Mad Men: it's back!

Series five, episode one: Megan's dance, Don's soul and what on earth has happened to Harry Crane?

Never before has there been such hysterical excitement about the first episode of the fifth series of a long-running American television show. Televisions were self-immolating from anticipation. But this is Mad Men, and the rules are different, and they made us - the dribbling, adoring, devoted fans - wait for so unbelievably long after a plot twist at the end of the last series that saw Don Draper propose to his secretary. Those of us who care more than is healthy or right about this show have been stewing over this proposal for 18 months. I hope Matthew Wiener knows he is responsible for stomach ulcers across the land.

Anyway, here we are. It happened. And that strange first scene showing a bunch of unknown (to us) ad agency workers water-bombing a civil rights march made us panic - what have they done with the cast? The office? What have they done with Peggy? Luckily, this was not Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the beloved agency we left on the brink of collapse, but a rival. And we were soon back in Roger's inner sanctum, a parody-of-sixties-design (must be Jane's doing), watching him pretend to be useful. No one is hopeless as charmingly as Roger.

There, too, were Don and Megan (The Secretary) and, woah, there's Megan giving a sexy dance and singing a French song which sounds like elaborate baby talk at a surprise party for Don in their vast apartment which looks straight out of an overpriced Stoke Newington vintage furniture store. (Line of the episode goes to Lane Pryce describing Don watching his new, young wife cavort in front of the assorted lecherous guests: "I saw his soul leave his body".)

On the lechery point: what has happened to Harry Crane? I always liked Harry - the kind of character who eats in every scene and sweetly bolted from the boardroom in guilty tears after Don's Kodak Carousel presentation, so moved was he by the (ingeniously contrived) depiction of family life after he'd had it off with Pete Campbell's secretary. (Whatever happened to the humourless Hildy? I hope she returns as Duck's improbable mistress when he tries to drunkenly stage a hostile takeover of the company, before being lamped by Don, desperate to make up for that embarrassing empty swing in the last series. One thing Mad Men has taught us: anything is possible.) But now Harry is a horror - even more pervy and bigoted and dumb. He is also universally loathed. But this isn't the Harry we knew and loved. Moral of the story: LA does bad things to people.

And finally - our favourites - Peggy and Pete. I know, Pete isn't the popular choice but there is something so lovable about someone as socially awkward and keen on antique etiquette as Pete Campbell (also: I have been smitten since he and Trudy did That Dance at Roger and Jane's party). If that wasn't enough, the sight of Pete launching a comically furious campaign for a larger office - one, preferably, without a support pillar - is enough to melt the hardest heart. This is what ambition smells like. And Peggy? Still the soul of the piece, of course, plus Megan's boss (intriguing dynamic). When left holding Joan's baby for a brief moment, she looks - poignantly - as though she has been handed a goblin. Joan, meanwhile, is single-handedly carrying the "challenges of working motherhood" storyline - sound the Social Theme klaxon!

Still it was great, wasn't it? It felt like being reunited with dear friends you haven't seen for months. I wanted to note every change in clothing and expression and mood. Such is Weiner's militant attention to detail, you could feel the weight of history in a lampshade. But the best thing was that there were no tricks, no shock revelations - things had moved on exactly as you might have predicted they had moved on, and yet of course you hadn't predicted it quite right, because the glory of this show is that it is as entirely and beautifully unpredictable as an English spring.

Christina Hendricks: Joan in Mad Men. Credit: Getty Images

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Katy Perry just saved the Brits with a parody of Donald Trump and Theresa May

Our sincerest thanks to the pop star for bringing one fleeting moment of edge to a very boring awards show.

Now, your mole cannot claim to be an expert on the cutting edge of culture, but if there’s one thing we can all agree on in 2017, it’s that the Brit Awards are more old hat than my press cap. 

Repeatedly excluding the genres and artists that make British music genuinely innovative, the Brits instead likes to spend its time rewarding such dangerous up-and-coming acts as Robbie Williams. And it’s hosted by Dermot O’Leary.

Which is why the regular audience must have been genuinely baffled to see a hint of political edge entering the ceremony this year. Following an extremely #makeuthink music video released earlier this week, Katy Perry took to the stage to perform her single “Chained to the Rhythm” amongst a sea of suburban houses. Your mole, for one, doesn’t think there are enough model villages at popular award ceremonies these days.

But while Katy sang of “stumbling around like a wasted zombie”, and her house-clad dancers fell off the edge of the stage, two enormous skeleton puppets entered the performance in... familiar outfits.

As our Prime Minister likes to ask, remind you of anyone?

How about now?

Wow. Satire.

The mole would like to extend its sincerest lukewarm thanks to Katy Perry for bringing one fleeting moment of edge to one of the most vanilla, status-quo-preserving awards ceremonies in existence. 

I'm a mole, innit.