Monthly Archives: April 2013

‘Vicious’ Review

Two things struck me while watching the first of ITV’s new comedy shows, Vicious, on Monday night. Firstly, shouldn’t studio sitcoms be left to the BBC (but please not Ben Elton!) and secondly, hasn’t Frances De La Tour started to look like Janet Street-Porter?

Actually, no, I tell a lie – three things struck me during the time I endured Vicious, for I also considered how overwhelming the urge was to switch over to Crimewatch. It would have been more of a laugh, that’s for sure.

A GREAT CAST

From Round the Horne’s Polari-speaking Julian & Sandy, to Grace Brothers’ ‘Free!’ Mr Humphries in Are You Being Served? and Gimme Gimme Gimme’s deluded Thomas Thessalonius Farrell, gay characters (whether they be ‘out’ or not) have been integral to British comedy for many years but Vicious is the first sitcom to feature an aged gay couple as its protagonists.

Sirs Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi play Freddie and Stuart, respectively, who, having been together for over four decades, constantly bicker in their Covent Garden flat. Their life together is often punctuated by their friends – from the feisty Violet (Frances De La Tour) to simple Penelope and moody Mason. Oh, and let’s not forget their handsome neighbour, Ash (played by Misfits’ Iwan Rheon), who has just moved in and looks set to be the cause of yet more squabbles for the septuagenarian duo.

The cast is something which I cannot fault. They were all brilliant, especially Derek Jacobi, and all did their best with the disappointingly weak script they were given.

THIN ON LAUGHS’

Prior to watching Vicious, I had read many articles in which critics expressed their fondness of it. They didn’t rave about it, but they undoubtedly liked it. However, I am glad to find that many articles have been published today which point out quite how thin on laughs it was (although I find Benjamin Secher’s article for The Telegraph more than a little harsh – this isn’t ‘the least funny new comedy in recent memory’. Tune into BBC1 at 10:35 on Tuesdays to see that).

The mother-in-law gags became tiresome the moment McKellen uttered the first, the ambushing of Ash was so predictable and the laughter-track was embarrassing. That’s assuming it was a laughter-track. It could be that the audience were just high when they entered ITV Studios that night. I’ve no doubt it would have made the recording a lot more bearable.

THE QUEENS

It wasn’t just the poor ‘jokes’ and overbearing laughter which made Vicious such a slog: its uber camp central characters were as much to blame. In fact, my heart sank when I watched the trailers for this show and saw that McKellen and Jacobi were playing stereotypically catty (as I gauged from the title, admittedly), mincing queens. Freddie and Stuart really are your archetypal ‘queens’ – and that’s a word I seldom use, owing to my hatred of it. To me, a ‘queen’ is some narcissist, some egotistical fool who espouses scathing comments purely to get herself noticed while she runs around, screaming her tits off about her sexuality. To me, ‘queen’ makes gay men synonymous with grandiose women – something which the majority, surely, are not. Freddie and Stuart are ‘queens’, though (Vicious’ working title was ‘Vicious Old Queens’). They may not have been quite as extravagant as my perception of a ‘queen’ but did make me want to scream that I want to see less stereotypical gays on TV!

Of course, there is a reason why the quartet of characters which I mentioned in the third paragraph of this review are famous for their camp demeanours. It’s because camp is funny and camp exists. There’s no getting away from it. But when are more writers and directors going to push themselves to create more gay characters on TV who don’t conform to stereotypes? Don’t get me wrong, it’s been done before: Rob and Michael in Agony; Jason in Gavin & Stacey; to an extent, The Vicar of Dibley’s Frank; and, more recently, Sara in Sue Perkins’s Heading Out are all clearly gay but don’t have to rely on being effeminate (or, in the latter’s case, masculine) to get laughs. I honestly struggle to think of much more than a few comedy characters to add to that list but I could go on and on about how many OTT people have been, and currently are in, sitcoms.

How long will we have to wait to escape the predictable image of homosexuality?

So, just in case you haven’t yet got the gist of my review, let me put it plainly: I didn’t like Vicious. I might generously call the subject matter ‘ground breaking’ but am certain that the content was not. Would a sitcom with such a predictable script about a heterosexual couple have been commissioned, I ask myself.

Vicious is on Mondays at 9:00pm on ITV

What did you think of Vicious? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.

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 about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.

 

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TV Highlights (27th April – 3rd May)

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV.

Saturday 27th April

Young Margaret: Life, Love & Letters

BBC2, 9:00pm

I hate to break it to you but Margaret Thatcher died this month.

Based on Charles Moore’s biography of the former Prime Minister (which was published on Tuesday!), Young Margaret: Life, Love & Letters includes unique, insightful interviews with some of the people closest to her: including her son, Mark Thatcher.

As the title suggests, the ninety-minute-long documentary focuses on Baroness Thatcher’s formative years – specifically those spent at Oxford, when she regularly sent letters to her sister Muriel, whom she was very close to. These letters will be revealed during the programme and offer a rare insight into Thatcher’s softer side as they detail her relationship with Tony Bray, who also features.

Recently, we have been bombarded with documentaries about Margaret Thatcher but none seem to have promised such a unique, personal vision as Young Margaret.

Also today: Britain’s Got Talent (ITV, 7:00pm) and The Voice UK (BBC1, 8:05pm) both rumble on.

Sunday 28th April

Rupert Murdoch: Battle with Britain 

BBC2, 9:00pm

In this one-off documentary, Steve Hewlett looks beyond the villainous image we have of News International’s Rupert Murdoch and instead considers how he has changed Britain – and British media – over the past 45 years.

Hewlett will delve into how Murdoch managed, in 1968, to double the failing Sun newspaper’s readership within just 100 days, as well as his controversial purchase of The Times in 1981, the launch of Sky TV in 1989 and the infamous phone-hacking scandal of 2011, which changed UK journalism dramatically.

Also today: Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero concludes with a trip to Indonesia (BBC2, 8:00pm); the last in the series of The Secret Millions sees stylist Gok Wan try to turn around more young people’s lives (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Henry McKean investigates The Truth About Travellers (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and Hugh Bonneville and Sheridan Smith co-host The Olivier Awards (ITV, 10:15pm).

Monday 29th April

Vicious

ITV, 9:00pm

It has been promoted within an inch of its life – and what I’ve seen doesn’t look much better than Ben Elton’s embarrassing The Wright Way. Then again, Sirs Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen, Frances De La Tour and the writer of Family Guy and Will & Grace can’t be wrong, can they? Can they? I hope not.

Vicious is a very traditional studio sitcom which centres around two aged gay men who have been in a relationship for nearly fifty years. Constantly popping in and interrupting Freddie (McKellen) and Stuart (Jacobi) are their friends: the feisty Violet (De La Tour), the befuddled Penelope (Marcia Warren) and moody Mason (Phillip Voss).

A source for one of Freddie and Stuart’s many arguments is their new handsome neighbour, Ash (Misfits’ Iwan Rheon) who looks set to change the dynamics of the couple’s relationship.

The Job Lot

ITV, 9:30pm

Yes, filling the gap left by Broadchurch are not one, but two comedies. While Vicious takes up the first 30 minute slot, The Job Lot is covering the remaining half-an-hour.

The Job Lot, as you’ve probably gauged from the copious number of trailers, is set in a West Midlands job centre and shows the relationships between the employed (those working in the centre) and the unemployed (those working…nowhere).

Russell Tovey (Being Human, Him & Her) and Sarah Hadland (Miranda) are heading the cast as the reluctant Karl and unstable Trish. However, those aren’t the only two big names which The Job Lot boasts – Jo Enright is playing Angela while Benidorm’s Tony Maudsley is the optimistic Graham and Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera is the deluded Bryony.

Also today: Kirsty Young presents another Crimewatch (BBC1, 9:00pm); Irish comedian Dave Allen’s life and career is detailed in Dave Allen: God’s Own Comedian (BBC2, 9:00pm); and go behind the scenes of the home of everyone’s favourite Steak Bake – fly-on-the-wall documentary Greggs: More Than Meats the Pie begins on Sky1 at 9:00pm.

Tuesday 30th April

Sweat the Small Stuff

BBC3, 10:00pm 4073093-low-sweat-the-small-stuff

Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw (who wished me luck for my Drama exam on Wednesday – thanks, Grimmy!) is joined by Kiss FM’s Ricky & Melvin and Rochelle Humes from The Saturdays for this brand-new panel show, which ‘makes a big deal about the little things in life’.

So, you can expect to hear about people’s anxieties surrounding stuff such as forgetting someone’s name and the appropriate ways to greet people. It’s all just harmless fun, really – I expect fans of Unzipped or Grimmy’s Breakfast Show would enjoy it. That’s me, then!

If you want to join in the conversation about Sweat the Small Stuff, you can tweet @BBCSweat and use #SweatingIt.

Also today: You can be brave and return to Ben Elton’s horrifically poor The Wright Way (BBC1, 10:35pm) for an episode called ‘Conkers Bonkers’. Haha! That title’s so funny…

Wednesday 1st May

All Star Mr & Mrs

ITV, 8:00pm

Phillip Schofield hosts another series of All Star Mr & Mrs, the show which sees celebrity couples being tested on how well they know each other.

To kick off the new series, Corrie’s Julie Hesmondhalgh, Dave Myers (one half of the Hairy Bikers) and McFly’s Tom Fletcher are all being quizzed with their partners.

Also today: Watchdog is back on BBC1 at 8:00pm; comedian Dara O Briain begins another term at his School of Hard Sums (Dave, 8:00pm); GOLD are bravely airing the first series of Mrs Brown’s Boys at 9:00pm; and hopefully the obnoxious Katie Hopkins won’t have been invited back for the second episode of 10 O’Clock Live (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 2nd May 

The Repo Man

Channel 4, 9:00pm Sean James TBP4097F

This two-part documentary series follows the work of Sean James and his team of bailiffs.

The no-nonsense Sean is regularly faced with challenging, equally no-nonsense ‘targets’, but is invariably the victor and succeeds in repossessing their belongings on the behalf of finance companies. It is these people who we will meet, along with Sean and his team, across the two episodes.

Also today: I lost interest a while ago but if you’re still a fan, Waterloo Road is back on BBC1 at 8:00pm; and Clare Balding guest stars in hit/miss but likeable sketch show Watson & Oliver (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Friday 3rd May

Would I Lie to You?

BBC1, 8:30pm

Essentially, Would I Lie to You? is little more than a parlour game. A bunch of people sitting round, exchanging anecdotes, the authenticity of which the other players decide on. That’s it. However, it is4031612-low-would-i-lie-to-you the quick-witted panellists, armed with hard-to-believe stories which make the show the (British Comedy Award) winner that it is.

This week, joining host Rob Brydon and brilliant team captains Lee Mack and David Mitchell are Dara O Briain, Rhod Gilbert, Vernon Kay and Denise Van Outen.

Also today: Eddie Stobart: Trucks and Trailers returns to Channel 5 at 8:00pm; Mel Giedroyc hosts Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); Geraldine James stars in docu-drama, The Genius of Marie Curie: The Woman Who Lit up the World (BBC2, 9:00pm); The Ice Cream Girls concludes on ITV (9:00pm); Sir Bruce Forsyth and Little Mix pop in for Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Benedict Cumberbatch, Kim Cattrall and Eurovision hopeful Bonnie Tyler are on Eurovision host Graham Norton’s show (BBC1, 10:35pm) – not that’s he’s biased or anything…

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 about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.

I just want to take this opportunity to raise awareness for Alex Neal.

Alex is seventeen-years-old and a fellow student of mine at Sunderland College. She has a very rare bone tumour, called chondrosarcoma, which is growing around her brain and has already affected her eyesight and hormone levels, meaning she will have to rely on HRT for the rest of her life.

This tumour cannot be treated in the UK. Therefore, Alex must travel to Florida to have it treated there. The NHS have agreed to fund her visit – but only with one parent accompanying her.

£5,000 is needed to send both of Alex’s parents to Florida with her for this urgent treatment. At the time of writing, an incredible £1,005 has been raised but her family need more and have been campaigning by holding ‘Action 4 Alex’ car boot sales, cake sales and selling wristbands.

Any money would be greatly appreciated by Alex’s family. Even spreading the word and encouraging others to get involved would, I’m sure, be greatly appreciated.

You can join the ‘Action 4 Alex’ campaign on Facebook or go directly to her auntie’s Go Fund Me page to donate.

Thank you.

‘Britain’s Got Talent’ 2013 – Week 2 Review

Everything seemed to be increased on this week’s Britain’s Got Talent. There was more of the talented, more of the talentless and more squabbles between the judges (although I’ll leave it up to you to decide on their authenticity).

My overall enjoyment of the show swelled, too – and it was all down to the following acts:

AJ & Chloe

This dancing duo really impressed the judges with their intricate choreography, excellently showcasing a wide range of dance styles.

I feel that they are one of those acts that, given the chance, will just get better and better. I hope to see them in the Semi-Finals with a more elaborate routine.

The Johnson Brothers

These were two Welsh sandwich makers, who apparently had not sang together in the two decades that they had been brothers and brought their excitable nan onto the stage, prompting her to express her love for Ant & Dec. I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much.

How wrong I was. Delivering their rendition of ‘The Impossible Dream’, they proved themselves to be amazing singers who are perfect for Britain’s Got Talent and likely to have their debut album out in time for Christmas.*

*I’ve tried desperately to think of a sandwich pun as a name for The Johnson Brothers’ album. The closest I can think of is some sort of BLT/BGT amalgamation. Feel free to offer your own!

Jordan O’Keefe

This eighteen-year-old singer from Derry may have had a lovely voice and endearing back story but I could only think one thing when watching his audition: why didn’t he audition for The X Factor? He would have been so suited to that show! Who remembers Shaun Smith – the seventeen-year-old from the third series of BGT who sang ‘Aint No Sunshine’? Well, if you don’t, let me tell you that he was very good but it was a complete mystery why he thought he would do better on Britain’s Got Talent than he would on X Factor – where singers of his age and style do very well. Who knows, he might even have beaten Joe McElderry…

Anyway, I digress. What I’m saying is that I think the public are more likely to vote for an alternative act to win Britain’s Got Talent (Diversity, Spelbound, Ashley & Pudsey…) so Jordan may unfortunately get lost in a crowd variety.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s very good and I’m sure will have at least one song in the charts – even if it only reaches number 31 like series six’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s effort. And even if his career doesn’t take off then at least he achieved one thing by auditioning: he proved his meddling dad wrong.

Francine Lewis

I’m okay with impressions. I can manage a John Bishop, Paul McCartney, Granddad from Bread and probably a passable Jo Brand. Therefore, I’m in awe of people who have a whole range of voices in their arsenals and can accurately mimic a celebrity, having an audience in stitches at their hilarity. Francine Lewis is one of those people.

If you’ve read my review of Terry Mynott’s The Mimic, you’ll not only have gauged that I love an impersonation or two but I was really annoyed that his and Morgana Robinson’s series, Very Important People, was cruelly axed by Channel 4 after just one series. Francine Lewis popped up in a few of those VIP episodes and I loved her even then, when I only knew of her Katie Price and (rather unbelievable) Stacey Solomon.

You see, Francine is a rarity: she is someone who is not just very talented with impressions, but is also able to write brilliant material to accompany them. Most stars can either do one or the other (Jon Culshaw and Debra Stephenson didn’t write The Impressions Show, nor did Terry and Morgana pen VIP) so it’s refreshing to see someone who can do both so well.

Having said that, I wish impressionists would stop trying to mimic Holly Willoughby. She just doesn’t have a unique enough voice for it to be recognisable and well done. While Francine’s was probably the best I’ve heard, it still wasn’t totally accurate. However, this fades into insignificance as her other impressions were amazing and I really hope that, as with Paul Burling and Les Gibson (remember them?) in previous years, we will see an impressionist in the Britain’s Got Talent Final.

MC Boy

Oh my God. ‘I Need You Tonight’ (MC Boy’s self-penned song) isn’t exactly the new ‘Gangnam Style’ but it certainly is an infectious party tune! It’s quite difficult to believe that Simon Cowell – who previously managed Robson & Jerome and the Teletubbies – gave MC Boy a ‘No’. He doesn’t know what he’s missing!

To be honest, it’s quite difficult to express just how enjoyable this audition was. So I’ll let you see for yourself – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRYdHpQdOwc. Please do stick with it. I promise it gets better.

Britain’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got More Talent are on Saturday evenings on ITV and ITV2

What did you think of this week’s Britain’s Got Talent? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

TV Highlights (20th – 26th april)

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV.

Saturday 20th April

The Many Faces of Michael Crawford

BBC2, 8:30pm

Ooh Betty! Tonight, BBC2 are celebrating the fantastic Michael Crawford by airing a repeat of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em (the one where Jessica is born) as well as a brand new episode of its The Many Faces of series dedicated to the actor.

The one-hour long documentary will profile Michael’s career with focus of course on his role as the accident-prone Frank Spencer (in the aforementioned Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em) and his turn in Lord Lloyd Webber’s smash hit, Phantom of the Opera. For example, did you know that Crawford initially turned down the role as the Phantom, but after Lord Webber and his (then) wife happened to hear him rehearsing with a vocal coach, he was persuaded to rethink and was offered the job almost instantly.

Also today: The excellent impressionist Francine Lewis (who some of you may recognise from Very Important People) impresses the judges on Britain’s Got Talent on ITV at 7:00pm (my review of this week’s episode is here); The Voice UK has waved its white flag and is now on at the later time of 8:20pm, BBC1; and Steve Coogan, Saoirse Ronan and will.i.am are all on the sofa for The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:30pm).

Sunday 21st April

Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero

BBC2, 8:00pm

In this series, Bill (pictured) travels through Borneo, encountering monkeys, macaques and frogs (I at least tried alliteration…) along the way.3785989-low-bill-baileys-junge-heroes

However, the main aim of this two-part series is to discover more about Alfred Russell Wallace. ‘Who?’ you’re probably saying – and that’s because he is little-known, despite having theorised evolution at around the same time as Charles Darwin, who I’m sure you’re most familiar with. Bill wants to pay tribute to Wallace, as he is too often over looked and seldom credited for his theory.

Usually my attitude towards nature documentaries is, If David Attenborough isn’t involved then I’m not watching it. However, Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero seems to be quite a good programme. Not only have we the studies of the weird and wonderful creatures which have been filmed along the way, but we have a lesson about Wallace and  a somewhat eccentric presenter, whose humour and enthusiasm will no doubt make it a worthwhile watch.

Also today: Jonathan Edwards hosts coverage of the London Marathon (BBC1, 8:30pm); Jurassic Park is on ITV at 3:55pm; and Jonathan Ross celebrates the work of Alfred Hitchcock in Perspectives (ITV, 10:00pm).

Monday 22nd April

Broadchurch

ITV, 9:00pm

I sort of wanted to avoid writing about Broadchurch – I didn’t want to have to read about it and risk discovering who Danny Latimer’s elusive killer is. So, forgive me if the following synopsis doesn’t offer much insight into this weeks’ episode. Then again, I’m sure you want spoilers just as little as I do.

Broadchurch has been a brilliantly gripping drama, throwing viewers clues and red herrings week after week, therefore keeping us on the edge of our seats. It’s also made me not be able to watch Birds of a Feather without thinking of Pauline Quirke as anything other than a twisted bitch.

Of course, as this is the last episode, the killer will be revealed: could it be Mark or Chloe (Danny’s dad and sister), Nige (Mark’s colleague); Reverend Paul Coates; or possibly DI Alec Hardy or DS Ellie Miller, both of whom are investigating the case. Hardy’s name has been discussed but I don’t remember Ellie ever having been looked into. Could it be that, as a friend of the Latimer family, she has managed to remove her name from the list of suspects by investigating the case?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Also today: Sandi Toksvig’s quite entertaining quiz show (even if it was only me who thought of it that way), 1001 Things You Should Know begins its second series (Channel 4, 3:30pm); and Ben Fogle visits Australia’s Restoration Island in the first of his new series, New Lives in the Wild (Channel 5, 9:00pm).

Tuesday 23rd April

The Wright Way 

BBC1, 10:35pm

From the anarchic Young Ones to the masterful Blackadder, Ben Elton has already well and truly left his mark on British comedy. However, he’s back with another tonight: The Wright Way, focusing on a Head of Health & Safety whose family and colleagues make his life the chaotic mess that it is.

4063124-low-the-wright-way The Wright Way seems very much like The Thin Blue Line – another of Elton’s sitcoms which was set in a police station, with an array of brilliant characters occupying it (most notably, James Dreyfus as the too-camp-to-be-heterosexual-yet-apparently-heterosexual PC Kevin Goody). However, their workplace settings aren’t the only things which link these two shows: they also star David Haig (DI Derek ‘Stop Fannying About’ Grimm in TTBL, Gerald Wright in TWW) and Mina Anwar (TTBL’s Constable Maggie Habib, TWW’s Malika). Both Gerald (centre, left) and Malika (centre, right) are fiercely passionate about the upholding of Health & Safety regulations, so it would be fair to suggest that this is where most of the comedy will stem from.

I’ll give any comedy a go. However, the fact that The Wright Way has been penned by Ben Elton makes me even more eager to watch it. Despite his track record, though, I do worry that it is going to be filled with stock characters and (as The Telegraph’s James Walton dubbed Life of Riley in 2009) ‘another half-an-hour firmly on Planet Sitcom: that strange world where people behave not like anybody in real life, but merely like people in other sitcoms.’ I really hope I’m proven wrong.

Also today: the only show where it’s acceptable to expose your genitals via webcam, Embarrassing Bodies: Live From the Clinic returns (Channel 4, 8:00pm); the final episode of The Great British Sewing Bee is on BBC2 at 8:00pm; find out what repercussions Mandy faces in the last in the series of The Syndicate (BBC1, 9:00pm); and Edward VIII’s Murderous Mistress (Channel 4, 9:00pm) explores the story behind an affair which the monarch apparently had before his ascension to the throne.

Wednesday 24th April

10 O’Clock Live 

Channel 4, 10:00pm

Who else remembers Channel 4’s huge campaign in 2011 for 10 O’Clock Live? They advertised it on TV, in newspapers and on billboards, all ready for the opening episode. Jimmy Carr, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne from BBC 6 Music were all about to have our sides splitting with their satirical take on the week’s big news.

Two years on, we’re still waiting for that to happen.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little too harsh. I actually like 10 O’Clock Live and am quite glad that it’s 10OClockLivetouseback for a third year. I just hope they get it right this time. All of the presenters have their own qualities to contribute. David (far left) chairs the often heated discussion between guests, and regularly drops his (in Jimmy’s words) ‘logic bombs’, as he does on almost every panel show he appears on – so pretty much every panel show. Charlie (second left) delivers his weekly monologues (read rants), fuelled by irritation and often a want to point out the complete hypocrisy of the nation. Lauren Laverne (second right) appears to keep the show running, introducing topics and chipping in on the rare occasion that the boys haven’t anything to say. Many have pointed out that Lauren is a bit redundant on 10 O’Clock Live but I’m not going to be so unkind – mainly because she’s from Sunderland. Jimmy’s (yes, you guessed it, far right) opening monologues are always a treat, as are his sketches later in the show (which more often than not involve him donning some ridiculous costume).

10 O’Clock Live is certainly worth a try. Hopefully it will be third time lucky for the quartet and they will manage to strike the balance exactly right this time. They’ve produced memorable moments before (Charlie’s ‘Witch Hunt’ rhyme and Jimmy’s now infamous mocking of Barclays’ 1% tax scheme), and fingers crossed the next eight weeks will deliver many more.

Also today: Billy Connolly narrates Great Bear Stakeout, a two-part documentary about Alaskan grizzly bears (BBC1, 9:00pm); and, having been a victim of a road accident herself, Sophie Morgan investigates car collisions involving young people in Licence to Kill (BBC3, 9:00pm).

Thursday 25th April

The Politician’s Husband 

BBC2, 9:00pm

The Politician’s Husband (a companion to the multi-award-winning The Politician’s Wife) has been written by Paula Milne and centres around Aiden Hoynes (Broadchurch’s David Tennant) and Freya Gardner (Appropriate Adult’s Emily Watson), who are the golden couple of British politics.3949127-low-the-politicians-husband

After a failed attempt at leadership, Hoynes is thrown into political obscurity while his wife is appointed to Cabinet. She must choose either to bring to fruition the career she has for so long wished or support her husband at home, and therefore save her marriage.

Over the three-part series, we find out whether Hoynes and Gardner’s relationship is affected by the decision she has made.

Also today: Abby and Brittany: Joined for Life follows conjoined twins as they graduate from college (BBC3, 9:00pm); Ladyboys returns to Sky Living for a second series (9:00pm); Russell Howard’s Good News is back (BBC3, 10:00pm); and so is traditional sketch show Watson & Oliver (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Friday 26th April

Ben Earl: Trick Artist

Channel 4, 9:00pm

Whether it’s The Incredible Mr Goodwin, Derren Brown or Dynamo, magicians are undoubtedly popular at Ben Earl Mannequins midresthe minute. Therefore, Channel 4 have commissioned Ben Earl to produce a four-part series all about…magic!

Every week, Ben will be presenting a show from a warehouse, where he will perform tricks based on various themes. This week, it is that of Crime (next week, it’s Art) and we witness the illusionist catch a speeding bullet, teach an audience member how to pickpocket and leap from the top of a speeding car.

Impressive!

Also today: Iceland’s volcanic activity is investigated in Iceland: Ash Cloud Apocolypse (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Masterchef reaches the last of the semi-finals (BBC1, 8:30pm); docu-drama The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution looks at the works of JMW Turner (BBC2, 9:00pm); Sarah Millican, JLS and Laura Mvula take a seat on the Chatty Man sofa (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Lewis Hamilton, Dara O Briain, Pedro Almodovar and Alison Moyet are all dropping in for a chat on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm).

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 about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.

‘Britain’s Got Talent’ 2013 – Week 1 Review

After weeks of incessant trailers and non-stop plugging from other ITV shows, Britain’s Got Talent returned for its seventh year on Saturday and, as predicted, trounced The Voice UK by earning almost double the peak audience ratings of the BBC series.

Of course, with the return of Britain’s Got Talent came, thankfully, the same judging panel (comprising of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams) and presenting team (Ant & Dec and More Talent’s much over-looked Stephen Mulhern) – all of whom treated us to the usual array of this country’s weird and wonderful (with emphasis on the former) inhabitants.

Now, it wouldn’t be Britain’s Got Talent without the oddballs but, with those becoming increasingly difficult to watch as each year passes (like an exposed animal being poked and prodded by fascinated members of the public at a zoo), it was the genuine talent which shone through in this episode – and thank God there was quite a bit of it.

Incognito

When choirmaster Patrick stood alone on the stage and declared that he was ‘a choir’, I, like the judges and, I think it’s safe to say, the majority of the viewers, believed that he was going to impersonate a group of choristers all on his own. In fact, I was put in mind of Kay Oresanya, the ‘Human Saxophone’ from 2009’s series.

Alas, Patrick was not about to break into song. Instead, his choir proceeded to spring up from various areas of the auditorium and stage, dazzling us with their fantastic vocals. And they were fantastic.

The surprise element gave Incognito originality and made them stand out from the crowd but the question is: will they be able to come up with something equally unexpected and entertaining if they get through to the Semi-Finals?

Jack Carroll

You’d think that no one could fail to like Jack, but he has apparently received some rather nasty tweets since his appearance on Britain’s Got Talent. Some people just have too much time on their hands, don’t they?

Already an actor (alongside Vic Reeves in CBBC’s Ministry of Curious Stuff) and Pride of Britain award-winner, Jack took to the stage on Saturday’s show and had the audience – both at home and in the theatre – in stitches with his self-deprecating gags, poking fun at his cerebral palsy.

Of course, Jack isn’t the only comedian to have the condition: stand-up comic and actress Francesca Martinez does too, but prefers to refer to herself as ‘wobbly’. Both have a refreshing perspective on their condition – especially Jack who, at the age of just 14, hasn’t let it prevent him from getting on a stage and cracking a few jokes.

I have little doubt that Jack will progress onto the Semi-Finals and am relieved to hear that he will be diversifying his act. He said on This Morning that he is ‘not a one-trick pony’ and will joke about things other than his disability.

Arisxandra Libantino

It is difficult to comprehend that such a huge, mature voice lives in such a little, eleven-year-old girl!

Despite having been criticised (as it apparently details a one night stand – not that I or most of the viewers noticed), her rendition of Jennifer Hudson’s ‘One Night Only’ was spellbinding and seemed to me to be the perfect song to showcase her abilities.

The only criticism I have of Arisxandra’s audition is not about the girl herself – it is about Amanda Holden who, as wowed as everyone else by Arisxandra’s talent, claimed, ‘You literally lifted the roof off of this building.’ Well…that’s not ‘literally’ true is it, Amanda? I get your point, though.

Keri Graham (The Lap Dancer)

That’s not talent. I don’t quite know what it is, but it isn’t talent.

Attraction

By far my favourite act of the night was Attraction: a Hungarian dance troupe who brought something which the judges had likely never seen before: shadow theatre.

A few months ago, we briefly explored this branch of theatre during a Drama lesson in college. I expected to be bored by it (anything which isn’t naturalistic tends to irritate and tire me) but I actually found it really interesting. I was intrigued by how the performers, behind a screen, managed to manipulate shapes using only their shadows, and yet create such a moving story. Attraction had much the same effect on me – so much so that, once they had finished and a tearful audience were on their feet, I hit the rewind button and watched their performance once more.

They had a story to tell and a message to convey, and that really was palpable and done successfully. As you can probably tell, I am finding it extremely difficult to find fault with their performance.

I really do hope that the judges, when picking their Semi-Finalists, will realise how much Attraction have captured the public’s imagination and therefore put them through. Let’s hope that Britain’s Got Talent will help bring shadow theatre into the mainstream.

And people say that foreign acts should not be able to enter this competition?

Britain’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got More Talent are on Saturday evenings on ITV and ITV2

What did you think of this week’s Britain’s Got Talent? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘The Security Men’ Review

It has been panned by critics, mainly owing to its sexist jokes, but I saw The Security Men as an enjoyable hour of farcical comedy.

VERY HOPEFUL’

Written by Caroline Aherne and Jeff Pope (both of whom penned the sublime Fattest Man in Britain in 2009), The Security Men centred on four shopping centre guards who decide to switch off the alarms, so that they can watch Amir Khan’s boxing match in peace. However, when they return to their posts, they are dealt a blow bigger than Amir’s when they discover that a jewellers’ has been burgled in their absence. Panicking, they then set about trying to get themselves out of hot water by attempting to re-enact the robbery on CCTV.

Even before sitting down to watch The Security Men, I was very hopeful. Having been written by such talented and capable writers as Aherne and Pope, and starring a great cast (reading like a Who’s Who of British comedy), I could tell that I was going to enjoy it, even if only partly.

Peter Wight played Kenneth, a straight-laced guard who it wouldn’t be unfair to assume is something of a ‘Mummy’s Boy’ (or ‘Mammy’s Boy’, as Jimmy would say). Of course, a lot of people will know Peter as Nige – one half of the idle police team in Early Doors, created and written by Aherne’s Royle Family collaborator, Craig Cash. So, in The Security Men, he was in a similar profession, but with a completely different attitude to it.

Elsewhere, Dean Andrews showed that he wasn’t leaving behind his job of protecting the public either, as he went from DS Ray Carling in Life on Mars to…Ray in The Security Men, the ringleader of the boxing-watching trio.

Even though I had seen in him other programmes before, it was difficult to watch Brendan O’Carroll as Jimmy, without envisaging him in his dress and curly wig as loud-mouthed matriarch, Agnes Brown. O’Carroll was excellent as Jimmy, and never ceased to make me laugh whenever he asked someone, ‘Would you wash your Mammy? I mean, if she was partially soiled…’

The cream of the Security Men crop, however, was Bobby Ball whose character, Duckers (a name noticeably lent from an unseen character in The Royle Family) was a welcome extension to Morris, his happy-go-lucky character in The Fattest Man in Britain. He was filthy, he was crude but, most importantly, he was funny. Whatever would Tommy Cannon say? Actually, is Tommy still around..?

A SUCCESS – UNLIKE THE MEN THEMSELVES…

Initially, I worried that one hour (46 minutes, sans adverts) would not be enough for the potential of the plot to be fully realised. However, it transpired to be ample and, despite a somewhat slow start, The Security Men succeeded in providing us with a well-thought through storyline, as well as Aherne’s trademark down-to-earth dialogue and working class characters.

While Wight and Andrews’s characters may have been more developed than those of O’Carroll and Ball, all of them were a treat to become acquainted with over the period of the programme. I particularly thought that it was a good idea for the writers to originally not have Kenneth as part of the others’ plan to watch the boxing, but end up becoming embroiled in the scheme and partly responsible for the robbery.

FAIR CRITICISM?

Having said that, you can’t please everyone and, as I said, The Security Men was criticised by the Daily Mail and the Arts Desk, with its apparently sexist jokes receiving most of the flak. I don’t believe this to be anything to condemn, though. The majority of these jokes were told by Duckers, but his personality was such that you would imagine he’d comment on his wife’s breasts and piercings, and offer a policeman a couple of the pictures of her ‘for the lads in the station’. What Aherne and Pope depicted was a male-dominated environment, so surely it is only natural for at least one of the guards to be slightly risque with his comments? I think so, anyway.

I’m not sure whether this one-off episode of The Security Men will have ITV’s Comedy Commissioner, Myfanwy Moore, rushing to order a full series and nor will it likely be remembered as a remarkable comedy-drama but it stood alone pretty well, and I applaud the writers and stars for managing to carry it off – and beating Have I Got News for You and Not Going Out, both on BBC1, in the process

What did you think of The Security Men? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.

TV Highlights (13th – 19th April)

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV.

Saturday 13th April

Britain’s Got Talent

ITV, 7:00pm

Yes, ITV have (not) kept it quiet but this week, Britain’s Got Talent explodes back onto our screens – and once again looks set to considerably trounce The Voice.

For the first time in a few years, the judging panel has not changed: David Walliams, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and, of course, Simon Cowell are all returning to offer their verdicts on some of the nation’s most weird and wonderful acts – including three artistic donkeys and a dancing racoon.

However, it looks like we’re not going to be finding the next Ashley & Pudsey (last year’s victors) this year. Alesha Dixon claimed that the animal acts (and yes, believe it or not, I am including the aforementioned donkeys and racoon) were ‘useless’.

However, even without dancing dogs and crooning cats, we still have the usual batch of human singers and dancers to look forward to, no doubt. Plus, the first episode also features Jack Carroll – a cerebal palsy sufferer who amazes the judges with his self-deprecating jokes. It’s worth a watch!

Also today: BBC2 airs a celebration of Are You Being Served? with The Story of Are You Being Served? (5:30pm) and then an episode from the tenth series of the sitcom (6:30pm); The Voice UK limps into its third episode (BBC1, 6:45pm); Stephen Mulhern returns with Britain’s Got More Talent (which, dare I say it, I see as just as good as the main show) on ITV2 at 8:35pm; Forgetting Sarah Marshall (see Friday) spin-off Get Him to the Greek is on Channel 4 at 9:30pm; and Julian Clary, the Made in Chelsea cast and Martin and Gary Kemp join Jonathan Ross for a new episode of his chat show (ITV, 9:35pm).

Sunday 14th April

Endeavour

ITV, 8:00pm

Following last year’s successful pilot, Shaun Evans is back in the prequel to Inspector Morse.

This episode sees Margaret Bell, a young student, suddenly die in her home. The cause of death is announced as a heart attack, but Morse suspects that this is not true and begins trying to prove so.

However, owing to his unorthodox views, the nation’s favourite Inspector has been relegated to General Duties, which means that solving his cases may be slightly more difficult than it originally appeared.

Will he manage to do it?

Also today: Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon star in the moving Stepmom (Channel 5, 5:00pm); Stephen Mulhern’s Catchphrase continues on ITV at 6:45pm (and if we have anyone like last week’s contestant, Hazel, we’re in for another treat); Jo Brand and Meera Syal finish their game on nail-biting gameshow Five Minutes to a Fortune (Channel 4, 7:00pm – 5:00pm weekdays); the Traveller economy is revealed in My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Paul O’Grady profiles a Gypsy of another kind on ITV at 10:00pm: Gypsy Rose Lee is the focus of this week’s Perspectives; comedy film Juno is on Channel 4 at 10:00pm; and, finally, Tom Cruise stars in 1998 film Cocktail (Channel 4, 11:50pm).

Monday 15th April

The Hoarder Next Door

Channel 4, 9:00pm

The series which aims to help a number of the country’s biggest hoarders returns.

In this episode, the team help Alison, whose £40,000 collection of ladybird-related items is affecting her relationship with her boyfriend, Sam.

Also being aided to de-clutter their house is Jo, a primary school teacher whose house is falling down around her because of her large collection of toys and books.

Stelios Kiosses and his team attempt to rid Alison and Jo of their excessive hoards – but will they succeed?

Also today: Rory Bremner’s Great British Views begins with a visit to The Lakes (ITV, 2:00pm); following its postponement last Monday, to make room for a documentary celebrating the life of Margaret Thatcher, the first episode of The Prisoners is broadcast (BBC1, 9:00pm); and ITV’s gripping Broadchurch reaches its penultimate episode (9:00pm).

Tuesday 16th April

Royal Paintbox

ITV, 10:35pm

Tucked away in a post-watershed slot, this one-off documentary sees HRH The Prince of Wales trace his family’s artistic roots.

Along the way, the Prince reveals some Royal artworks, from past and present, as well as some of his own creations.

Also today: Tonight focuses on Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager who was murdered twenty years ago this month (ITV, 7:30pm); Secrets of the Shoplifters follows South Yorkshire’s undercover retail police in the run-up to last Christmas (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and The Matt Lucas Awards, postponed from Tuesday 2nd April, is on at 10:35pm.

Wednesday 17th April

Israel: Facing the Future

BBC2, 9:00pm 4054780-low-israel-facing-the-future

Panorama’s John Ware (pictured) explores Israel in this documentary, discovering how the people have reacted to the changes they face as a result of the Arab Spring.

Ware speaks to Israelis during the programme and analyses what the only Jewish state in the world is soon to face.

Also today: David Dimbleby presents coverage of The Funeral of Baroness Thatcher (BBC1, 9:15am); Matt Edmondson returns to narrate some more Totally Bonkers Guinness World Records (ITV2, 8:00pm); and we delve into the work of eighteen-year-old Luke Thomas, who is Britain’s Youngest Head Chef (BBC3, 9:00pm).

Wednesday 18th April

The British Animal Honours

ITV, 8:00pm

Renowned animal lover Paul O’Grady hosts the Pride of Britain of the animal kingdom as he celebrates the achievements of pets and their owners in this special ceremony.

Paul has taken some time out from the filming of the second series of his award-winning documentary (or ‘dogumentary’ – thank you!), For the Love of Dogs, to host the first British Animal Honours ceremony. The categories range from The Ray of Sunshine Honour, to The In the Line of Duty Honour, and The Internet Star Award – which has been voted for via the ITV website and will be presented by last year’s Britain’s Got Talent winners, Ashley and Pudsey.

There aren’t just the awards to look forward to, either: the two hour-long ceremony also includes performances from War Horse and the South Wales Police Dog Section – and probably the odd appearance from one or two members of Paul’s own pet collection.

Also today: couples discuss their lives in It’s Love, Actually (Sky Living, 8:00pm); and Maureen Lipman tries to earn herself “an –ology” (sorry!) in If Memory Serves Me Right, which sees her explore how the mind works, and what we can do to enhance it (BBC1, 9:00pm).

Friday 19th April

The Ice Cream Girls

ITV, 9:00pm

This three part drama series, based on Dorothy Koomson’s novel of the same name, stars Lorraine Burroughs and Jodhi May as two women who, in 1995, were accused of murdering their teacher, Mr Halnsley.

As Poppy (May) is released from her seventeen-year prison sentence, still adamant that she did not commit the murder, Serena (Burroughs) is forced to think about the things which she for so long has tried to put out of her mind.

SPOILER ALERT!

Serena once had an affair with Mr Halnsley but, when he was murdered, it ended abruptly – as it naturally would… Now, Poppy and Serena return to their hometown and begin to try and atone for their involvement in Halnsley’s death seventeen years previously.

Apparently, The Ice Cream Girls is so-called because that’s the name the press gave Poppy and Serena at the time. I don’t know exactly why they were given that name, but it clears up my confusion just a little bit.

Also today: I don’t know whether they’ll have as much to talk about than last week but Warwick Davis is in the chair for Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); the second episode of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown sees Lee Mack, Richard Osman, Stephen Mangan and Jon Richardson all compete (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Bobby Ball pops up again as Lee’s dad in Not Going Out (BBC1, 9:30pm); Bill Bailey, fun. and Jennifer Saunders are guests on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm), which looks set to be around until at least 2015; Jason Segel and Russell Brand star in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (ITV, 10:35pm); and Gwyneth Paltrow and Lee Mack (who’s had quite a busy night!) are on Graham Norton’s sofa (BBC1, 10:35pm).

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 about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.

TV Highlights (6th – 12th April)

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV.

Saturday 6th April

Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway

ITV, 7:00pm

It has been a fantastic series for Saturday Night Takeaway, which returned in February after a four year hiatus. This tenth season has seen Ant & Dec get their first number one single (‘Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble’ – the proceeds of which went to ChildLine) and consistently attract over six million viewers every week – meaning that they trounced BBC1’s The Voice last Saturday by one million.

Some features have worked better than others – the Undercover sketches involving One Direction and Piers Morgan were disappointingly poor while the opening audience participation and ‘End of the Show Shows’ have been excellent – but overall it has been a triumphant and welcome return for the only show on telly that says, ‘Don’t just watch the adverts: win them!’. Sadly, this week is the final instalment of this series, but ITV have recommissioned the show for 2014. Well it was either this or Red or Black – it was no contest, was it?

This week, Jonathan Ross steps into the voiceover booth; Little Ant and Dec grill Gerard Butler about his new film, Olympus Has Fallen; the ‘Ant v Dec’ victor is crowned; and the Jersey Boys cast perform at the end of the show – probably with help from the Geordie duo themselves.

Also today: coverage of The Grand National is on Channel 4 (1:00pm); Davina McCall puts players up against a 15ft hourglass in her new game show, Five Minutes to a Fortune (Channel 4, 5:10pm); The Many Faces of Sid James profiles the Carry On star’s life (BBC2, 7:30pm); and Ben Kingsley, Carl Froch, Audrey Tautou and Alt-J pull up a pew on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:20pm).

Sunday 7th April

Catchphrase

ITV, 6:45pm

If you have tuned in to ITV at any point this week, you can’t fail to have seen the trailers for the revived game show, Catchphrase.

Britain’s Got More Talent’s Stephen Mulhern steps into the shoes of former hosts Mark Curry, Nick Weir (‘Broken Leg Man’, remember?) and, of course, Roy Walker, to test contestants’ recognition of popular phrases and sayings. Of course, however, it often isn’t as easy as it seems.

The show, you may be pleased to hear, has been updated somewhat for 2013. Mr Chips looks like he’s ‘had some work done’, the graphics have been modernised and the money has improved! Yes, no longer shall players make it all the way through to the Super Catchphrase and win a couple of grand and a trip to Thailand. Instead, they could win a massive £50,000 – and a trip to Thailand…or any other destination.

I’m very much looking forward to the all-new Catchphrase beginning – not only because it is a great format which is always guaranteed to produce a few laughs (how can we forget the infamous ‘Snake Charmer’ episode?) but also it should put an end to those incessant bloody trailers.

Also today: Nick Hewer hauls an industrial saw to Sierra Leone for a young carpenter – honestly – in Nick Hewer: Countdown to Freetown (Channel 4, 7:00pm); new hidden camera show Off Their Rockers begins (ITV, 7:30pm); BBC1’s brilliant period drama The Village continues (9:00pm); and Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech premieres on Channel 4 at 9:00pm.

Monday 8th April

The Prisoners

BBC1, 9:00pm

Filmed over a year, this new series follows criminals from across the country – from those who are entering jail, to those who are currently serving time, and repeat offenders.

The first episode in the three-part series focuses on Holloway Prison. One of the repBBC & Genie Pictureseat offenders featured is eighteen-year-old Jayde (pictured, right). Jayde has previously spent time in jail six times and returns to Holloway just two weeks after her release.

The Prisoners seems to be in a similar vein to recent ITV documentaries such as Holloway and Her Majesty’s Prison – Aylesbury, both of which were quite successful, fascinating and shocking audiences in equal measure. I have no doubt that this series will have a similar effect.

The Prisoners has been postponed, owing to the BBC’s broadcast of Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister.

Also today: Lucy Worsley investigates how the ill health of monarchs has helped to shape British history in Fit to Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History (BBC2, 9:00pm); ITV’s gripping Broadchurch continues at 9:00pm; Chris Terrill speaks to people who are failing to cope with life after the armed forces in Battle Scarred: Soldiers Behind Bars (Channel 5, 10:00pm); and Made in Chelsea starts its fifth series (E4, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 8th April BBC & ACS

Later Live…With Jools Holland

BBC2, 10:00pm

Jools Holland (right) returns with another series of his musical showcases. This episode includes performances from Cat Power, the Strypes, Suede and Laura Mvula.

Also today: Kay Mellor’s excellent The Syndicate continues (BBC1, 9:00pm); Helen Czerski hosts Pop! The Science of Bubbles (BBC4, 9:00pm); and the fifth episode of The Matt Lucas Awards, postponed from last Tuesday, is on BBC1 at 10:35pm.

Wednesday 10th April

Victoria Wood’s Nice Cup of Tea

BBC1, 9:00pm

Viewers may be more accustomed to seeing Victoria Wood serving up tea in the canteen of HWD Components as one of the dinnerladies but in this two-part series, the multi-talented comedienne delves into exactly why us Brits are such obsessive drinkers of the stuff.

Over the course of two one-hour episodes, Victoria (below) travels the globe and speaks to stars such as Matt Smith and Morrissey in order to discover what our fascination is with tea, as well as its importance in history – how was it discovered and how exactly did it generate wars, but also help us win them?

Concludes tomorrow.BBC & Keo Films

Also today: Frank Gardner’s Return to Saudi Arabia (BBC2, 9:00pm) follows the BBC security correspondent as he returns to the country where he was shot almost nine years ago; 24 Hours in A&E is back on Channel 4 (9:00pm); Matt Morgan’s sublime The Mimic concludes (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and so does Anna & Katy (Channel 4, 10:35pm) which, considering the huge talents of its stars, has consisted of mainly below-average sketches this series.

Thursday 11th April

Celebrity Juice

ITV2, 10:00pm

The ninth series of the anarchic panel show continues as host Keith Lemon welcomes Catchphrase’s Stephen Mulhern, Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding and TOWIE stars Joey Essex and Sam Faiers to join in the fun.

This series has been consistently great but there is one thing: isn’t it time to give Jedward the push?

Also today: Channel 5’s Trauma Doctors (9:00pm), as the title suggests, follows doctors at one of the UK’s leading trauma centres; and new series The Sex Clinic explores the lives of some of the patients at London and Birmingham’s sexual-health clinics (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Friday 12th April

The Security Men

ITV, 9:00pm

Four security guards’ idleness is exposed in this one-off comedy, written by Caroline Aherne and Jeff Pope.

After the four guards decide to switch off the alarms in the shopping centre where they work in order to watch the darts, in full widescreen, HD, surround sound glory, they are horrified to discover that a theft has taken place at a jewellers within the centre. The men then create an elaborate ploy to get themselves off the hook.

As well as having been written by Aherne and Pope (who collaborated on 2009’s beautiful The Fattest Man in Britain), The Security Men features an all-star cast: Brendan O’Carroll leaves Agnes Brown’s dress behind to play Jimmy, Early Doors’ Peter Wight is Kenneth, Mount Pleasant and Not Going Out regular Bobby Ball portrays Duckers, and Life on Mars star Dean Andrews plays Ray. Take Me Out’s Paddy McGuinness also pops up as PC Clarke, who investigates the aforementioned burglary.

I’m really looking forward to The Security Men. I’m fans of all of its stars and think the plot is packed with comic potential. However, at only sixty minutes in length, I am slightly worried that that potential will not be fully realised. Fingers crossed, though, it will be better than Caroline Aherne’s most recent TV venture: the abysmal 2012 Royle Family Christmas special.

You can read my review of The Security Men here.

Also today: Brian Blessed is in the host’s chair for perhaps the most eagerly anticipated Have I Got News For You since Angus Deayton’s sacking (BBC1, 9:00pm); physicist Isaac Newton is profiled in The Last Magician (BBC2, 9:00pm); although there are twice as many of them than necessary, comedians Jon Richardson, Rhod Gilbert, Lee Mack and Rob Beckett all compete in another 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Not Going Out, which has been recommissioned for a seventh series and two Christmas specials, continues (BBC1, 9:30pm); Alan Carr somehow bags an exclusive chat with troubled former footballer Paul Gascoigne in Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Michael Buble, Amanda Holden and Jack Dee are on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm).

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 about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.