Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – as we welcome back the Granthams but say goodbye to Reynholm Industries. A bittersweet week to say the least.
Saturday 21st September
When Miranda Met Bruce
Find out what happens when two entertainment giants meet.
In this one-off special, Miranda Hart has a light-hearted chat with Sir Bruce Forsyth, who this year is celebrating, although it feels longer, seven decades in showbusiness.
From his early days as host of Sunday Night at the London Palladium to his gameshow triumphs and of course Strictly Come Dancing, Bruce will discuss the shows for which he is best known, and even those which many have forgotten.
Slinger’s Day, perhaps?
There’ll also be performances throughout the show as McFly provide more than a few musical interludes, as does Sir Bruce himself when he treats us to an impromptu tap routine and piano recital, as well as an unforgettable performance with Miranda at the end of the night.
Also today: Classic war drama The Great Escape is on Channel 5 at 5:50pm; it’s a special I Love My Country for host Gabby Logan this week as she is joined by her husband Kenny at 6:45pm on BBC1; The Making of Merkel with Andrew Marr (BBC2, 8:00pm) sees the broadcaster take a look at German Chancellor Angela’s life and career; the room auditions come to a close on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); and Terry Wogan and Corrie’s Catherine Tyldesley are on Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:00pm).
Sunday 22nd September
By Any Means
Yes, I know Downton Abbey begins its fourth series tonight but I’m so scared of discovering any secrets that I don’t even want to begin researching it. So forgive me for not writing about what is arguably the real TV highlight tonight but I thought I’d give this new six-part crime drama a chance – because I doubt many will, considering the strong competition it has.
By Any Means stars Warren Brown, Shelley Conn and Andrew-Lee Potts as a maverick team who will stop at nothing to crack down on the criminal elite, often blurring the lines between obedience of the law and carrying out of true justice.
In this first episode, the team investigate Nicholas Mason, a businessman and notorious crook who has recently been acquitted of murder, owing to a lack of evidence. Jack is determined to bring Mason, who he is certain is guilty, to justice. However, their job becomes increasingly difficult when they discover that a police officer has been feeding information to Mason. Jack and his team then have to do two things: inflict justice upon Mason and unearth which officer has been ‘playing for both sides’.
Also today: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (ITV, 4:30pm); Ocean’s Eleven (Channel 5, 6:50pm); documentary series The Crane Gang (BBC2, 8:00pm) and Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home (Channel 4, 8:00pm) begin; we join the Crawleys and Granthams six months after Matthew’s death (I’m still reeling) in Downton Abbey (ITV, 9:00pm); Alan Carr and Jason Donovan are among the panellists for Big Fat Quiz of the 80s (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Orson Welles stars in classic drama Citizen Kane (BBC4, 9:00pm); and documentary Hot Coffee is on Sky Atlantic at 10:15pm, looking at the story of a woman who spilt hot coffee over herself in McDonalds – and then sued the restaurant chain! Unbelievably, this documentary is on for just under two hours.
Monday 23rd September
Sex: My British Job
Channel 4, 10:00pm
Hsiao-Hung Pai and Nick Broomfield collaborate once again for another one-off documentary, this time about the horrors of the British sex trade.
Hsiao worked undercover in London brothels as a housekeeper to expose the chilling reality of the lives of women who have emigrated to the UK and, in a desperate attempt to provide for their families, turned to prostitution.
This documentary, which shows the very worst moments of Hsiao’s time undercover, uncovers the horrific way in which British sex workers are treated by brothel owners and how the promise of high earnings is the only glimmer of hope in their lives.
Also today: Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food begins a six-part series (BBC2, 8:30pm); Victoria Coren Mitchell is back with the impossibly brainy and baffling Only Connect (BBC4, 8:30pm); Bullied to Death: The Tragedy of Phoebe Prince (Channel 5, 9:00pm) tells the story of the tragic fifteen-year-old, who committed suicide in 2010; what is apparently the final series of Peter Andre: My Life begins (ITV2, 9:00pm); A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley begins (BBC4, 9:00pm); and Never Mind the Buzzcocks returns, with John Hannah as the first guest host (BBC2, 10:00pm).
Tuesday 24th September
The Wrong Mans
Gavin & Stacey co-stars James Corden and Mathew Baynton’s long-awaited comedy thriller, The Wrong Mans, begins tonight.
When office worker Sam Pinkett (Baynton) is the sole witness to a car crash, his life is turned upside-down as he answers a call to an abandoned mobile phone. The caller’s message is quite plain: meet me at five o’clock or your wife dies.
After being spurred on by mailroom delivery boy Phil (Corden), Sam finds himself in a potentially deadly hostage situation. Both he and Phil become the unlikely heroes of the hour as they are faced with the task of saving the lives of themselves, their loved ones and the whole of Berkshire.
From the clips that I’ve seen, it appears that James Corden is just playing a slightly more wild-minded version of Smithy – but we’ll look beyond that. It looks set to be a great series, especially with big names like Sarah Solemani (Him & Her), Dan Skinner (The Angelos Epithemiou Show), Benedict Wong (Run) and Dawn French (pretty much everything) making up the remainder of the cast list.
That’s not to say that an impressive cast list is always a guarantee for success, though.
Also today: Cowboy Builders is back (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Being Paul Gascoigne (ITV, 9:00pm) sees cameras gain unprecedented access to the troubled sportsman’s life; My Big Fat Gypsy Ladies’ Day is on Channel 4 at 9:00pm; The Sarah Millican Television Programme begins its third series (BBC2, 9:30pm), with the best of the first and second series due to be released on DVD in November; and Ardal O’Hanlon stars in new comedy London Irish (Channel 4, 10:00pm).
Wednesday 25th September
Staying in with Greg & Russell
Now that Unzipped has been put to bed, Russell Kane and (my weird crush which I’m sure isn’t all that weird) Greg James take their bromance just that one step further by actually moving in together. For the purposes of entertainment, of course.
Filmed in an exaggerated version of their dream bachelor pad, Staying in with Greg & Russell will see the duo interview some big names from every room of their house – even the dusty old cupboard under the stairs.
Stars already confirmed to be appearing are Chris Hemsworth, Tinie Tempah and X Factor’s Nicole Scherzinger.
And let’s face it, even if Staying in with Greg & Russell isn’t all that good, it’ll be worth it being made just for that picture.
Also today: The Two Ronnies Spectacle (Gold, 8:00pm) tells the story of Barker and Corbett’s long and successful careers; John Simpson traces his family tree in the last in the series of Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); (very different) films The Inbetweeners Movie and The Hurt Locker are on E4 and More4, respectively, at 9:00pm; and Caroline Aherne narrates another series of (the quite irritating) Gogglebox (Channel 4, 10:00pm).
Thursday 26th September
Women Behind Bars with Trevor McDonald
Now for a complete gear-change. Following his amazing two-part series Inside Death Row earlier this year, broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald is now investigating a different side to the American prison system: women behind bars.
With unique access to The Rockville Correctional Facility and Indiana Women’s Prison, Sir Trevor exposes the lives of the inmates, and what they get up to on the inside, including their manipulation of their fellow prisoners and those who guard them.
Just like the Inside Death Row series, Women Behind Bars looks set to be another fine example of British documentary making, with many shocking discoveries. For example, over the two episodes Trevor speaks to a woman who murdered her own three-month-old child, one who is currently pregnant in prison and another who was at one time America’s Most Wanted Woman. There’s even an inmate who laughs about the fact that she, despite what her looks may have you believe, is a murderer.
No doubt this series will also reignite the debate about whether the British prison system is too ‘soft’ on those convicted.
Also today: Steve Backshall presents one-off documentary Supergiant Animals (BBC1, 9:00pm); My Tattoo Addiction is back (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Amanda Knox Trial: 5 Key Questions is on Channel 5 at 10:00pm.
Friday 27th September
The IT Crowd
Channel 4, 9:00pm
I must say right from the beginning that I am very upset about the final episode of The IT Crowd. Not just because it’s the final episode, but because it has been scheduled tonight: when I’m going to the theatre, and will therefore miss it. Channel 4 are so bloody inconsiderate.
Many a sitcom geek will shed a tear tonight as Graham Linehan’s hit sitcom The IT Crowd comes to an end. Now, as fans of the show will know, the fourth series aired way back in 2010 and, despite many commenting that it had become a bit hit/miss, Channel 4 recommissioned it for a fifth run, which Linehan initially agreed to, but with a writing team being brought in to help. However, he then said that a fifth series would not happen after all, but he would like to round-off the series with a final special, so as to prevent it from being, in his words, ‘a zombie series where the show is dead but its body is still moving around’. And, after three long years of waiting, now fans can finally see how he has decided to say goodbye to Roy, Jen and Moss.
Reynholm Industries is in trouble. An incident involving a homeless person and a cup of coffee (it’s a Linehan script: what did you expect?) results in Roy, Jen and Douglas’s reputations being tarnished. They need a plan to get out of the horrible mess that they’re in. They need someone intelligent, someone who can think outside the box. They need someone like…
Will it end well for Douglas and his ‘IT fellows’? Find out as The IT Crowd is turned off once more, possibly never to be turned back on again.
That was some sort of convoluted attempt at a ‘have you tried turning it on and off again?’ gag. Oh suit yourselves!
Also today: American fantasy series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Strictly Come Dancing kicks off properly (BBC1, 9:00pm); Gloria Hunniford discusses her career and life, including the loss of her daughter Caron to cancer, on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); Jamie Theakston presents Forbidden History (Yesterday, 9:00pm); Sue Perkins, Ross Noble and David Mitchell are the Bantermeisters for this week’s QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); David Haye, Justin Timberlake and Rihanna help celebrate 100 episodes of Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); John Bishop Live: Rollercoaster Tour, filmed at Manchester Arena last year, is on BBC1 (10:35pm); one-off comedy Bamboo is pushed to 11:45 on BBC3 (not a good sign…); and thrillers Reservoir Dogs (Channel 5, 11:00pm) and the fantastic 10 Rillington Place (BBC2, 12:10am) are on, too.
Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.
Image credits: When Miranda Met Bruce – Thanks to BBC and Guy Levy, ©BBC; By Any Means – Thanks to BBC, Red Planet and Mark Harrison, ©Red Planet; Sex: My British Job – Thanks to Channel 4 and Phil Fisk; The Wong Mans – Thanks to BBC and Des Willie, ©BBC; Staying in with Greg and Russell – Thanks to BBC, Mark Harrison, Talkback, FremantlemediaUK, ©FremantlemediaUK; Women Behind Bars with Trevor McDonald – Thanks to ITV, Craig Hastings and Plum Pictures, ©ITV; The IT Crowd – Thanks to Channel 4 and Hal Shinnie.