Stacey Solomon will help you sort your life out


Friends of P.D. James suspected that she was in love with Adam Dalgliesh, a poet from Scotland Yard, who was urbane and sensitive. 

She denied it, but admitted she thought he was sexy: ‘I could never fall in love with a man who was handsome but stupid.’

Dalgliesh, this fearsomely intelligent and insightful novelist added, was ‘perhaps an idealised version of what I’d have liked to be if I had been born a man’. 

Jane Austen was her lifelong love and she was thrilled when readers compared him to Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

Bertie Carvel is facing a serious challenge, being the star of Dalgliesh(C5): This series launched with a 2-part adaptation of the murder mystery Shroud For A Nightingale. The show will continue tonight.

Bertie Carvel has a serious challenge on his hands, then, as the star of Dalgliesh (C5), which launched with a two-part adaptation of the murder mystery Shroud For A Nightingale, continuing tonight

Bertie Carvel faces a serious challenge as star of Dalgliesh, C5, which launched tonight with a two-part adaptation from the murder mystery Shroud For A Nightingale.

He can certainly do ‘urbane’. However, his exquisite overcoat and three piece suit have made him more sensitive than sensitive. 

He giggling at Charles Masterson’s laddish banter (Jeremy Irvine), and he drinks red wine in a pub while the rest are sipping pints.

With his sideburns and greying, swept-back hair, Carvel’s version of the detective is more like a stern Victorian lawyer from an Anthony Trollope novel. 

Baroness James, who was 94 years old, died in 2014 after a long battle with her health. Dalgliesh was played in the 1980s by Roy Marsden, who didn’t have enough hair for her taste and whose manners were lacking.

The character, she said, ‘wouldn’t wear some of the clothes Roy does, he wouldn’t wear his signet ring on the wrong finger, he wouldn’t have talked to Lady Ursula with his hand in his pocket’.

Bertie, get your hands out of the pockets!

What this retelling does capture is the writer’s visceral evocation of murder. Death in James’s world was not a game. It was brutal, violent. 

Heather Pearce (Beccy) was killed as a student nurse. This was truly a terrible act.

The young woman was clever, pious, but not above a spot or blackmail. She was participating in a medical demonstration, which included a tube through her throat. When she was forced to take bleach, she was shocked. 

Her spasms were frightening, and the aftermath — as a demented consultant sawed open her chest in an attempt to restart her heart by hand — was sheer butchery.

The 1970s setting of the nurses’ home was beautifully recreated, down to the fabrics on the furnishings — all the colour of milky coffee — and the green Woods Ware cups and saucers . . . For decades, the standard crockery used for a NHS cuppa has been.

Endeavour will be compared to this attention to period detail. Fans of Shaun Evans as Morse, will certainly enjoy Dalgliesh. 

Two hours of Dalgliesh would fly by, compared with the 60 interminable minutes of Sort Your Life Out With Stacey Solomon (BBC1)

Two hours of Dalgliesh would go by in a flash, compared to the 60 minutes of Sort Your Live Out With Stacey Solomon (BBC1)

But they’ll wonder, as I do, why Channel 5 bosses didn’t have the courage of their convictions to show the two hours in a single, engrossing, feature-length episode.

Two hours of Dalgliesh would fly, compared to the 60 interminable moments of Stacey Solomon will help you sort your life out(BBC1). 

Once you’ve seen one of these shows, there’s nothing more to be gained. They’re all identical. 

One family’s tat, laid out on a warehouse floor, is very much the same as every other family’s.

The attraction of nosing through someone else’s clutter wears thin quickly. And Stacey’s storage solutions are often dreadful.

Stacey was furious at a mum’s countless books and her three daughters. She removed shelves from the wall and replaced them with metal tongues of palm-sized size. These were just big enough to support a stack of three to four paperbacks.

It makes me shiver to think about what P.D. James would have something to add about that.