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Thrilling finale

Wallander (BBC1, Sun) Wimbledon Beo (TG4, Sun) Thelma's Gypsy Girls (Ch4, Sun) "A lifetime of happiness!" scoffs a character in George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman. "No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on Earth."

Happiness, a lifetime of it or otherwise, is a condition that's unlikely to afflict Swedish detective Kurt Wallander, a cop so gloomy he makes Morse at his most morose seem like kindly old Dixon of Dock Green.

Still, even the most dedicated fan of Henning Mankel's books (and I'd count myself as one) might have been taken aback at just how brutally life and other people's deaths pulled the rug from under our hero in this adaptation of the novella An Event in August, the only one of the Wallander stories so far not published in English.

No sooner has Wallander (the excellent Kenneth Branagh) moved into his dream home in the countryside with his girlfriend Vanja (Saskia Reeves) and her son than the dog has dug up a skeleton in the back garden.

"Tell me it's Bronze Age," says Wallander, eyeing the hole in the skeleton's skull. "A sword or something."

"Sorry, it's a rifle," says the forensics guy, adding: "I thought you weren't taking your work home with you anymore." Vanja had thought the same. She should have known better.

"Do you think this is fate?" Wallander asks her.

"Kurt, don't be so miserable. It's a coincidence."

"Policemen don't believe in coincidences."

"It could have happened to anyone," she weakly tries to reassure him.

"It didn't. It happened to me."

But Wallander was soon enveloped in misery, his own and other people's. Within minutes he was presented with the washed-ashore body of a pregnant woman who'd been thrown from a ferry and chopped up by the propeller.

Shortly after that, his female sidekick, who'd just been promoted to inspector, had her head bashed in with a sledgehammer by a creep (Con O'Neill) who used to pimp out his daughters.

It was Wallander's fault; they'd been trespassing without a warrant.

Then there was another murder: ferry woman's friend, a prostitute who was beaten to a pulp by the killer -- who turned out to be Wallander's new neighbour -- and dumped by the side of the road.

Wallander tied up all the loose ends, but in the process his relationship unravelled. "I'm who I am because of what I do," he tells Vanja after a failed counselling session.

And that's why we love you, Kurt. Welcome back. It's nice to have some gloom and gore on Sunday nights again.

The only way to enjoy the scintillating Wimbledon men's singles final was without the volleys of jingoistic rubbish coming from the BBC commentary box, so thanks are due to TG4. I couldn't understand a word of the commentary; I do understand tennis, though, and that's all that matters.

I never thought I'd say this, but hard luck to Andy Murray, whose best wasn't good enough to beat the brilliant Roger Federer. Murray's emotional speech after the match proved there's a heart beating beneath that sour Scottish exterior.

From the sublime to the insidious and Thelma's Gypsy Girls, which is accompanied by the sound of a ratings cow having its udders squeezed till they squeak.

In a Big Fat Gypsy Weddings spin-off that should be spun like a Frisbee into the nearest bin, Scouse dressmaker Thelma Madine -- whose monstrous creations for Traveller brides have made her "five-bedroom-mansion-with-a-swimming-pool" rich -- tries to "give something back to the community that made me" by taking on 10 Traveller girls to train as seamstresses. "As soon as people see they're Travellers, they don't give them an opportunity," drones Thelma.

Somebody is being stitched up here, and it isn't Thelma or her young recruits.



Wallander 4/5 Wimbledon Beo 5/5 Thelma's Gypsy Girls 1/5