There was much speculation about where david Tennant’s career would go after his triumphant period as the resurrected Time Lord.
A part in the remake of Fright Night and a failed attempt at a US sitcom later and he was back in the UK featuring in something the BBC does very well – contemporary, issue-based, heartstring tugging romantic drama.
Single Father is high-class, glossy television soap opera, which some would argue puts it in the same league as Doctor Who.
However, this is altogether a more guilty pleasure than those accessible Saturday night antics.
Pitched in the traditional Sunday evening slot, it actually came off second best to ITV’s surprise heritage hit Downton Abbey.
The story follows Dave (Tennant), who becomes the single father of the title when his partner Rita (Laura Fraser) is killed in a road traffic accident.
He’s left looking after three young children and a teenager from a mysterious one-night stand she never spoke about.
In between falling for Rita’s best friend Sarah (Suranne Jones), Dave has to cope with interfering friends and relatives, including the mysterious, very rich Stuart.
Stuart is apparently the father of Rita’s oldest daughter and a more important figure in his wife’s life than she ever let on.
So far, so Douglas Sirk – the master of ’50s melodrama.
Single Father is the modern equivalent of those old-fashioned, so-called ‘women’s pictures’ of the past and as an unashamed weepie it grinds its characters through the emotional mill for our entertainment.
Viewers will need to appreciate that format to get the most out of it, because every move Dave makes is totally predictable.
That’s not to say there aren’t quirks, such as the distracting appearance of Mark Heap (Spaced, Green Wing) in a straight dramatic role as a put-upon husband.
You may also find yourself pondering how a teaching assistant and a self-employed photographer with four kids can afford to live in a Glasgow mansion.
However, an attractive cast, good child performers and interesting Glasgow locations at least make Single Father watchable.
It’s a shame, then, that much of the plotting has a going-through-the-motions feel to it.
Mick Ford’s script adheres to all the expected ups and downs of the situation. In the end this is predictable manipulation, and a savvy audience will spot that a mile off.
More originality and a little less cliché could have lifted it above the merely average.
It may deliver as a good old-fashioned weepie, but Single Father feels hollow at its heart.