feeling in your extremities till next March, but it also means saying hello to rich, hearty dramas, the kind of fare you can stand a spoon in.

Two such shows launched last week. A Confession (STV, Monday, 9pm) declared its quality from the off. Written by Jeff Pope (Philomena, Little Boy Blue) and based on a true story, it was directed by Paul Andrew Williams (Broadchurch, Murdered by My Boyfriend) and had a cast that stretched from Martin Freeman and Imelda Staunton to John Thomson and Siobhan Finneran, any one of whom could headline a drama on their own.

It was a complex story involving several strands, but so expertly paced and set out that the viewer was in deep, and up to speed, before they knew it. A young woman had failed to come home after a night out. While her family and friends said all the usual things to comfort each other, their faces told another story. “This is going to be bad,” confided mum (Finneran) to her son, and you knew in the pit of your sickened stomach that she was right.

Living on the same street was another mother (Staunton) whose daughter had not been home in 8 years. But mum still bought clothes for her, there had been a sighting of her recently, and the family refrain was, “She’ll be home this year.” The missing are never missing from the thoughts of those who love them. Outstanding performances all round, with Martin Freeman a natural as a copper who has seen it all and wishes he had not. Looking at his weary face, young Tim from The Office seemed a very long time ago.

Youth in all its fresh out of the wrapper energy and intensity was to the fore in the season's other new drama, The Capture (BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm). Holliday Grainger played a ridiculously young Detective Inspector who had to be addressed as “ma’am” by juniors who had a good few years on her. The casting worked because DI Carey was a fast-tracker, or as her new boss calls her kind, a “draft dodger” because of how little time they spent in uniform.

At the centre of this tale was another missing woman, this one a barrister. She was last seen on CCTV talking to her client, a soldier who had been charged with a wrongful killing and freed when the video evidence was judged to be flawed. As in A Confession, the story kept its secrets close. We did not see the crucial CCTV footage till the end, but we did observe the face of the CCTV operator (Scots actor Sharon Rooney) as she watched, and that was enough. Show, don’t tell: first rule of drama. When it works, it works.

Darren McGarvey's Scotland (BBC Scotland, Tuesday, 10pm) was a surprise. No mean achievement for a documentary series looking at poverty and its accompanying miseries. How many programmes have been made on that subject? How many articles written? You had to wonder what new there could possibly be to say. A lot, as it turned out.

McGarvey, an author and rapper, went to Dundee, “Europe’s drugs death capital”, to find out how it had been landed with a label no city wants. What followed could have been the usual to and fro of documentaries: a quick look at the situation followed by a whirl of statistics, competing experts, and some official bod setting out what they were doing to help.

Instead, McGarvey had clearly taken time to get to know his interviewees, among them a young woman and her mother and grandmother. They had done everything they could to get her to stop taking drugs, but to no avail. The people he spoke to were at ease with him, and opened up accordingly. It helped that as a recovering addict he could offer personal insights, but he brought something more valuable to the table – an open mind.

It has not all been on the money this week. The Cash Machine (STV, Sunday, 7pm) was a new quiz show that scored highly on the daft and tedious fronts. The only standout was the host, Lorraine Kelly, who jollied the contestants along in best nursery worker fashion. Everyone was praised for the slightest thing, including putting their hand up to go to the toilet (I jest, just). Involving lots of dull business about cash machines, the show took forever to get going and then the time was up. But never mind. The hour long length allowed for lots of ad breaks, so at least someone cashed in.