Review: BBC drama The Pact slows down to snail's pace on its return, but quickly exerts its grip

The first series of BBC drama The Pact (BBC1, Mon, 9pm) opened with a woman frantically stumbling through a deep, dark wood and rarely let up the pulse-quickening pace – so much so that it became a little rushed and unconvincing.

With the second series – new cast, new storyline, similar premise – the makers have opted for the opposite approach.

We opened on a quiet country house, as a balaclava-d burglar quietly made his way through a kitchen window, and quietly padded about the place, not even bopping the homeowner on the head when she came home unexpectedly for a forgotten phone charger.

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That was the first 10 minutes dealt with, and the rest of the episode proceeded at the same stately pace.

Rakie Ayola lead the cast of BBC drama The Pact

The glacial speed could have left you wandering off for a cup of tea, but by the end of this first hour you realised that hadn’t moved from the sofa and had been gripped by the slow-burn nature of the thing.

It revealed the dynamics of the central Rees family convincingly, with matriarch Christine (Rakie Ayola) seemingly some sort of spook in a past existence – given how easily she found it to pick up the phone and demand information on a sudden new arrival in town who claims he is her son.

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Eldest son Will has a hair-trigger temper, middle daughter Megan is the sensible one, while youngest son Jamie is struggling to find love.

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June (Elisabeth Moss) and Moira (Samira Wiley) returned in the new series of Channel 4 drama The Handmaid's Tale

There are secrets here to be uncovered – where is the Christine’s ex-hubby, for one? – while the final scene between Christine and the interloper Connor was full of tension.

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It may be slow, but The Pact absolutely repays your attention, and quickly.

Konnie Huq’s breezy stroll through the history of watching with mother, Kids’ TV: The Surprising Story (BBC1, Weds, 9pm), was a lovely exercise in nostalgia. But, more importantly, is also showed how children’s TV in this country has been one of the most innovative, inclusive, exciting art forms around.

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As if the actual news wasn’t grim enough, The Handmaid’s Tale (Channel 4, Sun, 9pm) returned to remind us it will probably get even grimmer. June (Elizabeth Moss) may have had her revenge, but it certainly hasn’t lifted her mood, and leaves the viewer hoping for a little light.