The Ghost Squad (C4)

Walk Away And I Stumble (ITV1)

TO be honest, television doesn't really need another police series. And The Ghost Squad, which is C4's first foray into the genre, looks and feels like a lot of others. Think The Cops meets Between The Lines with NYPD Blue wobbly camerawork and liberal use of the f-word as in virtually any series you care to name.

What The Ghost Squad has in its favour is a breathless pace and honest acting in tales of police corruption (also a current storyline in ITV1's The Bill, to reinforce the feeling there's nothing new under the sun).

The opener set up the situation as young police officer Elaine Cassidy was framed by colleagues over the death of a young Asian in a cell. Her blood-stained clothes disappeared, along with vital CCTV footage and several fellow officers made statements implicating her.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission swooped on the police station, enforcing a lockdown while they browbeat and berated everyone in an effort to uncover the truth. "I'm being set up," said Cassidy's Amy Harris, although it didn't take an Inspector Morse to realise that.

It ended with her being cleared and signed up by the Ghost Squad, who move around doing the unpopular but vital job of policing the police. We know what to expect - Amy infiltrating a new station each week to investigate corruption.

You couldn't really see what was coming in the second part of romantic drama, Walk Away And I Stumble, as the piece changed gears and turned into a sob-fest of epic proportions.

Matthew Graham's script at least tried to be different and he was well served by a quartet of strong performances from the leads. Tamzin Outhwaite's dying-from-a-brain-tumour Claire was determined to carry on as normal. Or at least carry on carrying on with married Andy (Mark Strong) after he came to adjust her burglar alarm.

A visit from his aggrieved wife Elaine (Julie Graham) made her change her mind, or the bit that was working and unaffected by the tumour. "You have my husband, doesn't that make us related?," asked Elaine, adding: "You took a 13-year marriage, I expect you to take another 13." This was the wrong thing to say as Claire had only a few months to live and muttered things such as: "I need old memories, I don't have the strength to make new ones".

Having fled from old flame Paul (Aidan Gillen) on her wedding day, Claire ended up moving in with Elaine. When Andy arrived home, he was greeted by the two women in his life. "Let's get naked," suggested Claire mischievously, as she saw his shocked look.

There wasn't a dry eye in their house - and probably not yours either - by the end. Despite a certain amount of silliness and contrived emotion, I rather liked Walk Away And I Stumble. What other drama can you name with a climax involving distraught parent and sobbing daughter on a white horse on the top of a multi-storey car park?.

Jimmy Carr, Grand Opera House, York

THE name of the tour - Off The Telly - is an obvious reference to the stature that Jimmy Carr has achieved since bursting on to the comedy scene. But the mantel of being the (potato) face of C4 does not do his talent justice and he is becoming established as one of the great British comics of the moment.

He is perfecting the art of the barbed two-liner, which has the formula of saying something innocent followed up with a brutal punchline, each one more acidic than the next. Carr is unashamedly middle-class and his delivery is polite and well-to-do. He dresses impeccably sharply and comes across as well-groomed. That is why it is such a shock when he opens his mouth and shows how callously unfeeling he can be.

It is the sort of banter that, if you were in a pub, you would either not want to row with him because he is so sharp and you would look daft, or knock his block off for saying stuff about your mum. But either way, on stage it is black comedy gold and he had the audience weeping with laughter. He resorted to using a large television screen behind as a prop, something popular with multi-media savvy comics today, but he did not need it. The well-constructed gags and clever wordplay were more than enough.

Gavin Havery

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Newcastle Theatre Royal

WHAT a terrific start to the RSC's Newcastle season. Three stories intertwined: the eloping lovers, Hermia and Lysander, pursued by Demetrius, her father's choice. Hermia's friend Helena follows Demetrius, who has coldly rejected her love.

In the same forest, a group of tradesmen meet to rehearse a play they will perform at Duke Theseus' wedding celebrations. But unseen forces are at work: Titania, the Fairy Queen, and her husband Oberon have quarrelled over a beautiful changeling boy. Oberon is angry and determined to take the child, and teach his wayward wife a lesson. Oberon dispatches Puck to cause the Queen to fall in love with the first creature she sees on waking. Puck also applies the love potion to the Athenian youth who spurns a maiden's love, but it all goes wrong when both lads fall for Helena.

Jonathan Slinger's Puck is marvellously world-weary, while voluptuous Titania and charismatic Oberon are powerfully played by Amanda Harris and Joe Dixon. The 'rude mechanicals' played it wonderfully straight, with Jamie Ballard's Thisbe bringing the proceedings to a standstill with his emotional outburst at the death of Pyramus. Malcolm Storry excelled as Bottom, never losing our affection despite his character's astonishing self-belief.

The most enjoyable production of this play that I've seen; full of magic, music and laughter just as Shakespeare intended, and immensely satisfying.

l Runs until Saturday. Box office: 0870 905 5060.

Sue Heath