SINCE the movie Broadcast News any drama set in a TV newsroom must include a running scene.

You know the type of thing: it’s a minute to air time and there’s a change to the big story. Some lowly staffer does a Chariots of Fire with the tape, jumping over obstacles and swerving round people on the way to the gallery where the cassette is slammed into the machine with a second to spare. Phew.

New Australian drama The Newsreader (BBC2, Sunday) opened in such a fashion. I had high hopes for this one, and it did not disappoint.

Set in 1986, the characters, on the face of it, were familiar. There was an ambitious newbie, an old warhorse, and so on. Yet each had a twist and a story to tell, not least Helen Norville (Anna Torv), the anchor waging war against the dinosaurs upstairs. The news business was changing fast, but were all the changes for the good?

If that sounds too meeja studies there was plenty of workplace drama to enjoy, including a blossoming romance. Major stories of the time, such as the dingo in the desert case, were revisited. Plus, in keeping with the period there were shoulder-pads and big hair as far as the eye can see (and yes, that was just the men).

The Great (Channel 4, Wednesday) roared back for a second series, just as delightfully anarchic as ever. Tony McNamara’s punk take on Catherine, Empress of Russia (Elle Fanning) and her crazy man-child of a husband Peter (Nicholas Hoult) is famously “an occasionally true story”. But for a portrait of politics red in tooth and claw this comedy drama hits the mark every time.

When the new run of ten episodes began a pregnant Catherine had deposed her husband. He was holed up in the palace and refusing to leave. For some reason the name Boris came to mind.

Unashamedly bawdy, The Great’s humour won’t be for everyone. Fanning, however, is irresistible as Catherine, the ultimate survivor who wants to drag Russia into the modern age, gawd help her.

Helen Mirren spoke about her Russian roots when she sat down with Melvyn Bragg for The South Bank Show (Sky Arts, Wednesday).

Mirren was dressed in regal scarlet, her arms folded as if to ward off the inevitable intrusion to come. The guard was soon dropped. How could it not be when it was Melvyn, dear Melvyn, asking the questions?

Bragg happily poured praise on his subject, and between the pair of them the luvvie-ometer did go past 11 every now and then.

But like Mirren he was prepared to laugh at himself, which is always charming. At one point he praised the “interiority” of Mirren’s performance in The Queen. “Is there such a word?” teased Mirren. “If there isn’t I made it up,” he batted back. She laughed. He laughed. I laughed, and the awkward moment passed. (For the record there is such a word. How could you doubt Melvyn?)

It was only towards the end of the hour that I realised that Bragg had not asked her anything very personal, save for some stuff about her childhood. We are so used to interviewers “dabbling their fingers in the stuff of other people’s souls”, as one critic of the coverage of Charles and Diana put it, that it seems odd when they do not. Bragg is not a dabbler, but he is a pro. His final question was about regrets, roads not taken and all that. “Never did Chekhov,” she said. Of all the personal things she might have divulged she chose not to, yet the viewer, or this one anyway, did not feel they had missed out.

Neighbours (Channel 5, Friday), everyone’s favourite Aussie soap opera that they haven’t watched in years, finally bowed out. At least I think it did. Had this been Emmerdale or Corry, a plane or tram crash would have wiped out Ramsay Street in a flash. Instead there has been some hopelessly convoluted tale about a developer buying the houses.

All the old faces turned up for a farewell bash, and I mean old. The interiors that used to seem so swish looked just as tired. Yet here was plain Jane superbrain and Mike (Annie Jones and Guy Pearce) discovering they still had feelings for each other; there was Charlene and Scott (Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, together forever. Harold Bishop, Susan and Karl Kennedy, the gang was all here and the flashbacks were ready to play.

Bouncer the Labrador, whose achievements have included getting married and saving Madge from a chip pan fire, was alas not present. He’s still living happily on a farm up north.

Wouldn’t you know it, there was last minute change of heart on the buy out, but was everyone staying, going, what? Who knows. The music played, the titles ran and that was it for Neighbours, daft to the last.