In the drama A Spy Among Friends (STV, Sunday) almost everyone is a chap. Even the ladies. By chaps, or to give them their correct pronunciation, “cheps”, is meant members of a British elite who go to the same schools, the same universities, and enter the same professions, which for some meant the espionage game.

SIS agent Nicholas Elliott (Damian Lewis) is a chep. As is Kim Philby (Guy Pearce). Friends and colleagues for more than 20 years, it is Elliott who is sent to Beirut to bring Philby in. His time spying for the Russians is up. Send a chep to catch a chep and all that.

Lily Thomas (Anna Maxwell Martin) is not a chep and never will be. Besides being female, northern, and possessed of an accent (shudder), she works for the common as muck MI5. Despite all these disadvantages, it is Mrs Thomas who is given the task of finding out how Philby escaped to Russia.

Ben Macintyre’s telling of this spy tale and others has earned him comparisons with le Carre, and rightly so. Both writers are more fascinated by people than process, though tradecraft is covered for form’s sake.

Just as every spy writer is inevitably measured against le Carre, so Cold War dramas undergo the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy test. Is Alexander Cary’s dramatisation as good as that 1979 landmark production? Not yet, but it oozes promise.

READ MORE: How Happy Valley's Catherine became a heroine for our times

Everything is just so, from the depiction of London in all its postwar greyness to the performances of the main trio.

There are glimpses into the past, to how the friends met, and the present. Thomas’s interview with Elliott plays out at the same time as his tete-a-tete in Beirut with Philby, and the latter’s debrief by the KGB. Usually such frequent shifts in time and place would be a trial, but the storytelling is brisk and clear.

Lewis, Pearce and Maxwell Martin skirt the cliches of the genre to deliver rounded, believable characters, each one perfectly sized for television. In one outstanding scene, the camera stays close on Elliott’s face as tears of laughter turn to misery at the thought of his friend’s betrayal. Top-drawer stuff.

Heat (Channel 5, Tuesday-Friday) took a look at friendship, but where A Spy Among Friends glided, this Austraila-set thriller waddled along for four nights like an arthritic duck.

Danny Dyer (no I won’t misspell his surname to make some childish joke about his acting ability; he’s not that bad), plays a dad taking his family to see their best friends’ swanky new home in the wilderness.

READ MORE: Kids TV is so woke - and I love it, says Kerry Hudson

Naturally, nothing is as it seems. As in The Holiday, the place is hoaching with secrets that inevitably spill out at the end of each episode to keep you coming back for more.

This being Australia, and climate change being a hot new topic for drama, there is a wildfire coming the holidaymakers’ way. This ought to add to the tension, but the blaze moves at a glacial pace. Only the sex scenes were slower. Everything else was over-heated, from the annoying characters to the bizarre plot developments.

Not content with conquering the UK and America, a certain Dutch show continues its quest for global domination in The Traitors Australia (BBC3, Sunday-Tuesday and iPlayer). The British lot, led by Claudia Winkleman, were endearingly nerdy at playing the ”faithful v traitors” elimination game, while the Americans, given silly things to do by Alan Cumming, were fairly dull.

I’m delighted to say the Aussies take the tone down a dozen notches with contestants who range from oddball to frankly bonkers. I’m particularly taken with Chloe, the “psychic medium”, and her ability to “see” inside people’s bodies and diagnose illness. The police treat her as if she is crazy, she complains, but is she bothered? An example for us all to follow.

Brave Britain with Fergal Keane (BBC1, Tuesday) was one to approach with caution. That cringy title for a start. Add to this a reporter whose heart on sleeve style can be Marmite, and the wariness was justified.

For more TV news and reviews, subscribe here

Keane first met his interviewees at the millennium (remember that?), and followed their stories 7 Up-style, checking in as the decades passed. The first stop was Glasgow, and shipyard worker John Brown.

Brown’s life had been a familiar story of a good guy who had worked hard to provide for his family, always with the shadow of redundancy at his back. Smart, considered, and funny, he was in many ways a dream subject, as was Danny, a young father who once feared he would be stuck on the dole for life, like his da. Even so, Keane got that little bit extra from them. He had clearly earned their trust.

“Never write anyone off” was one of the lessons Keane took from Danny, offered an apprenticeship as a result of one of the films. Note to self: don’t judge a programme by its title.