BBC drama The Split is lovely to look at and beautifully made but nothing ground-breaking - like a John Lewis sofa

There are some shows where I’m so busy looking at ‘stuff’ in the background that I forget what’s actually supposed to be going on in the plot.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 5:00 pm
Nicola Walker stars in a new series of The Split, on BBC1. Picture: BBC/Sister Pictures/Alex Telfer/
Nicola Walker stars in a new series of The Split, on BBC1. Picture: BBC/Sister Pictures/Alex Telfer/

One of those shows returned those week, The Split (BBC1, Tuesdays, 9pm), offering plenty of opportunities to lust over kitchen mixer taps, mid-century modern sideboards and button-back sofas.

I really liked the first series about impossibly high-powered lawyers and their impossibly glamorous clients going through impossibly complicated divorces.

But in this second helping it’s also impossibly difficult to care about any of the characters, even though the ‘star’ is the usually brilliant Nicola Walker, who is so empathetic and intelligent in ITV cop show Unforgiven.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In The Split, she plays Hannah Stern, who is both an amazing, hard-edged divorce lawyer and a hapless, lovelorn, mum-of-three engaged in a fling with a colleague, Christie, who is so handsome you can’t look at him without squinting.

Hannah deals with squabbling couples at work and a squabbling family at home, all needy and interdependent, and irritating. There are big ‘life things’ going on here – divorce, miscarriage, mental health issues – but it substitutes low-fi piano-based ballads for real emotion and means your eye wanders to the lovely kitchens, boardrooms, restaurants and bedrooms where the action takes place.

‘Ooh, that’s a lovely scatter cushion’, you think to yourself, or ‘where can I get tumblers like that?’ all while someone cries messily in the foreground.

You find it washing over you, lovely to look at, beautifully made, but nothing ground-breaking, nothing to get excited about – a John Lewis catalogue of a show.

Rio and Kate: Becoming a Stepfamily (BBC1, Mon, 9pm) saw Rio Ferdinand struggle to help his kids come to terms with their mum’s death and his new relationship. Honest and should help many others.

I’ve been catching up on Homeland (Netflix) ahead of the final series airing on Channel 4 on Sunday. This spy thriller has been up and down, but always engages you, and I’ll miss it when it’s gone.