Open Wide (ITV1)

Unstoppable Wave (BBC1)

BEWARE of one-off dramas shown in the week before Christmas. It usually means they're not very good, with schedulers hoping people will be too busy getting ready for Christmas to notice.

Open Wide wasn't bad, just not very good. Simon Nye, still best remembered for Men Behaving Badly, gave us the sorry story of David (likeable Alexander Armstrong) as he took up his post as arts officer at a prison.

"The value of drama is to tease out men's identities rather than encourage them to be other people," he said. The governor was more interested in the appointment because another prison had done it and the few inmates who turned up for drama sessions just wanted a trip to see Mamma Mia.

David had the misfortune to rent a flat - well, small room - above Ray's Fish and Chip Bar, run by a couple fixated on the idea that he'd be manhandled by inmates. "Been trapped in corner yet by an aggressive poof?," they inquired. They either made comments like that or made him help in the shop. "Come down, we need your help to strain the fat," they said.

An argument involving a rolling pin at his cookery class led to a cracked tooth and a visit to the dentist (Nigel Havers), which is probably where many viewers stopped thinking of Open Wide as a comedy-drama and more of a horror movie. The pain was eased as David fancied the dental assistant, although one inmate fixed him up with his daughter (Angela Griffin).

There were some neat lines and good performances, but Nye never seemed sure where he was going or whether he wanted to be funny or serious.

Unstoppable Wave was deadly serious, being one of the many programmes marking last Christmas's tsunami disaster. This one wasn't just an excuse to show the remarkable, if frightening, footage of the massive tidal wave's trail of death and destruction. Twenty countries were hit and a quarter of a million people died, but why?

The documentary followed a team of scientists exploring the underwater fault line that triggered the tsunami in the hope that understanding the cause would enable them to predict the next one - and we were left in no doubt that such a natural disaster will happen again, probably on a bigger scale.

By studying the ocean bed, they built up a detailed computer map of the sea floor and could see what was likely to happen next. After several false trails, they found what they were seeking - a huge vertical wall thrusting up 40ft from the sea bed. This had lifted the entire ocean bed and created a series of giant ripples on the surface.

It was good to have the science behind the tsunami explained, although the outlook isn't good. Only half the fault line was ruptured, the rest is waiting to go. "It could happen anytime. It could happen now," warned one scientist.

Dick Whittington, Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond

WATCHING a pantomime at the Georgian is like watching it in your own front room, and the rapport between the cast and the audience is inevitably close. The scary King Rat, played with relish by Brookside's Stephen Donald, was able to hiss right in the face of a little girl in a side box, which didn't faze her at all! The show, written and produced by George Critchley, contained the kind of songs familiar to kids, from Starlight Express and Grease, and the nursery one about the worm called Wiggly-Woo. There were also some old music hall numbers and some tap dancing, all very enjoyable.

Pantos very often feature youngsters from local dance schools, looking serious with concentration and sometimes visibly counting their steps. The kids from the Heritage School of Dance in Stockton, who danced in this production, were the best and most professional I've seen. They weren't just going through steps but really dancing, and everyone remembered to smile. Outstanding was Kerrianne Covell as Tommy the Cat; this young lady has a bright future.

Alex Turchyn made a fine principal boy, slapping her thigh with conviction and getting the kids on her side; Vikki-Marie Ryan was a mischievous Alice, and Nick Heanen played a blinder with two major characters and much of the singing. Idle Jack and Sarah the Cook had us all laughing and shouting, and the Good Fairy, who also doubled as the Cannibal Queen, was beautifully sparkly. An excellent family panto.

l Runs until December 31

Sue Heath

Coldplay, MetroRadio Arena, Newcastle

HIT album X&Y has given the band a swagger which doesn't always sit easily with their keen-to-please days of A Rush Of Blood To The Head and the ground-breaking Parachutes. After a lengthy wait, a giant ticking clock appeared and Coldplay finally burst on stage to the roar of a record-breaking 11,400 crowd. Square One was the opening song, with an amazing reception from an audience, who proceeded to wave their mobile phones in the air trying to capture the moment on film. Chris Martin seemed almost taken aback as the crowd bellowed out the words to The Scientist and In My Place. Trying to recapture this year's Glastonbury success, they included a section with piano and acoustic guitars playing a rendition of Trouble. Martin souped up the atmosphere by suddenly appearing at the rear of the stadium as shocked security staff struggled to hold fans back. In the encore, Coldplay's frontman knocked the cameraman to the floor as he kissed the camera. But it also meant that the band were kissing goodbye to standards like Yellow and Spies, which were once part of a Coldplay classic gig.

Richard Ashcroft started off the night with Verve classics such as The Drugs Don't Work and Bittersweet Symphony. His new single, Break The Night With Colour, could be an indie classic in the making.

Jack Hardwick