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Christopher Stevens discusses last night’s TV: University Challenge at 60 and The Suspect

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The suspect


University Challenge at 60


Eckhart Tolle sounds like he’s a Danish footballer or maybe a bronze-bearded soldier in Sky’s fantasy epic House Of The Dragon, but in fact he’s Oprah Winfrey’s favorite spiritual guru.

One of his statements was quoted at the beginning of The Suspect (ITV), a five-part psychological drama starring Aidan “Poldark” Turner: “All problems are illusions of the mind.”

Oprah may believe that, but she probably hasn’t had a chance to watch The Suspect. The big problem is no illusion – it’s the script, which is a frenzied bucket of tripe.

The Suspect is a five part ITV psychological drama starring Aidan 'Poldark' Turner

The Suspect is a five part ITV psychological drama starring Aidan ‘Poldark’ Turner

What inspired Aidan to take the lead role, as a psychotherapist suspected of murdering the ex-patient who accused him of sexual assault, is a mystery.

Maybe he couldn’t resist the chance to show off his thick black beard, the bushiest facial nose since Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon.

The Suspect opened with an insanely improbable action sequence that got crazier by the minute. dr. Bigbeard was summoned from a hospital therapy session by a panicked nurse and sent to a windowsill to stop a 17-year-old patient from jumping.

As the police looked on helplessly, advisor Dr. Owens (Adam James) – but let’s call the smooth Doctor McSmarm – in and blurted out a secret: his best friend Bigbeard should never be allowed on narrow ledges outside hospitals because . . . he has Parkinson’s disease!

Too late. dr. BB staggered at the wrong time and fell off the building, taking the teenager with him. Fortunately, after descending 100 feet, they were rescued by a safety harness. The police burst into applause.

The physics seemed a bit improbable, but we didn’t have time to worry about that, because our hero had to go home to fix the heating. He is not a plumber and a burst pipe has soaked him and his wife (Camilla Beeput) to the skin.

“Go upstairs and take off your clothes,” he ordered. They kissed, she ran away giggling, and the camera snapped at—a woman’s rotting head sticking out of a grave.

The pendulum swing from playful flirtation to graphic corpse wasn’t just shocking, it was tasteless through and through.

This also applied to the consultant’s method of assessing the progress of his patient’s Parkinson’s disease. This was accompanied by arm wrestling. McSmarm was his love rival in college, so I’m guessing he’s the killer, repelling young women in a belated act of jealous irritability.

For reasons too ridiculous to explain, Beardie was invited to inspect the corpse in the morgue, before sneaking in for a second look. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered to the body. He owes us all an apology, but that’s a start.

No apologies needed from Jeremy Paxman, TV’s rudest quizmaster. University Challenge At 60 (BBC2) made it clear that participants love to be insulted when they get questions wrong.

'No apology needed from Jeremy Paxman, TV's rudest quizmaster,' says Christopher Stevens, 'University Challenge At 60 (BBC2) made it clear that contestants love to be insulted when they get questions wrong'

‘No apology needed from Jeremy Paxman, TV’s rudest quizmaster,’ says Christopher Stevens, ‘University Challenge At 60 (BBC2) made it clear that contestants love to be insulted when they get questions wrong’

For many fans, it evokes memories of humiliation at school. “Jeremy would have made a very good geography teacher,” Griff Rhys Jones mused.

New Yorker Brandon Blackwell, a computer science student at Imperial College London, was so determined to win that he spent 18 months studying every name and date in British history.

Too bad his DIY course isn’t taught in schools. But some aspects of his preparation are too extreme, even as punishment for delinquent students: he went to sleep and listened to recordings of Paxo’s voice.

The other voice of the series is Roger Tilling, who announces the name and university of each student who enters.

In this heartfelt tribute, Roger revealed that he and “the Paxmaster General” should not be within range of each other, or have rubberband fights. Boys, boys!

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