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Iconic TV clothing from Columbo’s mac to Pauline Fowler’s cardigan

PUBLISHED: 13:25 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:36 31 January 2018

Marcella Backland wearing a coat that cost twice what I paid for my first car

Marcella Backland wearing a coat that cost twice what I paid for my first car

ITV

ITV’s Marcella is due back on our screens soon with much speculation about whether her famous parka will return with her - we look at some other character-defining TV clothing. Can you imagine Mr Darcy without THAT white shirt?

Frank Spencer's homage to Che Guevara Frank Spencer's homage to Che Guevara

Tortured DS Marcella (“it’s Mar-chella”) Backland will soon return to the small screen for a second series of the crime drama written by The Bridge’s Hans Rosenfeldt – but will her £535 Woolrich parka jacket be her co-star again?

Actress Anna Friel, who plays Marcella, said: “I’m thrilled to be reprising the role and want to thank ITV for recommissioning this powerful London-based noir drama. The reaction from everyone has been amazing, although the real question I keep being asked is whether the green parka will be in season two, too.”

The jacket, coated with Teflon and stuffed with duck-down, was actually chosen so that Friel wouldn’t be cold while she filmed over the winter months but became shorthand for her character, who also wore a Fair Isle sweater in a nod to The Killing’s knitwear fan Sarah Lund.

In the first series of Marcella, Rosenfeldt swapped icy Sweden for densely-populated London in a gripping drama with a huge cast list that ranged from millionaire property developers to convicted murderers and illegal immigrants, and whose stories interlinked to form a complex web of intrigue.

Tom Baker became Doctor Who in 1974 and made long, stripy scarves cool Tom Baker became Doctor Who in 1974 and made long, stripy scarves cool

Detective Sergeant Marcella was shocked to the core when her husband Jason (Nicholas Pinnock) left her and, heartbroken, gratefully accepted the offer to return to her old role in the Metropolitan Police’s murder squad when her nemesis, the Grove Park Killer, appeared to return 10 years after his last kill.

Marcella had Unfinished Business with the GPK, whose signature move involved plastic bags, suffocation and cable ties. Her colleagues didn’t appear overjoyed to have her back on the scene, particularly the bloke who played Ronny Ferreira in EastEnders (the DJ with a Craig David beard who whinged on about his kidneys) who was, like, well unhappy.

Meanwhile, Jason, a thoroughly unpleasant lawyer for a construction firm, had issues of his own: he’d been having an affair with the daughter of his stupidly-rich boss and she’d gone missing, very soon after Marcella found out about her. Add into the mix Marcella’s chief suspect from 2005, Peter Cullen, who worked in a sinister bakery and had a creepy interest in Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael who had been studying him for a thesis, sex worker/robber Cara, the murder of a babysitter and abduction of a child and then Marcella’s own raging temper, which lead to blackouts during which she carried out terrible acts of violence, such as punching sanitary bins in public toilets. As a Facebook status might say about a relationship in turmoil, “it’s complicated”.

It was also exceptionally grisly and graphic, which made watching it on your own an occupational hazard, especially if you watched in a silent house and then a clothes drier fell over upstairs apropos nothing and you sat frozen and clutching a coal shovel to your bosom, you know, just in case, for the next hour.

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in the famous wet shirt scene Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in the famous wet shirt scene

But I digress.

While we wait for season two (plot: Marcella is back with secret sorrows of her own. She’s alerted to the discovery of a schoolboy’s body enclosed in a walk surrounded by toys and a school blazer and soon finds him to be Leo Priestly, a boy who was abducted years ago who was friends with her son. Nigel Planer and Keith Allen also join the cast) and news about whether the parka will be back, let’s look at other items of clothing worn by small screen stars which went on to be famous in their own right.

Nine of the best pieces of TV clothing of all time

1) Mr Darcy’s shirt (Pride and Prejudice): I can’t remember the section of my English Literature A Level where we covered the bit in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice where Colin Firth emerges dripping from a lake, but I’m fairly sure it would have livened up what were some pretty dull lessons. The BBC’s acclaimed 1995 adaptation of the novel made Firth – and the white shirt - international stars. The latter tours the world as part of an exhibition, the former won an Oscar for his performance in The King’s Speech. It’s not often that a man with his top on – as opposed to top off, like Aidan Turner’s topless scything in Poldark – becomes a sex symbol. The shirt should consider itself lucky: Andrew Davies who adapted the novel originally intended Firth to dive into the lake naked.

2) Tom Baker’s scarf (Doctor Who): It’s somewhat of a let-down to discover that Baker’s scarf, as long as a motorway, wasn’t knitted for him by Madame Nostradamus but actually by a knitter called Begonia Pope who was commissioned by Doctor Who costume designer James Acheson. Her 20ft stripy scarf was loved by the crew and cast but the fast-paced nature of the programme meant it quickly warped and needed to be mended after being involved in stunt-related accidents. A shorter scarf was knitted to make it easier for Tom to save the universe(s) without any wool-related mishaps.

3) Columbo’s coat (Columbo): Just one more thing…Columbo is a work of genius, a cop show where you know who did it from the get-go and all that remains to be seen is how Lieutenant Frank Columbo will present us with howtheydunnit. Peter Falk was the LAPD homicide cop whose shambolic appearance didn’t so much as hint at the razor-sharp mind he was in possession of. The coat was key: Falk had bought it in New York in 1966 when caught out in rain, and when he was cast for Columbo, he suggested the Spanish Cortefiel coat would be perfect for the detective – he wore the same one through the whole run, but there were several ‘stand-in’ coats. When the series was brought back in 1989, a new raincoat was made from the pattern o the original: in order to make it look aged, it was stained with tea and repeatedly driven over in the parking lot at Universal. The coat’s illustrious history is painstakingly and lovingly catalogued on a website dedicated to its appearances on the long-running show, www.columbo-site.freeuk.com/raincoat.htm See also: DCI Vera Stanhope (Brenda Blethyn) in ITV’s Vera.

4) DI Stella Gibson’s silk blouse (The Fall): It was dubbed ‘the power blouse’ – Gillian Anderson’s silk blouses in The Fall were the antithesis of Sarah Lund’s curve-hiding Faroe Island jumper. While Sarah wanted to disappear behind the knitwear, Stella was happy to showcase her sexuality and proposition any men who were brave enough to follow her into her lair. Cold as ice, ruthless, efficient and brilliant, Stella dressed to please herself, her tasteful collection of silk blouses so important to her character that even psychopaths like Paul Specter (Jamie Dornan) took the time to notice that her cleavage was on show through “her blouse, a silk blouse…” (he goes on to break into her hotel room and sniff her blouses, but that’s a different story). There was a run on peach, apricot, blush and white silk blouses when Gillian wore them on The Fall – never eat jam on toast in a white silk shirt, that’s my tip.

5) Sarah Lund’s jumper (The Killing): The sheep in the Faroe Islands had a cold few years after The Killing: the demand for Sarah’s star patterned jumper was so great that production couldn’t keep up. The wool is undyed organic wool, so the black wool comes from – you guessed it – black sheep. The Gudrun and Gudrun original costs £290 and each jumper is unique. Actress Sofie Grabol said: “We had a costume meeting and I saw that sweater and thought ‘that’s it!’ The reason it’s so perfect is because it tells so many stories. It tells of a person who doesn’t use her sexuality – that’s a big point. Lund’s so sure of herself she doesn’t have to wear a suit. She’s at peace with herself.” Hand wash only unless you have access to Alice in Wonderland’s Drink Me potion.

6) Pauline Fowler’s cardigan (EastEnders): Such is the visual power of Walford matriarch Pauline Fowler’s misshaped beige cardigan that bringing an image of her to mind isn’t replete without her wearing it. But the backbone of the Fowler family actually binned her beige cardie five years into her role – by the time her character was killed off in a dramatic collapse storyline she hadn’t worn the cardigan for 15 years. “Pauline’s costume never came from a second-hand shop and there is nothing wrong with Marks and Spencer and Next, where most of her clothes came from,” said Wendy Richard, who played Pauline for nearly 22 years. Preach.

7) Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston’s skirts (Eurovision 1981): It was one of the most famous dance routines to have ever been seen on TV and definitely on the Eurovision Song Contest. As Bucks Fizz sang their Euro-winning Making Your Mind Up, singers Cheryl and Jay had their skirts whipped off by their male bandmates as the line “and if you want to see some more” was sung. Cheryl said: “The skirt move came about because we were discussing what length skirt to have. I had muscular runner’s legs and I wanted a long skirt and Jay was very tiny so she wanted short. We were going to and fro for ages and then someone said ‘let’s have both’. Everything in my life now is because of Making Your Mind Up – where I live, the person I married, my kids. It was less than three minutes but it changed everything.”

8) Frank Spencer’s beret (Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em): Frank (Michael Crawford) had a memorable outfit – a tightly-belted mac, a tank top and a beret. Think the French Resistance meets Bedford. On rollerskates. Hanging off a cliff.

9) Walter White’s Heisenberg hat (Breaking Bad): In another case of art imitating real life, actor Bryan Cranston was concerned that his shaved head – bald because his character Walter was undergoing chemotherapy – would be sunburnt under the roasting Albuquerque sun. The costume designer stepped forward to help holding a pork pie hat – and in that moment, White’s alter ego was born. Made from Texas Rambouillet sheep wool felt with a 1 7/8 inch brim and a hand-takced grosgrain ribbon, the hat first appeared in season one episode seven – it’s the same hat as Detective Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) wore in The French Connection.

* Marcella returns to ITV soon.

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