What to watch on TV this week

Stay Close, Netflix

Stay Close has become a runaway success on Netflix - Credit: Sharma Vishal/Netflix

Stay Close, Netflix, all episodes streaming now 

It seems James Nesbitt is a true blue. As Graham Norton recently pointed out to the actor, he’s played a copper in around six or so series. When he’s not all moony-eyed on Cold Feet, Jimmy’s on the beat. 

HIs most recent outing is as DS Broome in Netflix’s adaptation of best-selling author Harlan Coben’s thriller, Stay Close – part of a multi-deal that’s already seen success with screenings of The Boy in the Woods and original drama, Safe. 

Perhaps the finest reimagining of Coben’s work is the French movie Ne Dis Pas A Personne – one of the best book-to-film translations of the modern day. 

But Stay Close, which has remained on the most-watched list in the UK for a few weeks now, easily matches the dark Gallic screen hit for thrills and spills. 

Ignore the naysayers who’ve pointed out flaws in the scripting – some people like to spoil all the fun don’t they? This is a twisty, turny, sometimes jumpy, joyride that is at turns heartfelt, at others darkly disturbing.  

At the centre of the storyline is Megan Pierce (Cush Jumbo). Megan lives the suburban dream. Beautiful home. Loving fiance (who she’s only just agreed to marry after 16 years together). Children. Career (although we never see her go to work).  

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Megan’s safety net comes crumbling down when former work colleague Lorraine (Sarah Parish) comes back into her life. It turns out supermum Megan (real name Cassie) used to be a stripper/dancer. It also turns out she ran away 17 years ago...just when a thuggish local businessman went missing. 

As Lorraine resurfaces into Megan’s world, DS Broome’s (Nesbitt) spidey senses are triggered by the disappearance of young man Carlton Flynn – last seen at Cassie’s old haunt, Vipers. 

And so begins a tangled web of lies, mistrust and murder. Why was Megan’s ex Ray (Richard Armitage) covered in blood 17 years ago? And why can’t he remember? 

Where is Carlton Flynn? What does Megan’s husband have to hide? And was she involved in that disappearance nearly two decades ago? 

Eddie Izzard (fresh from Sky’s The Lost Symbol), stars as Harry – a soft-hearted lawyer with a heroin problem. 

And you’ll want to lock your doors after witnessing the antics of blood-thirsty assassins Ken and Barbie – who have divided viewers, but are sure to become part of pop culture in 2022. 

Compulsive viewing. 

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis 

Monty Don’s Adriatic Gardens, whole series available on BBC iPlayer 

If you feel like you need a dose of winter sunshine, then look no further than Monty Don’s Adriatic Gardens. 

As we shiver our way through January, the timing of this gorgeous three-part travelogue could not be better.  

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, and in this series, which has just finished its terrestrial run but is available on BBC iPlayer, the Gardeners’ World favourite travels from Italy to Greece via Croatia exploring how the Venetians influenced horticulture. 

On his trip Monty visits a range of public and private gardens and learns about the impact that history, climate change and culture have had on them. 

Fittingly, the journey begins in Venice, which he spends the first episode exploring by barge, hopping on and off to look around the city’s green spaces, many of which are hidden away behind high walls. 

In the second episode he starts in Trieste, near to Italy’s border with Croatia, and visits a beautifully restored public garden.  

He then heads down the Adriatic coast picking up the trail that the Venetians followed to Dubrovnik, stopping off at lakes, ancient olive groves and a nursery which grows more than 200 varieties of Croatia’s national flower, the iris, en route. 

And in the final leg he travels from the Greek island of Corfu, which is home to olive trees planted by the Venetians, to the capital Athens, where he visits the Royal Gardens and a reforestation project before heading to Hydra where he has spent the last five years helping to create a garden with friends. 

And we don’t have to do anything more taxing than sit back, take in the glorious scenery and let Monty be our guide. 

This is slow TV at its best – truly balm for the soul. 

Emma Lee 

Below Deck Season 9, Sky/Now TV (and other series on Amazon Prime and Sky) 

If you want to switch off completely. To watch utter tripe. To be wholly entertained by the idiocy, audacity and humiliating antics of others. You need to see this show. 

Found late night a couple of years ago after too much wine, I’ve become hooked on Below Deck and have watched every episode of this, and its spin off shows in the Med, and aboard a sailing yacht. 

It is my guilty pleasure. And I’m not alone. I’ve spoken to several people of all ages, who’ve secretly stolen a few hours here and there to watch hi-jinks on the high seas. 

The premise is this. A bunch of rich people hire a boat, and we get to see what they, the captain, and the interior and deck crew get up to during the charter. 

And it’s completely bonkers and outrageous. Not just the questionable behaviour of the crew, who get steaming drunk on dry land, inevitably ending in slanging matches, fights or accidentally falling into one another’s beds, but the guests.  

Sure, they’ve paid a hefty sum for the privilege, but I cannot imagine, even if I was a billionaire, being as rude or obnoxious as some of the folk who’ve stepped aboard – it’s usually the ‘new money’ lot who’re the worst. 

There have been the guests who: 

  1. Would only drink Whispering Angel rose. 

  1. Insisted on a themed party for every meal. 

  1. Tried to jump ship in the dark when they’re drunk. 

  1. Let their teenagers stay up getting bladdered till 4am. 

  1. Made unreasonable meal requests – ie with ‘dietary’ changes needed for every person during a 10-course supper. 

King of the boat is seasoned salt-and-pepper Captain Lee – the Alan Sugar of the ocean, equipped with more witty one-liners than The Apprentice’s Baron. No one wants to end up in the wheel house to meet Captain Lee’s wrath. No one. 

The crew in season nine includes chief stewardess Heather – one of the more competent stews of any of the series - affable bosun Eddie, and explosive chef Rachel, who has one of the most challenging roles on the boat, feeding both crew and guests almost 24 hours a day. 

None of this is plain sailing! But you can see while they’re all ‘in it’. Tips for a two to three-day charter can come in at around $2,000 each. Wowzers. 

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis