Clunes shines as Conan Doyle in real-life story

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Wasting police time is a serious business.

But so is that spent by TV viewers who endured the long-running hype over who killed Lucy Beale in EastEnders (BBC1) and the eight weeks lost over who was the real murderer of 11-year-old Danny Latimer in the second series of Broadchurch (ITV1).

They could have done better by enlisting the services of the celebrated novelist and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - the creator of the pipe-smoking fictional detective Sherlock Holmes - who is also remembered for the real-life events when he pursued a notorious miscarriage of justice.

This is the theme of Arthur and George (ITV1), an adaptation of Julian Barnes’s acclaimed novel which local theatregoers may have seen when Nottingham Playhouse adapted it as a stage production a couple of years ago.

Set in 1906 in Staffordshire, Hampshire and London, the drama follows Conan Doyle (Martin Clunes) and his trusted secretary Alfred ‘Woodie’ Wood (Charles Edwards) as they investigate the case of George Edalji (Arsher Ali who appeared in Four Lions and The Missing), a young Anglo-Indian solicitor practising in Birmingham who was imprisoned for allegedly mutilating animals and writing obscene letters.

This three-parter, which starts next Monday, also features Art Malik (The Jewel in the Crown and Holby City) as George’s father, the Rev Shapurji Edalji, and Emma Fielding (DCI Banks and Silk) as his wife, Charlotte.

However, it’s the end of the road tonight for BBC2’s historical drama, Wolf Hall, which has delighted many fans of Hilary Mantel’s books, while others have complained about the slow plots and flickering candlelit scenes.

Tonight’s closing episode sees Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy) heading for the scaffold, and Cromwell (an award-winning performance if ever there was one from Mark Rylance) getting back at his enemies. Straight after the final credits, switch to BBC4 for Wolf Hall: the Inside Story, in which author Hilary Mantel is joined by Mark Rylance and director Peter Kosminsky discuss the series.

And, if you are still in history mode, and have a few bob to spare, click on www.historicaltrips.com to see if you want to join their seven-day tour The Making of a Tyrant: The Reign of Henry VIII in which you’ll be able to retrace the monarch’s footsteps in Tudor England on an extensive trip that includes Oxford, Hampton Court, Portsmouth and Windsor.

Two other series ending this week will be missed if only for bringing some much-needed sun and warmth to the dreary and dull days of a New Year.

Tomorrow it’s the last in the present series of Death in Paradise (BBC1), which last week gave a fleeting flag-up to Mansfield when the island’s resident detective DI Goodman (Kris Marshall) championed the late Alvin Stardust over Elvis Presley.

The other ray of sunshine is being served up in Italy Unpacked (BBC2) which delivers its final course on Friday as historian Andrew Graham-Dixon and chef Giorgio Localleti tour Veneto on the country’s east coast to savour a tasty menu that includes clams, spaghetti and trout.