Drama’s Summer Weekends

The sun may be shining, but there are some very good reasons to ignore the summer heatwave and stay glued to that screen…

Summer Weekends

THE INSPECTOR LYNLEY MYSTERIES

Why it's ideal summer watching:

There are lots of gorgeous shots of the green, lush British countryside (albeit dotted here and there with dead bodies).

Why it's so binge-able:

It's not just the mysteries themselves that make it so addictive, but also the rocky relationship between Havers and Lynley. Divided by class and wealth, catty and snappy, yet adorably intertwined. We could watch these two filing paperwork on parking tickets and it would be entertaining.

Extra reason to watch:

Lynley's rather magnificent head of hair. Either that, or Havers' annoyed face whenever something winds her up (which is roughly every eight seconds).

INSPECTOR GEORGE GENTLY

Required viewing if you love:

60s nostalgia and/or Martin Shaw. That should cover everybody, really.

But is it summery?:

Well, Gently and Bacchus do go outside quite a bit.

Are there hippies and love-ins and acid trips?:

Actually, what makes George Gently so good is that it's about the real 1960s, as experienced by ordinary people. So the shifting mood of the times, and issues of race and gender and class, are explored with subtle nuance. All that, plus lots of juicy murders.

CALL THE MIDWIFE

What makes it so special:

It's the ultimate, quintessential comfort viewing. It's as comfortable as lying on a plush settee covered with cushions, being brought cocoa by Julie Walters while Monty Don reads aloud a book about gardening.

But it's actually quite dark and sad in parts isn't it?:

That's true. It's actually only 60% incredibly comforting and 40% heartbreaking beyond belief. And yet the net result is still basically like a great big hug from Pam Ferris.

Best watched with:

Usually we'd say a big mug of tea, but it's summer and hot, so opt for a suitably retro soft drink. Dandelion and Burdock, ideally.

JUDGE JOHN DEED

Why it's a perfect match for summer:

It's about a judge who happens to be gratuitously handsome, devastatingly charming and filled with moral integrity while also being a bit of a rogue. In other words, sheer escapist fantasy. And isn't summer all about escapism?

Unlikely reason it's so brilliant:

Only Martin Shaw/John Deed could make a man in a white wig delivering speeches on the legal code seem so attractive.

Possible unintended consequences of watching:

You may develop a strange new obsession with fencing. You may also start referring to your bedroom as your "chambers", much to the annoyance of friends and family.

DEATH IN PARADISE

Why it's better than going on holiday:

It's considerably cheaper than flying to the Caribbean, plus investigating murders is far more entertaining than wedging yourself on an over-crowded tour bus.

Why it always hits the sweet spot:

You get the perfect balance of stunning tropical locations, devious intrigue, and "spot the celebrity" cameos.

But I'm still sad about Ben Miller's character dying:

We all are. Pay him homage by wearing a full suit the next time you go down Blackpool or Brighton beach.

FATHER BROWN

Why it's good for the soul:

The good priest's serene, smiling way of bringing criminals to justice is the perfect calming antidote to all the twisted crime dramas out there. Nordic Noir this is not.

Why it's so summery:

Each episode is like a mini-break to rural Britain. Just look at the names of the filming locations: Broad Campden, Moreton-in-Marsh, Spetchley Park. It couldn't be more idyllically English if it came with a buttered crumpet.

But there's one unsummery thing about it:

Father Brown's big black clerical garb. It must get awful clammy on a hot day. Apologies for making you think about this.

MISS MARPLE

Which Marple is it?:

The one and only Joan Hickson. Who, full credit to every other lady who's played the role, is still THE Miss Marple in our eyes.

Why it's ideal heatwave viewing:

When it's so hot that everything feels hazy and woozy, and thinking too hard gets far too exhausting, just lying back and losing yourself in 80s-era Marple is exactly the thing to do.

Why it's better than actually going on a day trip to a quaint village:

No risk of getting stuck in traffic jams on the way there. Also, no risk of getting carb-guilt after eating a stodgy pie in the local village pub.