TV boxsets of the week: Line of Duty, Last Tango in Halifax and Friends

Here are the latest recommendations from The Yorkshire Post features team on television shows worth catching up on.

The American sitcom Friends, which spoke to a generation, is on Netflix. Photo: Neil Munns/PA

Line of Duty

Available on BBC iPlayer

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Review by Yvette Huddleston

At the Yorkshire premiere of the fifth series of Last Tango in Halifax, Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi on the red carpet at the Square Chapel in Halifax. Picture: Tony Johnson

Right from the outset, Jed Mercurio’s outstandingly good crime drama set the bar very high for the genre, and continues to do so.

The master of the twisting, keep-you-guessing narrative and the tense on-the-edge-of-your-seat set piece, Mercurio is in total command of his material as he skilfully weaves multiple plotlines through the overarching story of a team of police officers rooting out corruption in the force under the leadership of Superintendent Ted Hastings (a towering performance from Adrian Dunbar).

Hastings is well-meaning yet flawed, avuncular but not one to suffer fools gladly (“for the love of God!”), and like all Mercurio’s creations, is a rounded, relatable and believable character.

The working partnership between detectives Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and their – sometimes severely tested – friendship is at the heart of each series.

There have been five so far. A sixth is in the pipeline, hopefully to be aired towards the end of this year, but in the meantime you can catch up or rewatch all the previous ones on BBC iPlayer.

Some of the lengthy interrogation scenes are like mini-plays in themselves. They demand a huge amount from the actors – who include a first-class rosta of guest stars such as Keeley Hawes, Daniel Mays, Thandie Newton and Stephen Graham – all of whom rise magnificently to the challenge every time. Well worth revisiting.

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Friends

Available on Netflix

Review by Catherine Scott

I was 18 when the American sitcom about a group of 20-something friends living in adjacent apartments in New York hit our shores and our TV screens.

I was immediately hooked by the characters and their friendship (and the questions we were all asking “which one are you most like?” and “can I have a Rachel haircut please?”)

I wanted to spend time with Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel and Phoebe and I definitely wanted to be Joey’s friend too.

I wanted to hang out in the Central Perk coffee shop, to laugh with them and to cry with them as they tackled life’s ups and downs.

Friends screened 236 episodes from September 1994 to May 2004. We felt it was a sitcom of our time and yet now my teenagers are addicted to it – its appeal is timeless.

And at a time when we need our friends more than ever, even from a safe distance, its harmless humour is an antidote to the feeling of panic and anxiety we are all feeling at the moment.

Last Tango in Halifax

Available on BBC iPlayer

Review by Yvette Huddleston

Talk about a dream team. A multi-award-winning screenwriter, a pair of much-loved, top-class veteran thesps plus two of the most acclaimed TV actresses of their generation; Last Tango in Halifax was bound to be a success. (And that’s even before you take into consideration the glorious Yorkshire setting).

First appearing on our screens in 2012, Sally Wainwright’s comedy-drama was inspired by the heart-warming true story of her mother and stepfather who were childhood friends, lost contact and 60 years later reconnected through social media and were married within six months. Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi play Celia Dawson and Alan Buttershaw, respectively.

Both widowed and in their 70s, they are persuaded to join Facebook by their grandchilden which enables them to rediscover each other and rekindle their teenage romance.

Initially this doesn’t go down too well with Anne’s headmistress daughter Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) and Alan’s tenant farmer daughter Gillian (Nicola Walker). Their own lives are pretty complicated.

Caroline is coping with the breakdown of her marriage to louche academic John (Tony Gardner) due to his affair with a student (Ronni Ancona) and her own growing attraction to her colleague Kate (Nina Sosanya). Meanwhile Gillian has financial difficulties and seems to have the knack of getting involved with the wrong man.

There is conflict and joy, laughter and tears, heartbreak and happiness and a whole lot of spot-on observations on family dynamics, love and relationships. Treat yourself – all five series are now available on BBC iPlayer.

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