Monday, 30 November -0001

National Treasure

Fame turns to infamy when a celebrity stands accused

Written by Ben Felsenburg



Ben-Felsenburg-colour-176He's a face we all know and love, an old familiar friend thanks to television fame. But what if that household name harboured the most monstrous secrets – long hidden from the nation and from his loving wife? National Treasure (Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm) imagines a story all too familiar from the headlines of recent years. Paul Finchley (Robbie Coltrane) is feted wherever he goes as a star of light entertainment, and if his wife Marie (Julie Walters) has had to turn a blind eye to his philandering, it's a price she is willing to pay to remain by the side of the man she adores.

Then one morning the police come knocking with a devastating allegation: that he attacked a woman years before. Finchley’s protestations of innocence are entirely credible, but then so too are the accusations against him as more women come forward.

They might be fantasists or opportunists, says Finchley’s lawyer, and as Marie steels herself for the long battle ahead in the papers and the courts, in every fibre of her being she wants to believe her husband is innocent. But, in a towering performance by Coltrane, Finchley is not an easy man to like, and this unnerving character keeps us guessing.

Is he driven by the demons of his past and deserving of the harshest penalties? Or could he be about to pay a horrific price for unfounded claims? The answers will not be easy, in this gripping study of the unknowability of the human heart.



NOT TO BE MISSED...

GREAT CONTINENTAL RAILWAY JOURNEYS Tues, BBC2, 9pm
Michael Portillo gets his teeth stuck into Transylvania on the Romanian railway system, as the series returns.

PENELOPE KEITH’S HIDDEN VILLAGES Weds, C4, 8pm
Keith (above) is in the Cotswolds to explore the old stamping grounds of William Morris and Laurie Lee.

PARANOID Thurs, ITV, 9pm
The murder of a young mother is the starting point for a fast-paced if brutal thriller, starring Robert Glenister, Neil Stuke (above) and Indira Varma as police detectives.


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