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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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).