Well, sometimes they do, as How To Live Mortgage Free With Sarah Beeny would suggest.
The best, like Catching A Killer (C4), are making a point that viewers might not fully appreciate until they’ve watched the show.
This riveting true crime documentary didn’t call itself Finding A Killer because real police work is rarely about “whodunit”.
Catching A Killer follows the work of the Thames Valley Police Major Crime unit
Experienced detectives often have a very good idea of the “who” and so did we, from a single word spoken in the opening moments of last night’s film.
A woman rang the police to say she was concerned about her 31-year-old daughter who was missing.
The operator asked what gave the woman such reason for concern.
The first episode follows the search for Natalie Hemming
“Him,” she said and much of the show was taken up with the “him” in question. Paul, the husband of missing mother-of-three Natalie Hemmings was of interest to the police from the outset.
In the first encounters with him he was reluctant to let them see his phone. He needed it, he said, in case people rang him.
He corrected this to say, “If Natalie rings me,” but the point wasn’t missed.
When they took him in for questioning he asked, “Has she been found then?” as if he wasn’t even trying to suggest his innocence.
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The interviews that followed looked like trying to catch jelly with a straw.
Sometimes he presented himself as a concerned husband who’d let his wife just go away for a bit to clear her head.
Other times, when cornered, he offered the classic, “No comment”.
The spadework of the investigation it seemed wasn’t extracting a confession but gathering sufficient evidence to silence anyone arguing he might not be guilty.
Nevertheless he kept on arguing just that, right up to and after his conviction for murder.
The mother-of-three disappeared seemingly without a trace
As the police gathered their facts, a picture built, not just of an unremarkable, controlling little monster of a man but of a young woman who’d very nearly escaped him.
After years of abuse from her husband, Natalie had met someone else, fallen in love and was full of hope.
Even the detectives were choked as they read her final text messages.
There was such a pattern to it, her finding an escape, him killing her before she could do it, that it seemed just like a story.
Made-up mysteries will never go out of fashion but shows like this prove true crime is just as powerful.
The Great Village Green Crusade saw Robert Llewellyn leave his Cotswolds home for Las Vegas
The Great Village Green Crusade (BBC4) saw Red Dwarf star Robert Llewellyn leave his Cotswolds home for Las Vegas. Improbably, the desert capital of sin is also a leading light in the sustainable energy movement, deriving increasing quantities of its whopping electricity needs from solar panels.
Robert met the city’s mayor, Carolyn Goldmark Goodman, a brilliant lady who dishes out personalised, thousand-dollar poker chips as her business cards.
She was a bit vague when Robert suggested twinning his village, Temple Guiting with Vegas but he left with her blessings to find a way of making the place, population 386, eco-powered and sustainable.
When you begin with Vegas, of course, it’s a struggle to keep up the pizzazz and much of the remainder was worthy but dull.
Some may have taken the ultimate energy-saving decision, switched off and gone to bed.