Drivers of electric cars are to be given green number plates that could allow them to use bus lanes and park for free.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the plates will be introduced from autumn as part of a £1.5billion drive to stimulate the economy by accelerating zero emission motoring.
The plates will feature a green band on the side that can be recognised by automatic number plate recognition cameras which monitor bus lanes.
Drivers of electric cars are to be given green number plates that could allow them to use bus lanes and park for free
Benefits could include free or cheaper parking, permission to use bus lanes and free entry into low-emission areas, such as the London congestion charge zone. Hybrid vehicles will not qualify.
Ministers hope the perks will encourage motorists to go electric by turning green plates into a sought-after status symbol.
The move is intended to offer a shot in the arm for Britain’s auto industry which has been crippled by the coronavirus crisis.
Boris Johnson is also said to be considering a scrappage scheme offering motorists up to £6,000 to ditch petrol or diesel cars for an electric vehicle.
However, motoring groups have warned the incentives could fuel resentment among petrol and diesel owners who are unable to afford the high up-front cost of zero emission vehicles which can be £10,000 more expensive to purchase.
Currently only one in 500 cars on the road is fully electric.
Mr Shapps said: ‘A green recovery is key to helping us achieve our net zero carbon commitments while also promoting economic growth.
‘Green number plates could unlock a number of incentives for drivers and increase awareness of cleaner vehicles on our roads, showing people that a greener transport future is within our grasp.
‘We’re supporting small businesses to develop the transport tech of the future through a multimillion pound investment, ensuring that UK businesses remain at the forefront of low-carbon innovation and research.’
Mr Shapps’ announcement follows reports last week claiming the Prime Minister was said to be considering plans to give drivers up to £6,000 to exchange their petrol or diesel car for an electric model.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the plates will be introduced from autumn as part of a £1.5billion drive to stimulate the economy by accelerating zero emission motoring
Edmund King, president of the AA, said he welcomed the switch to partially green numbers plates and said that 37% of his organisation’s members had voiced support for the change.
‘Having a green flash on the number plate may become a badge of honour for some drivers,’ said Mr King.
‘We support this concept, which shows that the electric vehicle revolution is now moving from amber to green.’
But the RAC said it was not convinced the new plates would provide much incentive for motorists to opt for greener cars.
Rod Dennis, a spokesman for the organisation, said: ‘While this is well-intentioned, we don’t believe green number plates on their own will do much to make people switch to an electric car.
‘We’d much prefer the Government looked at things like bringing in the right financial incentives.’
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Ann Cleeves, Susanna Clarke, Nick Hornby and Ken Follett: This week’s best new fiction
The Darkest Evening
Ann Cleeves Macmillan £18.99
Cleeves’s much-loved police detective, Vera Stanhope, is grumpy, dishevelled and middle-aged but not to be underestimated. This latest case opens when a young mother is found dead in a snowdrift, close to a manor house owned by Vera’s wealthy cousins.
What follows is less a country-house mystery than a countryside one, as she struggles to unravel tangled links between taciturn rural folk. A thoroughly engrossing thriller, let down a little by a somewhat contrived denouement.
Just Like You
Nick Hornby Viking £16.99
There’s plenty that is deliciously familiar in Hornby’s first new novel in six years, including agile riffs on music, football and single parenthood, along with a wryly observed North London backdrop.
Yet it’s unmistakably of-the-moment: the plot not only straddles the Brexit vote, it also shines a searching light on race relations through an unlikely central romance between Lucy, a 42-year-old white teacher, and Joseph, an aspiring DJ who’s black and 22.
Sharp, charming and upbeat.
Susanna Clarke Bloomsbury £14.99
Piranesi lives in ‘the House’, a vast – possibly infinite – series of huge halls. He spends his time exploring it and cataloguing its statues. His favourite is the Faun, of whom he dreamed once: ‘standing in a snowy forest and speaking to a female child’.
Who is Piranesi and what is ‘the House’? Clarke’s beautiful and bewitchingly strange fantasy is very different from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell but shares a gradually revealed underlying premise.
The Evening And The Morning
Ken Follett Macmillan £25
This prequel to Follett’s 1989 medieval blockbuster The Pillars Of The Earth hustles us through Dark Ages Britain as seen through the eyes of a cleric, a noblewoman and a talented young boat-builder, whose dreams of eloping with his older married lover are brutally dashed when the Vikings come to town.
Hunker down for an earthy barrage of page-turning incident.
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JAMES DELINGPOLE: David Tennant brilliantly smokes out this monster
ITV, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
DCI Peter Jay (Daniel Mays) fires up the first of the approximately gazillion cigarettes we will witness being smoked by various characters during the next three hours of serial killer drama Des. ‘I thought you were giving up?’ says a police colleague. ‘I am,’ replies Jay but we can tell already it’s going to be a losing battle. The early 1980s are another country and they do things differently there – perhaps most noticeably in their truly heroic consumption of what were fondly known back in the day as ‘cancer sticks’.
Chillingly understated : David Tennant as serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Nilsen was a monster, but in Tennant’s performance – among the best of his career – he is also dangerously beguiling
Jay smokes. His colleagues all smoke – and not just on the steps outside the station and down the pub but in the office and even outside the courtroom. So too, of course, does the drama’s anti-hero Dennis Nilsen (David Tennant), the serial killer who murdered some 15 young men, either strangling them to death with his ties or headphone wire, or drowning them in his bath. We see cigarettes smoked in anguish, in exultation, as a way of emphasising – Nilsen’s speciality – a cocky, blackly comic one-liner. Some viewers, I know, found this a distraction but to me it was a badge of authenticity and integrity. Though we remember them now as the bright and breezy era of Loadsamoney and Duran Duran’s Girls On Film video, the 1980s’ values, mores and social customs were probably closer to those of the Second World War than to our own age of rainbow flags, relentless virtue signalling and compulsory ‘woke’.
This was certainly the case where homosexuality was concerned. We saw this in the courtroom scene where the plummy-voiced defence counsel sought to discredit one of the witnesses by declaring, with barely disguised contempt: ‘You are a drag act. You are a female impersonator.’ Today, such a witness would probably get extra deference and respect as a member of the vibrant trans community. In 1983, when Nilsen was tried and convicted, it’s a signal to the jury: ‘I think we can take what this pervert says with a huge pinch of salt.’ Which may be one of the reasons Nilsen got away with his five-year killling spree uninterrupted. (In fact, we learned, it only came to an end when he effectively shopped himself by reporting the dismembered bits of corpse blocking his drainage system). He preyed on young, mostly gay, some homeless, men with drink and drug problems, whose loss probably wasn’t noted so keenly as it might be today.
Then again, Nilsen was a crafty swine who would have eluded easy detection in any age. An ex-soldier and ex-copper (thrown out for an inappropriate sex act in a morgue), he was also intelligent and quick-witted – with the kind of pleasantly innocuous face and friendly demeanour that led his colleagues at the North London Job Centre where he was executive officer to swear blind he couldn’t possibly be the sort to keep half-burned human bodies buried in his back garden.
Nilsen was a monster, but in Tennant’s performance – among the best of his career – he is also dangerously beguiling. He talks in his agreeable Scottish lilt about his crimes as if he were a benign onlooker, mystified that anyone could do such a thing, apparently eager that his victims should be memorialised as named individuals not faceless victims, curious as to whether the jury will decide ‘Am I just bad? Or outrageously bad?’
He also has a callous, mordant wit. Asked how many bodies he kept in his house, he quips deadpan: ‘Well, I never did a stock check.’ Later, he muses on his poor cooking skills: ‘If it was the omelette that killed him or me I’m not so sure. But omelettes don’t leave red marks on the neck, do they?’
If these sick jokes were dramatic licence, they might feel too tasteless for comfort: but it’s probably accurate. Des was adapted from Killing For Company, based on 52 exercise books’ worth of interviews with Nilsen in prison, conducted by Brian Masters, who was a consultant on the show and who appears as a character. Masters (Jason Watkins) is fascinated – as are we – by this dichotomy between the seemingly normal, unobtrusive civil servant and the nature of his crimes. Was Nilsen mad? Or was he a cynical, mendacious, meticulous stone-cold killer fully aware of what he was doing all along? ‘I think he’s just evil’, replies Masters’ screen boyfriend, speaking for most of us, I suspect.
Dennis Nilsen, the real killer, being questioned. Nilsen was a crafty swine who would have eluded easy detection in any age
I still wonder whether spending three hours inside the head of a murderous creep and – thanks to Tennant’s brilliance – almost getting to like him, wasn’t a slightly tainting experience for the viewer. But all credit to this production for handling this material with such intelligence, honesty and attention to period detail. Particularly brave, I thought, was the heroic superabundance of white, middle-class, middle-aged men – the police officers, the solicitors, the barristers, etc. Accurate and realistic for that era, certainly: but had it been made by the BBC, you just know the casting would have been diversified and feminised for politically correct reasons. Congratulations to ITV for maintaining the old standards.
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From Millie Bobby Brown in Enola Holmes to Tehran and The Gentlemen: The best on demand TV this week
Millie Bobby Brown stars as Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes’s little sister in the first of what seems certain to be a film franchise. When the mother who raised her mysteriously disappears, Enola investigates without the help of her brothers, who seem more concerned about her lack of social graces.
Millie Bobby Brown (above) stars as Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes’s little sister in the first of what seems certain to be a film franchise
This exuberant action comedy also stars Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin and Helena Bonham Carter and is directed by Fleabag’s Harry Bradbeer. From Wednesday
Sitcom written by and starring Katherine Ryan. She’s a single mum who can’t stand the wastrel father of her daughter but wants to get pregnant by him again. It’s er…complicated.
How will the decent chap (Steen Raskopoulus) she is currently in a relationship with feel about this? Katherine doesn’t really care. ‘We might as well enjoy men as temporary figures and focus on what is best for our children,’ she reasons.
Sitcom written by and starring Katherine Ryan (above with Steen Raskopoulus). She’s a single mum who can’t stand the wastrel father of her daughter
There are some great one-liners in this, particularly when she spars with the other mums. Available now
The Devil All The Time
A psychological thriller set during the period between the Second World War and the Vietnam conflict. The action takes place in and around a backwoods Ohio town populated by various sinister characters, including an unholy preacher, a crooked sheriff and a twisted young couple.
Only Arvin Russell (British Spider-Man star Tom Holland) has the wherewithal to bring them down. Former Twilight vampire and future Batman Robert Pattinson also stars, along with Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Bill Skarsgård, Mia Wasikowska and Sebastian Stan. Available now
While it may not be possible to scream Dancing Queen at the top of our lungs in a karaoke booth just yet, we can croon to our favourite tunes in the living room thanks to the lovable Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Tituss Burgess.
He hosts Sing On!, a singing competition in which contestants face off to see who can sing popular hits with the most accuracy. In each themed episode, six contestants belt out the biggest hits from that genre while being judged by a vocal analyser comparing their vocal performance to the original artist’s.
The more they sing in tune, the more cash they add to a collective jackpot worth up to $60,000. Prepare to have an at-home sing-a-long and annoy your neighbours in the process. From Wednesday
Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice
In January 2015, a two-year-old Thai girl nicknamed Einz passed away after battling brain cancer. It was a tragedy for her Buddhist family, but her scientist father came up with the idea of cryogenically freezing his daughter in the hope that, one day, she could be reborn in a new body – her head and brain are now in a tank in Arizona.
Cameras follow Einz’s loved ones on an emotional journey that takes an unexpected turn. Both touching and moving, it’s a documentary that will nevertheless provoke an ethical debate. From Tuesday
BRITBOX, ACORN TV, APPLE TV+, SKY
Penned by Fauda writer Moshe Zonder, this highly anticipated espionage thriller follows Tehran-born Mossad agent Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan), who is working deep undercover in the Iranian capital.
It soon becomes clear that her dangerous mission, which involves destroying a nuclear reactor, has implications not just for Middle East relations but for the rest of the world.
Penned by Fauda writer Moshe Zonder, this highly anticipated espionage thriller follows Tehran-born Mossad agent Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan, above)
Shaun Toub, who played Iranian CIA asset Majid Javadi in Homeland, also stars. The first three instalments are available this week, with further new episodes released every Friday. Apple TV+, from Friday
The Mayor Of Casterbridge
Ciarán Hinds produces one of his best performances in this lavish adaptation of the Thomas Hardy classic. While travelling with his family in search of work, farm worker Michael Henchard auctions off his wife Susan (Juliet Aubrey) and baby daughter in a fit of drunken madness.
Eighteen years later, a sober Henchard has rebuilt his life and is set to become Mayor of Casterbridge. However, when his wife and daughter (Jodhi May) return, his shameful secret is exposed. Acorn TV, from Monday
A brilliant cast, including Timothy Spall, Jennifer Saunders, Tim Vine and Mark Williams, bolsters this P. G. Wodehouse adaptation, which ran for two series from 2013-14.
Set in the late 1920s, the absurd comedy follows Lord Emsworth, who resides at Blandings Castle, along with his glowering sister Connie, his simple-minded son Freddie and a number of nitwits.
A brilliant cast, including Timothy Spall (above), Jennifer Saunders, Tim Vine and Mark Williams, bolsters this P. G. Wodehouse adaptation, which ran for two series from 2013-14
Emsworth would rather be left in peace with Beach, his long-suffering butler, and prize pig the Empress, but an array of house guests, love-struck nieces and their boyfriends cause havoc. BritBox, from Thursday
Possibly the most stylish spy series ever, whose most famous alumnus, Diana Rigg as the often leather-clad, karate-chopping Emma Peel, died aged 82 last week. BritBox is showing her two series as well as the one featuring Tara King (Linda Thorson), who also partnered the ineffably suave, bowler-hatted John Steed (Patrick Macnee).
Possibly the most stylish spy series ever, whose most famous alumnus, Diana Rigg as the often leather-clad, karate-chopping Emma Peel (above), died aged 82 last week
There are two episodes from the first series with Macnee and Ian Hendry but none with Honor Blackman (as Cathy Gale), who preceded Rigg and also died earlier this year. BritBox, available now
If you thought BritBox was all about classic British telly, think again. To entice new subscribers, it’s also backing a few exclusive programmes; the revamped version of Spitting Image is among the highlights to come, but before that streams there’s a chance to see this international crime drama starring John Simm, Caroline Goodall and Arsher Ali.
It focuses on two Finnish women who, on arrival in London, become embroiled with a secret organisation known as The Studio, which aims to cut down to size anyone they feel is getting too powerful and dangerous. BritBox, available now
Terry Nation’s sci-fi drama is still fondly remembered by fans. There is something for everyone across its 52 episodes – action and adventure for younger viewers, and mature themes, humour and sex appeal for the adults.
Gareth Thomas stars as political dissident Roj Blake, who commands a small group of rebels against the forces of the totalitarian Terran Federation ruling the Earth and many colonised planets.
Paul Darrow co-stars as the cool-as-a-cucumber Avon, alongside the glamorous Jacqueline Pearce (above) as Servalan, the series’ exceptional villain
Paul Darrow co-stars as the cool-as-a-cucumber Avon, alongside the glamorous Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan, the series’ exceptional villain. BritBox, available now
Two Weeks To Live
As a child, Kim (Game of Thrones’s Maisie Williams) witnessed her father’s violent death and was then raised in isolation by her survivalist mother (Sian Clifford). Now grown, she is determined to see the ‘real world’ and to avenge Dad.
When she becomes convinced the world is ending, she has to speed up her plans. Look out for an Arya Stark gag in episode two of this fast-paced comedy thriller. Sky/NOW, available now
Why is there such a buzz about..?
Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)
Imagine the 1960s US TV comedy The Beverly Hillbillies – where a family of poor folk strike oil and move to California – in reverse. In Schitt’s Creek, a loaded and pampered LA family of four are forced to move into a motel in the hick town of the show’s title they once bought as joke, after losing all their money.
There’s Johnny Rose, a former video-rental king, his self-obsessed and eccentric former soap-actress wife Moira and their two spoiled, grown-up children, David and Alexis.
The gradual story of their transformation (and that of the townspeople too) has been a slow-burner both here and in the US. Its final, sixth series is poised to pick up the Primetime Emmys’ best comedy award tomorrow.
Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara (above) are Primetime Emmy nominated
Canadian creators and writers, father and son Eugene and Daniel Levy, are also nominated for their lead performances in the show, as are Catherine O’Hara’s vowel-mangling Moira with her extraordinary outfits and collection of wigs, and Annie Murphy, who plays the ditsy, shallow Alexis.
The series was not an instant hit because this quartet are not initially sympathetic, and it takes a while (into series two) for the show’s delightful whimsy to take root – many viewers give up after a few episodes.
But this is a witty, charming and heart-warming comedy that, after a while, will have you both laughing out loud and, in the final series, shedding a few tears (even more at the Netflix documentary about the show). Just give it time…
After mixed results with the films Aladdin and King Arthur, director Guy Ritchie returns to form with The Gentlemen – a movie firmly set in his comfort zone of ‘geezers and guns’.
The plot may revolve around Matthew McConaughey and his attempts to sell his marijuana business and the various ne’er-do-wells who circle it, but the film belongs to Hugh Grant.
The plot revolves around Matthew McConaughey (above, with Michelle Dockery) and his attempts to sell his marijuana business and the various ne’er-do-wells who circle it
As the foul-mouthed, oleaginous, tabloid journalist Fletcher he steals every scene, relishes every line and you can’t take your eyes off him. Available now
A group of comic fans (including Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) are obsessed with the graphic novel Dystopia, which they believe contains hidden clues predicting a series of epidemics.
When the original manuscript of the sequel, Utopia, surfaces for sale at a convention, they’re keen to get hold of it – but they’re not the only ones. Others are prepared to kill to secure it.
A group of comic fans (including Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, above) are obsessed with the graphic novel Dystopia, which they believe contains hidden clues predicting a series of epidemics
This eight-episode thriller featuring conspiracy theories and killer viruses could not seem more current but is, in fact, Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s take on the 2013 cult British series. From Friday
When double world champion Fernando Alonso walked away from Formula 1 at the conclusion of the 2018 season, it brought an end to four woeful years at McLaren. However, the Spaniard had unfinished business in F1, and ahead of his return to drive for the Alpine team in 2021, this five-part series documents his past year.
We’ll see him race in the Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as his first outing at the Dakar Rally in January. Alonso also grants viewers access to his inner circle. From Friday
A welcome return for the superb French spy series that has become an international hit. ‘French agent allegedly assassinated by CIA with DGSE consent’ is the headline in a newspaper that is at odds with the official version of the story – that DGSE (France’s MI6) operative Malotru, our hero of the first four seasons, was killed during a fire fight between Ukrainians and pro-Russian separatists.
Have the Russians planted the CIA story? Or is it the Trump administration? Available now on Sundance Now
BBC iPLAYER, ALL4
Timothy Olyphant is the US marshal Raylan Givens in this hugely enjoyable crime series adapted from the Elmore Leonard stories. Stetson-wearing Givens is old-school and his unconventional but ‘justified’ methods see him reassigned to his old home turf of Harlan County in rural Kentucky.
Timothy Olyphant (above) is the US marshal Raylan Givens in this hugely enjoyable crime series adapted from the Elmore Leonard stories
His tangles with colourful clans of local criminals are sometimes complicated by his past in the area and by his personal relationships. All4, available now
Pamela Adlon’s joyous comedy about a struggling actress juggling crummy bit parts while single-handedly raising three headstrong daughters is an under-the-radar delight.
Adlon plays Sam Fox (not that one) with a disarmingly raw openness, while her three co-stars Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood and Olivia Edward scene-steal in turn. Series 1-3 are already available, and series 4 is now available.
Celia Imrie has a ball as the family’s loose cannon of a grandmother. BBC iPlayer, available now
Not the original sci-fi series from the 1970s but the brilliant remake from the 2000s. Filming was delayed by 9/11 because aspects of the storyline resembled what was happening in real life.
Cylons, sentient robots initially built by humans and now virtually indistinguishable from them, turn against their creators and all but wipe them out in a surprise attack. The human survivors are now refugees and must try to overcome their differences and find their way back to their legendary planet of origin – Earth (if there even is such a place) – while avoiding being obliterated by the Cylons.
The show deftly juggles heavyweight philosophical themes with gripping drama and thrilling action sequences. BBC iPlayer, available now
‘Something you can’t see, you can’t touch but you can feel’ is how one contributor defines ‘soul’ at the start of this fabulous three-part music documentary. It traces the history of the genre from its birth in gospel in the American South in the early 1960s, through its role in the civil-rights movement and as an expression of black identity, down to the seductive style of the 1970s and 1980s and soul men such as Teddy Pendergrass.
Features fantastic archive footage of legends such as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding and evocative interviews with singers and musicians. BBC iPlayer, available now
June 19 – or Juneteenth – marks the day when Texas’s slaves were finally freed, more than two years after President Lincoln’s supposedly countrywide emancipation.
The modern-day black community is now marked by a pageant, featuring Liz Mikel
In the modern-day black community in which Channing Godfrey Peoples’ absorbing film is set, it’s now marked by a pageant; part beauty contest, part talent show, featuring Liz Mikel.
But life hasn’t worked out so well for one past winner. So why is Turquoise Jones – beautifully played by Nicole Beharie – so keen for her daughter to win? Curzon, from Friday
With wildfires currently raging in many parts of California, Ron Howard’s meticulously assembled documentary couldn’t be more topical or more powerful.
It revisits the worst fire in the state’s history – the so-called ‘Camp Fire’ of 2018, which claimed 85 lives and destroyed the town of Paradise. Rebuilding it, however, turns out to be more complex and traumatic than anyone could have expected. Most platforms, from Friday
Kelsey Grammer (above) plays a shadowy Mr Big figure known as The Rumble
Despite the ordinarily tempting presence of Kelsey Grammer, this unfortunately turns out to be one of the worst films you’ll see all year, with Grammer playing a shadowy Mr Big figure known as The Rumble, and wrestler-turned-actor Adam Copeland playing the leader of the gang he coerces into taking down a top-secret flying casino.
A late switch to comedy can’t save it. Most platforms, now
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