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TV review: The Salisbury Poisonings and Da 5 Bloods

© Ray BurmistonAnne-Marie Duff as public health director 
Tracy Daszkiewicz in The Salisbury Poisonings
Anne-Marie Duff as public health director Tracy Daszkiewicz in The Salisbury Poisonings

Cast your mind back to 2018 if you can remember that far into the dim and distant past. Doesn’t it seem like a lifetime ago?

Things seemed bad then – what with Brexit, the rise of populism and economic difficulties – with not much room to get worse. Turns out there was, and they could.

Oddly, though, there was a little future echo of what’s going on right now when alarming headlines emerged about a father and daughter in Salisbury falling ill.

The result was a public health crisis – featured here in the BBC1’s The Salisbury Poisonings – as people began to fret about the wider health implications. Would this spread? Were we safe?

The mild panic felt then is nothing compared to what 2020 has visited upon us, but the reaction of Rafe Spall’s police officer and Anne-Marie Duff’s health official seems all-too familiar. There’s a refreshing lack of dramatic pauses from this excellent pair. No grandstanding monologues.

There is, much like our real life over the past few months, a sense of grim acceptance about the circumstances – this unseen menace is the way it is, so we must reckon with our new normal. The prescience is mildly uncanny.

What is pleasing is seeing public health officials work quietly and diligently to ensure that ordinary people are protected.

I wonder just how many stories are waiting to be told about 2020.

The Salisbury Poisonings, BBC One


Da 5 Bloods, Netflix

With movies now premiering on television this column occasionally dabbles in what used to be considered cinema.

Oscar-winning director Spike Lee’s latest joint debuted last week on streaming platform Netflix with seemingly even more prescience in it than The Salisbury Poisonings.

Although a little rough around the edges and full of idiosyncratic touches particular to Lee, Da 5 Bloods is probably essential for those looking to broaden their horizons when it comes to listening to different voices.

And if not then watch for the superb ’70s soul and funk soundtrack alone.