What we're watching on TV

The Control Room

The Control Room - Credit: BBC/Hartswood Films/Anne Binckebanck/Matt Burlem

The Control Room, BBC1, all episodes available now on iPlayer 

Tension is drawn thick and fast in the first episode of the Beeb’s latest three-part thriller.  

Gabriel (Ian de Caestecker) is newish on the job as a call handler for the emergency services in Strathclyde. He’s just finished talking a new dad through a labour scenario on the side of the road, when an unsettling call is dialled through. 

A breathless woman, claiming she’s with a guy who’s hit his head. “He’s bleeding,” she screams as Gabe desperately tries to lock down a location. “I’ve killed him,” she then proclaims, dropping another successive bombshell. “Gabo?” Only two people in Gabriel’s life have used the nickname – one of them thought to be long gone.  

Gabe is ill-equipped to deal with the drama of being associated with a potential killer...with detectives chasing his tail to find out what (and who) he knows. 

He has his suspicions, which draw him back to his childhood home, in a remote Glaswegian hamlet – flashbacks alluding to a melancholy, unloved upbringing spent rambling through pine trees alone...or with newfound friend Sam. 

This is a place where he’s not wanted – even by his dad, who’s more interested in watching the footie when his son lands on his doorstep. 

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A place where memories of his mum’s untimely death make him feel sick to his stomach. 

Gabe soon finds himself dug into a hole it’ll be very tricky to get out of – his unease and despair palpable. 

Apparently you won’t see the big, divisive plot twist at the end coming. 

Murder in Provence
(c) Monumental Television for ITV
Pictured: ROGER ALLAM as Antoine Verlaque and

Roger Allam as Antoine Verlaque, and Nancy Carroll as Marine Bonnet in Murder in Provence - Credit: Monumental Television for ITV

Murder in Provence, ITV, Sunday 8pm (watch all episodes on ITV Hub) 

Bundle up Death in Paradise and Midsomer Murders. Cast them out to the gloriously golden Aix-en-Provence. And you have Murder in Provence. 

Fans of dulcet-toned Roger Allam are going giddy for the crime caper – a Britbox original, recently despatched to ITV. 

Based on the Verlaque and Bonnet mysteries by ML Longworth, the bumper crop of three feature-length episodes are a joy – once you get past the strangeness that the show’s set in France, while it’s cast of characters retain their plummy British accents. 

Allam is Antoine Verlaque - an amiable but set-in-his-ways investigative magistrate with prostate issues, dividing his time between cooking lavish wine-doused dinners for lover and soon-to-be-colleague, Marine (Nancy Carroll) – a bohemian criminal psychology professor with an annoying mother (Patricia Hodges) - and solving crime. 

While Midsomer Murders gilds the screen with Britain’s rolling pastures and chocolate box villages, and Death in Paradise brings soft white sands and palm trees, the south of France is almost a character in itself in Murder in Provence, oozing elegance. 

Verlaque and trusted deputy commissioner Helene (The Greatest Showman’s Keala Settle), discuss their findings in sun-kissed alleyways and piazzas. Cups of tea and cake are replaced by lingering, boozy lunches on floral bedecked terraces. 

There are cuts to parks, fountains, dreamy villas. Enough to inspire wanderlust – if you skim over the fact the place seems to be a bit murdery. 

In the first episode, the community is reeling after a respected professor is killed, having just done a U-turn on his decision to retire...leaving some very annoyed prospective successors and would-be scholars in the firing line as suspects. 

It’s all very twee and genteel – even the drama – and just the perfect way to round off the weekend on the sofa. There are touches of comedy. And the relationship between Antoine and Marine is really rather sweet and gorgeous. 

The last episode airs on Sunday, July 31, but you can catch up on ITV Hub. 

Virgin River. (L to R) Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan, Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe in ep

Jack and Mel in Virgin River, series 4 - Credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Virgin River, Season 4, all episodes on Netflix now

Oh how I’ve fallen in love with this sedate little show – as have millions of others around the world, leading Netflix to keep endlessly commissioning new series. 

It’s based on books by Robyn Carr, set in the eponymous and entirely made-up hamlet, supposedly in northern California. 

If you liked Dr Quinn Medicine Woman back in the day, you will fall right down the rabbit hole watching this. To sum up to now, midwife and nurse, Mel, has left LA, distraught at the loss of her daughter and husband. She has no idea what she’s letting herself in for as she joins the local doctor’s office – where notes are kept by hand, and the Wi-Fi signal’s sketchy. 

Virgin River features a band of lovable settlers (including dishy bar owner Jack). And inevitably there’s some jeopardy involved. 

This series begins with no-good Brady in jail, Hope lacking balance and memory after her car accident, a drug-dealer gone awry, and questions over a paternity test. Oh, and there’s a dishy new doctor in the house too. 

It’s as cosy as a winter jumper.