What to watch on TV this week

Parm with Claire, Graham and Simon.

Parm Sandhu with Claire, Graham and Simon - Credit: Bredun Edwards/ STV

Murder Island, Channel 4, Tuesdays, 9.30pm 

I don’t know what happens in your house, but when we sit down to watch a thriller or police series suddenly the living room’s full of armchair detectives. 

“Well, the blood pattern suggests they were stabbed from this angle,” my husband will point out seriously, like he has even one iota of expertise.  

“Clearly the neighbour did it- they look well shifty,” one of the kids will add. 

I mean, who do we think we are! Detectives. That’s what. I know people (and they’re not alone) who kept notepads of clues and highlights when Line of Duty was on, frantically trying to solve the ‘Who is H?’ mystery every Sunday night over a glass of pinot. 

The 'crime scene' on Channel 4's Murder Island

The 'crime scene' on Channel 4's Murder Island - Credit: STV

With the nation’s love of crime-solving in mind, the bods at Channel 4 have come up with a genius new show in cahoots with author Ian Rankin. 

Set on a remote Scottish outcrop, Murder Island is a ‘real life’ style murder mystery. Oooh. Get your pen and paper ready. Fish that magnifying glass out of the cupboard. Put the kettle on and prepare to get stuck in. 

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I have to say, this feels like Sunday night fodder (and you could watch in on All4 via catch up on a Sunday if you wanted). It’s the kind of thing everyone can watch together and get involved with. 

So. Eight members of the public have been transported to the island where, working in teams of two, they must gather evidence and interview suspects to solve the murder of Charly Hendricks, who’s been found stabbed to death in a rented property on one of her regular trips there. 

If they can identify the killer, there’s a £50,000 prize up for grabs. 

Watching and guiding along the way are former Met chief superintendent Parm Sandhu, former detective chief inspector Simon Harding, and detective sergeant Graham McMillan. They’re terrifying – in episode one giving the teams a savage grilling over their frankly rubbish evidence gathering skills, and interview techniques. I certainly wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of any of the trio. 

I won’t put in any spoilers so you can catch up, but there are already a few solid leads, and I can’t wait to see how they play out.  

Kudos to the actors playing the victim and suspects/islanders. They have to act, and react, to the cast of contestants, so are largely improvising in every episode. Let’s see where the next twist takes us. 

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis 

Only Connect's Victoria Coren Mitchell

Only Connect's Victoria Coren Mitchell - Credit: BBC/Parasol Media Limited/Rory Lindsay

Only Connect, BBC2, Mondays, 8pm 

What links the following seemingly random selection of clues? Puzzlehunters, 007s, Dicers and Escapologists? 

If you’re a fan of Quizzy Mondays on BBC2, you’ll know that they were the winners of the last four series of Only Connect. 

Sandwiched in between Mastermind and University Challenge, around three million people a week tune in to the geeky quiz show to treat their grey matter to a thorough workout by host Victoria Coren Mitchell and a selection of seemingly impossible questions. 

Last week it even beat soap colossus EastEnders in the ratings. 

Quizzing – or more accurately, being right about things – is a national pastime. But to play Only Connect, you don’t just need a good memory for facts and trivia, you need to be able to think laterally too.  

Even the premise of the four rounds themselves take some getting your head around. 

In the first round, to ease them in, each of the two teams chooses an Egyptian hieroglyph from a board (two reeds, eye of horus, horned viper, lion, water or twisted flax), and four answers are revealed one by one and they simply (ha!) have to guess what connects them.  

In the second, things ramp up a notch – not only do they have to guess the connection, but the contestants are only given three clues and provide the last answer in the sequence.  

Keeping up? 

The Wildlifers on Only Connect

The Wildlifers on Only Connect - Credit: BBC/Parasol Media Limited/Rory Lindsay

The third round is the connecting wall, where 16 jumbled up clues have to be sorted out into four groups with four connecting answers. 

And then finally it’s my favourite, the missing vowels, a buzzer round where the teams have to dcphr wrd r phrs wth th vwls rmvd. Sry cldn’t rsst.  

What I love about the show, apart from that I occasionally get a question right, is that it’s possibly the only place on TV where nerdiness is truly celebrated.  

The contestants are often a bit shy and awkward (I feel so seen), Victoria tells terrible and/or baffling jokes about Michael Portillo and there is no big prize.  

But if you can guess what links a song in High Society, the Whiskas slogan, Kenneth Wolstenholme commentary and an E.M Forster epigram*, then you are winning at life. 

*They’re all TV quiz shows – Who Wants to be a Millionaire, 8 out of 10 Cats, They Think It’s All Over and, of course, Only Connect. 

Emma Lee 

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