Published: 22:17, 4 December 2014 | Updated: 23:30, 4 December 2014
Castles: A Fortified History
Every female character wanted sex killer Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan) to ravish her in the first series
The Fall (BBC2) is a porn movie with an A-level in psychology.
It’s a sadistic fantasy that enlists us as complicit voyeurs, and anyone who pretends it’s just escapist drama is lying to themselves. In a word, it is vile.
The first series glorified rape. Every female character wanted sex killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) to ravish her, because he had such brooding eyes and a muscular chest.
His wife hated him but couldn’t resist him, the 15-year-old babysitter was pleading to be molested, and the policewoman heading the hunt for him was so aroused by his sexual aura that the buttons pinged off her blouse in a press conference.
Viewing figures regularly exceeded two million, enough to get a second series, and this time The Fall is an extended fantasy that the rapist has control over every woman in his life — the kind of daydream that a dysfunctional and deeply immature man might secretly harbour.
Spector’s wife has left him now, but she can’t cope for an hour on her own. She leaves endless phone messages, which he ignores with a cruel smile.
He pays a visit to his latest victim, whom he battered in her bedroom and left close to death; she falls halfway in love with him after one conversation.
Spector’s murdered victims haunt him, materialising at the corner of his eye, wearing silk lingerie. Even when they’re dead, these women can’t help themselves.
Meanwhile, the babysitter lets him tie her to a hotel bed with her tights and school tie, while she begs: ‘Do it, kill me’.
The pervy hotel-keeper is peering at them through the spyhole, and the implication is plain: that’s exactly what we’re doing too.
And then there’s Stella, the sultry bisexual policewoman played by Gillian Anderson, who purrs every line with an ache and a throb like she’s wearing a mink coat and no knickers in a Seventies ad for Cinzano Bianco.
Deluded fans of the show have claimed that this is a modern-day crime story, but it’s no such thing.
As a murder hunt, it makes no sense: the ‘Belfast strangler’ is allowed to swan around his home city, even though the police have enough evidence to convict him ten times over.
Then there’s Stella, the sultry bisexual policewoman played by Gillian Anderson (pictured) who purrs every line with an ache and a throb like she’s wearing a mink coat and no knickers
Every minute of the show is steeped in cheap stripclub eroticism. The lithe pathologist turns up to murder scenes on a massive motorcycle and proceeds to unzip her leathers very slowly before she greets any of her colleagues.
I’d like to see her try that with Inspector Morse — his sarcasm would be so caustic, it would take the rubber off her tyres.
Most revolting of all is the mortuary porn. The Fall never misses a chance to serve up a naked female cadaver on a slab.
LONG SUFFERING WIT OF THE WEEK
Railway station manager Gary Brownlie was under pressure in The Railway (C5) as endless floods halted trains and angry passengers demanded transport.
‘If you bear with me,’ he announced, ‘I’m going to do a little dance for sunshine.’
Thank goodness for British humour.
After a woman’s body was discovered, Stella went to the morgue to sigh huskily over her remains.
Despite the fact that the corpse had lain rotting in the woods for days, a couple of hours in the freezer had restored it to Page Three pertness, with a bluish tinge.
Thankfully, there was a genuinely strong woman on the box last night: the Empress Matilda, who fought a civil war against her cousin Stephen in the 1140s after he usurped the English crown.
Dr Sam Willis, in Castles: A Fortified History (BBC4), told how the king’s men trapped Matilda at Oxford.
Instead of succumbing to Stephen’s irresistable masculinity, as she would in The Fall, Matilda planned a daring breakout, escaping through enemy lines by night. Then she regrouped her army and forced Stephen to agree terms . . . including a deal to name her son Henry as the future king.
Dr Sam enjoys his history rough and rambunctious. He illustrated his tales with cigarette cards featuring portraits of English monarchs, then got stuck into a bowl of spiced porridge and treated himself to a gold pigeon made from marchpane, a medieval kind of marzipan.
He washed that down with a beaker of cold mulled wine. It set his teeth on edge, but he kept swigging till it was all gone . . . in the interests of historical accuracy, of course.