Welcome to the Long Story Short on Professor T. Whether you’ve got ten seconds or a few minutes, get up to speed on everything you need to know as the ITV drama returns for series 2
By Chris Miller, Writer
Note: TV channels are currently subject to wholescale schedule changes.
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Professor Jasper Tempest is a Cambridge criminologist who is talked into advising the police by Lisa Donckers, one of his former students who’s now a detective inspector. Despite his social awkwardness, he proves successful in the role – but his achievements are undermined by his overbearing mother Adelaide.
An adaptation of a hit Belgian series, Professor T stars Ben Miller (Death In Paradise) as the titular prof and Frances de la Tour (Rising Damp, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire) as Adelaide, with Emma Naomi (Bridgerton) as Donckers. After it was originally a hit on BritBox, the first series had a successful run on ITV, and now it’s back with another batch of intriguing cases.
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So what happened in series 1 of Professor T?
In the great tradition of quirky detectives from Sherlock Holmes to The Bridge’s Saga Noren, Tempest is blunt and direct to the point of rudeness, with a brain that is wired differently from everyone else’s. As the show began, he professed no interest in helping the police – announcing “I do not catch scumbags; I study them” – despite the best efforts of Donckers. That changed when DCI Christina Brand (Juliet Aubrey, The White Queen) got involved, suggesting she and Tempest have a past that he isn’t quite ready to deal with.
Over six episodes, the crimes ranged from the shocking to the frankly odd, but – wouldn’t you know it? – Tempest proved up to the task of catching those “scumbags”. So far, so telly-detective-y, but where Professor T gets really interesting is in its examination of the genius’s relationship with his mother. Each of their interactions discloses a little more about his past, which in turn reveals another clue about why Tempest is the way he is.
Wait – Ben Miller’s a comedian, isn’t he? Is it funny?
Although Miller started his career as a sketch comedian alongside Alexander “Pointless” Armstrong, he has proven himself adept at balancing serious drama with humour. He charmed audiences across multiple series of the ludicrously murder-heavy Death In Paradise, delivered hilariously furious outbursts in Ballot Monkeys, brought a gentle poignancy to his small role as Colonel Lancaster in Paddington 2, and made us laugh with every twitch of his eyebrow as the irascible Lord Featherington in Bridgerton.
Professor T is his tour de force, as he gets to combine Tempest’s startling brusqueness with smart detective work and moving emotional moments.
What can we expect from series 2?
As Miller puts it: “Expect more baffling crimes, more breathtaking scenery, and some answers to the most intriguing mystery of all: what is it, exactly, in his childhood, that makes the professor tick?” Yep – it’s all going a bit Sopranos as Tempest starts seeing a therapist. Can his mother really be to blame for all his issues?
There are also hints that the burgeoning romance between Donckers and her colleague DI Dan Winters (Barney White), which Donckers seemingly shut down in the first series, may be rekindled – as might Tempest’s relationship with DCI Brand…
The new series starts with a case that the police think they can solve, when a student is left in a coma after a house fire – but when new details further complicate the investigation, it’s time to call the professor in.
Fun fact – Miller should feel right at home in the show’s Cambridge University setting because he studied there in the 1980s, reading natural sciences at St Catherine’s College. He even began a PhD thesis entitled Novel quantum effects in low-temperature quasi-zero-dimensional mesoscopic electron systems but left it unfinished when he decided to pursue a career on stage and TV. A shame – we’d love to read it!
Want some more entertainment with a foreign flavour?…
Although we’re more used to the US nabbing our shows and remaking them, from Steptoe & Son to The Office to Ghosts, there are some terrific examples of non-English-language programmes that have been adapted for British audiences as well as Professor T. This year’s Channel 4 drama Suspect (Apps & Games > All 4), a gripping and unconventional detective series starring James Nesbitt, was adapted from the Danish Forhøret (Interrogation) – by the same writer as Professor T, Matt Baker.
The A Word, the BBC drama about the effects of an autism disgnosis on a family, was based on the Israeli series Pilpelim Tzehubim (Yellow Peppers) – all three series are on Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer. More into sci-fi? Then there’s Humans, Channel 4’s version of the Swedish Äkta Människor (Real Humans), a troubling tale set in a parallel present where human-like androids are employed as servants, with Gemma Chan and Katherine Parkinson (Apps & Games > All 4).
Finally, Greg Davies’s recent sitcom The Cleaner was based on the German comedy Der Tatortreiniger (The Crime Scene Cleaner) – the first series is in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer, with a second reportedly on the way.
When is ITV’s Professor T series 2 on TV?
The second series of Professor T begins at 9pm on Friday 16 September on ITV HD (CH 103/113). Episodes will also be available in Apps & Games > ITV Hub.
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box, Virgin TV V6 box or Virgin TV 360 box connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.
ITV HD is subject to regional variation. ITV HD is not available where STV HD or UTV HD is available.
Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.
Image credits: The Cleaner © Studio Hamburg UK / Jonathan Browning