The Name Of The Rose

9pm, BBC Two

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie


A rose by any other name would smell as sweet; but if we can get a piece of that juicy Game Of Thrones audience action, too, that would be even sweeter.

Such seems to be the philosophy underpinning the new eight-part adaptation of The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco’s 1980 novel of murder and metaphysics at a medieval monastery. I’ll admit I had high hopes for this series. For one thing, an eight-hour running time seemed to allow for deeper engagement with the dense themes and sly style of Eco’s book than was possible in the (excellent) 1986 movie starring Sean Connery. For another, in the role of William Of Baskerville, the Holmesian philosopher monk trying to keep the light of reason burning while solving a dark mystery, the new series offers the great John Turturro, and I’d watch that guy mowing a lawn.

The sinking feeling set in during the opening titles – which, scored to a painfully soundalike theme tune, are the latest in the rash of GoT copycats spreading over the screen – and deepened as the first scene came fading up: a big Thronesy battle, all swords and armour, swiftly followed by a grizzled warlord romping abed with a pliable naked young woman.

To be fair, while none of this has anything to do with the book supposedly being adapted, it could be argued it sketches the bloody, turbulent context of the era against which the story takes place. But that doesn’t excuse how such Name Of Thrones elements then continue to be grafted onto what should be a confined, claustrophobic story: more battles, more boobs, and a whole new character apparently grown from the DNA of Arya Stark, who brings a fistful of made up new subplots with her.

It’s not as if Eco’s 600-page book needs extra elements to flesh it out. Set in 1327, as Baskerville arrives at the isolated Italian monastery to participate in a theological debate over the very future of the church, but gets side-tracked by a spate of gruesome killings among the monks, the 14th century detective story is just the topline of a novel that devotes great passages to inquisitions on religion and philosophy. A Franciscan, Baskerville represents those who argue the church should reject wealth and travel poor as Christ; meanwhile, on the opposing team, Pope John XXII’s gang like the bling and palaces.

Famously, though, all of this is just cover for Eco’s real objective: playing a dense and lively literary game. All semiotics and style, finally, it’s a book about books, with the heart of the mystery buried within the forbidden passages of the monastery’s labyrinthine library.

The new series is at its best when it sticks to Eco: the murder mystery remains sturdy, and some of the novel’s many digressions – the invention of eyeglasses, for example – are nodded at in passing. But its best isn’t that great. Hampered by some terrible performances (step forward Rupert Everett as "the baddie" carved from ham) the whole thing feels terribly flat. It left me wanting to revisit the 1986 movie again; it jettisoned a lot of Eco’s text and ideas, but it still felt rich and strange, dirty and weird.

For great swathes of the TV audience, however, The Name Of The Rose might as well not exist this Friday, because that’s the night Netflix unveils the long-awaited Breaking Bad movie, El Camino, with Aaron Paul reviving the beleaguered character of Jesse Pinkman. Set after the show’s final episode, the big question is whether Bryan Cranston will feature as Walter White in any way…And the small answer is, I don’t know, as no preview material was being released. We’ll find out soon.



Thomas Cook: The Rise & Fall Of Britain’s Oldest Travel Agent 8pm, Channel 4 This documentary might feel a little near the knuckle for anyone who was caught in the fall out as the travel firm collapsed the other week, but you have to hand it to Channel 4 for getting it out so quickly. Founded in 1841, Thomas Cook was one of those high street institutions that seemed set to be around forever. So just how did it seemingly collapse overnight, putting thousands of staff out of work, and leaving 150,000 holidaymakers potentially stranded? The film explores the reasons, tracing the development of the severe financial difficulties that finally sunk the firm, leading to Britain’s biggest ever peace time repatriation operation. With the situation still unfolding, the programme also considers the current position for customers affected – and asks whether a similar collapse is waiting to happen again.


Ian Hislop's Fake News: A True History

9pm, BBC Four

Tackling a favourite subject, Hislop is on fine form with this documentary, taking the long view to show how, while it might have become turbocharged in recent years, “fake news” has long been with us. He begins in 1835, when New York tabloid newspaper The Sun increased its circulation by running stories about startling new discoveries on the moon, including unicorns, and a race of man-bats. But as he takes in yellow journalism and sinister political propaganda, Hislop is serious in intent, exploring how advances in technology that supposedly bring new levels of authenticity have always resulted in also producing new ways to lie. Hearing from recent victims (and creators) of disinformation, he also interviews MP Damian Collins, who chaired the parliamentary inquiry into fake news, about what can be done about it, and the role of tech giants like Facebook.



10pm, ITV2

It’s 15 years since Shaun Of The Dead, and eleven since Charlie Brooker’s brilliant zombies meet Big Brother series, Dead Set. Surely then, enough time has passed to sneak out a new British zombie comedy? Well, that’s pretty debatable, but this plucky, cheap-as-chips post apocalyptic sitcom has a go. Set against a zombie outbreak in Birmingham, our heroes are sisters Kat and Jo (Leah Brotherhead and Cara Theobold), who, reasoning that the living dead can’t swim, reckon the way to survive is to take to the canals on a barge. Unbeknownst to them, they will be sharing their cramped living quarters with two stowaways, fellow survivors Amar and Sunny (Ryan McKen and Hamza Jeetooa), attempting to flee Birmingham after a stag party. This opening episode is fun if thin, but – boat aside – pretty familiar for anyone who knows the territory.


Van Meegeren: The Forger Who Fooled The Nazis 9pm, BBC Four In 1945, shortly after the liberation of Holland, a man called Han van Meegeren was arrested and charged with collaborating with the Nazis. Van Meegeren had made a fortune by selling a masterpiece painting by the Dutch old master Johannes Vermeer to the Nazi Reichsmarschall himself, Hermann Göring – a serious act of cultural betrayal. But when questioned about this crime, van Meegeren offered a startling defence: he hadn’t sold Göring a Vermeer at all. The picture was a fake he’d painted himself – and it was far from the only fake he’d made. In this documentary, Andrew Graham-Dixon unravels the tale of an audacious forgery plot, ponders the question of what makes a masterpiece, and tries to get to the truth about van Meegeren. He’s become a kind of sly folk hero trickster in Holland, but was he always just a cynical opportunist?


Catherine The Great

9pm, Sky Atlantic

I vowed not to watch any more of this howling ball of honk after last week’s opener, but couldn’t resist going back to see if it would get any better, or continue in the same car crash during a waxworks pantomime mode. It doesn’t get better. The series is at such pains to fudge the issue of what age Catherine is supposed to be that it’s hard to tell exactly what period is covered in part two, but, near as I could tell, it whips through 1769–1774 as if it all happened over a long weekend. Cath (supposedly aged 40-45) is troubled by rumours of a pretender to the throne preaching rebellion in the boondocks. Soon, she sends Studs Potemkin (aged roughly 30-35, mm-huh) to deal with him. The script is so bad that sometimes actors are left just standing looking at each other.



9pm, BBC Four

At last. For many, the Breaking Bad movie will be the week’s most exciting TV event, but for some of us the return of the operatically messed-up French cop saga is the high point of the year. Centre stage are Captain Laure Berthaud (the fabulous Caroline Proust), one of the great TV characters, by now suffering under the consequences of past actions, and her devoted sidekick Gilou (Thierry Godard), joined together in a dense, tangled web of emotions. Last series ended with Laure running out on Gilou and her infant baby, and as we return she’s in a lonely place. But she tries to rouse when – no spoilers – a case explodes that’s deeply personal. Elsewhere, lawyer Josephine Karlsson (Audrey Fleurot) is also paying a heavy cost for previous decisions; and Judge Robard (Philippe Duclos) feels time marching on. Brilliant.