Agatha Raisin: The Quiche of Death, Sky1, with Ashley Jensen, PREVIEW

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death
Ashley Jensen and the cast of Agatha Raisin The Quiche of Death. Pics: BSkyB

Rating: ★★★

Sky1: Boxing Day, 8.30pm

Story: After a high-flying career as a PR in London, Agatha Raisin decamps for an idyllic life in the country. However, events take a tragic turn when a judge in the village quiche contest dies after sampling her quiche.

‘TIS THE SEASON for jolly family dramas, so if you’re hoping for something bloodcurdling and dark you’ll have to wait till next month when the likes of Broadchurch 2 and Fortitude arrive.

In the meantime, Sky1 is wheeling out this slice of festive flan, based on the bestseller by MC Beaton

Matthew McCooey as DC Bill Wong & Jason Barnett as DI Wilkes
The old bill, played by Matthew McCooey and Jason Barnett 

(of Hamish Macbeth fame). Ashley Jensen heads a nice cast as Agatha, a PR whizz who is
escaping life as a publicist for cretinous boy bands and heading in her Porsche for a new life in the Cotswolds.

Mathew Horne, Robert Bathurst and Hermione Norris are all on parade here, in a light-hearted crime drama full of comedy sex, buffonish cops and oddball country nimbys. First up is Robert Bathurst as the village lothario, Andy, a reactionary sort constantly on the hunt for new conquests.

Murder at the village fete

Hermione Norris is his snooty wife and Mathew Horne is Agatha’s work colleague. Trying to

Ashley Jensen as Agatha Raisin
Agatha goes snooping

immerse herself into village life, the competitive Agatha enters the local quiche contest. When one of the judges snuffs it after eating her quiche, the newcomer finds herself in a spot of serious bother.

The two-hour production has that prerequisite for most Brit TV dramas these days – a pretty twee setting. So it looks good, moves at a slick pace and the actors look like they’re enjoying themselves.

The comedy is about a subtle as a pantomime, with the cops in particular being too annoying to be funny. But Ashley Jensen as the dressed-to-the-nines city slicker is a charming character, and it certainly tickles the odd ho-ho-ho out of you.

In fact, once the crime is committed the whole show becomes a lot more savoury, particularly when Mathew Horne reappears, trying at one point to console number-one suspect Agatha – ‘What did the Boston Strangler say? It’s better to be wanted for murder than not to be wanted at all.’

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine, E4, with Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Stephanie Beatriz PREVIEW

Law unto themselves – the Brooklyn Nine-Nine squad. Pics: C4

Rating: ★★★½

Starts C4, Friday, 17 January, 11.5pm (E4: Thursdays, 9pm)

Story: Jake Peralta is a talented but carefree detective at Brooklyn’s 99th Precinct. He and his eclectic group of colleagues. Their cushy time at work is about to end with the arrival of new hard-ass Captain Ray Holt, a man with a lot to prove.

THE ROLL-CALL of comedy cop shows is a long and honourable one. Stretching back to Car 54, Where Are You? in the 60s, Barney Miller in the 70s and onto The Thin Blue Line in the 90s and most recently A Touch of Cloth and Vexed, law and disorder has a long service record.

Now comes this sharp half hour in the company of Brooklyn’s finest, made by Fox, with Andy

Jake proves that he’s wearing a tie

Samberg as Detective Jake Peralta and his oddball colleagues adjusting to life with a new captain, Ray Holt, played in brilliant deadpan style by Andre Braugher.

It has taken the new captain a long time to get his own command because he is openly gay. Having got it, he doesn’t want his team to goof things up. Everyone must now wear a tie and be super-efficient.

Fearsome Detective Diaz

The opening half hour pitches a nice selection of nutty individuals to the audience. There is Detective Sergeant Terry Jeffords, who used to be overweight and called Terry Titties. He calls his daughters Cagney and Lacey.

Childish Jake Peralta is in a childish competition with earnest Detective Amy Santiago to see who can clock up the most arrests. And Detective Boyle hopes to date the fearsome Detective Diaz.

But he’s warned by the office admin gal Gina, ‘She’s got a type. It’s pretty much anyone but you.’

Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher

To which Boyle replies, ‘Yeah, that was my wife’s type too.’

Andre Braugher is excellent as Capt Holt

There are a lot of gags flying by in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and most raise a smile. What makes it work is having Braugher – who was brilliant in the excellent and very serious Homicide: Life on the Street in the 90s – as the straight guy, so to speak, dishing out the baleful looks.

Cast: Andy Samberg Detective Jake Peralta, Andre Braugher Captain Ray Holt, Stephanie Beatriz Detective Rosa Diaz, Terry Crews Detective Sergeant Terence ‘Terry’ Jeffords, Melissa Fumero Detective Amy Santiago, Joe Lo Truglio Detective Charles Boyle, Chelsea Peretti Administrator Gina Linetti

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Lilyhammer starring Steven Van Zandt PREVIEW

Witness protection is a dish best served cold for Frank Tagliano – in Norway. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC4: starts Tuesday, 11 September, 10pm

Story: New York Mafia member Frank Tagliano agrees to testify against his new boss when he thinks that he has been overlooked for promotion – on condition that he is relocated with a new identity in the FBI’s witness protection programme and asks to be sent to Lillehammer, Norway.

The Mafia genre meets Nordic noir in this offbeat crime mashup – the first original series made by Netflix and being shown on UK terrestrial TV by BBC4.

Steven Van Zandt – right-hand man of two Bosses, Bruce Springsteen and Tony Soprano – here cashes in on his Sopranos persona as Frank The Fixer Tagliano, New York mobster.

Frank and Lily, before the tragedy

When a rival tries to shoot Frank in his bar, during which Frank’s beloved dog Lily is slain, the gangster decides to rat on those behind the attempted hit. When the Feds ask where he wants to be relocated for his witness protection, he says Lillehammer. ‘Lille-what?’ says the agent. The show’s title, by the way, is a play on the departed dog’s name.

94 Winter Olympics
Culture clash doesn’t quite cover just how quirky this show is. Frank fancies Lillehammer because he remembers the 94 Winter Olympics there, how beautiful it looked and all the pretty girls.

The premise is pretty daffy, but it does allow for plenty of fun in the plot. So, the criminal finds himself living next door to the local chief of police, but this doesn’t stop him importing some tried and tested methods of extortion and bribery. It seems like Mafia business as usual when Frank finds a sheep’s head outside his house on day one.

Local cops Laila Hovland and Geir 'Elvis' Tvedt
Local cops Laila Hovland and Geir ‘Elvis’ Tvedt 

The opener of this eight-part series involves Frank – new name Giovanni, ‘Call me Joe’ – in an illegal wolf hunt, as well as dealing with lairy youths on a train, and a nutty job centre employee who uses a ventriloquist’s dummy to demonstrate interview techniques to the unemployed.

Love is in the air
Which Frank is, with the job centre weirdo offering him a job as a pizza delivery guy at Dolly Dimples on arrival. However, Frank is way too resourceful to re-start life at the bottom and has himself set up quite nicely by episode two. There even seems to be the chance of romance in the frosty air.

It’s hard to dislike this riff on a mobster fish out of water story, and certainly it went down a snowstorm in Norway, where 20 percent of the population tuned in.

A second season has been commissioned, though Van Zandt’s touring commitments have held up production. Certainly, the Boss himself is right behind Little Stevie’s latest acting project, as Springsteen’s musical tribute to the series, given on tour in Oslo, reveals in the video below.

Cast: Steven Van Zandt Frank Tagliano, Anne Katharine Krigsvoll Laila Hovland, Marian Saastad Ottesen Sigrid Haugli, Steinar Sagen Roar Lien, Fridtjob Saheim Jan Johansen, Kyrre Hellum Geir ‘Elvis’ Tvedt, Trond Fausa Aurvag Torgeir Lien

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