Bonekickers episode 5 review

The penultimate episode of the BBC's archaeology series almost drives Ryan to strong drink...

BBC drama at its, er, finest: Bonekickers

French builders unearth a British WWI prototype tank, and within minutes Doctor Gillian and her team of Bonekickers are on the scene, trowels at the ready.

‘Wow, golly and gosh!’ Doctor Ben exclaims as the tank is opened and the remains of burnt corpses are found in side. A German bullet is discovered, and another historical cover-up is suspected.

A German archaeological team arrives on the scene to carry out their own investigation, much to Gillian’s (unexplained) chagrin. ‘Any country that chooses leather hotpants as a national dress lives beyond the accepted bounds of logic,’ grunts Parton in his best John Thor voice.

Later, a tent catches fire and a dog is killed with a shovel, events that almost spark a miniature European war as Gillian’s team points an accusing finger at the interfering Germans.

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It eventually transpires – in a contrived and entirely obvious fashion that is now a Bonekickers trademark – that the burnt corpses, buried tank and dog slaying all had something to do with Joan of Arc’s corpse, a relic that could, according to the script writers, have changed the course of World War I had it been discovered.

There are some reasonably well shot flashbacks that attempt to keep the story coherent, but these are balanced out by the usual grab-bag of implausible foreign accents and British-hating political correctness. There’s even a plot twist of sorts – wide-eyed student Viv is revealed to be Gillian’s half sister, a revelation that I’m sure will figure heavily in next week’s dramatic final episode.

Elsewhere, Doctor Ben exclaims ‘Shit, shittetty shit shit shit!’ for reasons I can’t recollect – though I suspect it’s a childish attempt to erase the memory of his ‘golly gosh’ Famous Five style outburst earlier on.

Perhaps the episode’s only point of interest is ‘Dolly’ Parton’s increasing alcohol consumption – he’s rarely glimpsed without a bottle of red wine in his hand and a ruddy glow about his cheeks. In his defence, it can’t be easy having to appear in Bonekickers every week; its unremittingly dire quality would be enough to drive even the Maid of Orleans to drink, and if the BBC have the gall to commission a second series I have a feeling that poor old Parton will end up with a pretty expensive smack habit.

As you’ve probably gathered, this was yet another terrible, terrible installment in one of the most terrible programmes to stagger out of the BBC’s stable for many years. In fact, I could do with a drink myself…