In my house Utopia (Channel 4) lost one viewer shortly before the end of this first episode. Just before Wilson Wilson lost one of his. "You didn't tell me it was like this," she said. I didn't know it was like this. "It's just so unnecessary," she went on, getting angrier. And then she left the room.
You'll know which scene we'd got to, of course. That scene, in Wilson Wilson's bunker. "Most torturers tend to have their favourite area of the body to work on – genitals, teeth, soles of the feet," says Lee, half of TV's nastiest new double act. "With me, it's the eyes." And he sets to work on Wilson Wilson's.
Now I enjoy a bit of violence as much as anyone else, but I couldn't watch. I screwed my own up tight, hands over the top too, so as to be absolutely sure not to see, and perhaps subconsciously worried that Lee might come for mine next, with his horrid gouging spoon.
Shakespeare did this too, you say, because you're the well-educated, literary sort. Yeah, but Cornwall doesn't rub chillies in before outing Gloucester's vile jelly did he? Or sand, or bleach. He doesn't have a spoon either. And in Lear, it doesn't go on and on and on. Four and half minutes of eye torture, by my watch.
I think that's the idea – ramp it up and drag it out to the point of black farce. I couldn't laugh, though (or – like Wilson Wilson – watch). I even began to agree with 'er upstairs, about the unnecessariness of it. Gratuitous gouging. Shame, she was totally into it before that point.
It was hard not to be. Utopia, written by Dennis Kelly, is a work of brilliant imagination, a murky labyrinth of a conspiracy thriller that traps you from the opening scene. (Yeah, that one, in the comic shop. Now that's a fantastic scene, creepy as hell, violent too; you know you're being taken to a place you might not necessarily want to go to. But it's not graphic to the point of disgusting, like the later one.)
Utopia is dead complicated. There's a hell of a lot going on – the graphic novel with its prophecies and coded messages, the murky Network trying to get its hand on it via those terrifying henchmen, a chatroom of dweebs sucked unwittingly in, the cyber-spying and dodgy pharmaceutical business. It's also ingenious, and does – or could – all kind of make sense of sorts. This labyrinth may be dark, there will be wrong turns and dead ends, but there will be a way through. Conspiracy theorists, the paranoid and the delusional will certainly have fun … no, fun's probably not right work; they're more likely to be saying "told you so" and heading for the hills, with their hard drives.
It has a very contemporary feel to it; this is definitely a 21st-century nightmare. It looks beautiful – stark, urban, Liverpudlian (that's where it's filmed). The characters are human and real. Yeah, I'm there, in the vortex, being sucked in, and down; there's no escape. I just hope there are not too many scenes that I can't watch.
Well, Lee gets shot, that's something. But the other one, Arby (great by Neil Maskell), is very much still around. He's not going anywhere. Look, you can screw your eyes up, cover them, gouge them out even, and he'll still be coming for you. Even – especially – after you go to sleep. Wish I wasn't watching Utopia alone now.
Thank heaven then, for The Sarah Millican Television Programme (BBC2), proof that you don't have to be really horrid to be funny. Good jokes, quick wit, timing, a bunch of bawdiness, that all helps … though speaking dead funny is obviously the main thing.
Not that it's over-cosy. "On a scale of one to 10, how creepy is [Andrew Lloyd Webber] in person?" she asks Melanie "Singy Spice" C. (Mel C unfortunately is a very dull guest and gives only asinine, on-message answers.)
I'm not sure about Sarah M's impressions – either of Nigella L or of a wolf. That's a bichon frisé isn't it? (I've just learned that one, I'm trying to get him in a lot.) Brilliant idea for a talent reality show, though Sarah – Dances with (actual) Wolves.
As for the voice, I started wondering if you slowed Millican down to about half speed (like when batteries used to run down on tape recorders), whether she would turn into Brendan Foster off the Olympics. So I did. I even learned the Garage Band programme on the computer especially, took me ages. And you know what? She doesn't. She just sounds like Sarah Millican, after a few drinks and a sex change.