CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Olivia's acting secret? She loves a 'sangwidge'

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: What’s Olivia’s acting secret? She loves a tasty ‘sangwidge’



The Sinking Of The Costa Concordia: Collision at Sea


No one in the world is better than Olivia Colman at playing the kind of woman who says ‘sangwidges’ instead of ‘sandwiches’.

That’s not some affectation she picked up at stage school, a posh trick for ‘acting common’. Everything about her performance in Landscapers (Sky Atlantic) is convincing and real, even though the storytelling — by Colman’s husband Ed Sinclair — in this true crime drama is highly stylised.

Colman is Susan Edwards, a housewife from Nottingham who has, with her drippy husband Chris (David Thewlis), murdered her abusive parents and buried them in the back garden of their semi.

Colman is Susan Edwards, a housewife from Nottingham who has, with her drippy husband Chris (David Thewlis), murdered her abusive parents and buried them in the back garden of their semi 

After telling neighbours the elderly couple have moved to Blackpool, Susan and Chris sold the house, and decamped to France with the proceeds.

Now it’s 20 years later, the money has run out, the police have uncovered the bodies and the Edwardses have decided to give themselves up. ‘My husband and I have got ourselves in a bit of a pickle,’ Susan tells her solicitor.

Luxury exile of the night 

 Monica Galetti and Giles Coren visited Madeira’s Reid’s Palace, on Amazing Hotels (BBC2). 

The manager said guests used to stay for six months. 

These days, that’s what can happen if you keep failing Covid tests abroad. 

Despite a great supporting cast – Kate O’Flynn and Samuel Anderson as a pair of provincial plods, Daniel Rigby as their foul-mouthed police boss — this is Colman’s show.

With her chilblain nose and moist eyes, Susan is a bag of nerves. She lives in a fantasy world where film stars are friends. Writing a love letter to Chris, she signs it ‘Gerard Depardieu’ and encloses €100.

When Chris opens it and the money slips out, she declares brightly: ‘That’s a start!’

Chris tells police she is emotionally ‘fragile’ and ‘sufficiently frightened’. ‘I know what fragile means,’ a copper grumbles. ‘It means you’re the one in charge. You’re the one who gets sad and lashes out.’

Susan’s favourite actor is Gary Cooper — ‘a good father’, she remarks. She daydreams about scenes from High Noon, and imagines Chris as her brave sheriff.

Some shots are cleverly constructed to echo classic Westerns. Susan leans in a doorway, lit by a sunset, and gazes at her husband like a rancher’s wife on the prairie, or melts into his arms as the picture slowly fades to black-and-white.

The Wild West analogies appeared to go too far when the couple were met at St Pancras station by two mounted policemen. But it seems that really happened.

So far, the crime itself has been incidental. If it must be squeezed into any genre, this unique four-parter is really a true romance.

Killers or not, Susan and Chris were more like a pair of affectionate penguins as they nuzzled up to each other on the Eurostar and pledged never to be parted . . . before Susan spent their last euros on a couple of coffees.

‘Hey! Guess who I thought I just saw in the buffet car,’ she whispered, bustling back. ‘Gerard! Yes, Gerard Depardieu!’

A romance lay behind The Sinking Of The Costa Concordia (C5), though the first episode of this two-part documentary (which continues tonight) barely touched on that. Instead, it concentrated on a vivid recounting of the wreck, with terrifying phone footage of passengers lurching across the decks while intercom announcements assured them this was all a mere technical difficulty.

The most dramatic descriptions came from ship’s pianist Antimo Magnotta, whose grand piano was wrenched from its fittings on impact and began ‘drifting around the room’.

‘Everyone started scattering around like crazy sparks from an explosion,’ Magnotta said. With the lifeboats overcrowded, others raided the ship’s mortuary and hurled coffins into the water.

Disaster documentaries can be dispassionate, mechanical affairs, but this was a frightening picture of sheer panic.

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