Review: How ITV's quirky new crime drama Professor T could be added to the short list of famous Belgians

Before their football team got quite so good, you might have struggled to name any famous Belgians – Tintin, Georges Simenon and Agatha Christie’s fictional detective Hercule Poirot is probably the limit.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 5:26 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 5:28 pm

Well, now it seems there is another name to add to the list – Professor T (ITV Sun, 9pm).

Based on a hit Belgian TV show, forensic criminologist Professor Jasper Tempest (Ben Miller) is Poirot with OCD knobs on – obsessed with order and cleanliness, he even sanitises his latex gloves he habitually wears. Miller played a similar role in Death in Paradise, a repressed Englishman with childhood issues, and it’s become his stock character.

The plot of this first episode, meanwhile, was similarly second-hand, as the police tried to catch a rapist targeting young students – plus ça change, as the Belgians might say.

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Ben Miller starred as Professor T in a new ITV crime drama

Professor T is brought in to help the plod, and before you know it, he’s identified the criminal and everything’s all been tied up in a neat, tidy and well-sanitised bow.

However, this is not as hackneyed as you might think, and there are enough quirks about Professor T that make me think it’s worth sticking with.

The plot was gossamer-thin in this first episode to give space to introduce the characters and establish the dynamic of our crime-fighting team. The prof and the dishy police boss (Juliet Aubrey) have got romantic history, while there are troubles at home for DI Rabbit – yes, that is his name.

There are odd dream sequences – a rooftop tango makes you think the prof has a heart of fire beneath the prissy exterior – and Miller plays it all dry as a just-uncovered bone.

We might have to add another Belgian to our list.

Another continental detective hits our screens this week in a new series of Baptiste (BBC1, Sun, 9pm). Every time you think you’ve got a handle on the central mystery, it lurches in another direction. Gripping.

Uprising (BBC1, Tues-Thurs, 9pm) was a companion documentary to Steve McQueen’s Small Axe films about black British life, focusing on the New Cross fire of 1981. A compelling, emotional watch.

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