Dear old Glasgow, how times have changed when it comes to crime dramas. It used to be you could get a decent-sized murder in Taggart, complete with rocking theme tune, and still have enough left over for a storyline on Take the High Road.

Now the place has gone fancy. The Glasgow in Annika (BBC1, Saturday) is home to the newly formed Marine Homicide Unit no less. The MHU deals with water-linked murders, ie those involving boats and the sea and stuff. I don’t think being found face down in a puddle counts.

Helping to head the team is DI Annika Strandhed, played by Nicola Walker, who used to be DCI Cassie Stuart in Unforgotten. Two very different characters. Annika, for a kick-off, is from Norway and knows a lot about Norse mythology. Her high conviction rate won her promotion over local officer DS Michael McAndrews (Jamie Sives, fresh from his shift on Guilt).

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McAndrews is narked at being passed over, but at the same time he likes the cut of Annika’s jib. Also in the unit, which resembles the offices of some tech startup, are a pair of hip young guns and Kate Dickie as the big boss, DCI Diane Oban (no relation to the port, I think).

Every TV detective needs a schtick. Annika’s is breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to viewers. It is a device that can get old quickly but it’s Nicola Walker for goodness sake. Who wouldn’t want to be on the other end of her wry asides?


Annika began life as a Radio 4 drama before transferring to television (Alibi). The move to BBC1 is its big break. The first episode does it few favours, though. There’s so much time spent introducing characters the crime itself - bloke, harpoon through head - seems an afterthought. Then again, it’s the characters that make Annika stand out in a crowded market. By episode two everything starts to gel nicely, with Dickie’s left-field take on the traditionally grumpy police chief a particular joy.

Maryland (STV, Monday-Wednesday) featured another small screen favourite, Suranne Jones, as one half of sisters Becca and Rosaline. Becca and Rosaline (Eve Best) were not best friends forever kind of sisters. Both were demanding in their own ways, Rosaline the cool career type living in London, Becca the harassed one who had stayed at home in Manchester, the family linchpin.

A call out of the blue sends both to the Isle of Man, where their mother, Mary, has been found dead. What was she doing there when she was meant to be in Wales? It’s the first in a series of shocks that keep coming over three nights.

The question at the heart of the drama is how well we really know anyone. Maryland overdoes it on the revelation front, and towards the end there was a danger of it veering into Mike Leigh/EastEnders shoutfest territory.

But overall it was a beautifully played, highly engaging piece, directed, funnily enough, by Sue Tully (the small screen artist previously known as Michelle Fowler of Albert Square). At times it felt like a Joanna Hogg film so delicately did it peel back the layers. All that plus Stockard Channing playing Mary’s American friend Cathy, a woman with her own secrets to keep.

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Great British Dog Walks with Phil Spencer (More 4, Thursday) featured the Location stalwart sans his Kirstles. Allsopp’s place was taken by another female, Luna, who can run up a hill in a flash and whose poo is a collector’s item. Yes, Luna is a dog, a ten-months old German short-haired Pointer to be precise, as opposed to Kirstie, an English long-haired gesticulator.

Luna and Phil are setting out to walk from one coast of England to the other, meeting celebs and their dogs on the way for a chat. Their first guests were Mark Billingham, from SAS: Who Dares Wins, and his British bulldog Alfie. Phil introduced the ex-special forces soldier as a man who “probably wrote the book on how to be an Alpha male.” Phil was clearly in awe.

Never fear dear, you’ll do for us. I had never realised before how attractive Phil is. Not only does he know about property, he’s a dog lover to boot. If he could run a vacuum round unbidden I’d marry him tomorrow.

Given the title, here’s hoping the next series (of course there will be one) takes place in Scotland and they’ll need new guests. The queue starts behind me.

Welcome back The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC1, Wednesday). Among the 12 contestants showing off their skills was Maria, an A&E nurse from Fife.

Sewing Bee gets more competitive, yet lovelier, each year, which has much to do with judges Esme “I love a gusset” Young, Patrick “the tache” Grant, and Sara “Joe Lycett? Who he?” Pascoe as host. Pascoe sent Esme and Patrick off during the blind judged round, saying they were off to work on a detective spin-off sewing show called Snitches Get Stitches. Well it made me laugh.