Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV, which is mainly dominated by Britain’s Got Talent, monarchs and Clare Balding…
Saturday 25th May
David Bowie: Five Years
This one-off documentary details five of the most important years in David Bowie’s career, from his beginnings as Ziggy Stardust to his time as the Thin White Duke.
Through previously unseen footage and interviews with some of the star’s closest collaborators, David Bowie: Five Years charts his success – including his regeneration in Berlin and the phenomenal success he enjoyed with his biggest and best albums, such as Heores, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and, of course, Let’s Dance.
Also today: The Dam Busters, featuring Richard Thorp (Emmerdale’s Alan Turner, who sadly died on Wednesday), is on Channel 5 at 12:20pm; Oscar-winning film Titanic (Channel 4, 7:00pm); Greg James and Alice Levine present coverage of Radio 1’s Big Weekend from Derry-Londonderry (BBC3, 7:00pm – also available all day on Radio 1 and from 3:30pm – 6:00pm via the red button); ABBA-inspired musical Mamma Mia! (ITV2, 7:00pm); we enter the final Battle Round on The Voice UK (BBC1, 7:10pm); catch up with Renee Zellweger’s huge knickers-wearing singleton (again!) in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (ITV2, 9:10pm); and comedy thriller 48 Hours is on Channel 4 at 10:40pm.
Sunday 26th May
No, not the hit-miss sitcom starring Ardal O Hanlon as Thermoman. Although this programme does also feature Hugh Dennis…
In the BBC’s My Hero strand, we’ve already seen Miranda Hart pay homage to Eric Morecambe, and now it is the turn of Mock the Week’s Hugh Dennis to profile his comedy inspiration: the legendary Ronnie Barker.
As Hugh proves throughout the programme, there is absolutely no doubting that Ronnie Barker made a fantastic contribution to, and is deeply missed by, the comedy world. Prior to his death in 2005, Barker helped create some of the most memorable moments in British comedy history. From tight-fisted, stuttering shopkeeper Arkwright in Open All Hours to the nation’s best loved convict (although I doubt many have a list of favourites), Norman Stanley Fletcher in Porridge (the most moving episode of which, in my opinion at least, can be seen on BBC2 at 8:00pm tonight). Plus, who could forget Barker’s collaborations with Ronnie Corbett, which included such legendary sketches as ‘Class’ from The Frost Report, ‘Mastermind’ from The Two Ronnies and the infamous ‘Fork Handles’, all of which are often cited as some of the best comedy sketches ever written.
Whether mustached as Arkwright, donning a prison uniform as Fletcher or putting pen to paper as the elusive Gerald Wiley, Ronnie Barker was an icon of British comedy and someone who continues to inspire performers to this day, as My Hero attests.
Also today: More from Radio 1’s Big Weekend (BBC3, 7:00pm, with red button coverage available from 5:00pm – 1:00am); Kym Lomas, Rosemary Shrager and Steve Pemberton partake in Celebrity Catchphrase (ITV, 7:00pm); find out who’s going through to this week’s live Semi-Finals on Britain’s Got Talent (ITV, 8:00pm); BAFTA-winner Clare Balding investigates the death of Emily Davison in Secrets of a Suffragette (Channel 4, 8:00pm); and there’s another chance to see last year’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel, The Scapegoat (ITV, 9:30pm).
Bank Holiday Monday (27th May)
The Queen: A Passion for Horses
Clare Balding presents this one-off documentary which looks beyond the Queen’s public persona, and focuses on her private love: horses.
A Passion for Horses tells of how the Royal Family have had a connection with the animals throughout history and guides us through the monarch’s life with them, from receiving her first at the age of four to the present day, when she continues to ride whenever she can and names all of her horses personally. To date, the Queen has bred an incredible 1,600 race-winners.
The programme also features interviews with those close to the Queen and her horses, disclosing her love of the animals and her ambition to breed the ultimate racehorse.
Also today: Comedy film Cool Runnings (BBC1, 1:55pm); the first Semi-Final of Britain’s Got Talent (ITV, 7:30pm), my review of which will be available straight after tonight’s show; the return of Springwatch (BBC2, 8:00pm); unruly teens learn martial arts in Kick Ass Kung Fu (Sky1, 8:00pm); World’s Scariest Animal Attacks (Channel 5, 9:00pm); discover the history of the Now That’s What I Call Music! albums in The Story of Now (ITV, 10:00pm); and the story of the three women who were discovered in Ohio earlier this month, The Cleveland Captives: What Really Happened? (BBC3, 10:00pm).
Tuesday 28th May
Words of Everest
Marking 60 years since the first successful ascent of the world’s highest mountain, this documentary from ITV’s Words of… strand tells the story, as well as that of the failed attempt which was made just under three decades earlier.
The stories of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine (the original climbers, who disappeared just 800 yards away from the summit in 1924) and Edmund Hilary Tenzing Norgay (the first successful ascendants, who achieved the goal in 1953) are told through their respective diaries and letters, offering an insight into the sacrifices and decisions they made to try and reach the top of Everest.
These diaries and letters are read to the camera by John Hannah, Freddie Fox, Jason Flemyng and Stephen Campbell Moore, aided by images and reconstruction footage.
Words of Everest looks set to inform and astound the viewers with the telling of such vivid stories from the aforementioned quartet of intrepid explorers.
Also today: Britain’s Got Talent continues (ITV, 7:00pm), my review of which will be available straight after tonight’s show; Edward VIII: Lion King explores the former monarch’s time on safari in Africa (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and the last-ever episode of Shameless (Channel 4, 10:00pm).
Wednesday 29th May
The Iraq War
This insightful three-part documentary series features interviews with senior figures who were, and continue to be, involved with the Iraq war.
From those who made the decisions right back in January 2002 to the people who are still calling the shots today, The Iraq War exposes the reasoning behind the conflict, and the future for our troops.
Also today: Britain’s Got Talent and Coronation Street both take a night off for the Football (ITV, 7:30pm); and the new series of Springwatch Unsprung begins (BBC2, 8:30pm).
Thursday 30th May
Up the Women
Tucked away on BBC4, this new sitcom focuses on a group of women who become suffragettes after being inspired by the movement in London.
Featuring a cast of instantly recognisable faces (including Rebecca Front, Jessica Stevenson, Ryan Sampson and Getting On’s Vicki Pepperdine), Up the Women sees the ladies of the Banbury Intricate Craft Circle become ‘Banbury Intricate Craft Circle Politely Request Women’s Suffrage’ after Margaret (played by Jessica Hynes, who also created the series) returns from the capital. She hopes to encourage the women of Banbury Church Hall to follow the example of those she has met and join the Suffragette movement, but is met with some opposition, so appears to have a challenge on her hands if she wants to convert her fellow ladies and make them stand up for their rights!
Also today: Britain’s Got Talent (ITV, 7:30pm), my review of which will be available straight after tonight’s show; Tony Robinson presents Britain’s Stone Age Tsunami (Channel 4, 8:00pm); World’s Craziest Police Pursuits (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Crimewatch (BBC1, 9:00pm); Thomas Penn examines the reign of Henry VII in Winter King (BBC2, 9:00pm); and Jimmy Doherty fronts Human Swarm, which investigates the predictability of our behaviours as humans (Channel 4, 9:00pm).
Friday 31st May
Sarah Millican: Thoroughly Modern Millican
Channel 4, 9:00pm
Rude and uncouth, but terribly funny, this is the first TV broadcast of South Shields’ (yes, not Newcastle’s) Sarah Millican’s second live show, Thoroughly Modern Millican, which was recorded last year at the famous Hammersmith Apollo.
I don’t care that I’ve already watched the DVD numerous times, I’m still going to watch it on Channel 4 – partly because I’m guaranteed to still find it hilarious but also because I’m intrigued as to whether her assessments of oral sex and euphemisms for the C-word will be broadcast.
If you want to go to see Sarah at this year’s Edinburgh Festival or (like me) on her Home Bird tour next year, visit her website – but be quick, there aren’t many venues which haven’t sold out.
Also today: the penultimate Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Final (ITV, 7:30pm), my review of which will be available straight after tonight’s show; David O’Doherty, Carol Kirkwood and Richard Osman are on Would I Lie to You? (BBC1, 8:30pm); the last episodes of Have I Got News For You and Not Going Out (BBC1, 9:00pm and 9:30pm, respectively); Ian Mortimer uncovers the answers to questions which you may ask if you transported yourself back to the sixteenth century (seriously) in The Time Travellers Guide to Elizabethan England (BBC2, 9:00pm); Demi Lovato, Mark Owen and Clare Balding (again) are on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Jennifer Lopez and David Mitchell (the comedian, not the novelist – I think) drop in for 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.
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 £1,486 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.