Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Top Telly Tips - April 2008

Further hits from the vaults.
1 April 2008
Emmerdale – 7:00 ITV
When a hungover Ross gets behind the wheel and causes and accident, he begs Paddy to say he was driving. That's not sending out a very good message to viewing motorists, is it ITV? Drink, drive, then get your brother to take the rap? Meanwhile, Shadrach is about to meet Genesis, the daughter he never knew rather tnah the tuneless prog-rock band on the 1970s. What do Meshach, Abednego and King Nebuchadnezzar think about that, one wonders? Chas offers her support ... and, hopefully, suggests that Shadrach have a bath before the big family reunion.

EastEnders – 8:00 BBC1
If you’ve been watching any programme on the BBC over the last couple of weeks, you’ll probably be aware that RICKAYYYYY and BYYYANKA are back for Frank's funeral. Not to mention that blackest sheep of the Butcher family, Janine. Bet that'll cheer Big Cuddly Pat, Peggy and Ian up. Nah, come to think of it, nothing cos ever cheer Ian up.

ONE Life – 10:35 BBC1
Twelve years ago Josie Russell was left for dead on a quiet country lane in Kent, her mother and younger sister both dead following a brutal attack. Miraculously, Josie survived, though she suffered severe brain damage. In March 2008, Josie celebrates her 21st birthday. We follow her as she she talks for the first time about her injuries, growing up in the media spotlight and how the attack affected who she is today.

2 April 2008:
Coast: The Journey Continues – 7:00 BBC2
A compilation episode of some of the best bits of the last series of this award-winning and charming series about Britain’s coastline. I LOVE this show – the genuine warmth and enthusiasm of its presentation by the excellent Scottish Neil Oliver and the gorgeous cinematography combine to produce something genuinely beautiful. Please let’s have a new series soon BBC – this is what I happily pay my licence fee for!

Hughie Green: Most Sincerely - 9:00pm BBC4
After the excellent Curse of Steptoe and the harrowing Hancock and Joan the third of BBC4's comedy icons biopics concentrates on the Canadian song-and-dance man who found fame as host of game shows like Double Your Money and Opportunity Knocks. Trevor Eve, one of my favourite actors at the best of times, is magnetic in the title role and catches Green’s nasal, mid-Atlantic accent perfectly (and, interestingly, his smokers cough, too). Green was a strange - and often rather horrible man - in real life and yet he comes over in this as remarkably human (albeit still, occasionally, rather horrible). The central theme is Green's feelings for the daughter he never knew, Paula Yates. Powerful stuff and with a great supporting cast too.

The Apprentice – 9:00 BBC1
Alan Sugar puts sixteen more applicants through the job interview from hell. The applicants are challenged to set up an overnight laundry business and persuade customers to part with their washing. The following morning, following Sugar's warning not to lose a single sock, they return the clothes. So, bullyboy television. Amazingly popular but, I have to ask, with whom? I've yet to meet anybody that actually admits to liking it.

3 April 2008:
Identity Fraud: Outnumbered - 9:00pm BBC1
Jamie Theakston narrates as we are granted unique access to London's Economic Crime Unit, which is the UK's only specialist police unit taking on identity thieves. Featuring the stories of a man falsely branded a paedophile after an ID fraudster used his credit card details on a pornographic website. Strong, and valuable stuff.

Holidays Homes from Hell - 9:00pm ITV1
Nearly a million Brits now own a property overseas, but unfamiliar laws and language barriers can lead to some problematic and expensive issues. Featuring a couple evicted from their restored chateau by someone claiming to own it and families caught up in some of the worst forest fires in European history.

Empty - 10:00pm BBC2
Sitcom about a pair of house clearers starring the excellent Gregor Fisher - where's he been for the last few years? - and Billy Boyd and one which I’ve been really enjoying the last few weeks. This is the final episode of the season - an old theatre which is being renovated one with, supposedly, it’s own ghost. Surrounded by scary noises, Tony announces that he thinks they should go freelance - to Jacky's horror. If you've missed it so far, give this a shot and then catch them on repeat.

4 April 2008:
Friday:
Jonathan Ross – 10:35 ITV
Bit of a Doctor Who overload this weekend, I'm afraid. No, actually, I'm not afraid at all ... Tonight we've got the last episode of the current series of Torchwood (which has been patchy but interesting and, generally, much better than the first year) and then dear old Jonny Woss is joined by David Tennant and Catherine Tate along with British screen icon, John Hurt who's there to promote his latest film. And, also, those miserable buggers Radiohead. Bet that'll cheer everybody right up.

Saturday: 6:20 BBC1
He’s back. And it's, totally, about time - as somebody who got paid considerably more than I do once said. David Tennant returns and this time he's got Catherine Tate with him. Things to look out for over the course of the next thirteen weeks – a classy looking episode set in Pompeii next week; the return of the Sontarans (the Potato-Heady monsters from the original series); a meeting with Agatha Christe; a two-parter from Steven Moffat set in a haunted library that’s rumoured to be the scariest they’ve ever done and, apparently lots and lots of Daleks. That’s where I'm going to be for the next three months. Hope you'll be there too!

Sunday:
Tiger: Spy in the Jungle – BBC1 8:00
It's not just tigers that are captured by Spy in the Jungle's cameras - other animals also get a look-in. Tonight there's an alarmed monkey who, open-mouthed at the approach of a family of tigers, senses he has to get the hell out of there. He looks a bit like Ian Beale when he knows a fight's about to kick-off in the Queen Vic. Last week we saw the tiger cubs as cute bundles of playful fluff; now they are approaching adulthood and are learning to hunt, coached by their redoubtable mother. And, kill anything that gets too close. An approach I applaud greatly.

Meanwhile, completely off-topic but I was recently told by a colleague about the best single complaint ever received by the Beeb. It related to an episode of Qi. Allegedly, a viewer e-mailed the corporation to note that he (or she) was "disgusted by comments in last week's episode by that wretched Jo Brand woman." Upon being asked by Stephen Fry whether she would like to have "a crack" at something, Ms Brand had, seemingly, replied "No, but I'd wave my crack at it." The viewer believed this to have been one of the most "tasteless and disgusting comments" he (or she) had ever heard on television. "I know your response is going to be that this show is on after the watershed but I simply don't care what the time of day it is, I have no wish to have Jo Brand's crack shoved down my throat" he (or she) concluded." Bless.

7 April 2008:
Clowns – 9:00 BBC2
Daisy Asquith investigates the mysterious world of one of the last great dying arts – the children's party entertainer. The talents of magicians, singers and clowns are often wasted on screaming, hyperactive brats who deserve a good taste of the belt and nowt besides. Did they aspire to greater artistic ambitions when they started their careers? And do they actually enjoy their work?

Extraordinary People: The World's Heaviest Man – 10:00 Five
Mexican Fattie Manuel Uribe battles to save his life by losing some weight. Well, you could try slimming Manuel, that sometimes works.

8 April 2008:
How to Look Good Naked – 8:00 C4
Expert stylist Gok Wan meets twins Suzy and Jeannie, who have differing views on their near-identical bodies. Meanwhile, journalists Rebecca Wilcox and Carole Machin lead an independent survey on highlighters and Gok challengers a group of slimmers to shed their clothes for a photo shoot. So much nicer and more interesting that those vile Trinny and Susannah women.

CSI – 9:00 Five
Red-letter day this as we’re actually getting an episode in the UK before it’s been shown in America (it’s all to do with the writers strike). Battling the flu, Grissom and his team must investigate the deaths of several witnesses from a grand jury case against a dangerous drug gang. One of their – occasional – “funny” episodes, which are usually highly watchable.

Masscare at Virginia Tech – 9:00 BBC2
Earlier this year saw the worst school shooting in American history, when a lone gunman killed 32 people on the campus of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute at Blacksburg. Using extensive access to key witnesses this documentary delves into the mystery of how Cho, a young man with no criminal history, became a mass murderer. These sort of things can be either sensationalist nonsense or hand-wringing "Oh! The humanity!" sob-fests but, just occasionally a filmmaker will steer a middle course and produce something extraordinary, incisive and genuinely revelatory. Jury's out on whether this one will be this years Bowling for Columbine or not.

9 April 2008:
Natural World: Reindeer Girls – 8:00 BBC2
Elle and Inga, 17-year-old cousins from the north of Norway, are far from ordinary teenagers. They are reindeer herders, equally at home helping the reindeer swim fjords or ice-fishing as surfing for porn on the Internet or happy slapping Big Sven the Local Gayboy and filming it on their mobile phones. We follow the girls and their families as they accompany the reindeer herds on their annual migration across the arctic tundra, gaining a unique insight into the lives of the girls and, also, of the magnficent creatures on which they depend in this bleak and beautiful world. Truly delightful. One of the most beautiful documentaries I've seen in years. Don't miss this one.

The Bill – 8:00 ITV
First of a two-parter starring the great Edward Woodward who is somewhat cast against type as a notorious East End gangster. Eh? David Callan? The Equaliser? Sgt Howie from The Wicker Man on the wrong side of the law? No bloody way! Nice to see Edward still getting good gigs though. As Hot Fuzz brilliantly proved last year, he remains one of the finest character actors we've got.

Extraordinary People – The Human Camera – 9:00 Five
Autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire is able to draw massively detailed landscapes entirely from memory. The programme charts his remarkable progress from childhood to international success as an artist and shows how he has overcome his autism to cope with social situations and to achieve a limited form of independence. Heartwarming and really well made as most of these Extraordinary People documentaries are.

10 April 2008:
The Way We Were – 7:30 ITV (Tyne Tees area only.)
Wallow in thirty more minutes of local nostalgia as archive clips are used to recall methods of transport from the 1950s and 60s – including steam trains and trolly buses. Even I can just about remember trolly buses in Newcastle. And it were all fields round here...

Celebrity Come Dine With Me – 8:00 C4
A "special" (it says here) episode of this cookery-based reality show in which chefs compete for the title of "the ultimate dinner party host." Great. Tamara Beckwith, MC Harvey (so, the definition of “celebrity” here is seemingly a bit vague, I guess), Lynsey de Paul and Jonathan Ansell take it in turns to play host with each being marked out of ten for their prowess in the kitchen. Sounds absolutely sodding wretched – so, will probably be worth a few minutes of your time just to see if it turns out to be as bad as it appears on paper.

Cotton Wool Kids – 9:00 C4
Documentary examining the changing face of childhood. Anxious parents, fearing that Britain’s never been more dangerous, are becoming increasingly protective of their offspring. The film focuses on three parents all admitting their fears are changing the lives of their children to the extent that they rarely have the freedom to play outside. Personally, I'd beat the little bastards with a shovel until they squeal and bubble and beg for mercy. And then I'd do it some more. But, anyway, enough of my ideas of fun... Yeah, interesting subject. and well worthy of discussion. This looks decent.

11 April 2008:
My Family – 9:00 BBC1
Return of the BBC’s premier sitcom starring the great Robert Lindsey and the equally great Zoe Wanamaker. Yes, it is ‘The Good Life: The Next Generation’ but it’s still, more often than you might admit, very funny - and it’s still got more proper jokes per episode than a whole season of tripe like Tittytittybangbang. Incidentally, I noticed a thirty minute episode of The Best of Tittytittybangbang on BBC3 the other week. I'm not, entirely, sure what they used to fill up the other twenty nine minutes of the slot but I'm sure they found something. Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please, probably. I mean, that's what they use for every other slot they've got, isn't it?

Saturday:
Pushing Daisies – 9:00 ITV
The best new American show since The West Wing (and, before that, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – I haven't been as evangelical about a show as much as I am about this one in years. It's a little piece of Tim Burton-like modern fairytale whimsy transferred to your TV screens. The story of a man (the excellent Lee Pace whom you'll never have heard of but, trust me, he's going to be a star) who can raise the dead, but with some awkward side effects. It also stars Anna Friel (from Brookie) who’s become, almost overnight, America’s new sweetheart ten years after she and her mum buried Trevor under the patio and she had the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss in TV History. And Jim Dale as The Voice of God (I mean, sold on THAT alone!) Almost impossible to describe, almost killed by the writers strike (but, thankfully, it survived) and utterly charming and wonderful. Do not, under any circumstances, miss this one or you might never find another one quite like it. Sod Casualty, THIS is where you need to be at nine o'clock on Saturdays for the next nine weeks. (Or, eight weeks as, apparently, ITV have decided for reasons best known to themselves not to show one of the episodes.)

Sunday:
Bear Grylls: Born Survivor – C4 8:00
Bear travels to some of the world’s most inhospitable places. A bit controversial now once it was revealed that, sometimes when filming, he stays in a hotel rather than the great outdoors! Mind you, some of them hotels can be bloodu jungles. Oh, and remember Doctor Who's on as well.

14 April 2008:
Waking the Dead – 9:00 BBC1
The seventh series of one of my favourite dramas finally arrives. It's been a bloody long wait! A British CSI but with much more depth and characterisation and always reliably and refreshingly bonkers in the plot department. Stars the usual team including the great Trevor Eve, the equally great Sue Johnston, Wil Johnson, the French bird nobody can remember the name of and the lovely Tara FitzGerald. It was still marginally better when Holly Aird and Claire Goose were in it, though!

16 April 2008:
Escape to the Country – 5:15 BBC2
A nice gentle way to unwind after work this show looks for the perfect rural retreat in Oxfordshire. Civilised.

Child Genius – 9:00 C4
A follow up show to the series C4 made last year about a group of super intelligent children. Includes Georgina who, at two years and nine months, became Britain’s youngest ever member of MENSA. Two years and nine months? Jesus, at that age I hadn’t even learned to use the potty properly.

Indiana Jones – The True Story 10:00 Five
With the new Indiana Jones move about to be released this documentary charts of lives of two of them men whom George Lucas and Steven Speilberg may have got the idea for the character from. US explorer and naturalist Roy Chapman who, in the 1920s led expeditions through China and Mongolia and German archeologist Otto Rahn who was fascinated by the Holy Grail and had an uncomfortable relationship with the Nazis. Good little series, this, I was very impressed with their Titanic show last year. Check it out.

17 April 2008:
The Simpsons – 6:00 C4
One of the maddest episodes ever – Our Lost Lisa – in which Lisa's attempts to visit the museum on her own leads to all sorts of mayhem and a bit of cat burglary from Homer! Wheel turns, civilisations rise and fall but The Simpsons remains, reliably, wonderful.

The Graham Norton Show – 9:00 BBC2 Tony Curtis and Kevin Bacon are amongst Graham's guests in the first of a new 12-part series. Always very watchable, this. I like Graham, he's got a clever balance between the outrageously camp and the genuinely revealing (loved his Who Do You Think You Are? too). And he always manages to get good stories out of his guests (the one, recently, with Martin Sheen and Ed Byrne being a case in point).

Sex, Lies and the Murder of Meredith Kercher – 9:00 C4
Another of the excellent Cutting Edge series looking at the ongoing investigation into the death of British student Meredith in Italy last year. Not the easiest of subjects to watch, certainly, but it’s sure to be fascinating as most of this fine series' films are.

18 April 2008:
Shark – 9:00 Five
It's not Five's biggest import, but Shark has a slick charm and is usually as cheesy as James Woods' grin. Series two begins with a bang – but not even a bomb can stem the flow of wisecracks from Sebastian Stark - the LA prosecutor whose methods are so nasty he gets only the most beautiful lawyers to work for him. Woods, as ever, is fantastic in the lead.

Have I Got News For You? – 9:00 BBC1
Ian Hislop and Paul Merton return for what seems like a millionth series. It's extraordinary that, after so long on air (nearly two decades), the show is still funnier and fresher than young pretenders like Mock the Week. Friday evenings simply haven't been the same without it. Tonight, Jack Dee is guest host.

Saturday:
Doctor Who – 6:20 BBC1
The appearance of Blackadder's Tim McInnery reminds us that there are lots of actors out there who are probably best known for comedy but often turn up in more serious drama - Robert Lindsey, Jimmy Bolam and Hugh Laurie just being three I thought of seconds before walking into the studio. Oh, and The Ood are back. So, avoid spaghetti for tea tomorrow I'd advise.

Sunday:
British Television Academy Awards – 8:00 BBC1
Coverage of the most revered television awards show in the UK, from the London Palladium. Twenty-three awards honouring the cream of British TV are up for grabs. And Doctor Who isn't up for any of them which is a God damned disgrace, frankly. And neither is Life On Mars which is an equal disgrace. Hosted by the disgraceful Graham Norton!

Foyle’s War – 8:00 ITV
Six days before the end of the war and Hastings is preparing to celebrate the victory. While Foyle anticipates his retirement Sam is left questioning where her life will lead. The good news is despite the war finishing the great Michael Kitchen may not be hanging up his truncheon just yet. And nor, indeed, might the excellently named Honeysuckle Weekes. Hope to see some post-war adventures from the delightfully shot nostalgia-fest.

21 April 2008:
Corrie – 7:30 ITV
So, David’s been banged up in stir. As if adjusting to life behind bars isn’t bad enough, Gail pays him a visit. oh, jeez. Wonder if he’ll be begging to be put in solitary on the next visiting day?

Time Team: The Lost Dock of Liverpool – 9:00 C4
Tony and the team are given access to the largest dig in the programme's history - the 42-acre site of The Paradise Project in Liverpool to unearth the secrets of the new European Capital of Culture. Interestingly, they discover that a similar state of redevelopment existed 300 years ago as the small seven-street town was transformed from an industrial backwater into England’s most important port. Never less than wonderful, Time Team. Effortlessly fascinating, persented with real and genuine enthusiasm and always worth watching.

22 April:
Hairy Bikers Come Home - 8:30 BBC2
A repeat, but a welcome one. Wor Si King, along with cheery Cumbrian mate Davey Myers, takes delight in showing off the cullinary delights of the North, East and West. The lads visit a farm in Northumberland that grows eighteen different varieties of tetties and have some local fun at the Whitley Bay Ice Rink - Davey's Abba tribute is a sight to see. The Trawlers at the North Shields Fish Quay provide the background as the boys cook "The Ultimate Fish Supper" (that's the "fish and chips" definition of fish supper and opposed to "a Friday night special with plenty of batter sand a whiff of the sea"). I mention this one partly it's great TV and you'll probably enjoy it, partly because there's so little decent stuff on tonight but, mainly, because Simon's actually a friend of a friend of mine and I said that I'd plug it!

Heather Mills: What Really Happened – 10:00 C4
Three-part series delving deeper into stories that have been saturated with media coverage. Jacques Peretti tries to separate fact from fiction concerning Heather Mills, talking to her father Mark and the ghost writer of her autobiography, Pamela Cockerill. I smell a stitch-up at the Behest of Saint Heather of Strawberry Fields, frankly! Macca, stand by your lawyer...

Ex-Forces & Homeless – 10:35 BBC1
On any night in London alone there are thought to be - shockingly - more than a thousand homeless services veterans. In some parts of the country they account for 12% of the homeless population. In this moving film Ken Hames, a veteran of 27 years' experience, takes to the streets to find out why so many ex-soldiers are homeless. Important subject, well-handled. Worth and hour of your time.

23 April 2008:
James Bond: The True Story - 9:00 Five
After last week's excellent Indiana Jones: The True Story, a look at the real-life story behind the creation of James Bond. This film reveals some hidden secrets behind Ian Fleming's wartime service in naval intelligence and profiles two colleagues of Fleming who could have supplied the basis for Bond's character. Now, did you know that Christopher Lee was Ian Fleming's cousin and also worked in intelligence during the war? But he doesn't like to talk about it.

Dan Cruickshank's Adventures in Architecture - 9:00 BBC2
Historian Dan Cruickshank celebrates creative architecture as he explores the world's greatest cities, buildings and monuments. I love this show - another example of who enthusiasm for a subject can make for fascinating TV.

Heist - BBC4 9:00
Drama based on a true story. When Dick Puddlecote is released from a Flanders jail in 1302 to discover his friends, livelihood and woman are all in hock to the King, he decides to exact revenge by breaking into the vault at Westminster Abbey and stealing all the King's gold. There's just one catch - failure would earn him and his gang ruthless torture, a gruesome death and, potentially, an eternity in hell. Stars Kris Marshall. A medival heist movie, basically - The Renaisance Italian Job, if you will. "You're only supposed to blow the cathedral doors off!"

24 April 2008:
The Way We Were – 7:30 ITV
We mentioned this excellent show a couple of weeks ago and it’s worth highlighting again the gentle nostalgia for the recent past that it effortlessly evokes. Tonight looks at leisure activities and holidays of the 50s and 60s. Stand by for the Knobbly Knees competition at Butlins. Good morning campers.

Heroes – 9:00 BBC2
Return of the cult US superhero show. It’s four months after the explosive events in New York but a deadly new threats loom as brand new meta-humans emerge worldwide. I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the second year (curtailed after eleven episodes due to the writers strike) - Kristen Bell being in it, notwithstanding - but a lot of people liked it. So, even though I am right and they are wrong, I'm recommending this.

The Baron – 10:35 ITVReality show in which three celebrities arrive in the Scottish town of Gardenstown to compete for a vacant Baronial title. Pop singer Suzanne Shaw, ex-Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren (last seen fleeing from the jungle before I'm a Tenth Rate Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race On TV Again, Please Vote For Me To Stay Here For As Long As Possible had even started) and former EastEnder Mike Reid - in his last television appearance - compete for the prestigious title. Sounds like yet another example of wretched, embarrassingly bad car-crash telly. So, probably worth an hour of your time just to say you were The One that watched it in years to come.

25 April 2008:Friday:
Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press - 9:00 BBC2
First shown on Four last week, Stephen examines the story behind the first media entrepreneur, the printing press inventor Johann Gutenberg, to find out why he did it, a story which involves both historical enquiry and hands-on craft and technology. As Stephen asks, one can imagine a world without cars or television but a world without the printed word...?

Saturday:
The Comedy Map of Britain 9:45pm BBC2
Alan Whicker narrates a spirited journey around the UK, pinpointing the special places that have inspired our major comic talents. Johnny Vegas and his potters wheel return to Edinburgh to relive his breakthrough 1997 Fringe show, and Rhona Cameron goes back to her home town of Musselburgh to the Girl Guides hut. What went on there, we only have this excert...

Pushing Daisies - 9:05pm ITV1
Emerson, Ned and Chuck are hired to prove that a pilot was murdered and didn't commit suicide. But they soon become involved in a case of stolen jewellery, an escaped prisoner a They Might be Giants song-and-dance number and a one-winged pigeon. Simply brilliant.

Sunday:
Midsomer Murders - 8:00pm ITV1
My mother’ll be happy about this one – it’s her favourite show. When Nick Cheyney, director of a new film of The Scarlet Pimpernel is beheaded by a guillotine on set, there is no shortage of suspects. Can Barnaby and Jones find the killer before the case becomes as bloody as the French Revolution?

30 April 2008:
Street Doctor - 7:30pm BBC1
A series that takes four interfering-busybody GPs out on to the streets of Britain. George, Barbara, Jonty and Ayan take their medical mission to Dover. Among the GP's impromptu - and probably unwilling - patients are channel swimmer Vicky, whose shoulder problem could affect her solo swim to France. And The Worshipful Mayor of Deal who has to face up to some hard facts about his weight when he bumps into Dr George and Dr Jonty at the market.

Desperate Housewives - 10:00pm Channel 4
Carlos walks out on his relationship with Edie. Susan finds Mike's supposedly dead father. An unexpected delivery at a Halloween party surprises the neighbourhood. Taking to Jonathan Miles last week, I know he’s a big fan, so this is specifically for him. Oh, and check out Kyle MacLaughlan's Halloween costume!

Escape from Alcatraz: The True Story - 9:00pm Five
Documentary examining a remarkable escape attempt from Alcatraz prison. In June 1962, three inmates successfully broke out of the jail and took to the waters of San Francisco Bay in a makeshift raft, never to be seen again. The film uses interviews with former inmates, guards and FBI agents to piece together the story of the escape, while three modern-day coastguards board a replica of the raft to see if it could have carried the men to freedom. Hope they're strong swimmers.

1 comment:

Salesdiva said...

I'm going to have to look up this show "Curse of Steptoe" as that is our last name. Interesting stuff comes up when I put a google alert on my name.