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World Without End

Thu Jan 10, 9-10.55pm, C4

Series one, episode one
Ken Follett’s medieval potboilers are not at home to subtlety or nuance, but if it’s broadly drawn, briskly delivered drama you’re after (with side orders of rape, murder and betrayal), then he’s your man. With 2010’s adaptation of ‘The Pillars Of The Earth’ having done the business critically and commercially, ‘World Without End’ returns to the town of Kingsbridge 150 years later, in 1327, and wisely sticks to the above formula. Taking in events both national (Edward III takes on France and his own conniving mother) and local (Kingsbridge quails under the twin rule of crown and church, each as corrupt as the other), it features all the perverted monks, conflicted knights and plucky heroines you could wish for. It also looks fantastic, piling on the mud and pestilence with laudable relish. Miranda Richardson, Cynthia Nixon and Charlotte Riley are among the performers hamming it up to great effect, although Peter Firth’s penny-pinching knight, a dead ringer for Barry Gibb, steals the show. Preceded at 8pm by Follett’s documentary on the era, ‘Journey Into The Dark Ages’, on More4.

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