Monthly Archives: August 2013

This Week in TV – 31st August – 6th September

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with the return of a doc, a teacher and four tough judges. I’m sure you’ll have heard of them.

Saturday 31st August

The X Factor

ITV, 8:00pm

There are three shows beginning on ITV tonight but the biggest of course has to be The X Factor!

As I’m sure you’ve read, it’s all change this year on X Factor: Tulisa’s out and, after six years, Sharon is back in – alongside Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh, for whom this is his final series. Plus, the audition rooms (last seen in 2008) are back, with the contestants having to impress the judges in an intimate setting before, if they’re deemed good enough, going to Wembley to perform in front of a crowd of 12,000. And, as well as the auditions stage being altered for this series, the way it’s being shown is changing. The ‘audition rooms’ will be shown on a Saturday night and then on Sunday we will see the successful auditionees from that stage perform again at Wembley Arena. It is at this point that we will find out if they have progressed to Boot Camp. So, we have double X Factor every weekend from now until Christmas! Great news for fans of the show, devastating for those who were enjoying a bit of Tipping Point of a Sunday evening.

In an attempt to boost ratings (episodes regularly dropped a million viewers last year, in comparison to the 2011 series), Simon’s back, too! He will be advising Gary, Louis, Nicole and Sharon at Boot Camp who to put through and will even be judging the Live Shows – via satellite link.

So get ready for three months of bitching and screeching – and that’s just from Louis. Hopefully the changes will go down well, ITV will renew X Factor‘s contract (which expires this year) and Cowell won’t have to rely on the Mothercare vouchers from Cheryl Cole to get Little Simon a big, posh buggy. We’ll have to wait and see whether that happens but one thing’s for sure: with Sharon back, it’s going to be one hell of a series!

Also today: Shane Richie and Claudia Winkleman are on That Puppet Game Show (BBC1, 5:15pm); there’s a Pointless Celebrities chefs special (BBC1, 6:15pm); Davina McCall hosts new reality show Stepping Out (ITV, 6:30pm), in which celebrities and their real-life partners learn to dance; Tinchy Stryder and Alex Jones are on I Love My Country (BBC1, 7:05pm); Keith Lemon steps into the shoes of David Frost and Loyd Grossman as he revives Through the Keyhole (or Through T’Keyhole) (ITV, 9:20pm); and Caroline Flack and her new co-presenter Matt Richardson have a new series of The Xtra Factor (ITV2, 9:20pm).

Sunday 1st September

The Story of the Jews

BBC2, 9:00pm'The Story of the Jews' - BBC2, 9:00pm

In this five-part documentary, beginning tonight, Simon Schama takes a trip through Jewish history, from the very beginning to the present day.

This episode – entitled ‘In the Beginning’ – goes back to the origins of Judaism, when the Hebrew Bible was created, telling the story of a tribe’s tumultuous relationship with their jealous God. This ‘God of Words’, and Jews’ loyalty to it, became the centre of the faith, and helped see its followers through centuries of adversity.

As the series progresses, Simon reveals how these events from three millennia ago helped shape the religion and greatly influence the lives of Jews today.

Also today: Teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You (Channel 4, 2:30pm); Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Channel 4, 5:30pm); The Pursuit of Happyness (Channel 5, 5:55pm); one-off documentary Rebuilding the World Trade Centre (Channel 4, 7:40pm), which follows artist Marcus Robinson’s attempt to recapture the tragic structure; Vince Vaughan film The Dilemma (Channel 4, 9:00pm); A Touch of Cloth II concludes (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); and action film The Expendables is on Channel 5 at 10:00pm.

Monday 2nd September

Doc Martin

ITV, 9:00pm

Yes, Martin Clunes is back once again as the no-nonsense, stubborn Doctor Ellingham for a sixth series of Doc Martin.

Of course in the last series Martin and Louisa were brought even closer together as they now had their son, James, to look after. Actually, they didn’t do such a grand job of that as James was in fact kidnapped in the final episode by Mrs Tishell, who has for a long time been madly in love with Martin. The drama of it all prompted the Doc to propose, and this series will see that wedding – but will it actually come to fruition? After all, Martin seldom welcomes the idea of commitment. Who can forget him and Louisa alone together when she visited the surgery, with him poised to say ‘I love you’ but bottling it at the last moment and instead declaring, ‘I’ll need to take a stool sample’. The most tactile of people he is not.

It should be an interesting series: if they get married, there will surely be ups and downs (with more of the latter, I imagine) and if they don’t I expect there will be quite a lot of fall-out from that. Anyway, it’s always nice to shut off from the outside world and immerse yourself in life in Portwenn and that’s something that I certainly can’t wait to do.

Fans of Doc Martin might also like to know that there are now novels to accompany the series. Not well publicised, Doc Martin: Practice Makes Perfect – about Martin’s arrival in Portwenn – has just been released, and is available in paperback from Amazon for just £3.50! A Christmas book – Mistletoe and Whine – will be released in November.

Also today, a lot of shows return: Rip Off Britain is back (BBC1, 9:15am); Phil and Holly return from their summer break for more This Morning (ITV, 10:30am); Plan It, Build It begins on BBC1 (11:45am); suffer Julia Bradbury’s new show no more as Bradley Walsh is back with brand-new The Chase (ITV, 5:00pm); Inisde Out returns (BBC1, 7:30pm); documentary series Swansea Market begins (BBC2, 7:30pm); Countrywise returns (ITV, 8:00pm); Jamie Oliver has some Money Saving Meals (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Gadget Man is back, this time with Richard Ayoade (Channel 4, 8:30pm); Robert Peston Goes Shopping begins (BBC2, 9:00pm); The Lost Hero of 9/11 (Channel 4, 9:00pm) tells the story of former US Marine, Jason Thomas; The Insider (which is not too dissimilar to Undercover Boss) begins (BBC3, 9:00pm); and film Miss Congeniality is on ITV2 at 9:00pm.

Tuesday 3rd September

Bad Education

BBC3, 10:00pm

Lock up your sons and daughters: Jack Whitehall is back as Alfie Wickers, the world’s most hopeless teacher, in the second series of sitcom Bad Education.

I did get a little bored with Bad Education last year – it just seemed to be full of stereotypes: the gay one, the slutty one, the chavvy one, the fat one, etc. It proved popular, though, and I’ll still be watching (there are worse ways to spend a Tuesday night).

As we rejoin the Abbey Grove group, the school swimming gala is imminent and Alfie has decided to enter his class into the synchronised diving. Let’s just say that the students aren’t entirely happy with this – but the promise of a trip to a restaurant soon makes them enter into the spirit of things.

Of course, if you can’t wait until Tuesday to see Abbey Grove re-open its doors, you can always go to BBC iPlayer, where the first episode of the new series has already premiered.

Also today: Aussie Animal Island begins (ITV, 7:30pm); Ade Edmondson looks at how TV commercials have mirrored British life over the decades in Ade in Adland (ITV, 8:00pm); Trauma: Level One (ITV, 9:00pm) takes an inside look at the University Hospital Southampton’s specialist trauma unit; one-off documentary Siege in the Sahara (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and on BBC1 there’s The Woman Who Woke Up Chinese (10:35pm) – which is as bonkers as it seems.

Wednesday 4th September

Big Star’s Little Star

ITV, 8:00pm

Stephen Mulhern presents this new six-part entertainment series, which will see some of our best-loved stars left red-faced by their own children.

Each week, a host of famous faces will enter the studio with their kids, who will reveal embarrassing anecdotes and cringeworthy facts about their parents, which would have been best kept to themselves. The show begins with a series of Mr & Mrs-style rounds, in which the aim is for the celebrity and the child to give the same answer to a question, and then ends with the one remaining pair winning £5,000 for their chosen charity. However, they can then treble that money by correctly matching together pictures related to their lives.

Will Mellor, Jamelia and Duncan James are just three of the stars who will be taking part.

Also today: Romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Channel 4, 12:55pm); Hairy Bikers’ Meals on Wheels Back on the Road begins (BBC2, 8:00pm); Harrow: A Very British School starts (Sky1 HD, 8:00pm); EastEnders star Nitin Ganatra is the focus of this week’s Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); drama Whitechapel (ITV) and makeover series Grand Designs (Channel 4) return at 9:00pm; another big name gets the boot in Celebrity Big Brother: Live Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm & 11:00pm); and Boris Johnson is a guest on The Last Leg (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 5th September

Pat & Cabbage

ITV, 8:30pm

Barbara Flynn and Cherie Lunghi star as the eponymous best friends Pat and Cabbage in this brand-new sitcom.

The pair have recently become single, after Pat’s husband suddenly died and Cabbage divorced her partner, and they intend to exploit their new-found freedom by going on many adventures, doing what they like and not caring what people think. They are growing old disgracefully and proud to be, too!

Pat and Cabbage must deal with their home lives while also trying to maintain their own fun-filled private ones, but with their families dubious about how long the friends can continue with their shenanigans, there will be more than a few obstacles in their way as they pursue some amusement.

Also today: Waterloo Road begins another term (BBC1, 8:00pm); one-off documentary Mum and Dad Are Splitting Up (BBC2, 9:00pm); Tamsin Greig and Katherine Kelly star in brand new drama The Guilty (ITV, 9:00pm); Educating Yorkshire begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); J from 5ive wants answers as The Big Reunion: On Tour hits the road (ITV2, 9:00pm); crime film Public Enemies is on ITV4 (9:00pm); Bouncers (Channel 4, 10:00pm) shows the day-to-day work of doormen in Essex and the north-east; Alex  Jones, Nathan Sykes and Jason Derulo join the fun in Celebrity Juice (ITV2, 10:00pm); and George Clooney and Brad Pitt star in crime comedy Burn After Reading (ITV4, 11:45pm).

Friday 6th September

QI

BBC2, 10:00pm

As QI returns for its eleventh series – this time focussing on the letter K – the first topic is ‘Knees and Knockers’. Ooh-er!

Joining the brainy Stephen and moronic (and greying) Alan in this opening episode is Jack Whitehall, David Mitchell and newcomer Sara Pascoe. Sara’s not the only first-timer we’ll see in this series, though – also popping their QI cherries will be: Victoria Wood, Richard Osman, Noel Fielding, Isy Suttie, Tim Minchin, Katherine Ryan, Josh Widdicombe, Graham Linehan, Janet Street-Porter, Trevor Noah and Mrs Brown’s Boys star Brendan O’Carroll, who will make an appearance in the Christmas special, ‘Kris Kringle’.

Who will receive the dreaded ‘wrong answer’ Klaxon? Who will be Stephen’s teacher’s pet? We’ll have to wait to find out…

Also today: Celebrity MasterChef: The Final (BBC1, 8:30pm) – who will impress with their three course meal?; Secrets of the Pickpockets is back for another one-off (Channel 4, 9:00pm); there’s yet another Celebrity Big Brother: Live Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); David Walliams, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx are on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm), which also features a performance from the reformed original Sugababes line-up, now under the name of Mutya Keisha Siobhan; 2010 adaptation The Tempest premieres (BBC2, 11:05pm); and Paul Chowdhry: What’s Happening White People gets its first TV airing (Channel 4, 11:05pm).

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: The Story of the Jews – Thanks to BBC, Oxford Film and Television and Tim Kirby, ©Oxford Film and Television; Bad Education – Thanks to BBC, Tiger Aspect and Scott Kershaw, ©Tiger Aspect; QI – Thanks to BBC, Talkback and Brian J Richie, ©Talkback (part of FremantleMediaUK).

It’s Time to Face the Music: ‘X Factor’ is Back!

It seems that not a week has passed this year in which there hasn’t been at least one story in the papers relating to The X Factor – whether they be true or fabricated.

Well, the wait is finally almost over as this Saturday, Gary, Louis and Nicole are back, and this year are bringing Sharon Osbourne and the ‘old skool’ auditions with them. That’s right: no audience, no big flashy arena stage – just the judges and the auditionees, within spitting distance of each other. And if this batch of hopefuls are anything like previous years’, there may be quite a bit of spitting. And water chucking. And bleep machines required.

GOING JUDGE MENTAL

A far cry from the days of New Faces and Op Knocks, nowadays people are less concerned withSharon Osbourne who is auditioning for that life-changing record deal, they’re more bothered about who the judges are,  what they’re wearing, and whether they’re bitching about each other. Well, I might not be able to help with the last two questions, but I can certainly write about the first.

Of course, the big news is that Sharon is back. I’m so pleased, and it seems that Sharon is too (although with someone who’s had so much plastic surgery, it is hard for one to tell) – apparently it only took a little of Simon’s wining and dining to get her back on board. Also, Gary Barlow has said that Sharon and Louis are already ‘ganging up on’ himself and Nicole, so that judge rivalry for which the X Factor is often best lovedNicole Scherzinger doesn’t seem to have disappeared. Even if it is just for one series (which she claims it is), it’ll be fantastic to have Sharon back, and if there’s a lot of more moments like this,  it should be a fun series!

The other female member of the panel is the ‘Schermazeballs’ Nicole Scherzinger, who is beginning her second year on the show. Perhaps it was because she only had competition from Louis, Gary and Tulisa, but she really shone last year, and my favourite part of each episode was not seeing whether James Arthur would crack a smile (he never did) or how many steps up the Dulux colour chart Christopher Maloney had taken his tan (I think he reached Bongo Jazz at one point), it was hearing Nicole’sLouis Walsh latest mad concoction of a phrase – from dubbing the openly gay Lucy Spraggan ‘spunky’ to telling the ‘Jahmazing’ Jahmene Douglas to ‘grow some balls’. These  Scherzisms became legendary, and we must have more in this series! I’m looking forward to seeing her again.

And finally there’s Gary and Louis: the two who are (allegedly) jumping ship at the end of this series. I suppose that’s been on the cards for some time for Louis, hasn’t it? Ever since Simon sacked him (but reinstated him a matter of weeks later) in 2007, the press have heralded a new series of the show with the story of Louis’s imminent departure. Well I guess this time they were right and, if the news is true, we shall have to savour thisGary Barlow last few months of Louis’s mispronunciations of contestants’ names and feeble arguing with his fellow judges. Bless him. Also, there have been reports that Gary is leaving (with X Factor host Dermot O’Leary recently suggesting so at the premier of One Direction: This Is Us), so fans of his may also have to make the most of him being on the panel.

In an unorthodox move, each of the judges’ allocated categories have been announced before the series has even begun airing. So (spoiler alert!): Louis is handling the boys (stop sniggering, please), Nicole has been given the girls, Gary has the groups (no pressure there, then) and Sharon is in charge of the Over 25s – something which she is reportedly furious about. Oh dear, Shazza.

XTRA HELPINGS

So, those are the judges – but what about the auditions? Well, after a few weeks of mobile and open auditions in front of the show’s producers, the judges auditions began on 4th June in Glasgow. As has been widely reported, before the contestants reach the arena stage (which has been in place for the past four years), they will have to impress Sharon, Nicole, Gary and Louis in the back-to-basics audition rooms, which were held, in addition to Glasgow, in Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and London. However, the arena stage has not been completely scrapped: auditions were held at  Wembley Arena for four days last month.

As well as the auditions stage being altered for this series, the way it’s being shown is also changing. The ‘audition rooms’ stage will be shown on a Saturday night and then on Sunday night we will see the successful auditionees from that stage perform again at Wembley. It is at this point that we will find out if they have progressed to Boot Camp. So, we now have double X Factor every weekend! Great news for fans of the show, devastating for those who were enjoying a bit of Tipping Point of a Sunday evening.

Of course, there’s a lot riding on this series: last year, every episode was down by an average of 1million viewers, in comparison to the 2011 run – hence the drastic changes to the format. Not that the show’s boss, Simon Cowell, needs any mare aggro – what with the pitter-patter of tiny feet soon to echo around his LA mansion – but it appears to be something of a ‘make or break’ time for The X Factor. This year marks the end of the show’s current contract with ITV, and there has been no confirmation of an eleventh series next year. Simon needs to hope that the changes he has made will be enough to assure ITV that there’s still mileage in the format, and it’s one which is worth investing in for the next few years. Of course, the fact that he’ll be advising the judges at Boot Camp and appearing as a judge via satellite link at the live shows may just help…

FLACKERS’S NEW MATE

And there’s a bit of change over on ITV2 as Olly Murs has quit The Xtra Factor to focus on his music career, so Caroline Flack (who began hosting the show with Olly in 2011) has been given comedian Matt Richardson (pictured) to present with. Seeing as his only notable TV appearances seem to be an episode of Sweat the Small Stuff and a spot on Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, it’s no surprise that I’m not entirely familiar with Matt’s work, but he has won many awards on the stand-up circuit, so I’m sure he’ll be great.

As always, Caroline and Matt will be going behind-the-scenes of X Factor, speaking to the judges and auditionees, as well as giving us some exclusive auditions and a fe w games and a bit of fun on the side – including a round of ‘Would You Rather’ with the panel.

 

So, there we have it: The X Factor 10 – will it be a few changes too far for the show, or will it prove to be a brand new beginning for the format, meaning it will run for a few years more, and Cowell won’t have to rely on the Mothercare vouchers from Cheryl Cole to get Little Simon a big, posh buggy? We’ll have to wait and see, but one thing’s for sure: with Sharon back, it’s going to be one hell of a series!

Image credits: Unless otherwise stated, all images thanks to Nicky Johnston, ©ITV

The X Factor Series 10 begins on Saturday 31st August at 8:00pm on ITV, with The Xtra Factor following immediately after at 9:20pm on ITV2

My reviews of The X Factor will be online after every Sunday episode

What do you think of the changes to The X Factor? Are you pleased about Sharon? Sad about Louis? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

This Week in TV – 24th – 30th August

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – from Hancock to Lemon and Carr. Oh, and a few serious bits thrown in. Just to even it out.

Saturday 24th August

The Xtra Factor Rewind

ITV2, 9:00pm

There’s just one week to go until Louis, Gary and Nicole return for another series of The X Factor –  alongside Sharon Osbourne, who has been absent for six (long) years.

In this one-off episode, Xtra Factor host Caroline Flack takes us on a trip down memory lane to revisit last year’s ‘Schermazeballs’ series. So, expect a bit of miserable-faced champion, James Arthur; some former shelf-stacker, Jahmene Douglas; a generous helping of semi-finalists Union J; and a lot of Rylan Clark. Oh, and of course Scouse crooner, Christopher Maloney – whose royalties for appearing on Rewind will go straight to his nan. Naturally.

My preview of the tenth series of The X Factor, which begins a week today, will be online from midnight on Tuesday.

Also today: It’s a Pointless Celebrities radio special at 5:35pm (BBC1) as a group of famous faces – or rather famous voices – compete for the ‘coveted Pointless trophy’; Jack Dee and Alex Jones are on That Puppet Game Show (BBC1, 6:25pm); the sixth in the Harry Potter franchise, The Half-Blood Prince is on ITV at 7:00pm; Alex Jones pops up again, alongside Micky, Frank and Gabby, on I Love My Country (BBC1, 7:05pm); film The A-Team is on Channel 4 (9:20pm), as is Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra Live at the Royal Albert Hall (11:35pm).

Sunday 25th August

What Remains

BBC1, 9:00pm

Starring David Threlfall (pictured), Russell Tovey and Amber Rose Revah, What Remains is a suspense-filled ‘whodunnit’ from Hotel Babylon and Inside Men writer, Tony Basgallop.

Michael and Vidya (Tovey and Revah) are a couple about to embark on'What Remains' - BBC1, 9:00pm an exciting new life together. However, when they move into their flat at 8 Coulthard Street, they find that they have a leak – which leads to the discovery of the remains of Melissa Young. Melissa has been missing for two years – but never registered so, and no one seems to have noticed her disappearance.

This is where DI Len Harper (Threlfall) comes in. He is put in charge of the case, which is seemingly easy to get to the bottom of. Harper has his own problems, though, and the mystery of Melissa’s disappearance and death acts as the perfect distraction for him. He puts his all into the investigation, refusing to take his retirement (which he was due to start a week after he began working on the case) until he uncovers the truth. During his search, he discovers the secrets that each of Michael and Vidya’s new neighbours are holding, and how they all, in some way, have a part to play in Melissa’s death.

Also today: 2011 film, Chalet Girl premieres (Channel 4, 6:15pm); Iolo Williams presents Iolo’s Great Welsh Parks (BBC2, 6:30pm); Liz McClarnon, Keith Duffy and Dan Whiston compete in the last in the series of Tipping Point: Lucky Stars (ITV, 7:00pm); Vera is back (ITV, 8:00pm); Gok Wan takes on the Banker in Celebrity Deal or No Deal (Channel 4, 8:00pm); a night dedicated to Morecambe and Wise begins on digital channel Drama at 8:00pm with Bring Me Morecambe & Wise, followed by biopic Eric & Ernie (9:00pm); Jason Statham stars in The Mechanic (Channel 4, 9:00pm); superb spoof crime series, A Touch of Cloth returns (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); Sandi Toksvig, Jason Manford and Jeremy Clarkson are on the episode of QI which for some reason is being shown over seven months after the J series ended, ‘Just the Job’ (BBC2, 10:00pm); and The Sixth Sense is on Channel 4 at 10:50pm.

Bank Holiday Monday (26th August)

Ultimate Swarms

BBC1, 9:00pm

In this one-off programme, zoologist George McGavin sets off in search of the world’s most impressive swarms.

By meeting bats, bees and everything in between, George aims to discover why swarms are the answer to surviving against the odds, and how we can perhaps adopt the thinking of these animals in order to live our lives easier and better.

Also today: Oscar-winning epic Ben Hur (Channel 4, 11:05am); Doctor Who at the Proms (BBC1, 4:00pm); 2008 film The Incredible Hulk (ITV, 4:20pm); one-off documentary World’s Most Pampered Pets (Channel 5, 6:00pm); Only Connect comes to BBC2 for a week, starting with a ‘Champion of Champions’ special (7:30pm); Hugh Hunt presents Attack of the Zeppelins (Channel 4, 8:00pm); World’s Scariest Animal Attacks is on Channel 5 (8:00pm); Matt Damon stars in The Bourne Identity (ITV, 9:00pm); sci-fi film Independence Day is on Sky1 (10:00pm); and BBC2 is showing Last Chance Harvey (10:30pm).

Tuesday 27th August

My Hero

BBC1, 10:35pm

We’ve already seen Miranda Hart on Eric Morecambe and Hugh Dennis on Ronnie Barker but now it’s time for Death in Paradise star Ben Miller to profile his comedy hero: Tony Hancock.

I’m sure a lot of people won’t be familiar with Tony Hancock’s work. They may have heard his name bandied around a little, but they will likely not appreciate the huge impact he had on British comedy. Tony had huge success from 1954 with his radio series, Hancock’s Half Hour, which also introduced to the public such stars as Hattie Jacques, Sid James and the irrepressible Kenneth Williams. In 1956, Hancock’s Half Hour arrived on television, and became one of the first sitcoms as we know them.

However, Tony also had a tumultuous personal life. He had quite a few mistresses during his 44 year-long life, one of which was his best friend and regular co-star John Le Mesurier’s wife Joan. He also battled depression and alcoholism, all of which led to his suicide by overdose in 1968.

Still, just like so many comics, he kept his demons at bay while he was entertaining the nation, which he did so often – and it is his legacy as a great comedian and angry blood donor (well done if you got that reference) which makes him the perfect hero of Ben Miller’s.

Also today: Protect your ears from the screams – it’s One Direction This Is Us Special (Sky1 HD, 6:00pm); and (no ear-covering required for this one) Michael Scott presents Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show on Earth (BBC4, 9:00pm).

Wednesday 28th August

Martin Luther King and the March on Washington

BBC2, 9:00pm

Narrated by Denzel Washington, this one-off documentary marks the 50th anniversary of Martin  Luther King’s historic March on Washington, which was a hugely important moment in the American Civil Rights'Martin Luther King and the March on Washington'- BBC2, 9:00pm Movement.

Through archive footage and interviews with those who were there and even helped organise it, this programme tells the story of the march: how it faced opposition from the JFK administration and the FBI and how it ultimately helped bring about racial equality in the States.

The BBC’s commemoration of this momentous event, and celebration of Luther King in general, continues after March on Washington, as BBC4 are showing MLK: The Assassination Tapes at 10:00pm.

Also today: Footloose (E4, 8:00pm); Nick Hewer is on Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); after less than a week in the house, one famous face must leave as it’s eviction night on Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); see the best of the Fringe with Comedy Festival Live (BBC3, 9:00pm); Jem Stansfield presents Crash Test Dummy: A Smashing History (BBC4, 9:00pm), which does exactly what is says on the tin; and Prisoner: Cell Block H remake Wentworth Prison comes to Channel 5 (10:00pm).

Thursday 29th August

Celebrity Juice

ITV2, 10:00pm

Is the novelty of Keith Lemon wearing off? That’s something I’ve found myself thinking quite often recently. I mean, Sing If You Can and Keith Lemon’s LemonAid weren’t exactly hits for ITV, were they? Keith Lemon: The Film was widely slated, too (I even found myself criticising it with someone who was interviewing me for a job the other week!) and I got very bored of his ‘autobiography’, Being Keith: How I Got ‘Ere If You Don’t Know How I Got ‘Ere after about the tenth page. Is the sight of Northern Businessman of the Year 1993 getting his ‘tallywacker’ out on primetime ITV2 getting old? I would have to say yes.

Still, when he keeps it in his trousers there are still a lot of laughs to be had with Keith, and with his revival of Through the Keyhole to hit our screens soon, it looks like he’s sticking around for a while. Plus, of course, Celebrity Juice is back, which means more comments about Holly Willoughby’s bangers and Fearne Cotton’s nostrils – which she has kindly brought back with her from maternity leave.

So, prepare for morerer laughs, morerer crudeness and morerer Keith – because it seems that you don’t have any choice.

Also today: Monster Moves is back (Channel 5, 7:00pm); documentary series The Railway: First Great Western begins (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Derren Brown: Svengali is repeated (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and one-off documentary The Man Who Ate Himself to Death (Channel 5, 10:00pm), which follows Ricky Naputi in his final few months.

Friday 30th August

Alan Carr: Chatty Man

Channel 4, 10:00pm

It’s not just Leigh Francis who is going to be sticking around for a while – Alan Carr will be too, as Chatty Man begins its eleventh series, and there’s plenty more to come, as it has also been  commissioned well into next year.

With his effortless style and highly-entertaining, silly demeanour, it really is no surprise that Alan'Alan Carr: Chatty Man' - Channel 4, 10:00pm Carr is Channel 4’s golden boy, is it? Earlier this year, he signed a golden handcuffs deal with the channel, which will see him earn £4million and stay with them until at least 2015. I hope they give him more than just Chatty Man and repeats of his stand-up shows, though. I love seeing him chatting to stars on his sofa but how about something a bit…different for him? I mean, he has started a sitcom pilot but, if his chat with Miranda Hart on the Chatty Man Mash-Up is anything to go by, he found that too difficult and has given up. So what about something like The Friday Night Project or Celebrity Ding Dong? He was brilliant on those and I’m sure a similar show to either would prove very popular. For the time being, though, I’m happy to just enjoy him on Chatty Man.

So, who are his first guests of the series? Well, Rizzle Kicks will be performing their annoyingly catchy song, ‘Lost Generation’, and Lee Evans and Keeley Hawes will be dropping by to talk about their West End comedy, Barking in Essex – and there will likely be chat about Lee’s upcoming tour, Monsters, too.

Also today: Construction Squad: Operation Homefront (Channel 5, 8:00pm) begins by looking at the transformation of an old hospital in Newcastle; Mamma Mia! is on ITV2 – again (8:00pm); Big Fat Gyspy Weddings is back (Channel 4, 9:00pm); another housemate gets the boot in Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); horror film Orphan (More4, 9:00pm); Sara Cox and One Direction members Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles and Niall Horan (who also gets so very slightly naked) are on A League of Their Own (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); documentary Youssou N’Dour: Voice of Africa, profiling the Senegalese musician, is on BBC4 (9:20pm); there are a few laughs with Seann Walsh in his Late Night Comedy Spectacular (BBC3, 10:00pm); and films The Nutty Professor (ITV2) and The Boat That Rocked (ITV) are on at 10:10pm and 10:45pm, respectively.

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: What Remains – Thanks to BBC and Laurie Sparham, ©BBC; Martin Luther King and the March on Washington – Thanks to BBC, ©NARA/Smoking Dog Films; Alan Carr: Chatty Man – Thanks to Channel 4 and Open Mike Productions.

‘Celebrity Big Brother’ 2013 – The Housemates Revealed!

Yes, just three days after Sam Evans was crowned the winner of Big Brother 14, tonight Emma Willis welcomed a brand new raft of famous faces (although I of course use the term very loosely) into Britain’s most famous bungalow – apart from that belonging to Dick & Dom, naturally.

So, who are the celebs who are facing three weeks under the careful watch of the Orwellian figure? Who is hoping to follow in the footsteps of January’s victor, Bit on the Side host, Rylan Clark? Well we have…

Louie Spence Choreographer, Louie Spence

Yes, first to enter the house was that huge, flexible camp-fest that is Pineapple Dance Studios’ runaway star, Louie Spence. Louie claimed that if people annoy him, he will get personal – and I can well believe it. I wonder how long it will take for him to drop the showbiz demeanour and row with his fellow housemates. Because I’m sure there’s an awful lot of feistiness under that camp shell.

Lauren Harries

Transgender rights campaigner, Lauren Harries

Ever since she ended her interview on This Morning some years ago by lifting up her skirt and doing  an impression of Anne from Little Britain, I have slightly disliked Lauren Harries. Don’t get me wrong,  I admire her campaigning for transgender equality (as she shot to fame as James Harries, aged 10, on Wogan) but she does incense me somewhat. And as for bringing ‘sex appeal’ to the house, I don’t think so: especially as the first person she met in there was Louie Spence.

Sophie Anderton

Who?Model, Sophie Anderton

Models don’t tend to do particularly well in Celebrity Big Brother, do they? Lest we forget last year’s feud between Jasmine Lennard and Danica Thrall, which somehow ended with them both being disliked? The truth of the matter is that, rightly or wrongly, CBB audiences rarely give anyone from a modelling background a chance. And her wild days and cocaine use may not work in her favour. But then Denise Welch didn’t do too badly in 2012, did she?

I have no idea who she is (believe it or not, I don’t take much notice of lingerie campaigns…) so I’m looking forward to watching her during her time in the house – however long or short it may be – and discovering more about her.

Bruce Jones

Oh I really like Bruce Jones. He’s battled his demons and shown that you can overcome them. I’m  sure a lot of people will be against him – having been sucked in by the tabloids’ stories – but I’ll be championing him. If people are indeed against him, I hope that that changes and I wish him well in the house. It will also be an advantage to him that he has his former Corrie wife in the house'Coronation Street' stars, Bruce Jones and Vicky Entwistle – despite being separate housemates, they’ll at least have each other to rely on for support.

Let’s just hope that, with Louie in the house, Bruce isn’t as homophobic as his Corrie character, Les!

Vicky Entwistle

Again, I’m a fan of Vicky Entwistle. What shows like this and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! give soap stars in particular a chance to do is tell their own stories – show that there’s a real person behind the tabloid headlines and on-screen life. People at the moment will either think of her as gobby – having played Janice Battersby in Coronation Street for thirteen years – or…actually they’ll probably just think of her as gobby. Hopefully she will shine in the house, however, and we will see Vicky herself come out.

Courtney StoddenAmerican television personality, Courtney Stodden

I should make it clear that I very rarely have any idea who models or American stars are in Celebrity Big Brother. Therefore, just as with Sophie Anderton, I haven’t got much of a clue who Courtney Stodden is.

All I know is that she is best known for her marriage to Doug Hutchinson, who, being aged 51 at the time of their marriage, was 35 years her senior, so she either wants or needs to change the public’s perception of her. However, having purported to be an attention-craver in her VT, she really will have to work hard to alter opinions.

Abz Love5ive member, Abz Love

My God! Abz is the one member of 5ive who, when appearing on The Big Reunion, really, really annoyed me. He just seemed so rude, boisterous and…oh I don’t know. I just don’t subscribe to that whole ‘bad boy’ image being entertaining. It seemed that the rest of 5ive had grown up – but he hadn’t.

I’ve no doubt he’ll be popular with the ladies, though, and, as with So Solid Crew’s MC Romeo last year, he could make it to the final few days. And he might make me change my mind on him. It’ll take quite a bit, though.

Danielle MarrReality TV star, Danielle Marr

I took part in a programme called Dublin Wives. Literally everyone was talking about it and we were the talk of the town.’ Er, I don’t think you were: I’ve never heard of you. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard of Dublin Wives.

Yes, surprise, surprise I’ve never heard of her. She seems an amicable person, though. Deluded, maybe, but amicable nevertheless. And Sophie seems to like her, which is a good sign. It’s also perhaps a good sign that she runs a Botox clinic. I mean, it helped Leah Totton win The Apprentice, so why not Danielle Marr win Celebrity Big Brother?

Dustin Diamond

What?! Another person who it would be generous to call Z-list? What’s'Saved by the Bell' star, Dustin Diamond going on, Channel 5?

Anyway, Dustin Diamond appeared as Samuel “Screech” Powers in 90s sitcom, Saved by the Bell. Oh and, in an attempt to make millions, created a sex tape. And made $300,000. And he used a body double.

“Unroll the red carpet, Emma: he’s not deserving of it!”

Dustin is going to have a lot of work to do in the house to not only stand out from the crowd but be liked – because at the minute I think a lot of people, like myself, will be simply not feel anything either way towards him.

Charlotte Letitia Crosby

‘I have sex, I piss meself, I shit meself, you name it, I’ve probably doneReality TV star, Charlotte Letitia Crosby it.’ Classy, pet. Classy.

Yes, this is Charlotte Crosby – off of Geordie Shore. I hate Geordie Shore. I’m from the north-east, tried to watch ten minutes of it and simply couldn’t bear the embarrassment. I’m not looking forward to seeing her in the house at all. Watching the daily antics of someone who broke wind on someone’s face and then urinated on them because they were preventing them from having sex – and thinking this is ‘something we can all relate to’ – is not my idea of entertainment.

She makes Denise Welch look like Mother Teresa.

Mario FalconeReality TV star, Mario Falcone

The Only Way is Essex bad boy, Mario Falcone didn’t reveal an awful lot about himself in his VT. All we know is that he’s a bit of a bad lad, he likes his hair tidy and he’s open to the idea of romance in the house.

TOWIE is another show which I don’t watch – although I don’t despise it anywhere near as much as Geordie Shore – so I don’t really know who Mario is. I’ve heard his name bandied about a bit but I’m not entirely sure what sort of person he is. He might turn out to be a villainous game player but then he looks set to be this series’ eye candy. So every cloud…

Carol McGiffin

I love Loose Women and I love Carol McGiffin. She’s outspoken, she’sBroadcaster, Carol McGiffin loud-mouthed, she’s opinionated but she’s also smart and will listen to other people’s views. She just won’t consider them very often.

I can’t wait to see what Carol gets up to in the house. I’m sure she’ll clash with a lot of her fellow housemates (it seems that she has already made something of an enemy in Charlotte) but, if she stays true to herself, the strong Loose Women fan base will see her through. She says she doesn’t think she can win but I believe that she can: Denise Welch angered lots of people in the 2012 series but still emerged victorious. Former Loose Woman, Coleen Nolan came second in last summer’s season, too. So she has a very good chance of going far. If she doesn’t do anything too drastic, that is…

Ron Atkinson

Former football manager and sports pundit, Ron Atkinson was the finalFormer sports pundit, Ron Atkinson famous face to enter the house.

As with Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock from the January series this year, I disliked Ron before his name was even linked with Celebrity Big Brother. I just didn’t like him. Having said that, I did grow to love Razor and my opinion on him was completely changed as a result of him appearing on the show. Will that happen with ‘Big Ron’? We’ll have to wait and see. It’s not his stubbornness and fondness for ‘the finer things in life’ that I don’t like: it’s his previous, public use of the ‘N’ word which, when accidentally overheard using it to label Chelsea player, Marcel Desailly in 2004, led to him being branded a racist and his entire career being brought to a halt. His racist remarks didn’t get a mention in his CBB VT, though. Strange that, isn’t it?

Whether I can warm to someone who uses such vile, outdated slurs – be it in public or not – I have no idea – but I seriously doubt it.

 

So, with the cast of summer 2013 revealed, only one question remains: what is this mystery twist? Hmm…could it have anything to do with Louie, Lauren and Sophie being locked away in the Cult of Celebrity, watching the every move of the house’s occupants – unbeknownst to their fellow contestants?

Tune into Celebrity Big Brother: The Big Twist – Live at 9:00pm tomorrow night on Channel 5.

Celebrity Big Brother - Summer 2013

Images ©Five

Celebrity Big Brother is on Channel 5, daily

What did you think of the Celebrity Big Brother line-up? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘Big Bad World’ (Comedy Central) Review

As I said in my Seann Walsh World review, you – or at least I – tend to expect that any original comedy which has been produced by a digital channel – i.e. GOLD, Dave or Comedy Central – is not going to be particularly good. After all, if it was funny, it would be on a terrestrial channel, surely? Well not necessarily – just look at Trollied, Stella, Mount Pleasant, Threesome and now Big Bad World, which would more than hold its own against some of the more mainstream offerings.

Created by relatively new writers, Lloyd Woolf and Joe Tucker, Big Bad World stars Blake Harrison as Ben Turnbull: an ambitious graduate who, having left university, returns to his childhood home, but struggles to adjust. You see, Ben himself may have moved on, but Great Yarmouth hasn’t – and the parts of it which have haven’t done so as Ben would have liked. For example, his friends are still as immature as ever and he finds it difficult to find a job – no change there. On the other hand, his childhood sweetheart, Lucy, is now attached, and his parents have amalgamated their and his bedrooms by knocking the wall down – change indeed, but just not the sort that Ben would have liked.

BIG NAMES

I have to say that I was very impressed by the first episode of Big Bad World, and am envious of those who still have its delights to come. Ben is very different to the character for which Blake Harrison is best known, The Inbetweeners’ Neil. I mean, Ben attended university – Neil just about scraped into sixth form! The main character really is quite a loveable fool, and if he stumbles through the rest of the series like he did this episode, it seems that we’re about to witness just as many fruitless, and cringe-making, attempts at self-advancement than the Inbetweeners managed combined.

While Blake is at the centre of the show, he is surrounded by more than a few big-name comedy stars, including James Fleet (The Vicar of Dibley), Caroline Quentin (Men Behaving Badly), David Fynn (Pete vs Life), Scarlett Alice Johnson (Pramface) and Comedy Central’s new golden boy, Seann Walsh. Together, they create a great ensemble piece, portraying very well-drawn characters who we become familiar with and feel we know straight away. Although I’m not quite sure about Eggman’s (Seann Walsh) part in the set-up yet. Let’s hope that he develops later in the series, as in the opening episode he seemed to just be there as one of the friends, and not have any particularly unique qualities about him.

THE LOVE STORY

Of course, every sitcom needs its romantic plot, and Big Bad World is no different as Ben is determined to overcome the odds and get back with Lucy, despite the fact that she now has a boyfriend who everyone likes – but Ben thinks is ‘a bell end’.

His pursuit of Lucy looks set to be the main plot and provide some great moments, as it appears that he will stop at nothing to prove everyone wrong and get back together with her. And that includes feigning interest in volunteering in the Third World.

With a great cast playing great characters from a great script, there’s the likelihood that Big Bad World will be just as popular as Comedy Central’s other home-grown sitcom, the award-winning Threesome – just with a less unconventional plotline. And, with the first episode premiering on Digital Spy before its broadcast on TV, there really is no reason not to give it a go.

The first episode of Big Bad World will be available exclusively on Digital Spy from Monday 19th August

The series begins at 9:00pm on Wednesday 21st August on Comedy Central

This Week in TV – 17th – 23rd August

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – and it’s a good one if you like Dan Brown, Big Brother and baking. Although I admit that the chances of you liking all three are very slim.

Saturday 17th August

Pointless Celebrities

BBC1, 5:45pm

Xander and Richard are back to welcome some more celebrities to play the game which tests general – and pointless – knowledge like no other.

Surely no one can be unfamiliar with the premise of Pointless by now, but I’ll briefly explain it anyway: 100 people have been given 100 seconds to name as many things which apply to a category. So, to give an example from Wednesday’s show, it could be, ‘Name as many Christmas songs with the word ‘Christmas’ in the title’. The aim is to think of the least popular answer – one which none of the 100 said (in this case it was ‘Christmas Wrapping’ by The Waitresses – a very good song, contrary to what Alexander Armstrong claimed). The pair with the most amount of points at the end of each round is eliminated until only one remains, and they will not only win the coveted Pointless trophy, but will also have a chance to take that episode’s jackpot by giving three answers to a question and hoping that one of them is pointless. Do that, and they’ve won!

It really is simpler than I’ve made it sound.

The first episode is sitcom-themed, with stars of comedies past and present competing to win money for their charities. The contestants are: Red Dwarf stars, Craig Charles (Lister) and Danny John-Jules (Cat); Bread’s Jean Boht (Nellie) and Nick Conway (Billy); Hi-de-Hi! actors, Su Pollard (Peggy) and Jeffrey Holland (Spike); and Mrs Brown’s Boys couple, Brendan O’Carroll (Agnes) and Jennifer Gibney (Cathy).

So, will the Browns beat the Boswells? Will the Maplins crew maul the mining ship mob? We’ll have to wait and see – although it may be worth pointing out that Brendan O’Carroll is a member of Mensa, so the odds are in his favour…

Also today: The surprisingly good That Puppet Game Show continues (BBC1, 6:35pm), with guests Gary Lineker and Freddie Flintoff; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is on ITV while Channel 4 are showing Mission: Impossible (both at 7:00pm); some more patriotic silliness in I Love My Country (BBC1, 7:15pm); Thatcher: The Downing Street Years (BBC2, 8:10pm) gets a repeat; Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star in comedy thriller, Knight and Day (Channel 4, 9:00pm); A Very British Witchcraft (More4, 9:00pm) tells the story of the Wicca group; and Stephen Merchant: Hello Ladies, the comedian’s 2011 tour, makes its debut on Channel 4 at 11:10pm.

Sunday 18th August

Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival

BBC1, 5:35pm

Over six weeks, Countryfile presenter, Ellie Harrison will be joined by some of the BBC’s most'Britain's Big Wildlife Revival' - BBC1, 5:35pm highly-regarded wildlife experts to bring us the stories of the plight of some of Britain’s most endangered animals.

Each week, Ellie and her guests will champion a creature which they want to save from extinction, and also recall the stories of animals who managed to survive against the odds. This week, the focus is on animals such as the red squirrel, adder and Scottish wildcat.

Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival is just one part of BBC Learning’s Summer of Wildlife strand, which also includes Springwatch and BBC2’s The Burrowers.

Also today: Helen Mirren delivers her multi award-winning performance in The Queen (ITV, 4:30pm); Step Up 3 premieres (Channel 4, 4:40pm); Will Smith and Eva Mendes star in Hitch (Channel 5, 5:50pm); Sherrie Hewson, Britt Ekland and Robin Cousins (who I share my birthday with – not that it’s relevant) are on Tipping Point: Lucky Stars (ITV, 7:00pm); Antiques Roadshow returns (BBC1, 8:00pm); period drama, The Mill concludes (Channel 4, 8:00pm), as does BBC1’s The White Queen (9:00pm); and (very different) films Dear John (10:05pm) and Frost/Nixon (10:30pm) are on Channel 4 and BBC2, respectively.

Monday 19th August

Big Brother: The Final

Channel 5, 9:00pm

After nearly ten weeks of twists, turns, bitch fights and love triangles – and that’s just Dexter! – the'Big Brother: The Final' - Channel 5, 9:00pm Big Brother 14 Final is here, but who will walk away with that £100,000 prize?

Now, I’m writing this on the morning of the final eviction (Friday), so, apart from Gina and Dexter, I don’t know for definite who’s in the Final. So, I’m just going to write about each housemate and their chances of winning. If you haven’t watched Big Brother this year, the following few paragraphs will be tedious and confusing; I advise you don’t read them – unless of course you love my writing so much that you can’t resist the urge to…but that’s unlikely.

Charlie I have to admit that I missed the whole Charlie/Dexter/Callum love triangle – actually I missed the first five weeks of the show altogether – so I’m not basing my opinion of her on that. I quite like her. I’m not entirely sure whether she’s trying to create a ‘showmance’ – to quote Sophie – between herself and Dexter but on the whole I do like her, and felt very sorry for her when she was annihilated during the friends and family nominations. I don’t think she has much chance of winning, but I wouldn’t be particularly bothered if she did.

Dexter I think Dexter’s great. In my opinion, he hasn’t playing the game at all (well…not much) and the tense twist last Thursday, after which he claimed he didn’t see the £99,000 option, was a genuine mistake. He’s been a very entertaining housemate and handled situations with dignity. I would very much like to see him be this year’s winner.

Jack & Joe Oh God! Please don’t let these two win! Their attempts to be the roly-poly funny ‘uns of the house are blatant and embarrassing. Everyone’s focusing on Dexter not taking the £99,000 but let’s not forget that Jack and Joe had the opportunity to pick that sum before he did, but instead opted for £96,850. Now that might be a mere £2,150 difference, but in terms of that game – in which the housemate who chose the least amount of money would apparently have won that and left the house that night – it made all the difference. I just hope that they don’t win – and I don’t think they will, either.

Sam Yes, he’s cute. Yes, I go slightly weak when I see him without his shirt, but I believe that Sam has been very lucky not to have been booted out already. Apart from having – to coin his own phrase – an infamous ‘winky expansion’, he hasn’t done much. Therefore, in the past few weeks, he has been kicking off about anything and everything – particularly with Dexter – to get himself noticed. Of course, I can’t argue with the fact that he sets a good example to other people with hearing difficulties, but he has done nothing, in my opinion, to warrant winning the show.

Sophie Just like Sam, Sophie has been in the background somewhat during this series, with the focus usually being on people like Gina, Dexter, Daley, etc. – the characters in the house. I wouldn’t mind seeing her win, though. When I spoke to my auntie yesterday about Big Brother (I don’t know anyone else who watches it and neither does she, so when we see each other it’s the only topic of conversation), she said that Sophie is a game-player and troublemaker. So she may have seen something during the first five weeks which I missed but I really like Sophie. Whether she will have enough fans to be voted as the winner, however, is another matter.

Gina When I watched the Launch Shows (I stopped after the second), I despised Gina. She seemed incredibly stuck-up and dismissive of everyone who didn’t live the life of luxury like herself. Now, though, I think she has mellowed and become a really likeable person, with possibly the biggest chance of taking the Big Brother crown than any of her fellow housemates. I have to say that I’ve become slightly confused in the past couple of days with Gina: one minute she likes Charlie and is defending her against Hazel, and the next she’s slating her to Dexter and telling him that she cannot bear to live with her any more. I’m willing to overlook the inconsistencies in her attitude, though, because I think she’s been a fantastic housemate.

What do you think of this year’s Big Brother? Tell me who you think should win by commenting here or tweeting me – @UKTVReviewer.

Also today: Jane McDonald pampers workers across the country in Star Treatment (ITV, 12:30pm); get ready for the fourth series of Downton Abbey as ITV3 begin their repeat of all of the episodes to date from 5:25pm; Flog It! Trade Secrets returns (BBC2, 6:30pm); Paralympian, Ade Adepitan returns to Nigeria in Journey of My Lifetime (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Tony Singh and Cyrus Todiwala host The Incredible Spice Man (BBC2, 8:30pm); Natasha Kaplinsky goes behind-the-scenes of the selection process for the Royal British Empire Medal in The People’s Medal (ITV, 9:00pm); Thailand’s Drug Craze: Stacey Dooley Investigates is on BBC3 (9:00pm); Shaun of the Dead is on ITV2 – again (9:00pm); sci-fi drama Under the Dome, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, begins (Channel 5, 10:00pm); ahead of its return on 25th August, remind yourself of Brooker and Maier’s brilliance as the first series of A Touch of Cloth is repeated (Sky2, 10:00pm); and Road to Referendum (ITV, 10:35pm) looks at the changes in Scotland over the past six decades.

Tuesday 20th August

The Great British Bake Off

BBC2, 8:00pm

Yes! Mel, Sue, Paul and Mary are back for another ten weeks of tense whisking, crimping and'The Great British Bake Off' - BBC2, 8:00pm piping as the tent is re-opened for the fourth series of Bake Off.

This year sees a first for the show as 13 bakers will enter the marquee in the first episode and, as the weeks go on, will be whittled down until just one remains and takes the crown from 2012 winner, John Whaite. There’s not necessarily safety in numbers, either, as this baker’s dozen will have to work extra hard if they want to impress Paul and Mary and stay in the competition. That’s because, if they decide to, they could send not one but two bakers packing at one time. Harsh!

Angel Food, chocolate and sandwich cakes are all on the menu in this first episode, but who will be the first to – or first two to – leave the contest?

Also today: There’s the return of Double Your House for Half the Money (Channel 4, 8:00pm), The Midwives (BBC2, 9:00pm), urban drama Top Boy (Channel 4, 9:00pm) and Don’t Tell the Bride (BBC3, 9:00pm); as well as one-off documentary The Naked Rambler (BBC1, 10:35pm), which follows former Royal Marine, Stephen Gough as he walks naked from Scotland to Hampshire.

Wednesday 21st August

Welcome to the World of Weight Loss

BBC2, 9:00pm

With more people than ever on diets, and obesity rates continuing to sky-rocket, this one-off'Welcome to the World of Weight Loss' - BBC2, 9:00pm documentary follows those who attend slimming clubs and aims to find out whether following such regimes helps.

Welcome to the World of Weight Loss follows attendees at Weight Watchers, Slimming World and Rosemary Conley Groups across the country over a twelve week period, showing their highs and lows as they battle the fat and try to shed the pounds.

One person who features in the light-hearted programme is Slimming World regular, Santash Sharma (pictured), who was given the title of Miss Slinky 2012 in her local group.

Also today: Gary Lineker’s past is the focus of this week’s Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen star in movie adaptation, The Da Vinci Code (Channel 5, 9:00pm), followed by The Da Vinci Code: The True Story (Channel 5, 11:55pm); The Man Who Collected the World (BBC4, 9:00pm) looks at William Burrell’s vast art collection, which he donated to Glasgow in 1944; and, despite having been axed after just one series, comedy-drama Great Night Out begins its repeat run (ITV, 10:35pm).

Thursday 22nd August

Trollied

Sky1 HD, 9:00pm

Budget supermarket Valco is re-opening its doors for a third year as Gavin, Julie and co. return for a new series of the jewel in Sky’s comedy crown, Trollied.

I recently reminded myself of the brilliance of this show by watching the first series yet again on'Trollied' - Sky1 HD, 9:00pm DVD – and the second series is now on order. There’s not one weak performance and all of the characters – whether they be the foul-mannered Colin, warm-hearted Margaret or prissy Julie – are great to spend time with. Why no other channel snapped it up before Sky, I’ve no idea.

As you may have gauged from the advertisements, Valco is now under new management. As we saw at the end of the last series, Stephanie Beacham’s Hilary Devey-esque character, Lorraine is gone, leaving Julie and Gavin holding fort again. However, that’s all soon to change as The Spa and Pete vs Life star, Chris Geere turns up as Valco’s new Head of Strategy, Richard France, whose unorthodox approach to management doesn’t sit well with some of the staff. Plus, Gavin’s Spanish love interest, Anna (Elizabeth Bower) gets a job at the store to be closer to him. Julie doesn’t take this news well, however, as she still has eyes for her manager.

It looks set to be another series which will have us rolling in the aisles.

Chickens

Sky1, 9:30pm

The second part of Sky1 HD’s all-new Thursday night line-up is Chickens, which began life as a pilot for Channel 4 in 2011. As you can probably tell, though, Channel 4 decided not to develop it any further,'Chickens' - Sky1 HD, 9:30pm so Sky jumped in and took it for themselves.

Written by comedy pals Jonny Sweet, Simon Bird and Joe Thomas, the series follows Bert, Cecil and George – three men who have decided not to go to war, whether that be due to flat feet, conscientious objection or just pure laziness.

Having been written by and starring two of the stars of The Inbetweeners, there was a lot riding on Chickens first time around – and perhaps that’s why I was left disappointed by it. Hopefully now that it’s on digital TV and has got the first episode out of the way already, the pressure will be off and expectations won’t be quite as high.

Also today: Location Location Location is back (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain comes to an end (BBC1, 9:00pm); Poaching Wars with Tom Hardy (ITV, 9:00pm) sees the Dark Night Rises actor travel to Africa; The Imposter premieres on Channel 4 (9:00pm); and Celebrity Big Brother begins (Channel 5, 9:00pm).

Friday 23rd August

Celebrity Big Brother: The Big Twist – Live

Channel 5, 9:00pm

Yes, this summer’s famous faces may have entered the house last night but it is tonight that the Big Twist is to be announced.

I’m not even going to speculate what that twist is going to be – what with Big Brother’s track record,'Celebrity Big Brother: The Big Twist - Live' - Channel 5, 9:00pm he could throw anything at the contestants. However, I will run through who is rumoured to be taking part this year: larger-than-life dancer, Louie Spence; GMTV fitness guru, Mr Motivator; shamed football pundit, Ron Atkinson; Loose Woman, Carol McGiffin; whiney-voiced Apprentice star, Luisa Zissman; extravagant singer, Boy George; and ex-Corrie star (read attention-seeking bimbo), Helen Flanagan.

As any Loose Women viewer will know, Carol is a huge fan of Celebrity Big Brother, and her close friend Denise Welch of course won the show in early 2012, with her former LW panellist, Coleen Nolan coming an admirable second in last year’s summer series. I think she’d be great in the house – and certainly wouldn’t hold back if she disagreed with something. I’d definitely vote for her to win – but maybe that’s just because I have an obsession with Loose Women that a seventeen-year-old boy should never have.

Also today: Football’s Funniest Moments (Sky1 HD, 8:00pm); a repeat of Peter Kay Live at the Top of the Tower (Channel 4, 9:00pm); film, The Shawshank Redemption (ITV2, 9:00pm); the unnecessarily lengthily-titled, How to Become a World Music Star: Buena Vista, Bhundu Boys and Beyond (BBC4, 9:00pm); James, Freddie, Jamie and Jack return with more sports-themed fun in A League of Their Own (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); Jack Dee hosts the second series of (the often tedious) Don’t Sit in the Front Row (Sky1 HD, 10:00pm); another chance to see Peter Kay: In Conversation (Channel 4, 10:20pm), in which Danny Baker interviews the comedian about his career; and A to Z of World Music (BBC4, 10:30pm) showcases the wide range of musical genres from across the globe.

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: Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival – Thanks to BBC and Outline Productions, ©Outline Productions; Big Brother: The Final – ©Five; The Great British Bake Off – Thanks to BBC, Love Productions and Des Willie, ©Love Productions; Welcome to the World of Weight Loss – Thanks to BBC and Vanessa Engle, ©BBC; Trollied – ©Sky1/Jon Hall; Chickens – ©Colin Hutton for Sky1 HD; Celebrity Big Brother: The Big Twist – Live – ©Five.

‘Big School’ (BBC1) Review

Showing the eventful day-to-day lives of the staff at Greybridge School, David Walliams’s eagerly-anticipated sitcom, Big School began tonight, and made a comfortable start.

‘STELLAR CAST’

Boasting appearances from Catherine Tate, Frances de la Tour, Phillip Glenister, David himself and many more, it is no overstatement to say that Big School contains a stellar cast, with a host of established comedy performers popping up in Greybridge’s staff room. However, as we saw with ITV’s Vicious and Sue Perkins’s axed sitcom, Heading Out, an impressive cast list isn’t always a guarantee of audience appreciation. It tends to be a start, though.

And that’s pretty much how I would describe the opening episode of Big School: ‘a start’. It didn’t exactly live up to its hype (it’s not quite the ‘comedy masterclass’ that the Daily Mail dubbed it), but it certainly was a very strong opener, and made much more of an impression, and produced far more laughs, than a lot of contemporary sitcoms do in a whole series.

GOOD EFFORT’

It has to be said that David Walliams and the Dawson Bros. have made a good effort with Big School: the characters are rounded, the plots have been well set-up and there were some excellent one-liners within the 30 minutes. Granted, it would be nice to find out a little more about certain  characters – particularly those of Joanna Scanlan and Daniel Rigby (pictured, right), both of whom are brilliant performers – but they were still given enough time for us to warm to them in this episode. I genuinely  hope they will be given a chance to shine even more as the series progresses, though.

The characters that were focused on in this episode were brilliant. Once again, Catherine Tate excels and more than proves her credentials as a comedy actress, playing new French teacher, and love interest for Messrs Church and Gunn, Miss Postern – who incidentally also seems to be the most developed character, having not only a somewhat ditzy, eager-to-please aspect to her, but a very defensive side too.

It can also come as no surprise that Walliams has created his character to be a camp heterosexual – art imitating life, eh? He does play his character brilliantly – the Timothy Lumsden-esque wet blanket that is Deputy Head of Chemistry, Mr Church. It makes a welcome change to see David play just one character in a series, as we’re used to seeing him in just one-offs, like Frankie Howerd biopic, Rather You Than Me or his very own Mr Stink, or playing a multitude of people in shows such as Little Britain and Come Fly With Me. It’s also nice to see that he’s not too cut-up about the news of ‘His Simon’s’ fatherhood to stop making us laugh…

 

So, despite a mixed reaction from the Twittersphere (but then what could be expected?), Big School seems to have hit the ground running. In a week when GCSE and A-Level results are big news (tell me about it!) I’d probably give Big School B for Attainment, but definitely an A for Effort.

 Images courtesy of BBC and Des Willie – ©BBC.

Big School is on Fridays at 9:00pm on BBC1

What did you think of Big School? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘Boom Town’ (BBC3) Review

If, unlike me, you didn’t tune into BBC3 at 10pm tonight, you won’t have witnessed the Corporation add another item to its already very long list of troubles, as it blatantly flouted its promise to ‘inform, educate and entertain’, as it screened Boom Town. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to inform or educate – but a bit of entertainment wouldn’t have gone amiss.

RETURN TO KOOKYVILLE

I don’t know if you’re lucky enough to have forgotten Channel 4’s abysmal Kookyville last year. If you have, please forgive this reminder, which may just bring back bad memories: it was yet another ‘constructed reality’ series, except this was created with the specific aim of raising a few laughs. Unfortunately for all involved, the sight of a mother and daughter drooling over the sexual potential of a dwarf and the sound of a pensioner repeatedly dropping the F- and C-bombs into general chit-chat didn’t prove to be particularly amusing, and it never made it past the pilot.

Okay, now that I’ve reminded you, please eradicate Kookyville from your memory – it’s too late for me (it’s etched in there) but you might still be able to save yourself.

Now where was I? Oh yes, well, good old Auntie clearly decided to ignore the horror of Kookyville and create its own TOWIE rip-off (sorry, I of course mean TOWIE-inspired programme) but have the sole aim of making it funny by chucking in some true oddballs, so that we could all laugh at them and their utterances: ‘Look at the nerdy little trainspotter there – isn’t he a total saddo, eh?’ is probably what we would have heard if someone had been dragged in to narrate this car-crash.

TRAGEDY’

Boom Town was one of those shows which I only watch until the end so that I can gauge how truly awful it is, and then write about it on this blog. The people included were neither entertaining to watch nor funny – which is surely a major flaw for a show which purports to be a comedy?

The team’s attempts to be humorous were so blatant it bordered on tragedy, like the producers were poking the actors (oops, sorry, ‘real people’) with sticks, urging them to say something bemusing, hoping that it would elicit laughter from the audience. And if Twitter is anything to go by – which I admit it seldom is – that plan didn’t work, as the performers’ bemusing words only led to…well, bemusement, as many people demanded to know what exactly ‘this Boom Town’ was. Then again, there were a few people who thought it was the funniest thing they had seen in ages. These people clearly never watch anything apart from BBC3 then…

 

Perhaps I’m just not Boom Town’s target audience. But perhaps that’s because I understand that it is a blatant violation of what comedy should be: almost anything but the drivel that BBC3 had the gall to not only squander money on but serve up to us and call entertainment.

If you dare watch it, Boom Town is on Wednesdays at 10:00pm on BBC3

What did you think of Boom Town? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

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

‘My Cyberstalking Hell: Liz McClarnon’ (Channel 5) Review

Not long after joining Twitter a few years ago, TV personality Liz McClarnon – who shot to fame alongside Natasha Hamilton and Kerry Katona in girl group Atomic Kitten – was subjected to a seemingly never-ending stream of threats and abuse. The man responsible recently pleaded guilty to stalking Liz and four other women, and has been given 3 years’ probation, 100 hours community service and is prevented from ever contacting his victims again, with a 3 year-long ban on him posting on social networking sites.

It was hearing about others’ experiences of stalking – both on- and offline – that made Liz wanted to take part in this documentary, as part of the My Secret Past series, and raise awareness for a crime which is all too often brushed under the carpet.

APTLY TIMED’

Following the recent tragedy of Hannah Smith, who was found hanged aged 14 after receiving a torrent of abuse on social media, and the discussions about online safety and so-called ‘cyber trolls’, My Cyberstalking Hell could not have been more aptly timed. The responsibility of social networking sites and dangers of using them are hot topics at the moment, and Liz’s ordeal added another dimension to this.

A lot of focus is put on the critical, confidence-diminishing comments which are aimed at people on such sites – those which Hannah Smith received, for example, sickeningly mocked her appearance and destroyed her confidence to the point that she took her own life. What is less widely reported is the kind of abuse that Liz was subjected to. Up until just last year, she was receiving sexually explicit messages which I cannot bring myself to repeat here, but have stuck in my mind since the documentary aired. There were even messages which threatened rape.

I had no idea that Liz had been stalked at all, but she really has been through the mill and I admire her, and the people who she spoke to, tremendously for having the courage to tell their stories and not let their tormentors win.

JUST IGNORE IT’?

My Cyberstalking Hell revealed the shocking statistic that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will experience stalking at some point in their lives. So why isn’t that taken more seriously? As a psychologist and cyberstalking expert pointed out in the programme, many people stupidly think that someone like Liz should be flattered that someone should think so much of them. A lot of people are under the illusion that it must somehow be a sign of affection to taunt someone – be they famous or not – by tweeting what you have just done while looking at a picture of them or threatening to chain them up and rape them. How idiotic. I honestly hope that some of the people who subscribed to this way of thinking watched Liz’s programme and really paid attention to what her and the other participants said, and how their lives were blighted by their stalkers. And I can only hope that their views were changed drastically as a result.

The thing is, it’s so easy for people to say, ‘Well just ignore it,’ or, ‘Just block them or delete your account.’ Liz tried that! She blocked the man in question numerous times, but he simply created a different account and stalked her again. Plus, ignoring, blocking or deleting don’t wipe away from your memory your tormentor’s words and the graphic images that seep into your brain as a result. Once they’re there, they’re not going to vanish simply by pressing that little X in the top corner of the screen. If anyone proved that, it was Elle, who was stalked for five years and received around 20 to 30 death threats a day. Each comment chipped away at her self-esteem until she began to believe what they were saying: that she was ugly, talentless and did not deserve to live. It even put an end to her dream of becoming a musician. Liz, however, managed to reignite Elle’s passion for music by booking her into a recording studio and singing a duet with her. And thank God she did, because not only did it inject some of that long-lost confidence back into Elle, it also showed that she really is beautiful and talented – contrary to what those jealous, heartless bastards made her believe.

 

It was clearly difficult for Liz to make this programme, and at times she really struggled, revisiting the messages she was sent and hearing about how her abuse affected others, such as Atomic Kitten superfan, Lauren, who was taunted by exactly the same man as Liz, but I bet she’s glad she went ahead with it. I’ll say it again: I admire her for, despite what her head was telling her, sticking two fingers up to her bully and helping others, rather than staying silent and giving him some sort of satisfaction. She admitted to Elle that she knew there was light at the end of the tunnel, but was still very deep inside it, and I’m sure that, by making this programme, she has helped others take a step closer to that light.

My Cyberstalking Hell: Liz McClarnon is still available to watch via Demand 5

What did you think of My Cyberstalking Hell? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

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

Soggy Bottoms at the Ready: ‘Bake Off’ is Back!

Yes! Not long now – just one week until Mel, Sue, Paul and Mary are back for another ten weeks of tense whisking, crimping and piping as the tent is re-opened for the fourth series of The Great British Bake Off.

MEET THE BAKERS

This year sees a first for the show as 13 bakers will enter the marquee in the first episode and, as the weeks go on, will be whittled down until just one remains and takes the crown from 2012 winner, John Whaite.

There’s not necessarily safety in numbers, either, as this baker’s dozen will have to work extra hard if they want to impress Paul and Mary and stay in the competition. That’s because, if they decide to, they could send not one but two bakers packing at one time. Harsh!

So, who are this year’s participants? Well, we have:

And you can find out more about this year’s bakers here.

THE FIRST CHALLENGE IS…

As always, the participants won’t be eased in gently: Mel and Sue are eager to throw them in at the deep end as the first Signature Bake sees them create a simple sandwich cake. Well there’s very little to go wrong with there. But of course the bakers have to decide whether they will go with the traditional option or put their own twist on the classic. However, will Paul and Mary appreciate the rather unorthodox versions?

Next, Ms. Berry sets Angel Food Cake for the first Technical Bake – but this proves to be a hellish task for some as they try their best to follow the recipe to the letter, with varying degrees of success.

Finally, there is of course the Showstopper, which celebrates all things chocolaty and is the bakers’ last chance to wow the judges with their skills. Sadly, though, one will fail to rise to the challenge and therefore be the first on their way home.

With over 16,000 amateur bakers having applied to take part in this series, the final thirteen are expected to be the cream of the crop. But, as always, I’m sure there’ll be a few disasters in the tent. And soggy bottoms all round.

It’s certainly going to be an exciting series – or should that be egg-citing?

Get it? ‘Egg-citing’…Oh please yourself!

The fourth series of The Great British Bake Off starts on Tuesday 20th August at 8:00pm on BBC2

Images courtesy of BBC, Love Productions and Des Willie – ©Love Productions