Brian Donaldson finds that amid the many new Beeb dramas, the best ones have a gaggle of ball- busting females

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You can easily Imagine lots of whv/lng through the dimensions ot space and trme on the agenda rn M.I. High (HHCI. Mon x'./an. Spin .0. ). as rts less than raw second senes hrgh lrves its way rnto our homes. Somehow rnergrng The Avengers With .‘Scooby Doo, It creates three chrld heroes who are undeniably smart but somehow. thanktullv, not smart arsed. taking trrne out lrom therr school lessons to solve the unlrkelrest ot crrrnes. ln thrs opener. for example. the clock ticks down menacineg as they atternpl to trnd the US president who has disappeared after a rnagrc trick has gone horribly wrong. There's also the undeniable pleasure ot drscoverrng that Danny .John .Jules. the guy who played the cat rn lied Dwarf. hasn't been completely put out to seed. archly harnrnrng rt up to trne ettect as the trio's guru who rs disguised by day as a simple minded )anny.

Andrew Dawes rs probably a very clever man. but surely he must be losing rnsprratron when producers rrng to ask which perrod drama he'd like to rehash next?” And so here he comes wrth Sense and Sensibility (BBC 7, Sun (5 Jan, 9pm 0. ). a rneanderrng stroll rnto the dead white female canon wrth Jane Austen's dreary tale of tortured romance and inevitable heartbreak as two sisters battle for and agarnst therr passions. Davrd Morrrssey shows up as the srmmerrng Colonel Brandon

Still. Sense and Sensrbr/rty seems as engrossing as [he l'x’est l'L’r/rt; when sat down next to Fairy Tales: Rapunzel IHHCl. Thu 70 Jan. jlprn O l. Youcan'thelpbut thrnk that an agent with talents akin to lixl/as' Darren Lamb must be rn charge of Charity Wakefreld's arttrng career. because the poor lass also turns up rn thrs clrchenddled tedrurrr test. The first of a new series of r'rry'amped fables features Chas as a long haired tennrs champ whose charms are so rrresrstrble that Lee Ingleby wrll pretend to be a lady lust for halt a chance to get close enough to Rapun/el tor a “love garne' tor at least cop a glimpse as she recreates that scratchy poster rrnage from the 70s). The other tennrs related gag that you're expecting about ‘new balls' takes rts trrne. but rt arrrves sure enough.

Mistresses IBBCI. In I 7 Jan.

9pm .0. rrsn't short of a cliche or trve erther but for a brt ot b‘ntrsh sauce and universal gurle. rt beats the prey'rous adult tare hands down. Happily not merely an update of the early 90s A l'v’oman's Gurr 1e to Adulter . thrs has a guartet <>t frrends erther haying attarrs or at the yarong end of them. seeking to show that there are only losms rn that torrrd game. The cast rs unrtorrnly' fine as a doctor. lawyer. meats planner and

9 t t y'.'rdoy‘.' deal wrth gnet. gum. and garments of a sexual nature.

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(:r >t.r'.l ("r s< MOVING WALLPAPER/ECHO BEACH IW1, Thu 10 Jan. 9pm 00..

OK, I'm confused now. Having checked and then double checked the TV schedules, it appears to be true; Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach are on ITV1. Yes, ITV1. They‘re the people who last year washed us away on a sea of swill with Benidorm and unleashed Liza Tarbuck upon us for Bonkers, possibly the worst yet, conversely, best comedy-drama title of the year. But here we have a pair of interconnected shows with a sprightly idea at the core of their very beings. ITV haven‘t had that on their comedy roster since Rik Mayall transformed himself into a Thatcher-grovelling B‘stard.

Echo Beach on its own is, of course, garbage. A glossy soap-style affair with Jason Donovan and Martine McCutcheon and Hugo Speer and Susie Amy adds up to less than zero, but in the context of Moving Wallpaper (a smart comedy about the making of Echo Beach), it grows more arms and legs than a sand-obsessed. flesh-friendly slab of small screen narcissism ought to. Little moments murmur into Echo Beach and reflect back onto sequences we have seen in Moving Wallpaper as the fictional writers try to make hay on a Cornwall-based rural soap about love and betrayal. Recently hired producer Jonathan Pope (Ben Miller, suitably inspired after his dire sketch series with old buddy Eck Armstrong) wants to kick some arse into proceedings by ditching the uglier actors and stodgy scripts and injecting his new baby with sex and scandal. It's fruity and fun and so not ITV. (Brian Donaldson)

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-' THE LIST 79