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World Without End

Sat Feb 9, 9-10.05pm, C4

Series one, episode five
Weeping pustules. Oozing sores. Deep-red phlegm. Yes, it’s the make-up crew taking the plaudits in tonight’s penultimate episode of the Ken Follett adaptation as the Black Death – or the Great Mortality as it was less glamorously called – ravages England. And, aside from a brief exchange of battle tactics between the King and his mum (over a game of chess, naturally), England means Kingsbridge, that microcosm of the nation where the disease hits both good and bad alike.

One or two, however, attempt to turn the grim business to their advantage – we’re pleased to note that the whimpering malevolence of Godwyn, at least, will live to fight another day. The tension is draining from the series at just the wrong time and, with the onset of the pestilence, it’s all become very solemn indeed. Those who’ve stuck it out this far, however, will want to tune in for next week’s double-bill finale.