ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: We love TV female cops to be tough yet vulnerable

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: Sleuths in satin have become SO arresting! How we love our on-screen female cops to be tough and yet a little bit vulnerable

As chilly autumn evenings close in, how gratifying to find an addictive new cop series on the TV schedules in the shape of the BBC’s surveillance drama The Capture.

Even better to see the hugely talented Holliday Grainger playing the lead, DI Rachel Carey. 

Ever since Helen Mirren nailed it as Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison in the early 1990s, we have loved our female cops to be tough and yet a little bit vulnerable. 

As chilly autumn evenings close in, how gratifying to find an addictive new cop series on the TV schedules in the shape of the BBC’s surveillance drama The Capture. Even better to see the hugely talented Holliday Grainger playing the lead, DI Rachel Carey

They’re prepared to go mano a mano with the blokes down the pub but they also have an emotional Achilles heel. So far Carey shows all the signs of conforming to type.

Back in Tennison’s heyday, any indication of not only vulnerability but of sexuality was heavily disguised by the way she dressed. 

Her clothes sent the clear message that she was a woman who was one of the boys – plain white shirts, frumpy, heavy coats, boxy suits. 

Ever since Helen Mirren nailed it as Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison in the early 1990s, we have loved our female cops to be tough and yet a little bit vulnerable

Her hairstyle was a workmanlike, in-and-out- of-the-shower do – her make-up of the no-make-up kind.

But now our female ’tecs are not only running the show but their sexuality is built into their character and emphasised in what they wear.

Fast-forward to Gillian Anderson’s Detective Superintendent in the BBC’s The Fall, who, though equally ball-busting, was allowed to slither around in a miasma of sensuality with silky blouses and figure-hugging skirts mirroring her suggestively slow vowels.

And now we have the captivating Grainger, tough and ruthlessly ambitious, showing up in more nice shirts, glossy lipstick and a carefully tonged bob worthy of the attentions of George Northwood, the man who styles the Duchess of Sussex’s immaculate locks. 

Her character’s clearly going to run rings around her male colleagues but in the rumpled post-coital bed beside her married lover she wears a lacy camisole and knickers.

Question? Do many people, detectives or not, put on lacy lingerie in bed after sex?

Stroppy toddlers run wild… in Parliament

Holidays are wonderful but they only exist in contrast to not being on holiday. So by the time I have had a couple of weeks basking in the sun doing very little, as I have just done, I am usually excited to return to real life. 

Ready to put in the time it takes for me to want to be on holiday again. Which this year has been about 48 hours.

As somebody who regards herself as a relatively sentient, informed, educated and logical human being, I am utterly baffled by the country’s current politics. 

It’s a landscape of shifting sands with no directions and the confusion is exhausting.

The seemingly (to me at least) self-sabotaging tactics of the Dominic Cummings-led Tory Party, the obfuscation and hypocrisy of Labour – and the sheer nastiness of it all is something that I am sure I am not alone in finding completely alienating. 

As somebody who regards herself as a relatively sentient, informed, educated and logical human being, I am utterly baffled by the country’s current politics. It’s a landscape of shifting sands with no directions and the confusion is exhausting

The more I listen, watch and read, the less I understand. And I do not enjoy feeling stupid. 

Small children exert what little power they have by screaming and chucking their toys around and making life generally tiresome for their parents. 

They have no concept of agreement, collaboration or cause and effect. That’s not though, what you expect from those who have been invested with adult power.

But the behaviour of our MPs, flailing around in their own increasingly irrelevant ideologies, swearing across the Dispatch Box and appearing to disregard anything but the immediate consequence is extremely disenfranchising.

Unless our politics can find some kind of order it strikes me that when we finally have the much speculated-on General Election, a worryingly low number of people will think it worth their while turning out to engage in what used to be one of the great democracies but is now a totally out-of-control playground.

Yes Boris, my sibling ruined my party too

Youngers siblings… who’d have them. Just when you’ve got yourself confirmed in the pole position that, as the eldest child, you feel you naturally deserve, they come along and throw a spanner in the works.

Jo Johnson’s resignation reminds me of the first time, when I was a student at a single-sex school, that I finally managed to make a few friends who were boys and invited them home.

There I was proudly holding court over this mixed-sex soiree when my younger, and much more beautiful, sister crashed the party, stealing all the admiration and attention. Different to Boris and Jo, of course, but somehow the same, too.


Just when you’ve got yourself confirmed in the pole position that, as the eldest child, you feel you naturally deserve, they come along and throw a spanner in the works. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured left, while his brother Jo is seen right

I wish ‘activists’ would give it a rest

Can we ban the word activist? It’s one of those infuriatingly overused terms that has become a lazy catch-all to describe… well, just about anyone who does anything. 

From inventing vegan mascara to saving our snails, the opportunities for activism are many but not always deserving of the inbuilt congratulatory quality in that word. 

It implies that anyone not actually calling themselves an activist is lolling around complacently unaware that they could be saving the world in some way whereas in reality there are thousands of people achieving remarkable things who wouldn’t go near the description.

I’m all for people effecting change for the better. But now every celebrity profile or millennial’s CV includes the word activist, it’s time for it to enjoy a little less activity.

Is there anything more British than the National Trust, which last week attributed lower annual visitor income on the combination of too much sunshine and too much rain? Blame the weather – at least it’s reliably wrong.

We’re all digging the Land Girl look now

Fashion reflects the age and never more so than now, with the renaissance of Land Girl style.

In these tumultuous times, boilersuits worthy of Sir Winston in his air-raid shelter heyday are predicted as one of autumn’s most popular styles.

Meanwhile the cotton bandeaus and 1940s-style turbans – that headgear worn by those patriotic young women who dug for victory – have been seen from society weddings to beach raves.

Add to that the tweedy skirts and culottes of this season’s trend-setting Celine collection and a pair of sturdy platform Grenson brogues and you have the perfect wardrobe for tending the vegetable patch if we get a run on fresh goods.

Simply accessorise with the lyrics to Noël Coward’s There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner.

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