Pick of the Night

The Evening Standard (London, England), January 20, 2006 | Go to article overview

Pick of the Night


Byline: IMOGEN RIDGWAY

Timewatch: the Bog Bodies 9pm, BBC2 IRISH POLICE photographer Eadaoin Campbell tells Timewatch she came across "probably one of the most amazing sights I've ever seen in my life" when called to a crime scene in 2003.

Human remains had been discovered in a bog in Co Offally, preserved because the peat had halted decomposition. Cameras followed the body's arrival at the National Museum of Ireland, where details such as skin creases and fingernails (eerily gruesome) emerged as the peat was removed.

Ireland's state pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy - who likes to examine her cases sporting a glam lacy top - had a look, and the museum team established that it was a very tall male. They also deduced that he had been tortured, stabbed and beheaded.

Forget the history for a moment; there's the germ of an idea for a new crime-drama series here - Waking the Dead meets Bones meets Silent Witness, perhaps. We've got history, human remains, a glamorous pathologist and brutal attacks. Does anyone have Amanda Burton's phone number?

But back to the museum. This bloke wasn't the only peaty discovery; three months previously, another body had been unearthed, just 25 miles away from the first. This one was a lot smaller, and had a head - although the skull had been smashed.

Intriguing enough, but the programme's really interesting bits come from the discoveries made after the initial probing of the bodies.

Carbondating from wood found with body one established his age; the resin in body two's hairstyle told the boffins about Ireland's trade links, and they even tried to analyse pollen grains up body two's nose in order to work out the season in which he died.

If you can cope with soiled bodies and talk of dismemberment, two fascinating stories emerge.

Although when the plot is repackaged as a Sunday-Monday two-part drama, you can bet those nasty parts will be even more gruesome.

Judge John Deed 8.30pm, BBC1 Ol' treacle-voice incurs the wrath of ex-girlfriend Jo Mills when he doles out a custodial sentence to her client, a posh boy who had fallen in with a gang of chavs and stolen a lad's mobile.

Unfortunately, the posh boy then takes his own life, prompting Judge John Deed (Martin Shaw, right) to try to beat up the Home Secretary. Sometimes this series really is on another planet.

Mind you, the Home Sec is his ex-wife's husband, and Deed isn't much cop when his ladyfriends get new partners. Tonight, his casework also causes his path to cross that of Mills's boyfriend, Mark, who's as smug as Deed, but a touch more oleaginous.

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