CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: Meet Becky – a super freeloader to match The Talented Mr Ripley



The Curse


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Hotels, restaurants, galleries, and clubs host endless boozy PR events for everything from product launches to film screenings, every hour of the day all over the country.

Anyone wanting free wine and nibbles has only to saunter up to reception and say: ‘Is it through there? Thanks — oh, I’m Fred Freebie, by the way, from Ligger Video Productions.’

The staff rarely check and, even if they do, they’ll almost never cause a scene. I’m not advocating such reprehensible behaviour, of course, but it’s hardly new. Crime writer Patricia Highsmith’s favourite character, Tom Ripley, created a luxury lifestyle for himself by muscling in on other people’s parties.

Becky (Erin Doherty) has the technique honed to finesse in Chloe (BBC1). A female Mr Ripley and equally talented, she strolls into an exhibition, spies a stranger and squeals: ‘You’re here!’ before kissing him on both cheeks.

Becky (Erin Doherty) has the technique of muscling in on other people's parties honed to finesse in Chloe

Becky (Erin Doherty) has the technique of muscling in on other people’s parties honed to finesse in Chloe

What’s he to do? If he insists he doesn’t know her, people might assume she’s an ex-girlfriend he’s trying to keep secret from his wife.

All a con artist needs is lashings of confidence, and Becky appears to have that. Fragmentary flashbacks, though, hint that she is lying even to herself. When the party is over, she imagines that everyone has seen through her lies and despises her.

And at 2am, unable to sleep, she is scrolling through photos on her phone in the dark — obsessed with the glamorous and ostensibly perfect world of a woman she used to know . . . the Chloe of the show’s title.

After Chloe dies in an unexpected suicide, Becky begins spying on her artsy, self-absorbed friends, starting with pretentious yoga devotee Livia (Pippa Bennett-Warner).


Challenged to identify a photo of a mammoth skeleton, former Commons speaker John Bercow was speechless for a glorious 20 seconds on The Weakest Link (BBC1). ‘A dinosaur,’ he guessed, hopelessly. Silence is truly golden. 

Writer and director Alice Seabright’s six-part psychological thriller takes a perceptive look at the illusory nature of life in the social media age.

‘I like to decide how people see me,’ Becky tells one lover who has discovered that she goes by a variety of names — Helena one day, Sasha the next.

The names give her superpowers, to parry every suspicious question with a quip. They also seem to provide her with a spectacular wardrobe, including a designer harlequin coat and a dress of neon sunflower yellow.

Where these clothes come from, we don’t yet know. I suspect that one of Becky’s alter egos might be a Bond Street shoplifter.

In that case, she’s wasted as a stalker. She could go full-on Pink Panther and become a diamond thief. The amateur East End robbers in The Curse (C4) wouldn’t know what to do with a diamond if they found the Crown Jewels lying in a skip. During a shotgun raid on a warehouse, they make off with a holdall half filled with banknotes and almost overlook the pallet of 7,000 gold ingots.

Their vision isn’t improved by their balaclavas, coloured like snooker balls to help them identify each other. They planned out the robbery on a pool table.

Half sitcom and half homage to London gangster movies such as The Long Good Friday, all split-screens and wah-wah guitars, this heist caper is co-written by its star, Tom Davis.

He hangs around a greasy spoon, like the one on Albert Square in EastEnders, rabbiting with his mates. It’s the early 1980s, Club Tropicana is on the jukebox and they’re all envious of George Michael: ‘I bet he’s getting so much crumpet!’

The story is narrated by cafe boss, Natasha (Emer Kenny), who urged her husband and brother to stage the hold-up. ‘I’m the only one who lives to tell the tale,’ she says. The gold is cursed.

If you’ve got fond memories of Minder, you’ll love this.

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