SOMETIMES you have to hand it to life’s bread and circuses department. Originally set up by the Romans, and now to be found on the ground floor just past accounts, they do come up with some wizard ideas to divert us, the masses, from the daily grind.

Say, for instance, you have started the new year feeling worried about the fast-approaching Brexit (January 31 should you want to get the nibbles in for the party/wake). Why not push those troubles aside for 90 minutes and watch celebrities in fancy costumes murder popular songs in The Masked Singer (ITV, Saturday-Sunday)?

The show began in America last year and is now over here. Twelve celebrities, their identities hidden and speaking voices disguised, sing for a judging panel that includes Jonathan Ross and Davina McCall. The contestant judged the weakest then has to reveal who they are. On Saturday, Queen Bee, dressed as a bee, stung Duck, dressed as a … well, you get the idea, while Chameleon tried to burst Hedgehog’s bubble, and Unicorn wanted to trample Butterfly into the dust.

While meant to be terribly wacky and such fun, it was a bad case of trying too hard. Everything took forever, so much so that by the end I did not give a hoot who was behind the mask. It could have been Barack Obama or Nicola Sturgeon (it wasn't), I would still have been bored silly.

Within minutes of White House Farm (ITV, Wednesday) beginning, the viewer felt transported back to the mid-Eighties. In Essex a phone rang at a rural police station. A man, Jeremy Bamber, said his father had just called him in distress, and could the police get round there. When officers arrived at the farmhouse they found Bamber’s parents, his sister, and her twin boys, aged six, shot dead. The sister, who had mental health problems, was thought to have committed the murders then killed herself. Those who remember the case will know all was not as it seemed.

Written by Kris Mrksa (The Slap, Underbelly), the drama skilfully conveyed the horror of the scene without being exploitative. When the chief, Taff (Stephen Graham, alas showing that the Welsh accent is not one he can turn his hand to), wants things to be wrapped up quickly, it is a measure of how riveting the drama is that you genuinely fear that will be that, case closed.

Gripping performances from Mark Addy as the DS who has lots of questions he wants answered, and Freddie Fox as the ever watchful Bamber.

Deadwater Fell (Channel 4, Friday) is in an odd slot in the schedule. Friday evenings are generally not when viewers seek out dramas, particularly when they are as bleak as this one looks set to be.

The opening titles contrasted the sodden remains of a burnt out family home with the cheery primary colours in the local nursery. Something terrible had clearly come the way of the small Scots village of Kirkdarroch.

As day dawned, four people were dead and the only remaining family member, local GP Tom Kendrick (David Tennant) was in intensive care.

As in White House Farm, appearances were deceptive. By the end of episode one, writer Daisy Coulam (Grantchester) had started a deep dig into the apparently idyllic world of the Kendricks and their good friends the Campbells. A cracking cast, which also includes Cush Jumbo (The Good Wife), seals the deal on a repeat visit.

Two new sitcoms were wheeled out this week: King Gary (BBC1, Friday) and The Scotts (BBC1 Scotland, Monday).

There is a part of my cold, hard reviewer’s heart that goes out to any sitcom creator. The success rate is up there with the lottery. Many try, few win, and even the successful ones take a while to get going. Fawlty Towers was not built in a day, you know.

So when I say The Scotts was a complete waste of space I do so with love. Created by Burnistoun’s Iain Connell and Robert Florence, the titular family was a collection of grotesques and cliches.

King Gary had an advantage in that the central character was played by Tom Davis, the big lug detective in spoof crime drama Murder in Successville (seek it out; it's a giggle).

Gary is a Cockney builder with a Cockney wife and a Cockney dad (Simon Day, who played a Cockney character in the Fast Show). If you don’t like Cockneys, you’ve had it.

The supposedly comical situation in episode one was gentle giant Gary being bullied by one of his builders.

It was far from laugh out loud funny, but the characters were at least likeably OTT.

I’ll give it another whirl, and if it still fails to come up with the bubble baths, I’ll grab my weasel and stoat and head for the Brexit.