Review: Channel 5 true-crime drama Maxine was low-rent and banal, and left you wondering why it was ever made

Sometimes, you wonder why a programme ever got made; what thought processes a production team went through to get their cherished project to the screen. One of those times was while watching Maxine (Channel 5, Mon-Weds, 9pm).

A true-crime drama, this centred on Maxine Carr, who gave an alibi to her partner, Ian Huntley, as police search for two missing schoolgirls in the small Cambridgeshire town of Soham in 2002.

The bodies of the two 10-year-olds, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, were eventually discovered after a massive, two-week search. All the while, Huntley and Carr tried to cover their tracks, giving regular interviews to media and police, and claiming to know nothing beyond a short conversation with the girls on the day they disappeared.

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All this much is known, thanks to the numerous documentaries on the crime – including a two-part doc on Channel 5 just in March this year.

Scott Reid as Ian Huntley and Jemma Carlton as Maxine Carr
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Which makes the reasons for this tawdry, low-rent drama all the more baffling.

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It offers nothing by the way insight into the motives of the pair, or into the police investigation. There’s almost no mention of the Chapman and Wells families, and the torment they went through, and the young victims are given no voice at all.

It’s soap opera acting, with accusations of infidelity, and cigarettes angrily crushed out in ashtrays, while two journalists act as a pair of exposition machines, explaining what’s going on with bland assertions about how terrible everything is.

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Jemma Carlton starred as Maxine Carr in Channel 5's true-crime drama Maxine

It’s pedestrian, banal and unnecessary, and Holly and Jessica deserve much better.

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One of Channel 5’s favourite subjects is the Nazis, but one of the best documentaries on the issue has been on the BBC. Rise of the Nazis: Downfall (BBC2, Mon, 9pm) mixes dramatisation with expert talking heads to brilliant effect, showing how ordinary people and generals alike allowed Hitler’s rise, and also fought against him.

I know I go on about it, but this week’s Taskmaster (Channel 4, Thurs, 9pm) really was a classic. I won’t say too much about it, but it involved treachery and betrayal as previously hapless contestant turned out triumphant. Consistently funny, always inventive, it’s a show to be treasured.

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Rise of the Nazis: The Downfall was on BBC2 this week, looking at the end days of the Third Reich