An affair can be rather diverting

It slipped on to SoHo beneath Remotely Interesting's radar recently, but The Affair is the latest best thing on television for those of good taste.

The American drama series was created by Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi, who were also behind the quietly excellent In Treatment, which featured Gabriel Byrne as a psychologist who negotiates his way through his patients', and his own, messy lives.

The Affair is about an affair.

It features the really very, very good Dominic West (Detective Jimmy McNulty in The Wire) as Noah Solloway, a New York City schoolteacher who has had one novel published and is struggling to write a second.

Noah has a family, a lovely wife and what appears a happy life, when he falls for the attractions of Alison Lockhart (Ruth Wilson, Anna Karenina, Saving Mr Banks), a waitress in the resort town of Montauk on Long Island, where Noah's family is holidaying.

The show's creators use a series of very effective storytelling devices that, apart from the excellent acting by the two British lead actors, make The Affair stand out.

The most obvious is that the show is split in two - the first half of each episode tells the story from Noah's point of view, and the second from Alison's.

Subtle differences abound, from hair and clothing to dialogue and action, all highlighting the emotional landscape of each character, as the audience is let in on the back stories of both.

As well, in a touch that casts an ominous shadow on proceedings, both, at some later point, are being interviewed about a death, but of whom we know not.

The dashing Mr West is seen acting in quite a lot less than a fully honest way, chasing his new flame while carrying on as usual with his wife, and there is something disturbing about his betrayal.

And while it takes two to tango, the audience soon sees the object of his desire is struggling with some difficult internal goings-on.

There is also a fair degree of nude sex in The Affair.

This column continues to be very supportive of the activity on television.

You have to watch The Affair from the beginning, and I can only suggest you find a way.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the art and culture spectrum, is Hasselhoff vs The Berlin Wall.

The Hoff, of course, performed his No 1 hit (in Germany) Looking for Freedom at the Berlin Wall on New Year's Eve 1989.

In Hasselhoff vs The Berlin Wall, he returns to meet the locals who ''ran, swam, tunnelled, smashed and flew their way over the Berlin Wall''.

National Geographic, tomorrow at 7.30pm.

- Charles Loughrey

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