Where is Jessica Hyde?
If those words mean nothing to you then I have some excellent news. If not, then you’ll already be aware that I have failed you totally. And not for the first time, either. I was about a series (sorry, ‘season’) late to Game of Thrones; not much quicker into Breaking Bad; and now here I am again belatedly drawing your attention to something we all really should have seen last year if we were to consider ourselves even halfway in the loop…
Anyway, for what it’s worth, the show is Utopia (Channel 4, Tuesdays) and I can’t remember when I last saw a British drama series open so strongly. Probably, like, never — for how often is it, even on Channel 4, you come across a series so edgy, uncompromising and assured that it actually allows one of its main (and most likable) characters to have his eyes gouged out with a teaspoon in the first half-hour? (It’s the kind of initiative of which — one for my father-in-law, this — Tony Blair would surely have approved.)
Utopia, you can tell from the start, is not afraid to break the rules. Or, rather, it’s dementedly eager to play by the new rules as previously established by Game of Thrones: no one is safe; everyone is expendable — including cute kids; all bets are off as to where the plot might go, a) because the creator, Dennis Kelly (previously best known for co-writing the hit musical Matilda), probably doesn’t know himself and b) because even if he did, he’d deliberately do what you didn’t want just to frustrate and annoy you.
I love it and so, if you can stomach the ultra-violence and the insufferable hipness, will you. We were introduced to it by our quite straight lawyer friends from London, who don’t generally watch much TV and who infuriated us by arriving at our annual summer holiday let in Wales last week saying, ‘Sorry. Can’t play bridge for long tonight. Got to catch the final episode of Utopia.’
Read the rest – including my parody of Made In Chelsea – at The Spectator.