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Persuasion. (L to R) Lydia Rose Bewley as Penelope Clay, Richard E. Grant as Sir Walter Elliot, Dako

Persuasion. (L to R) Lydia Rose Bewley as Penelope Clay, Richard E. Grant as Sir Walter Elliot, Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Yolanda Kettle as Elizabeth Elliot - Credit: NICK WALL/NETFLIX

Persuasion, Netflix, streaming now 

Ooh this one has really got some people’s goat. Chiefly proper telly critics who tend to take things a bit too seriously, and Jane Austen fanatics...but you can’t win them all. 

This modern adaptation of the novel, written in 1816, will surely have you screaming into a pillow if you’re an Austen purist. 

But if you take it for what it is – TV, entertainment, a bit of fun - I think there’s a chance you might enjoy it because, shock horror, I did! 

By the sounds of it, I’m in the minority.  

I found Persuasion breezy, light-hearted and funny. As did my daughter, 16, who has now been persuaded (see what I did there) to read the book. 

One thing that’s grating on me with the negative hype around the film (and let me just state here, it’s not the BEST film ever, I simply think everyone’s being too harsh) is the fury over the makers’ decision to break the fourth wall, with Dakota Johnson as lead Anne, talking to the audience...giving the odd wink or nod of a head. 

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One reviewer went so far as to say Pheobe Waller-Bridge could sue – it being so similar in style to the tremendous fleabag. 

Now, much as I love PWB and Fleabag, neither owns the rights to the fourth wall device. Er...what about Annie Hall, American Psycho, Ferris Bueller? 

Anyway, I digress. 

For those who’ve not read the book or seen the 90s film adaptation, the story centres around the Elliot family. The lovely Anne, her less than lovely sisters, and their egotistical father (camped up in true Richard E Grant fashion here). 

Anne mourns the loss of her first love, naval man Captain Wentworth – who was lured away from the family eight years ago when it was felt he was too lowly for them. 

Fast forward to the present day, and following the news that Sir Walter has been working his way swiftly through their savings, the Elliot family must leave for new, less swanky dwellings in Bath. 

First though, Anne must go tend to her horrible, self-indulgent sister Mary. And guess who shows up? You’ve got it. Captain Wentworth.  

The course of true love though, never runs smooth. 

Look, this isn’t going to win any awards. But will it make you feel good on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you find yourself strewn across the sofa? Yes, yes it will. Unless, of course, you’re an Austen academic.  

The cast of Severance

The cast of Severance - Credit: Apple TV +

Severance, Apple TV +, all episodes available to stream now 

This one completely flew over my head in spring when it officially landed on the streaming service. Last weekend though it came onto my radar when Empire’s Pilot podcast listed it as the best TV show of the year so far. 

A claim boldly backed-up by respected film review broadcaster Mark Kermode (who, likewise, was late to the party). 

Nominated for multiple Emmys, created by Dan Erikson, and directed by Ben Stiller (yes, he of Something About Mary fame), this is an astonishing, thought-provoking, and genre-bending thriller series, tied up in nine neat episodes, with a bevy of cliff-hangers in a finale that’ll have you chomping at the bit for more. Thankfully, it’s been renewed for season two. 

Set in a dystopian future, Severance nods culturally to Orwell...and to similarly unnerving films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and A Clockwork Orange. 

In its opener Mark (Adam Scott) bawls uncontrollably into his hands in the car park of his employer, Lumon, which is led by a sinister doyenne (Patricia Arquette), oddly placid wellbeing caretaker Ms Casey (Dichen Lachman), and the menacingly charming Milcheck (Tramell Tillman). 

Two years ago, following the death of his wife Gemma, Mark signed on to work at ‘revolutionary’ Lumon, which has created and champions the process of severance – splicing the lives of employees into home/work with a brain implant. 

Once you’ve descended the lift to the office – a stark labyrinth of pure white hell – you can remember nothing of the outside world. Not your your friends, where you live, your likes and dislikes or even (as newbie Helly discovers) the colour of your mother’s eyes. 

When you then ascend to the outside world, transforming from an ‘innie’ to an ‘outie’, nothing is remembered of what you’ve done that day. 

To Mark, it is the perfect way to hide his grief and pain. Eight whole hours of not remembering. 

Not so for Helly, who dedicates her days to discovering (and failing at) myriad ways to escape.  

After all, being an ‘innie’ is indescribably boring. While their ‘outie’ selves live life and get out and about, innies’ memories are limited to what they see and do within the confines of the Lumon complex. Every single day is the same. Every conversation the same – with no memories to recount. A running joke amongst the sparsely held employees is ‘what did you have for dinner?’  

When a former work friend, Pete, who’s managed to bypass his implant, approaches Mark to warn him about the darker side of Lumon, he’s unmoved. 

But gradually something stirs within. And, piece by piece, a revolution begins to unfold. 

The plotting is a little slow in the first two episodes, but it’s worth preserving, especially to get to final show, which will leave you breathless. 

Hopefuls in Come Dine With Me: The Professionals

Hopefuls in Come Dine With Me: The Professionals - Credit: Multistory TV

Come Dine With Me: The Professionals, Channel 4, weekdays, 5pm (catch up on All4) 

Be still my beating heart. I have found a new(ish) show to binge watch late at night when I can’t sleep. Or after a few too many shandies at the weekend. 

Who knew (I certainly didn’t) there was a professionals version of Come Dine With Me? 

The original show got me through the latter stages of both my pregnancies...and maternity leave. 

There were some classic episodes. A meltdown when one contestant unfairly marked another because there weren’t toothpicks on the table, and packed parts of the meals she didn’t like in her handbag. 

Another low marker and self-proclaimed food snob shocked a nation when he dished up a more than unremarkable starter of tinned tuna tossed with raw onion. Gag. 

Clearly the star of both versions of the show is Dave Lamb, whose acerbic commentary will have you choking on your tea with laughter. 

The premise is much the same, apart from the fact it’s restaurant/cafe/pub and street food business owners pitted against one another, with the dining taking place in each of their establishments. 

Each visiting pair marks the host out of 20, with the overall winner taking home £1,000 – though it’s so stressful I doubt many of them think the grand is worth it.