Public Service Announcement 25 of 2015: 1864, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Castle

I’m not a fan of costume drama; at least, not if it’s set any earlier than the 1950s, so on one hand I’m probably not the target audience for BBC4’s new Scandi-import 1864. On the other hand, though, it’s made by DR, the Danish national broadcaster that gave us Forbrydelsen, Borgen, and The Bridge, and it stars just about everyone: Sidse Babett Knudsen (Birgitte in Borgen); Pilou Asbæk (Kasper in Borgen); Nicolas Bro (Buch in season 2 of Forbrydelsen); Søren Malling (Jan in Forbrydelsen and Torben in Borgen); Lars Mikkelson (the peerless Troels Hartmann in Forbrydelsen); and our very own Barbara Flynn. Plus millions of others.

It’s broadly about the Second Schleswig War between Denmark and Prussia, apparently an event of considerable significance to Danes. In fact, 1864 seems to have provided some controversy in Denmark, where it was shown last year, with critics on the right wing accusing DR of a revisionist and inaccurate retelling of the story. I realise that in saying this I’m opening myself up to – no doubt justified – accusations of philistinism, but I’m afraid that a hot take on a 150-year-old Danish/Prussian war isn’t my thing, and even if it were the BBC is showing it in those stupid double-bills (BBC4, Saturdays, 9pm, and on the iPlayer).

And not to be outdone, the BBC itself is showing its adaptation of the critically-acclaimed alternate-history 19th-century-set novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, with the always-watchable Eddie Marsan on board as Norrell. Our friend at @ShowStartUK drew our attention to the undoubtedly impressive trailer, but once again this doesn’t look like something for me (BBC 1, tonight, 9pm)

Castle, on the other hand, very much is my sort of thing; it’s hardly rewriting the rulebook for TV crime procedurals, but it’s amiable good fun, and it’s long been one of my favourite go-to shows when I don’t want to work too hard for an hour of TV enjoyment. I mean that very much as a compliment, incidentally. The UK is finally getting to see season 7 this week – with a further season renewal now confirmed – so it’s back to the day of the wedding and Castle’s disappearance. Cold feet? Probably not (Alibi, Wednesday 20 May, 9pm).


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