A Touch Of Frost Review: The End Of An Era

April 2, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

A TOUCH OF FROST: Sunday 4th April, ITV1, 9pm ALERT ME

If Vera Lynn’s wartime song There’ll Always Be an England were written today, it would surely contain a verse about David Jason. For more than three decades he has been England’s, and Britain’s, favourite character actor. And that, sadly, now looks like coming to an end. Fittingly, in 1940, the year Jason was born, the England Lynn was evoking of Empire and a million marching feet was also coming to its end.

Whether we see the back of what will surely be Jason’s last great TV character in as violent a conclusion remains to be seen. On his insistence ITV filmed two endings for the septuagenarian TV detective in this two-part Touch of Frost finale and it is remaining secretive to the end about which will be his final frame. My vote, as a sentimental soul, would be for him to walk out on the arm of his new love interest Christine, the RSPCA officer embroiled in a case as a witness to a murder.

If he were rolled out on a trolley with a sheet over his head it would be less than Frost deserves. Not just because of all the murders he has solved in Denton, but because of the relative lameness of his likely assassins. Yes, the masked killer on a mountain bike with an iron bar and a vendetta against Frost stretching back 30 years hangs around in moodily-lit underpasses with post-watershed, faceless menace. But as a copycat he is almost unbearably hackneyed . The Irish gangster, Gerry Berland, meanwhile, is rather more a “feckin diddlee-dee, fetch me shillelagh? Father Ted extra than a Long Good Friday villain.

Some of the setups are clunky too. The hired goon cuts out photos of Christine’s kids while casually smoking a joint for extra hired goon-ness. The notion of wasted talent is heavily telegraphed when the young boy who likes to study and is bound for Oxford accidentally gets caught up in the stabbing of a school chum, but turns out to be much tougher under police pressure than the macho gangster’s son who actually plunged the knife. The murdered boy himself is reading zoology at a professional level while volunteering to help at an RSPCA animal shelter. Wasteful enough for you?

The fact that Frost, despite all this, is a good deal better than an ordinary detective show owes limitless credit to Jason. It does not subvert the genre. There are darker shows in shape of Silent Witness and lighter ones like Foyle’s War. But it is Jason’s balance of these two elements which made Frost such a compelling show. He achieves a trio of almost impossible feats: he does gruff world-weariness without seeming clichéd, granddad compassion without seeming twee, and occasional one-liners without seeming too much like Del-Boy. There’ll always be an England. Alas, at 70, there won’t always be a David Jason.

There’ll always be an England, while David Jason acts,
as Del-Boy, Frost or Danger Mouse,
with or without his ‘tache