Watching your favourite TV shows, you always hope they had as much fun making it as you do watching it.
You don’t want to hear about backstage tantrums, feuds with producers over pay and stars battling depression – it spoils a mental image of a gang all together, doing the show right here, making it for the love of the thing.
That’s why these BBC docu-dramas about the stars and show of yesteryear make such uncomfortable viewing.
We see Frankie Howerd or Kenny Everett struggling with their sexuality; Hughie Green battling drink and a string of love affairs; Tony Hancock trying to combat his own ego and depression. So it was with trepidation that I approached We’re Doomed: The Dad’s Army Story (BBC2, Tuesday, 9pm).
It could have destroyed the illusion of this tight-knit group having the time of their lives in the roles of their lives. Fortunately, it was carried off with immense charm, and a bucketload of affection for the show, created by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. Perry (Paul Ritter) was a struggling actor in the late ’60s failing to get parts and becoming increasingly bitter. Croft (Richard Dormer) was a BBC producer struggling to find his way – and a hit.
Fortunately, they found each other, and an enduring professional partnership was formed. The two assembled an almost perfect cast – Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn and all –and Dad’s Army was a massive hit.
The actors playing the actors were similarly perfect – John Sessions unrecognisable as Lowe, Mark Heap as Dunn, incredibly Julian Sands was rescued from straight-to-DVD hell to play Le Mesurier as a louche charmer.
A real winter warmer.
In contrast, Luther (BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm) came to an – apparent – end in a welter of blood and bullets, with tantalising hints of more series to come, with Patrick Malahide’s Cockney mobster replacing Ruth Wilson’s Alice as Luther’s criminal counterpart, Laura Haddock as the possibly psychic love interest and Rose Leslie as the put-upon novice sidekick.
More gore, less police procedural, and it might just work.