Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Top Telly Tips - July 2008

I can't really remember all that much about July, to be honest. I was supposed to be away on holiday for a fortnight but that fell through for one reason or another. Saw a couple of half-way decent movies. Read a few good books. Oh yeah, about four days that month were "summer" this year, weren't they?

Anyway, the Top Telly Tips continued which much excitement and celebration among regional radio listeners... I even got a few of them involved in the show by inviting suggestions on stuff we should be featuring (and got some very good and very worthwhile feedback). Here's a selection -

3 July 2008:
The Great British Sunday - BBC4 8:00
That fine comedian Sean Lock looks at what Sundays always meant to him - from hangovers to Jack Hargreaves on Out Of Town!, from Sunday school to stately homes to boredom. For me, it was always going up to Harbottle Park for a game of football, back home in time for Shoot!, mum's massive Sunday dinners and falling asleep watching Jacob Bronowski on The Ascent of Man. Or, in the summer, going up to harbottle Park for a game of cricket, John Player League, mum's massive Sunday dinners and falling asleep watching Jacob Bronowski The Ascent of Man. Oh, and "back to school on Monday."

ABBA: The Mamma Mia! Story -9:00 ITV
After premiering in London's West End in 1999, this popular stage musical has gone on to achieve massive success around the world, having been seen by over 30 million people. Now, as a major - though, apparently, shite - film adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Julie Walters is about to be released, the creative team, ABBA members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, talk about how the show has, in under ten years, become a such global musical phenomenon. Well ... good songs, basically.

Fallout - 10:00 C4
Topical drama from award-winning playwright Roy Williams. A policeman returns to the estate he grew up on to investigate the murder of a black teenager, stabbed to death by a local gang. The film tackles the issue of the rise in gun and knife crime on Britain's streets. Relevent and worthy stuff. Good week for drama, what with Criminal Justice and now this.

4 July 2008:
Top Telly Tips is where we ask all of the questions no one else dares to ask.
Today, where have all the Club a Go-Go’s went went?

Criminal Justice - 9:00 BBC1
Another question worth asking, if you haven't been watching this all week then where the Hell have you been? This is the last episode and if you've missed it so far, it's probably too late to catch up. But do please TRY because it’s been truly outstanding. Proof that we can still make proper, socially aware, relevent, affecting, thought-provoking drama in this country.

Doctor Who - 6:40 BBC1
And speaking of proper, socially aware, relevent, affecting, thought-provoking drama, this is the last time I will mention Doctor Who this season, I promise. (... Cos it's the last episode, basically.) With Davros now in control of the 27 planets and the Daleks invading Earth can the Doctor and the assorted “children of time” stop the inevitable carnage. And, if he can, will he be the same man? Well, I know and you don’t. Bet you can guess, though! (Given that they've already filmed the Christmas special with David Tennant, I'm pretty sure my money's safe.) See you all on Christmas Day for the next installment of THE great British TV success story of the naughties.

Last Choir Standing - 7:45 BBC1
Oh great, another music show for Saturday night. This looks as though it will probably be just as wretched as most of the others ... although, that said it cannot, possibly, be any worse than Who Dares, Sings! on the other side. How many more musical competitions will they foist upon on us before we get bored? If we haven't already, that is. Any Bream Will Do wherein Lloyd Weber and Barrowman eats a live bream - chosen by you the public - and a panel gets to vote on which one should come back next week and do it again? What about Fizzy Pop Idol - what's better dandelion & burdock or strawberry lemonade? Do they think that we're all complete and total idiots? Well ... yes, clearly they do ... That's the only thing which explains Britain's Got Talent.

Top Gear - 8:00 BBC2
Or, you might prefer three fortysomething men driving very fast and shouting "POWER!" a lot. I know I do. James Corden and Rob Brydon from Gavin and Stacey are the stars in a reasonably priced car this week. Now, Scunthrope Steve the producer has asked me to raise the question of why don't the lads ever look into how much, for instance, the Grand Prix costs the Earth in carbon footprints? Good question. It’s probably cos the answer would scare even The Stig. Although - as they did reveal last year - did you know that a cow actually exhales more methane in a year than a Range Rover produces in carbon fuel emissions? And, methane is far worse for the environment. So, there's an idea for the environmental lobby - let's do away with cows before we have a go at the cars, eh?

7 July 2008:
Chinese Food Made Easy - 8:30 BBC2
Chef Ching-He Hiang embarks on a mission to prove how easy it is to whip up a gosh darn tasty Chinese meal at home with simple and healthy ingrediants. Oh NO! That'll be my local takeaway out of business, for a kick-off. Course, five minutes after watching this you'll want to watch another cookery programme. Thang you, thang you, I'm here all week.

New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1
Return of the gentle crime drama staple starring three of my favourite actors ... and Dennis Waterman as well. It’s Last of the Summer Wine with added crime, basically isn't it? Amanda Redman is the Norah Batty of the detective set with James Bolam the Compo. Always highly watchable, though and very very popular.

8 July 2008:
Sports Mastermind - 8:00 BBC2
One of the chaps, this as smooth old Des Lynam returns to the Beeb and invites four contestants into the black chair to tackle specialist subjects and a general knowledge round – so, Alfie Joey of Peterlee, your specialist subject is World Snooker Finals. I’ve started so I’ll finish. Which event interrupted TV coverage of the Cliff Thorburn/Hurricane Higgins final in 1980. And which TV show immediately followed it?

Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage - 8:30 BBC2
If - like me - you delighted in Francesco de Mosto's beautiful Francesco’s Italy two year ago - with its lingering quasi-pornographic shots of Sorrento, Capri and Roma - you'll be really looking forward to this ten-part maritime adventure around the Mediterranean. Easy on the eye and with a lovely sense of playful adventure.

Bonekickers - 9:00 BBC1
They're archaeologist-detectives. They dig stuff up and they solve crime. So, it's CSI meets Time Team, basically! If this were any more of a *homage* to The Da Vinci Code it would carry its very own Albino killer monk. Stars Hugh Bonneville and Julie Graham and it's from the makers of Life on Mars so it should look good and be quite funny, at the very least. I’m expecting this to be completely bonkers but probably rather engaging and fun. More like a US drama series than a British one. I love Waking the Dead and Spooks for instance but it is nice, once in a while, to get something that you can completely switch your brain off for.

9 July 2008:
Britain's Closest Encounters - Five 8:00
In 1974, locals near the Berwyn mountain range in Wales experienced an earthquake and reported seeing strange green lights in the sky. In an incident that would become known as the 'Welsh Roswell', some theoriest - who are DEFINITELY not nutters or people who'd been drinking the sheep dip again (it says here) - claimed that a UFO had crashed into the mountain and that the government has, yep you guessed it, "covered up the truth." This is the same government that's wholly unable to prevent a massive credit crunch and lets its employees leave laptops and briefcases full of EYES ONLY official secrets on trains and in McDonald's, yes? Yeah, that sounds like JUST the sort of thing they'd be capable of keeping quiet for thirty four years. Tony Head’s narrative voice over make Everything Sound Very Dramatic. Good fun, though. I really do like this sort of thing in medium-sized doses.

Marco's Great British Feast - 9:00 ITV
Marco Pierre White - now, he's a funny guy; he's got an Italian first name, a French middle name and an English surname, what's all that about, eh? Anyway, he travels across the British Isles in search of the nation's finest food, as he attempts to create an all-British menu made completely from local ingredients. Marco begins his journey by making a stockpot using rabbit and vegetables, before travelling 400 miles to a cattle farm in the Scottish Highlands to see one of the nation's oldest breeds of cattle. He had a bit of a go at Gordon Ramsey in the press recently has old Marco, so expect the menu tonite to either include a bit of hot tongue, some cold shoulder or maybe a taste of humble pie. Perhaps we'll never care.

Tribal Wives - 9:00 BBC2
This has proved to be something of a hit so far – particularly with women and especially in middle England where this sort of thing often plays out quite well. Is it, though, as some have claimed nothing but a sad indictment of Britain's casual cultural imperialism when it comes to other cultures? Should the producers make the women go the whole hog and stay there? I find it a rather twee and embarrassingly one-dimensional piece myself - though often worthy - but, it’s clearly got some sort of an audience who enjoy it.

Extraordinary People: Outlaw Births - Five 9:00
After what she comsiders to have been too much intervention in her earlier births, Clare has decided to have her third baby at home without any medical help something which was very common fifty years ago but which, these days, places her squarely in the "hippy nutter" category. Obstetrician Maggie, not without cause, worries about the consequences. I loved the trailer for this, though, with the silly bitch bent double and hollering "DON'T! TOUCH! ME!" "I don't want to be given an epidural when some doctor decides I should have one" bleats Clare at one point. Good, well you just carry on having your child in SCREAMING BLOODY AGONY then. You sodding daft cow.

10 July 2008:
EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1
Ronnie is reeling from the shock arrival of her dad, played by the great 70s hard-man Larry Lamb. Respect. It's a good job they've introduced him frankly because, as I understand it, the next scheduled laugh isn't coming along 27th Nov 2009.

Mock the Week - 9:00 BBC2
Return of the topical news quiz for another series. It's not as adventurous as Have I Got News For You and it's nowhere near as intelligent or dangerous as Qi but it's always worthwhile for Dara Ó Briain's utterly surreal sense of humour and Frankie Boyle's casually filthy gob!

Lab Rats - 9:30 BBC2
New comedy set in a university research laboratory (not, perhaps, the most promising of "sits" for a sitcom although, hey, The IT Crowd and The Office worked with even less promising settings). It's co-written by and starring Chris Addison from The Thick Of It. The clips I’ve seen look really quite good – a nice mix of laddish humour, media referencing and some genuinely daft laugh out loud moments. It's about time the BBC found a new hit sitcom and this could just be it. Hope it gets an audience.

11 July 2008:
Where we continue to ask the questions no one else dares to.
Today, why do flammable and inflammable mean the same thing?

Superstars – 8:00 Five
Der-der-der-derrrrrrr. Der-der-da-da-durrrrrrrrr. Dur-durrrrrr. Der-der-der-der-der-der-derrrrrr. Ah, the 1970s are back. Supermac doing the 100 metres in ten seconds. Brian Jacks and his squat-thrusts. Alan Minter canoeing his way into immortality. Kevin Keegan falling off his bike. His back was redder than his Liverpool shirt. Slight change of format in this very welcome revival of the popular 70s sports show - it’s teams this time rather than an individual competition. Competitors include some genuine Olympic Standard superstars, Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Kelly Holmes and Roger Black (whose only got an OBE!) Best revival of a old TV format since Doctor Who came back. Even if it is presented by Jim "You Know NOTHING" Rosenthal.

Stop messin’ about. It’s Carry On Night on BBC2 which, essentially, means the BBC have got a chance to repeat two of the great bio-pics they’ve made over the last decade – Cor, Blimey! about the lengthy affair between Babs Windsor and Sid James and Fantabulouso! The former, is bright, funny and very well-cast (especially the girl who plays Barbara). The latter, based on the harrowing Kenneth Williams Diaries is even better, but very very dark. Michael Sheen puts in a BAFTA-winning performance as the tortured star. Infamy! Infamy!

George Gently - 8:00 BBC1
We'll try this one again, eh? Postponed from last week, because of the flaming tennis, Peter Flannery’s George Gently stars Martin Shaw as a North Country copper in the 1960s. Tapping the same gentle nostalgia wave as Foyle's War and Heartbeat, just as Rupert Brooks once noted that there will always be a corner of some foreign field that will be forever England, so Keith Telly Topping informs you that there will always be some part of Sunday night Crime Drama that will be, eternally, 1964. By the way - did you know 80% of burglaries go unreported. But, hang on, how do they know that? It’s a well known fact, after all, that 57.3% of all statistic are made up on the spot to prove a point.

Long Way Round – 9:00 BBC2
Following the success of last year’s Long Way Down here’s another - slightly older - Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman travelogue as they journey by motorbike from London to New York. The long way. Great placement of this immediately after Top Gear cos it is quite laddish although, with Ewan on hand, there’s always something for the ladies too.

14 July 2008:
Corrie – ITV 7:30
It’s Steve and Michelle week by the look on things. Tonight, there's a marriage proposal. But when she discovers that it was under somewhat false pretences one has to fear for Steve’s life, Or his goolies at the very least. And, is it just me or is this storyline about Fiz getting crank calls far funnier than it should be? I keep on imagining it’s one of those “Have you been injured at work?” companies on the other end. And some geezer with a really dodgy moustache.

Banged Up – 9:00 Five
This started quite alarmingly badly last week so I’m gonna tune in again just to see if it gets worse. Which I think it might. This is the David Blunkett presented reality show in which a group of young delinquents experience the grim reality of life behind bars. Conceptually horrible but, I will admit, it is rather fascinating, in the same way that watching a car-crash is. Pure total and unadulterated exploitation of the worst possible kind. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is what consistutes entertainment for the 21st Century in the mind of some TV executive. What are they going to come up with next, we wonder? Pro-Celebrity Bear Baiting? International Dwarf Tossing? A pox on it and all involved in it.

Would I Lie to You? – 10:00 BBC2
Comedy panel show hosted by Angus Deayton with team captains Lee Mack and Davie Mitchell. It’s a sort of modern day Call My Bluff in which contestants reveal ridiculous secrets from their past the odd one or two of which may be true. Quite entertaining it is, too, in a kind of sub Qi/Mock the Week kind of way. Easily the best thing that's on tonight - by a street and a half.

15 July 2008:
Voyages of Discovery - 8:00 BBC4
Paul Rose follows in the tailwinds of Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespuchi, Vascom de Gama, John Cabot and - my particular hero - Ferdinand Magellan as he traces the origins of the voyages that mapped the face of the world in the late 15th and and early 16th Centuries using a mixture of storytelling and re-enactment. I love this sort of stuff from the always-reliable BBC4.

Jimmy Doherty’s Farming Heroes – 9:00 BBC2
The unlikely star of Jimmy Farm travels around the country to find out how other small farm owners are doing and what sort of innovations they’re using – everything from organics to high-tech argibusiness. Looks highly entertaining and informative.

Olympics Dreams – 10:35 BBC1
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Olympics are almost upon us but this series is looking further ahead than Beijing, to the 2012 games to be held in London with profiles of some of the teenage talent that will, hopefully, be leading Britain’s search for medals in and around Hackney. Tonight, fourteen year old diving prodigy Tom Daley.

16 July 2008:
Timewatch: Hadrian’s Wall – 7:00 BBC2
A welcome repeat of this startlingly fine documentary about our own local contender for the eighth wonder of the world. It's on, I suspect, because of this major Hardrian exhibition that's opening next week at the British Museum. Presented by the occasionally very annoying Julian Richards whose show, Meet the Ancestors - whilst sometimes brilliant - was, nevertheless, an obvious (and bad) BBC attempt to muscle in on Time Team's success.

Emmerdale – 7:00 ITV
Still on a very good run at the moment, is Emmers. Poor old Viv – she’s getting blackmailed by Louise and her search for Freddie could end with her giving his a knee in his manhood again. Does anybody else remember when Emmerdale used to be “a simple tale of country folk”?!

Personal Services Required - C4 9:00
No, it’s not what you think! Four-part reality series in which families seeking domestic help are given the chance to test three candidates to see if they are suitable for the job. Tonight, single mum AJ is looking for an au pair (hey, aren’t we all?) whilst Karen and Joel need someone to help take care of their two year old. Julia, Chloe and Malado think they have what it takes. So, it's The Apprentice for middle-class families with screaming brats that need looking after. Let's get the pizzas in an have a party...

17 July 2008:
Where we continue to ask the questions no one else dare ask.
Today, why is there only one Monopolies Commission?

EastEnders – 7:30 BBC1
Roxy moves in with the Slaters. Now THERE’S a house you’d really want to avoid popping in for a cuppa from now on, I’d suggest. Meanwhile, arachnophobia runs rampant as an eight-legged-menace terrorizes Albert Square. Best! plotline! ever! Is it too much to ask that one of them catches Dot whilst she's on the lavvy? Probably.

Harley Street – 9:00 ITV
You can see ITV’s thinking here – let's take an ex-EastEnder (Paul Nicholls) and an ex-Corrie star (Suranne Jones) and build a medical drama around them, cos they're really popular. I must admit it doesn’t look very promising but it’s a new drama from ITV so, on rarity value alone, it’s probably going to be worth a punt for one episode.

Lab Rats – 9:30 BBC2
Mentioned this last week. Reasonably good first episode, I thought – the quite brilliant lightbulb joke in particular, which was on the funniest things I've seen on TV all year - and a nice mixture of some clever studenty stuff and some plain daft bits. I'm sticking with this one for the time being.

18 July 2008:
We continue to ask the questions no one else dares to.
Today, why in ‘Penny Lane’, is it raining and sunny at the same time?
Answer that and stay fashionable.

BBC2’s a bit of a no-go area tonight unless you happen to be a golfing fan who also likes a bit of classic musical (it’s First Night of the Proms) so, let’s go with Superstars on Five at 8:00 instead. Jim Rosenthal - now there’s a funny man. HE KNOWS NOTHING, of course, we know this to be true. Although I must admit I really did admire the way he was able to say “Welcome to the K2 Sports Arena … in Crawley” last week and give it the sort of gravitas needed to make you, briefly, think you were watching something coming live from the Olympic Stadium in Beijing. And, wasn’t it just fabulous seeing former The Scum star Lee Sharpe being the last one picked for games? I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. Until I stopped. And then I laughed some more.

Who Downed Douglas Bader? - 7:10 Channel 4
Couple of good documentaries on tonight. There’s another one about Hadrian on BBC2, presented by Dan Shaw – blimey, Hadrian’s getting more media coverage these days than he did when he was emperor. But, the one I’ve gone with is an examination of the mystery surrounding the last flight of Douglas Bader, the RAF hero who claimed he was forced to bail out over France after a collision. Aviation historian Andy Saunders and Bernie Forward, a specialist air crash investigator, go in search of Bader's Spitfire, trawl through records, re-examine the evidence and piece together eyewitness reports in order to present a very different account of Bader's last flight and of the man famous to millions through Kenneth More’s portrayal in Reach for the Sky. Is it possible this was an early example of a friendly fire incident?

Rather odd man, Douglas Bader – supposedly he wasn’t a very nice man, either. And, of course, the great story about him – as told in The Alan Clarke Diaries – concerns a visit he paid to Roedean in the 1970s to give a talk to the girls on his wartime experiences. In the middle of his reminiscences his story began to involve “the Fockers”. “Yes,” he noted as one point. “There I was, in my kite, Fockers to the left of me, Fockers to the right of me, Fockers in front of me. There were Fockers everywhere.” The headmistress, sensing a bit of sniggering going on hurriedly interjected to explain that the Foche-Wulf was, of course, a type of German military aircraft. “Quite correct,” noted Bader. “Mind you, I think these Fockers were Messerschmitts, actually.”

Midsomer Murders – 8:00 ITV
Somebody – clearly with far more time on their hands that I have - recently added up all of the murders that have taken place in the quiet Somerset town of Midsomer over the last few years. It’s around one hundred and eighty, apparently. It’s got to the stage now where you can barely pop down to the village shop without tripping over a corpse. Never mind knife crime, Gordon, do something about the goings-on in Midsomer, you could half the UK crime statistics overnight.

21 July 2008:
Corrie – 7:30 ITV
Fiz is still getting bothered by these sinister phone calls. She should do what I do when I get rung up by somebody trying to sell me a mobile phone – tell them this is secure line and ask how they got the number and couple you speak to their supervisor. Anyway, turns out it’s the return of her ex, John Stape, who’s doing a bit of stalking. I'd still have preferred it - plotwise - if it had turned out to be the "have you been injured at work?" bloke off them adverts. Just cos...

Dragon’s Den – 9:00 BBC2
New series and they're using 'Kashmir' as their trailer music. How bleedin' original, lads and lasses. 'Fuckin' in the Bushes' might've been more appropriate. Tonight the Dragons are shown a product that promises to end bedroom disputes (pfft ... Yeah. Right) , a machine that turns air into water (hang on, isn't that like alchemy or something? Against all laws of God and Man) and a rock band, Hamfatter, from Cambridge, who are seeking investment to get their career off the ground. Bet that’ll go down well at their first gig at The Marquee. “Hamfatter, brought to you by five fat and balding middle-aged businesspersons…” Although, to be fair, that is a pretty good description of Deep Purple these days.

Can’t Read, Can’t Write – 9:00 C4
Series looking at the worrying phenomena of poor adult literacy level in the UK, this follows nine adults as they enroll in a six-month course to improve their reading and writing skills. Teacher Phil Beadle takes on the challenge of succeeding where the education system failed. Interesting subject and, if handled right, this could be great. I hope it is because it also has the potential to be patronising in the extreme.

22 July 2008:
In 1981 Birmingham reggae band UB40 had a hit with ‘One in Ten’ in which they complained about the hellish misery of being unemployed. A year later, they had another hit with ‘So Here I Am Standing at a Bus Stop Wishing I was Somewhere Else’ in which they complained about the hellish misery of going to work. Hey lads, mek yer minds up, eh?

Something else that really needs to make its mind up (and soon) is Bonekickers – 9:00 BBC1. This show’s major problem is that it can’t seem to decide what it wants to be – it’s far, far too lightweight to be Serious Drama but, by the same token, it’s to desperately po-faced and up its own arse to be the "bonkers-but-fun" show that this blogger hoped for and, frankly, expected. It started dreadfully - that first episode is quite possibly the worst thing ever. And not just on TV either. The second episode, though, was MUCH better so I've still got some hope for it. At least the locations are nice. Tonight’s episode is filmed at the Roman baths (in Bath, obviously). Lovely to look at, just don’t think about it too much.

Des Lynam: Sports Mastermind – 8:00 BBC2
Very good so far – enjoyed the kid whose specialist subject was Tommy Simpson in particular. Although, is it just me or does Des looks a bit unwell on this? Must've had flu whilst they were filming it. Anyway, specialist subjects tonight includes Premiership overseas players and Essex cricket club.

The Culture Show – BBC2 10:00
Big Quiffed Marky's reviews this week include the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight, which I've seen today, and which I highly recommend. Meanwhile Wor Lovely Lauren gets a lesson in Afrobeat from Nigerian drummer Tony Allen. G'won, play them crazy bongos, Wor Lovely Lauren, kidda.

23 July 2008:
Where we continue to ask the questions that no one else dares to.
Today, just who did put the bomp in the bomp-she-bomb-she-bomp?
And was it REALLY the same guy who put the ram in the rama-lama-ding-dong?
Whoever it was, tell him to cut it out.

Massive Speed – 7:30 Five
One for the chaps, this – Chris Barrie (what’s he been doing since Red Dwarf apart from that appalling Tomb Raider movie?) presents this show about the history of the sports car with the sort of amiable passion and enthusiasm that would probably see him giving Jeeza Clarkson a run for his money in a “Who’s got the biggest gear stick” competition. Tonight, Chris gets a go in the Top Gear boys favourite £850,000 monster, the Bugatti Veyron. POWER!

Burn Up – 9:00 BBC2
Major two-part eco-drama and co-production with US TV. Written by Simon Beaufoy (author of The Full Monty) This is a big conspiracy thriller about global warming – the cast is absolutely fantastic – Rupert Penry-Jones from Spooks, Mark Warren from Hustle, Neve Campbell, the great Bradley Whitford (Josh in The West Wing). And some lass called Tigerlilly Hutchinson. You won’t’ve heard of her but I mention her cos I like her name!

Extraordinary People: The Rainman Twins – 9:00 Five
The story of Flo and Kay, the world’s only autistic savant twins – described as “human computers” – they have an amazing ability to recall facts and data. Good little series, this.

24 July 2008:
EastEnders – 7:30 BBC1
Ian Beale prepares to hold a banquet at the café. Bet that’ll be good – jellied eels en crut, cod and chips ala superbe. And a nice glass of chateux le Whatney’s Red Barrel before they bring out the cheese and biscuits? I like a good curry myself...

Anyway, I’d like to use the rest of today's Top Telly Tips to highlight two locals shows from ITV which you can see tonight if you're in the Tyne Tees region. Northern Skies at 7:30 sees Eric Robson flying in a helicopter across the region taking in lots of lovely ariel views of Northumberland, Durham, the Pennines and North Yorkshire. Lovely to look at even if you do, occasionally, want to turn the commentary off and just let the pictures speak for themselves. Later, at 10:40, there’s a delightful little six-part series called The Wall in which the local historian Alister Moffat - who was responsible for the surprisingly excellent Ant and Dec's History of Tyneside last year - and former Paraolympican Tanni Grey-Thompson journey along the length Hadrian’s Wall. Again, it's a gorgeous travelogue and one presented with real, genuine enthusiasm for the subject which sucks the viewer in. Just the thing for tired eyes if you’re trying to avoid watching the pilot of One Foot in the Grave which the BBC are showing for, seemingly, the four hundredth time. I don't belieeeeeeeeeve it.

25 July 2008:
Where we continue to ask the questions no one else dares to.
Today, if a tree falls in a forest and there's no one there, does it make a sound?
Yes, of course it does, it's goes "CRRRRRRASH" what a stupid question.
But what if the tree falls in a forest on a squirrel or a rabbit? What happens then?
An ambulance comes from Nutwood and puts a bandage on their heads and then takes them to Animal Hospital where Rolf Harris scares them to death with his diggeridoo.
It's all WRONG, Alfie, wrong I tell ya...
Shall we talk about TV now?

Burn Up – 9:00 BBC2
Second part of this drama about climate change. Great cast as we mentioned last time – Brad Whitford, Rupert Penry-Jones etc. – one guy I didn’t mention before but I'd like to is the great Don S Davis (probably best known for Twin Peaks and Stargate SG-1, he was also Sculley's dad in The X-Files) who died recently, this was his last performance in a small, but very important role. Great actor and a lovely man whom I met once at a convention. He'll be very much missed. The script is a bit preachy in places but, essentially, it’s a bit like if Spooks was always about the oil industry! I’ve been quite impressed with it so far.

Krakatoa – 7:00 C4
Not much on tonight so I've highlighted this repeat of the 2005 drama-documentary recalling the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa over 100 years ago which resulted in the destruction of the island, situated off the southern tip of Sumatra. Ash clouds from the eruption affected climate globally, while the tsunami it produced was twice the height of that which struck Asia on Boxing Day 2004.

Comic Connections: Yes Minister – BBC2 11:00
The series charting the history of the best of British comedy looks at Yes, Minister and follow-up Yes, Prime Minister, which charted the rise of Jim Hacker and achieved massive success over five series by poking fun at the inner-workings of government. With contributions from Sir Antony Jay, Jonathan Lynn and, of course, Mister Derek.

There's a classic choice of viewing here. On BBC2 we've got the last episode of the current season of Top Gear wherein Jeremy, Richard and James take on their rivals from the German equivalent. Achtung, baby! I thought Jezza's race across Japan against Hamster and Cap'n Slow in the bullet train a couple of weeks ago was one of the very best things they’ve ever done - right up their with their mum's driving small cars; the Veyron/Piper Alpha race; the "across London by anything but car" challenge; the African Adventure; James and Richard's Bobsleigh Race; Jezza going to Edinbrugh and Back on a single tank etc. etc. etc. On a good day - and Top Gear has A LOT of good days - this show is touched with genuine, self-aware magnificence which sets it apart from almost everything else on TV. To quote noted petrolhead (and Brit comedy fan) George Harrison, long, long, long many it continue getting up the noses of and causing fury to pinched-faced Communist caravan-owning, sandal-wearing, lentil-eating hippies. Alternatively, you may prefer (if you're sick) Most Shocking Celebrity Moments of the 90s on Five. A countdown of seventy allegedly stunning moments from a decade of frequently outrageous public behaviour. Relive Michael Jackson's wedding to Lisa Marie Presley, Charles and Camilla's secret tape, Glenn Hoddle's sacking as England manager and Madonna's first venture into publishing. Has the potential to be either the best thing on TV this week, or the worst. Or, possibly, both.

28 July 2008:
It's a new week and we at Top Telly Tips continue to ask the questions no one else dares to.
Today, just how does someone get those Keep Off The Grass signs onto the grass without going on there in the first place? Eh?
Answer that Mr Park Keeper... if you can.

Corrie – 7:30 ITV
Pam's got her own plans for Molly's wedding. Harry's flirting with Liz winds Clarissa up. Fiz spurns John's attempts at a reconciliation. Well, after all those dodgy phone-calls I’m not surprised. I still wish it had turned out to be the "Have You Been Injured At Work?" fat bloke with the dodgy haircut.

Dispatches: Sandwiches Unwrapped – 8:00 C4
Alex Thompson - he's Channel 4 News' major confrontationalist mischief maker - leads an investigation into the British sandwich industry (I didn’t even know there was one!) revealing what really goes into the nation's most popular lunchtime food. The documentary exposes the nutritional values of sandwiches and undercover filming reveals shocking working conditions in one factory that supplies small shops and garages. Ah well, it's back to sausage rolls and bags of crisps instead then.

New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1
After two episodes away, James Bolam is back and Alun Armstrong’s first words to him are ‘Strawberry mivvi or Orange crush?’ I used to love Strawberry mivvis. In fact, I fancy one right now. But I haven't got any in the freezer so it'll have to make do with a strawberry Cornetto instead. Anyway, tonight the team reinvestigate the death of the guitarist with 70s rock band Bad Faith. Oh dear, this mean Dennis Waterman’s going to be singing in this one, doesn't it? Christ, I hope not... Last week's episode, about a dead DJ was very good though.

29 July 2008:
Dr Alice Roberts: Don’t Die Young – 8:00 BBC2
Lovely Alice is an anatomist, you might know her from Time Team and Coast (she’s the one with the funny hair). In this new series she embarks on a tour of the human body. Tonight, the male reproductive organs. Steady girls. The idea is to highlight any worrying signs you should be looking out for. Public Service Broadcasting at its very best, I'd say. Let's hope that, in the interest of balance, episode two is all about various nasty diseases of the ****.

The Culture Show – 10:00 BBC2
Wor Lovely Lauren in Her Luscious Macken Loveliness talks to one of my heroes, Paul Weller about his new LP, about turning fifty and about his perfectly extraordinary haircut. First time I saw The Jam live he was twenty one and I was sixteen. Time flies, as Paul himself once said ... Big Quffied Marky Kermode looks at the National Theatre and reviews all the latest movies with his usual pithy and sharp wit. Great stuff, as always.

Kingdom – 10:40 ITV
Welcome repeat on the second series of this gentle Stephen Fry comedy drama. It’s a sort of TV version of The Archers, set in a little town in Norfolk full of eccentic characters and odd goings-on. It’s always nice to see actors like Tony Slattery and Celia Imrie on our screens. And, of course, the Frymeister himself is great in this, as he is in everything I’ve ever seen him do. Not the most demanding hour of your life you'll ever be confronted with but, you could do a lot worse than give this some of your time.

30 July 2008:
The House of Saddam – 9:00 BBC2
Igal Naor plays the dictator Saddam Hussein in a gripping four-part drama series which charts the rise and fall of one of the most significant political figures in recent history. Looks like a sort of Iraqi Dynasty from the trailers. A brave and, probably controversial production and one that looks to have some genuine class about it.

Trinny & Susannah Undress the Nation – 9:00 ITV
For some women, shopping is a passion and many shopaholics find themselves on the verge of financial ruin. The nation spends thirty billion pounds a year on clothes - of which eighty per cent are never worn (now, again, HOW do they KNOW that? Sounds like a made up figure to me). So how can Britain’s women learn to spend their money more wisely? Trinny and Susannah reckon they have the answer. They open up their first ever shop. Oh, I must go there and abuse the staff. You know, harshly, but fairly.

Dangerous Jobs for Girls – 10:00 C4
Four teams of high-achieving women travel to remote parts of the world to take on demanding physical work, competing against teams of men who believe that women are not up to the job. In this episode, three women head to Brazil to work as cowboys. Shouldn’t that be cowgirls? I massively approve. If I were married and my missus wanted to become, say, an airline pilot, I would titally support her. So long as my tea was on the table at five o'clock, she could fly off anywhere she wanted to ... Incidentally, I understand that a bunch of feminists have formed a football team and they want to get into the Premier League. The stupid bastards. They've already got Aston Villa, what more do they want?

31 July 2008:
We continue to ask the questions no one else dares to.
Today, what’s the best stottie sandwich filling?
Beef and onion, I reckon. Nowt better when you're clammin' for yer scran.

EastEnders – 7:30 BBC1
Roxy's big day arrives but there's no sign of Sean. Has he done a runner rather than go up the isle with a Mitchell? Meanwhile, Shirley risks Phil's wrath. Cos, of course, that Phil he's not a man to give forth his wrath wantonly or ill-advisedly, is he?

Colin Jackson: The Making of Me – 9:00 BBC1
Athlete Colin Jackson lets scientists loose on his body (steady, girls) and mind to discover the secrets of his amazing talents. He goes into a brain scanner, under a microscope and even jumps out of plane to answer a question that effects us all. Are people like Colin born with superhuman potential and others - like me, for instance - destined to be couch potatoes? Nature or nurture - what makes us who we are? And this newsflash just in from last week's episode - John Barrowman IS, apparently … (wait for it) GAY. Yeah, I was pure dead surprised as well...

Grey’s Anatomy – 10:00 Five
Izzie's past comes back to haunt her when a daughter she gave up for adpotion eleven year ago falls seriously ill. Now, hang on, given that Katherine Heigl who plays Izzie is what, only about 25 or 26? If her character’s age is supposed to be the roughly same age as she is, if not slightly younger (given that she’s a junior doctor, I’d say that’s more than likely) then … well, you do the sums!

No comments: