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PAUL WHITELAW: Drama gets top billing this week. Don’t miss the real-life story of the Steeltown Murders and face-paced thriller Without Sin

Our TV expert also recommends The Stones and Brian Jones, a documentary recounting the often tragic tale of the founder of The Rolling Stones.

Steeltown Murders with Philip Glenister as DCI Paul Bethell. Image: Severn Screen/Tom Jackson,
Steeltown Murders with Philip Glenister as DCI Paul Bethell. Image: Severn Screen/Tom Jackson,

Steeltown Murders – Monday, BBC One, 9pm

In 1973, three girls from the Port Talbot area were raped and murdered. This horrific case remained unsolved for 30 years, when the killer was finally identified through the use of pioneering DNA evidence. An absorbing factual drama, Steeltown Murders stars Philip Glenister as DCI Paul Bethell, the veteran copper who reopened the case. The narrative flits between the early 2000s and 1973, when Bethell was an idealistic young CID officer intent on capturing the girls’ killer. The overall tone is suitably solemn and subdued. Although we follow two of the girls on their final night out together, thankfully their ordeal isn’t shown. And on a purely aesthetic level, the 1970s period details are never overdone. It feels authentic.

The Stones and Brian Jones – Monday, BBC Two, 9pm

Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones. Image: Bent Rej.

At the age of 14, while traveling by train, Nick Broomfield bumped into ill-fated Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones. Broomfield, now one of our most celebrated documentarians, has never forgotten that brief encounter with a young man who, despite his wild rebel image, came across as quiet and polite. This Arena documentary recounts the sad, messy tale of a talented musician beset by chronic insecurity. Jones was charming, intelligent, selfish, spiteful and fragile. He craved love from his disapproving posh parents and respect from eventual Rolling Stone leaders Jagger and Richards. Insight into the psyche of this complicated cat is provided by various friends and lovers, but Bill Wyman is the only Stone who sits down with Broomfield.

Without Sin – Monday to Thursday, STV, 9pm

Vicky McClure as Stella Tomlinson in Without Sin. Image: ITV.

An addictive psychological thriller, Without Sin reunites This is England actors Johnny Harris and Vicky McClure, who also serve as executive producers. McClure plays Stella, whose teenage daughter Maisy was murdered three years ago. When a restorative justice officer informs Stella that Maisy’s killer (Harris) is prepared to atone for his sins, she hesitantly agrees to meet with him in prison. For reasons I obviously can’t go into, an already fraught situation becomes even more complicated. Not only does Without Sin succeed as a twist-strewn thriller, it also works as a nuanced meditation on guilt, grief and trauma. As you’d expect, Harris and McClure are both excellent. Some of their scenes together are electrifying.

Matt Willis Fighting Addiction – Wednesday, BBC One, 9pm

Matt Willis shares the story of his battle with addiction to drugs and alcohol. Image: BBC/Phil Sharp.

Matt Willis of Busted fame appeared to be living the dream during his bubblegum punk heyday. However, as he admits during this frank documentary, he was addicted to drugs and alcohol. “It was not rock and roll… it was really sad.” These days Willis is in recovery, but like so many addicts he lives in fear of a relapse. It’s a thoughtful essay during which Willis goes in search of the various recovery methods available to anyone who struggles with addiction. We also hear from his wife, TV presenter Emma Willis, who describes what it’s like to be in love with someone in the throes of self-destruction. Hats off to all concerned, this is a valuable piece of television.

11 Minutes: America’s Deadliest Mass Shooting – Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm

In 2017, at a country music festival in Las Vegas attended by over 20,000 fans, a gunman began firing at random. 60 people were killed and 867 others were injured. Told from the perspective of concertgoers, musicians and police officers, this intense four-part documentary offers a detailed account of the tragedy. It captures the terror, confusion and chaos. We don’t see anyone being killed, thank God, but the camera phone footage is horrifying. I’ve only watched episode one, but it feels to me like a ruminative comment on the complex nature of American society. Country music fans are, broadly speaking, right-leaning patriots who believe in the right to bear arms. It’s all such a mess, so terribly sad.

Anton Danyluk on Body Shame – Thursday, BBC Scotland, 10:30pm

Anton Danyluk on the growing issue of male body confidence. Image: BBC.

Showing as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, this sensitive documentary follows Love Island star and fitness influencer Anton Danyluk as he confronts the pressing issue of male body confidence. According to reports from the Mental Health Foundation, more than a quarter of teenage boys and young men in Scotland are anxious about their body image. Danyluk relates to them, as he was once an insecure overweight kid. He’s also received online abuse for his current gym-buffed appearance, and worries that he’s inadvertently contributed to unrealistic expectations of what men’s bodies should look like. Danyluk comes across as a bright, thoughtful, self-aware fellow. He delivers his report with commendable concern and honesty.

Rolf Harris: Hiding in Plain Sight – Thursday, ITVX

With his career and reputation now in tatters, it’s perhaps easy to forget that Rolf Harris was once a fondly regarded entertainer. A likeable cuddly uncle type who radiated bonhomie, he seemed utterly harmless. In 2014 he was found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault. His victims were underage girls. This carefully crafted two-part documentary illustrates how predatory celebrities can exploit their status to abuse and traumatise vulnerable people. Harris was a cruel, selfish, arrogant and manipulative man who knew how to present himself as the exact opposite. The programme contains testimonies from some of his accusers. It also investigates the decades-long grooming of a childhood friend of Harris’ daughter, which began when she was 13.