If Finding Alice (ITV) deployed the old Bobby-Ewing-in-the-shower trick and revealed that it was all just a dream, would we be surprised? I wouldn’t put it past this show. We’re into episode four now – the end is in sight! – and the following things happened: Alice sold her kitchen to a nice accountant from the bereavement group run by the pathologist who conducted her husband’s autopsy. She spent a night in a tent by her husband’s grave. She got involved in an extremely dull subplot about contaminated land and council planning. And she doused an estate agent with the garden hose (it didn’t put off the buyers, but nor were they put off by the fact there’s a body buried in the garden).
There are odd bits of nicely spiky dialogue. Alice (Keeley Hawes) begs her parents to lend her some money, and they’re reluctant because she didn’t pay it back last time. “That was over 20 years ago! I was a student. I had drugs to buy.” But it was a bit rich when, at the therapy group, Alice told one of her fellow bereaved: “You’re just a little bit annoying, aren’t you?” Actors often talk of how great it is to play unlikeable characters, but how much fun is it for the audience?
Actually, it can be fun if the characters are a dab hand at comedy, as is the case with Joanna Lumley as Alice’s mother. “You look terrible. Can I do something with your hair?” she told her grieving daughter. This show might have worked if it was all played as a comedy about a stubborn widow whose in-laws are trying to sell the house from under her.
Alternatively, it could have been a serious study of grief; the show has spoken truths about losing a loved one, as in this episode when Alice said the aftermath of death involves bureaucracy and missing passwords and trying to sort out money. And it has made the important points that dying intestate – because you consider yourself too young and carefree to make a will – and not being married to a partner who dies, can throw up all sorts of problems.
But that was mixed into the soup of Harry leaving behind some frozen sperm, the secret son (possibly the most boring character here) and the evil-doings of Harry’s dastardly business partner. And then Alice went back to her job at a bridal shop, a line of work so bizarrely ill-suited to her character that the writers may as well have had her toiling down a tin mine.