My kids used to like a book called The Busy World of Richard Scarry, in which animals dressed as humans scurried about, going to work or enjoying their leisure time, all being terribly busy and pressed for time.
But Richard Scarry’s world is nowhere near as busy as that inhabited by Kate (Ashley Jensen) in Kay Mellor’s new drama Love, Lies and Records (BBC1, Thursdays, 9pm).
Kate works at the register office in Leeds, and it proves to be full of stories struggling to make themselves heard.
There’s a terminally ill woman who needs to get married and have her newborn child registered on the same day; a possible sham marriage scam; potential sex trafficking; office nookie caught on CCTV; a promotion; an embittered colleague who wanted the same job; amateur sleuthing; blackmail and, last but not least, another colleague struggling with his decision to transition from male to female.
Busy doesn’t cover it.
The problem is, everything was so crammed in, none of the storylines had room to breathe. And we don’t know any of these characters yet, so it’s difficult to care much about their lives.
It would have been better to have introduced some of these storylines gradually, building slowly – there was more than enough in just a couple of them to carry the drama.
That said, if you didn’t suddenly find something in your eye during the wedding scene you have a heart of stone, and Rebecca Front does a nice line in sour, thin-lipped frustration as the passed-over colleague.
Yes, Mellor has proved a register office is fertile ground for a story-teller – and it makes a change from a police station or a hospital – but she also needs to slow things down. Or I’ll be busy watching something else.
The Detectorists (BBC4, Wednesdays, 10pm) continues to delight with its mix of slapstick, schoolboy humour, sly one-liners and a passion for the smaller things in life. Watch it, it’ll do you good.
Want to know why Donald Trump is like that? Watch Trump: An American Dream (Channel 4, Thursdays, 10pm). A detailed, absorbing account of his rise, fall and rise again, America’s own Reggie Perrin.