This week’s top viewing

Billy (NEIL STUKE), Martha Costello QC (MAXINE PEAKE), Clive Reader (RUPERT PENRY-JONES). See PA Feature TV Stuke.  PA Photo/BBC.
Billy (NEIL STUKE), Martha Costello QC (MAXINE PEAKE), Clive Reader (RUPERT PENRY-JONES). See PA Feature TV Stuke. PA Photo/BBC.
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Monday: SILK (BBC ONE, 9PM)

Silk made its debut in 2011 and is back for a third series, with its original stars, Maxine Peake and Rupert Penry-Jones, still on board. Martha is thrown into the thick of things when she’s asked to defend the son of the head of chambers who has been arrested for killing a police officer - and as the evidence stacks up against him, her job seems to get increasingly difficult. Female QCs are few and far between - there have only ever been about 300, according to Bar Council statistics - but Maxine had help when it came to research from a formidable role model.

“I met with Helena Kennedy QC at a charity event at the Royal Courts of Justice, around the same time I knew I was going up for the part,” reveals Maxine. “I remember thinking: this woman is quite special and I’d like to find out more.”

Tuesday: KIRSTIE’S BEST OF BOTH WORLDS (CHANNEL 4, 8PM)

Property expert Kirstie Allsopp’s straight-talking manner has turned many wannabe homeowners’ luck around. In this latest series she is once again working solo without co-presenter and right-hand man Phil Spencer, offering her expertise to people who are looking for the perfect home that will provide them with a slice of classic country living as well as being a stone’s throw from the city. The best of both - and it can be done, Kirstie insists.

With house pricing dropping for every minute further out of the city you’re prepared to settle - and a massive £1,300 for every minute’s commute out of the capital - it’s little surprise that people are looking to snag a country pile which is within a short commute to city life. And Kirstie’s going to show house buyers how easy it is to do just that.

Wednesday: SUSPECTS (CHANNEL 5, 10PM)

If Outnumbered can give a fresh spin to the domestic rib-tickler by letting improvisation add freshness to the show, why can’t the same be done for the good old cops-and-robbers drama?

The improv factor was one of the key things that attracted Fay Ripley to Suspects.

Explains Fay, who plays DI Martha Bellamy: “It’s fast and furious, and will hopefully grip the nation in a way that they haven’t been gripped before.”

In the latest offering, a woman has been attacked near the West Willow canal by a man wearing gloves and a balaclava. The fact there have been two other rapes within a mile-and-a-half radius makes them suspect the involvement of recently released serial rapist George Callahan (Peter McNeil O’Connor).

Thursday: INSPECTOR GEORGE GENTLY (BBC1, 8.30PM)

This retro police series takes an interest in the social issues of the time and in this episode, the last in the current series, it turns its attention to the 1960s decline of the coal industry.

Lee Ingleby, who plays Gently’s sidekick Bacchus, points out: “There were more pit closures in that time than Thatcher’s, which is fascinating. I think it was just the way Thatcher went about it that people found shocking.”

For him, it was a story that struck a real chord, especially when he arrived on location in Willington, Northumberland. “We were filming in an actual pit village that had closed down. It was art imitating life,” says the actor.

Gently and Bacchus (Martin Shaw) investigate the death of miner Arthur Hawkes, whose body is discovered in the pit.

Friday: JONATHAN CREEK (BBC1, 9PM)

Alan Davies has recently been bringing us his own take on the action from Sochi in BBC Two’s Apres-Ski. But now the games are over, Davies is getting back to a more familiar role, that of lord of illusions in a Paddington-style coat.

A musical version of classic 19th-century ‘locked-room’ novel The Mystery of the Yellow Room has been a huge hit with London theatre audiences, thanks to its mix of gothic melodrama, sizzling romance, and great tunes. But the leading lady Juno Pirelli (Ali Bastian) is found stabbed in a locked dressing room, with no weapon, no sign of any intruder - and no explanation as to how her attacker escaped.

It sounds like a case for Creek. As Juno’s life hangs in the balance, you know it’s only a matter of time before Jonathan returns to sleuthing.