I’ve only just got back from my summer holidays, but it seems autumn is already here. Soon we will not be able to walk along a pavement without having to battle our way through a pile of mouldy old leaves, hoping something nasty isn’t hidden beneath.
How do we know this? By watching TV. The signs the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness has arrived are there. The X Factor ‘X’ is upon us, like some civilisation-ending asteroid of hyperbole about to create a crater of mediocrity on the national psyche.
Strictly Come Dancing’s annual sequinathon is also about to start, the celebs and Ed Balls already practising their rictus grins and desperate, ‘vote for me’ hand signals.
And the main TV channels are all pushing the new series of returning favourites and hoped-for hits, all of which we are expected to embrace as televisual hot water bottles as the nights draw in.
The BBC is first out of the blocks, with August not yet over. The first of their ‘major new dramas’ – all the BBC’s new dramas are major, it seems – is One of Us (BBC1, Tuesdays, 9pm).
At first glance, this is not comforting autumn viewing. A young pair of newlyweds, expecting their first child, are murdered, the families left to deal with the emotional fallout.
Then the killer pitches up in their hometown, a remote Highland fastness, and after a conveniently wild and stormy night, ends up dead in a barn.
It’s aiming for gritty and modern, there’s snot involved when people cry – which they do, a lot, and the famously mucus-y Juliet Stevenson stars – but by the end, when we’re left with a kind of locked room mystery, no shortage of suspects, and the police on their way, it’s all got a bit Agatha Christie, and what could be more comforting than that?
Well, the Great British Bake-Off (BBC1, Wednesdays, 8pm), that’s what. If you want something warm and snuggly this autumn, climb under the John Lewis 24-tog paisley comfort blanket of the Bake-Off with Mel, Sue, Paul, Mary and the 11 remaining contestants, and don’t get out until Christmas.
Play Mel and Sue innuendo bingo, guess whose Genoese sponge will collapse and marvel at Candice’s purple lipstick.
It’s what autumn nights were made for.