Monthly Archives: September 2013

This Week in TV – 28th September – 4th October

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV, taking stops at the mystery world of Atlantis, an inner-city estate which is home to ‘some girls’ and finally the Mr Khan-led area of Sparkhill.

Saturday 28th September

Atlantis

BBC1, 8:25pm'Atlantis' - BBC1, 8:25pm

The much-anticipated fantasy drama, featuring a host of legendary figures, finally arrives on BBC1  tonight.

Jason (Jack Donnelly) has been in search of his father for twenty years. However, that search is about to turn his whole life upside down as he becomes washed up on the shores of the mysterious land of Atlantis. Life is far from easy in this place: he has to contend with violence and deadly rituals from the moment he arrives, as he is faced with legends like Pythagoras (Robert Emms), Ariadne (Aiysha Hart) and Hercules (Mark Addy).

The BBC have clearly spent a lot of money on Atlantis (what with this and The Wrong Mans, it’s a wonder there was money spare for other shows) and it looks set to be a sure hit, especially seeing as many are treating it as the replacement for Merlin.

Also today: I Love My Country comes to an end (BBC1, 5:30pm) with Ashley Banjo, Duncan Bannatyne and Will Mellor taking part; it’s a period drama special of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 6:15pm), and Xander has kindly dressed up for the occasion; the second batch of celebrities make their debut on the Strictly Come Dancing dancefloor (BBC1, 7:00pm); it’s Oritsé & AJ v Brian & Vogue in the Stepping Out final (ITV, 7:20pm); it’s bootcamp time at The X Factor (ITV, 8:20pm); Hello: A Portrait of Leslie Phillips (More4, 9:00pm) celebrates the life and career of the Carry On actor; The Sarah Millican Slightly Longer Television Programme (it’s basically Tuesday’s show but ten minutes longer) is on BBC2 at 9:30pm; Larry Lamb and Emma Bunton are on Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:50pm); and Dara O Briain: Craic Dealer makes its TV debut (BBC2, 10:10pm).

Sunday 29th September

The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek

BBC2, 7:30pm

Live comedy trio The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek (Graeme Rooney, Paul Charlton and Kevin  O’Loughlin) have now been given the chance to present their surreal humour to a wider audience with their very own sketch show.'The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek' - BBC2, 7:30pm

As you can tell from the time that this show is scheduled, it’s not going to be the most near-the-knuckle material you’ve ever heard, but what is should be is a bit of fun – and isn’t that what comedy is intended for?

The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek will include brand new material from the trio, but just to give you a flavour of the weird and wonderful world you may be about to enter into, here’s a rundown of some of their previous sketches: gay vegetarian lions, adulterous Yetis and a psychopathic lollipop man.

Brace yourselves, this is something which we possibly have never seen before…

Also today: Find out who’s through to judges’ houses in The X Factor (ITV, 7:30pm); and Jonathan Ross, Sue Perkins, Lee Mack, Jo Brand and many, many more pop up on The Big Fat Quiz of the 90s on Channel 4 at 9:00pm – let’s hope it’s a bit better than last week’s 80s-themed episode…

Monday 30th September

Some Girls

BBC3, 10:00pm

Unfortunately this series seemed to pass by pretty much unnoticed last year. I admit that I only became a fan when the repeat run of the first series began. It’s a pity that more didn’t pick up on it,'Some Girls' - BBC3, 10:00pm though, as it really is very funny. Hopefully more will catch on this year.

Some Girls centres around a group of four quirky friends living on an inner-city estate. There’s the dumb one (Amber), the disruptive one (Holli), the geeky one (Saz) and then the level-headed one, and narrator of the series, Viva. Not conventional names, you may think, but then these aren’t conventional girls. Yes, they may be dumb, disruptive and geeky but they’re all really rounded, too, and can be strangely moving to watch. Bernadette Davis (Game On) has written them all brilliantly, and they are portrayed perfectly, too.

The first episode of this series has been available on iPlayer since last week, but is debuting on BBC3 tonight. As we rejoin the girls, Viva is in a relationship, but is worried that her boyfriend is taking it too seriously, and Saz is once again questioning whether she is normal.

My guess would be no.

Also today: Real Rescues (BBC1, 11:00am), Four in a Bed (Channel 4, 5:00pm) and Oddities (Watch, 5:00pm) return; Zoe Ball reflects on the goings-on in the ballroom in Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two (BBC2, 6:30pm); A Question of Sport is back (BBC1, 8:30pm), with Michael Owen and Louis Smith; two-part series Broadmoor: The Inside Story begins (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Ax Men, following lumberjacks in their work, begins on ITV3 (9:00pm); reality series The Face comes to Sky Living (9:00pm); Russell Howard hosts Never Mind the Buzzcocks (BBC2, 10:00pm); and journalist and ‘lads mag’-advocate Martin Daubney presents one-off documentary Porn on the Brain (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 1st October

Drama Matters

Sky Living, 9:00pm

This dramatic and often blackly comic series of one-off stories begins tonight with an episode'Drama Matters' - Sky Living, 9:00pm entitled ‘The Psychopath Next Door’.

It’s not quite as The Shining-esque as you might imagine – on the contrary, ‘The Psychopath Next Door’ is set in a beautiful, seemingly idyllic close (not dissimilar to that seen in Mount Pleasant, actually). Marianne, Imogen and Catriona have been friends for a long time, and all live happily and peacefully on the close. However, their lives are turned upside down when the eponymous psychopath, Eve (Anna Friel, pictured), arrives and causes much anxiety and worry between the trio. What exactly is she plotting?

In the coming weeks, Drama Matters will see Suranne Jones play a fledgling judge in ‘Lawless’, Scottish footballer Gemma Fay as a referee-turned-plus-size model in ‘Rubenesque’, Katherine Kelly as a scorned sister in the eerie ‘The Last Witch’, and Russell Tovey and Keith Allen star in ‘Talking to the Dead’, based on Harry Bingham’s novel of the same name.

Also today: One-off documentary House of Surrogates (BBC4, 9:00pm); film Run Fatboy Run (E4, 10:00pm); and highlights of The Stephen Lawrence Unity Concert (BBC1, 10:35pm), which was held on Sunday in support of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and included performances from Ellie Goulding and Jessie J.

Wednesday 2nd October

The Great British Year

BBC1, 9:00pm'The Great British Year' - BBC1, 9:00pm

Each week this documentary series will show how the changing of the seasons affects our British wildlife, beginning this week with winter.

Beginning with New Year’s Day, this first episode shows how red squirrels, kites (pictured) and adders all cope with the ice and snow.

I’ve only seen a few clips of The Great British Year but it is clear that, just like all of the BBC’s other wildlife documentaries, it is going to be a fascinating insight into the behaviour of animals in extreme conditions.

Also today: Unsafe Sex in the City, following life in a northern sexual health clinic, is back (BBC3, 9:00pm); Mat Watson and Rebecca Jackson present new motoring show I Want That Car (ITV4, 9:00pm); and current affairs series Exposure, which earlier this year won a Royal Television Society award for its uncovering of the Jimmy Savile scandal, returns (ITV, 10:35pm).

Thursday 3rd October

Mayhem & Mishaps: Britain Caught on Camera

BBC1, 9:00pm

Mark ‘Chappers’ Chapman presents this one-off look at the everyday accidents we encounter in our lives, using home videos and CCTV footage to illustrate'Mayhem & Mishaps: Britain Caught on Camera' - BBC1, 9:00pm his points.

Some are shocking and others are just plain hilarious, but all have been caught on camera (no this isn’t a post-watershed You’ve Been Framed: why on earth would you think that?). Chappers also tries to recreate these mishaps by setting up stunts and visiting testing units across the country, and trying to find out what we can do to stop these incidents from happening in the first place.

Also today: A new BBC3 series with a typical BBC3 title: Hotel of Mum and Dad begins (9:00pm); and over on BBC4, Dr Michael Mosley presents Pain, Pus and Poison: The Search for Modern Medicines (9:00pm).

Friday 4th October

Citizen Khan

BBC1, 9:30pm

Hands up, who’s surprised to see this sitcom back? So pretty much all of us, then? Good.'Citizen Khan' - BBC1, 9:30pm

Yes, Adil Ray’s comedy about a Pakistani Muslim family attracted over 200 complaints when it  began last year, with many upset at its farcical and, according to some, ‘mocking’ portrayal of Islam. It’s not the portrayal of Islam that I found offensive (I think people just weren’t prepared for a sitcom about a Muslim family), it was the almost complete lack of laughs. It just seemed to be another in the long line of BBC sitcoms which were barren of gags. Of course, since Citizen Khan ended last year, we have now been able to add The Wright Way and Father Figure to that list.

Anyway, the point is that the show is back and as we rejoin the Sparkhill-based family, Mrs Khan wants her daughter Alia to sign up for the local Muslim Academy – but Mr Khan has other ideas. Elsewhere, Shazia has invited her boss round for dinner, but can she count on her dad not to mess the evening up for her?

Probably not.

Also today: Unreported World returns (Channel 4, 7:30pm); the fifth series of Glee comes to Sky1 (8:00pm); Ian and Paul return for a 46th (!) run of Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); Brian Blessed is in the guest’s chair for Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); 8 Out of 10 Cats is back (Channel 4, 9:00pm), and for once they aren’t playing Countdown; Elton John in Concert is on BBC4 (9:00pm); Jeremy Clarkson, Bill Bailey and Jimmy Carr discuss Kings in QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); David Mitchell and James McAvoy drop by for Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); Kevin Bridges: The Story Continues, the stand-up’s 2012 show, is on BBC1 at 10:35pm; eerie thriller The Hand That Rocked The Cradle is on BBC1 (11:35pm); and one-off stand-up show Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment is on BBC3 at 11:45pm.

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: Altantis – Thanks to BBC, Urban Myth Films and Nick Briggs, ©Urban Myth Films; The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek – Thanks to BBC and Yalli, ©Yalli; Some Girls – Thanks to BBC, Hat Trick and Des Willie, ©Hat Trick; Drama Matters – Thanks to Sky, Colin Hutton and ITV Studios; The Great British Year – Thanks to BBC BHU and Luke Massey, ©Luke Massey; Mayhem & Mishaps: Britain Caught on Camera – Thanks to BBC, Lion TV and Matthew Ainsworth, ©Lion TV; Citizen Khan, Thanks to BBC and Jay Brooks, ©BBC

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‘You, Me and Them’ (Gold) Review

After six years, UKTV have finally invested money into an original sitcom for its flagship comedy channel, Gold. And, after a (somewhat disastrous) revival of Yes, Prime Minister and a couple of tribute shows, the first home-grown sitcom to come to Gold is this: You, Me and Them, which centres around Ed (Anthony Head) and Lauren (Eve Myles), a couple who are very much in love, despite their twenty year age gap and the disapproval it attracts from their friends and family.

When UKTV’s multi-million pound comedy investment was announced, the network’s executive,  Jane Rogers, told Broadcast magazine that new shows would have to be of a high quality and able to ‘sit confidently alongside classics such as Only Fools and Horses and The Vicar of Dibley.’ This way of thinking had clearly long gone out of the windowJeff Rawle and Susie Blake as Lauren's disapproving parents, Clive and Emma by the time You, Me and Them was commissioned, however, as I’m struggling to say anything about it. Anything at all: good or bad, really. It was simply incredibly unimpressive, as if the writer, Steve Turner, set out to create the new Gavin & Stacey but left out the charm, wit and entertaining characters and plots.

It hasn’t been a terribly good year for Steve Turner: his comedy-drama Great Night Out arrived on primetime ITV in early January, and after many, many trailers – which admittedly looked very good – it was generally met with indifference, before being swiftly axed after just one series. There was nothing to deeply dislike about Great Night Out, it was just…well a bit dull – and that’s exactly how I would describe Turner’s latest effort. It felt a bit lazy, almost as if he was relying on the central age gap plot to carry the show. I can quite safely say that it doesn’t, and if it wasn’t for the characters continually harping on about it, I doubt I would even have remembered it, seeing as Anthony Head, despite being twenty four years older than her, doesn’t look all that much different in age to Eve Myles. Oh, and of course by that I mean that Anthony looks particularly young, not Eve looks particularly old.

Phew!

Being a sitcom about a relationship which raises eyebrows, You, Me and Them is inevitably going to be compared to Gavin & Stacey, but what Ruth Jones and James Corden did that Steve Turner  doesn’t is write strong, loveable and engaging characters. With the possible exception of Ed’s ex-wife-turned-next-door-neighbour, Lydia (Lindsay Duncan, pictured), none of the characters make any impact. They just fade into the background with no one to stand-out in the foreground. Granted, the performances are good (but then why wouldn’t they be with a raft of comedy talent like Susie Blake, Jeff Rawle and Daisy Beaumont starring) but the characters themselves are instantly forgettable, as are the plots unfortunately.

We will have to wait and see how people react to You, Me and Them – many may find something funny and engaging in it which simply eluded me. All I saw when I watched it was some great actors working with a below-average script, and portraying the biggest of all sitcom clichés: the dysfunctional family.

You, Me and Them begins at 9:00pm on Wednesday 23rd October on Gold

Unless otherwise stated, all images courtesy of Gold, ©Des Willie 

‘When Miranda Met Bruce’ (BBC1) Review

2013 marks seventy years since the legend that is Sir Bruce Forsyth took his first tentative steps into the world of showbusiness as part of the musical act, ‘Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom’. He was just fourteen-years-old at the time and of course went on to become a regular fixture of family  viewing, with much-loved and fondly-remembered appearances in variety and game shows, sitcoms and of course the odd dancing competition.

It is Bruce and his illustrious career which were celebrated in this one-off special, as the man himself was joined by host Miranda Hart and house band McFly for an evening of music and mirth.

Now I have to admit that I’ve never understood the appeal of Brucie’s humour and delivery of gags (and I know that I’m not alone there), so I found his attempts at jocularity as nauseating as ever, but other than that it was a jolly little romp through a showbiz legend’s life, interspersed with the odd dance routine, piano recital and singsong.

I was worried that When Miranda Met Bruce would force a pair of rose tinted specs onto its viewers and blatantly omit the…well shall we saw lower points of Bruce’s career. Thankfully, though, it wasn’t too sugary (although it did come dangerously close). For example, Big Night was touched  upon, as was its lack of success. Of course, Big Night wasn’t a bad show – as Bruce himself rightly pointed out, it would probably be commissioned today – but its problem was that it was hyped-up too much, leading to disappointment, a critical mauling and low ratings. I suppose the modern day equivalent is 10 O’Clock Live.

That was the only low point of Bruce’s career that was discussed, however, as the focus was well and truly on celebrating his time in the nation’s living rooms. That celebration even gave him a chance to talk about his childhood, how his parents were very supportive of him wanting to become a dancer, and how he got his big break when he succeeded Tommy Trinder as compere of Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Is it just me or did that really highlight how we need a show like Palladium right now? I suppose the closest things we have at the moment are Saturday Night Takeaway and The Royal Variety Performance, but I really am hard pushed to think of any more, and with the latter occurring just annually, there’s surely a gap in the market for a real variety vehicle (without the promise of £250,000 at the end of it) like Sunday Night at the London Palladium to be made? Actually, may I take this opportunity to suggest Saturday Night at the Sunderland Empire? I’m sure there’ll be a dynamic, enthusiastic young man from the region who’ll host it…

Ahem, moving on…

For fans of Bruce, a lot of the revelations in this show would have been nothing new really – it was basically a very much more light-hearted version of his interview on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories – but for young fans of Strictly who perhaps didn’t know as much about him, it will no doubt have been a very enjoyable way for them to gain a bit of background knowledge and insight. Plus, it doesn’t really matter who the interviewee was: Miranda Hart hosted it! Therefore it was automatically enjoyable, and they both appeared to have such chemistry. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Bruce will be Penny’s new squeeze, if and when Miranda comes back.

Such fun!

I tried to resist it, I really did.

Image credits: Thanks to BBC and Guy Levy, ©BBC 

When Miranda Met Bruce is available on BBC iPlayer until Saturday 28th September

What did you think of When Miranda Met Bruce? 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.

This Week in TV – 21st – 27th September

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – as we welcome back the Granthams but say goodbye to Reynholm Industries. A bittersweet week to say the least.

Saturday 21st September

When Miranda Met Bruce

BBC1, 7:30pm

Find out what happens when two entertainment giants meet.

In this one-off special, Miranda Hart has a light-hearted chat with Sir Bruce Forsyth, who this year is'When Miranda Met Bruce' - BBC1, 7:30pm celebrating, although it feels longer, seven decades in showbusiness.

From his early days as host of Sunday Night at the London Palladium to his gameshow triumphs and of course Strictly Come Dancing, Bruce will discuss the shows for which he is best known, and even those which many have forgotten.

Slinger’s Day, perhaps?

There’ll also be performances throughout the show as McFly provide more than a few musical interludes, as does Sir Bruce himself when he treats us to an impromptu tap routine and piano recital, as well as an unforgettable performance with Miranda at the end of the night.

Also today: Classic war drama The Great Escape is on Channel 5 at 5:50pm; it’s a special I Love My Country for host Gabby Logan this week as she is joined by her husband Kenny at 6:45pm on BBC1; The Making of Merkel with Andrew Marr (BBC2, 8:00pm) sees the broadcaster take a look at German Chancellor Angela’s life and career; the room auditions come to a close on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); and Terry Wogan and Corrie’s Catherine Tyldesley are on Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:00pm).

Sunday 22nd September

By Any Means 

BBC1, 9:00pm

Yes, I know Downton Abbey begins its fourth series tonight but I’m so scared of discovering any  secrets that I don’t even want to begin researching it. So forgive me for not writing about what is arguably the real TV highlight tonight but I thought I’d give this new six-part crime drama a chance – because I doubt many will, considering the strong competition it has.

By Any Means stars Warren Brown, Shelley Conn and'By Any Means' - BBC1, 9:00pm Andrew-Lee Potts as a maverick team who will stop at nothing to crack down on the criminal elite, often blurring the lines between obedience of the law and carrying out of true justice.

In this first episode, the team investigate Nicholas Mason, a businessman and notorious crook who has recently been acquitted of murder, owing to a lack of evidence. Jack is determined to bring Mason, who he is certain is guilty, to justice. However, their job becomes increasingly difficult when they discover that a police officer has been feeding information to Mason. Jack and his team then have to do two things: inflict justice upon Mason and unearth which officer has been ‘playing for both sides’.

Also today: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (ITV, 4:30pm); Ocean’s Eleven (Channel 5, 6:50pm); documentary series The Crane Gang (BBC2, 8:00pm) and Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home (Channel 4, 8:00pm) begin; we join the Crawleys and Granthams six months after Matthew’s death (I’m still reeling) in Downton Abbey (ITV, 9:00pm); Alan Carr and Jason Donovan are among the panellists for Big Fat Quiz of the 80s (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Orson Welles stars in classic drama Citizen Kane (BBC4, 9:00pm); and documentary Hot Coffee is on Sky Atlantic at 10:15pm, looking at the story of a woman who spilt hot coffee over herself in McDonalds – and then sued the restaurant chain! Unbelievably, this documentary is on for just under two hours.

Monday 23rd September

Sex: My British Job 

Channel 4, 10:00pm

Hsiao-Hung Pai and Nick Broomfield collaborate once again for another one-off documentary, this'Sex: My British Job' - Channel 4, 10:00pm time about the horrors of the British sex trade.

Hsiao worked undercover in London brothels as a housekeeper to expose the chilling reality of the lives of women who have emigrated to the UK and, in a desperate attempt to provide for their families, turned to prostitution.

This documentary, which shows the very worst moments of Hsiao’s time undercover, uncovers the horrific way in which British sex workers are treated by brothel owners and how the promise of high earnings is the only glimmer of hope in their lives.

Also today: Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food begins a six-part series (BBC2, 8:30pm); Victoria Coren Mitchell is back with the impossibly brainy and baffling Only Connect (BBC4, 8:30pm); Bullied to Death: The Tragedy of Phoebe Prince (Channel 5, 9:00pm) tells the story of the tragic fifteen-year-old, who committed suicide in 2010; what is apparently the final series of Peter Andre: My Life begins (ITV2, 9:00pm); A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley begins (BBC4, 9:00pm); and Never Mind the Buzzcocks returns, with John Hannah as the first guest host (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 24th September

The Wrong Mans 

BBC2, 9:00pm

Gavin & Stacey co-stars James Corden and Mathew Baynton’s long-awaited comedy thriller, The'The Wrong Mans' - BBC2, 9:00pm Wrong Mans, begins tonight.

When office worker Sam Pinkett (Baynton) is the sole witness to a car crash, his life is turned upside-down as he answers a call to an abandoned mobile phone. The caller’s message is quite plain: meet me at five o’clock or your wife dies.

Oh dear.

After being spurred on by mailroom delivery boy Phil (Corden), Sam finds himself in a potentially deadly hostage situation. Both he and Phil become the unlikely heroes of the hour as they are faced with the task of saving the lives of themselves, their loved ones and the whole of Berkshire.

From the clips that I’ve seen, it appears that James Corden is just playing a slightly more wild-minded version of Smithy – but we’ll look beyond that. It looks set to be a great series, especially with big names like Sarah Solemani (Him & Her), Dan Skinner (The Angelos Epithemiou Show), Benedict Wong (Run) and Dawn French (pretty much everything) making up the remainder of the cast list.

That’s not to say that an impressive cast list is always a guarantee for success, though.

Also today: Cowboy Builders is back (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Being Paul Gascoigne (ITV, 9:00pm) sees cameras gain unprecedented access to the troubled sportsman’s life; My Big Fat Gypsy Ladies’ Day is on Channel 4 at 9:00pm; The Sarah Millican Television Programme begins its third series (BBC2, 9:30pm), with the best of the first and second series due to be released on DVD in November; and Ardal O’Hanlon stars in new comedy London Irish (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Wednesday 25th September

Staying in with Greg & Russell 

BBC3, 10:00pm

Now that Unzipped has been put to bed, Russell Kane and (my weird crush which I’m sure isn’t all'Staying in with Greg & Russell' - BBC3, 10:00pm that weird) Greg James take their bromance just that one step further by actually moving in together. For the purposes of entertainment, of course.

Filmed in an exaggerated version of their dream bachelor pad, Staying in with Greg & Russell will see the duo interview some big names from every room of their house – even the dusty old cupboard under the stairs.

Stars already confirmed to be appearing are Chris Hemsworth, Tinie Tempah and X Factor’s Nicole Scherzinger.

And let’s face it, even if Staying in with Greg & Russell isn’t all that good, it’ll be worth it being made just for that picture.

Also today: The Two Ronnies Spectacle (Gold, 8:00pm) tells the story of Barker and Corbett’s long and successful careers; John Simpson traces his family tree in the last in the series of Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); (very different) films The Inbetweeners Movie and The Hurt Locker are on E4 and More4, respectively, at 9:00pm; and Caroline Aherne narrates another series of (the quite irritating) Gogglebox (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 26th September

Women Behind Bars with Trevor McDonald 

ITV, 9:00pm

Now for a complete gear-change. Following his amazing two-part series Inside Death Row earlier this year, broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald is now investigating a different side to the American'Women Behind Bars with Trevor McDonald' - ITV, 9:00pm prison system: women behind bars.

With unique access to The Rockville Correctional Facility and Indiana Women’s Prison, Sir Trevor exposes the lives of the inmates, and what they get up to on the inside, including their manipulation of their fellow prisoners and those who guard them.

Just like the Inside Death Row series, Women Behind Bars looks set to be another fine example of British documentary making, with many shocking discoveries. For example, over the two episodes Trevor speaks to a woman who murdered her own three-month-old child, one who is currently pregnant in prison and another who was at one time America’s Most Wanted Woman. There’s even an inmate who laughs about the fact that she, despite what her looks may have you believe, is a murderer.

No doubt this series will also reignite the debate about whether the British prison system is too ‘soft’ on those convicted.

Also today: Steve Backshall presents one-off documentary Supergiant Animals (BBC1, 9:00pm); My Tattoo Addiction is back (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Amanda Knox Trial: 5 Key Questions is on Channel 5 at 10:00pm.

Friday 27th September

The IT Crowd 

Channel 4, 9:00pm

I must say right from the beginning that I am very upset about the final episode of The IT Crowd. Not just because it’s the final episode, but because it has been scheduled tonight: when I’m going to'The IT Crowd' - Channel 4, 9:00pm the  theatre, and will therefore miss it. Channel 4 are so bloody inconsiderate.

Many a sitcom geek will shed a tear tonight as Graham Linehan’s hit sitcom The IT Crowd comes to an end. Now, as fans of the show will know, the fourth series aired way back in 2010 and, despite many commenting that it had become a bit hit/miss, Channel 4 recommissioned it for a fifth run, which Linehan initially agreed to, but with a writing team being brought in to help. However, he then said that a fifth series would not happen after all, but he would like to round-off the series with a final special, so as to prevent it from being, in his words, ‘a zombie series where the show is dead but its body is still moving around’. And, after three long years of waiting, now fans can finally see how he has decided to say goodbye to Roy, Jen and Moss.

Reynholm Industries is in trouble. An incident involving a homeless person and a cup of coffee (it’s a Linehan script: what did you expect?) results in Roy, Jen and Douglas’s reputations being tarnished. They need a plan to get out of the horrible mess that they’re in. They need someone intelligent, someone who can think outside the box. They need someone like…

Maurice Moss!

Will it end well for Douglas and his ‘IT fellows’? Find out as The IT Crowd is turned off once more, possibly never to be turned back on again.

That was some sort of convoluted attempt at a ‘have you tried turning it on and off again?’ gag. Oh suit yourselves!

Also today: American fantasy series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Strictly Come Dancing kicks off properly (BBC1, 9:00pm); Gloria Hunniford discusses her career and life, including the loss of her daughter Caron to cancer, on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); Jamie Theakston presents Forbidden History (Yesterday, 9:00pm); Sue Perkins, Ross Noble and David Mitchell are the Bantermeisters for this week’s QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); David Haye, Justin Timberlake and Rihanna help celebrate 100 episodes of Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); John Bishop Live: Rollercoaster Tour, filmed at Manchester Arena last year, is on BBC1 (10:35pm); one-off comedy Bamboo is pushed to 11:45 on BBC3 (not a good sign…); and thrillers Reservoir Dogs (Channel 5, 11:00pm) and the fantastic 10 Rillington Place (BBC2, 12:10am) are on, too.

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: When Miranda Met Bruce – Thanks to BBC and Guy Levy, ©BBC; By Any Means – Thanks to BBC, Red Planet and Mark Harrison, ©Red Planet; Sex: My British Job – Thanks to Channel 4 and Phil Fisk; The Wong Mans – Thanks to BBC and Des Willie, ©BBC; Staying in with Greg and Russell – Thanks to BBC, Mark Harrison, Talkback, FremantlemediaUK, ©FremantlemediaUK; Women Behind Bars with Trevor McDonald – Thanks to ITV, Craig Hastings and Plum Pictures, ©ITV; The IT Crowd – Thanks to Channel 4 and Hal Shinnie.

‘Father Figure’ (BBC1) Review

Jason Byrne, respected circuit success, has created a sitcom. It should be fantastic, shouldn’t it? Well yes, it should. Unfortunately what Byrne has given us, though, is far from ‘fantastic’. It’s Father Figure, and while its creator and star is a circuit success, this is a TV turkey.

 

When will writers realise that you can’t recreate the success of shows like Miranda and Mrs Brown’s  Boys simply by chucking some stereotypes into an everyday situation, giving them some painfully obvious jokes (a couple of which may make use of the word ‘arse’ – naughty!), drafting in an abnormally over-excited audience and labelling it ‘family friendly’? God that phrase strikes dread into me. That and ‘traditional sitcom’. Now that’s not because I dislike those areas of comedy but because they’re too often a mere imitation of the aforementioned monster hits. Of course, it could be a coincidence that Jason Byrne’s sitcom about a dysfunctional Irish family, featuring a domineering mammy and dozy granddad, has appeared at the height of Brendan O’Carroll’s sitcom about a dysfunctional Irish family, featuring a domineering mammy and dozy granddad’s popularity, but he surely can’t expect people not to draw comparisons.

The difference between Mrs Brown’s Boys and Father Figure, however, is that the former is funny. Well, when there isn’t an – of course unintentional – “blooper”. Father Figure tries to be funny. In fact, Father Figure thinks it’s funny – but it just isn’t. Sorry. Far from being funny, it was so tedious, such an utter waste of time that it became almost impossible to bear.

 

In case you don’t know the basic premise, Jason Byrne plays a dad who often does things wrong. That’s it. That’s the long and short of it. Whether it’s inadvertently making the neighbours think that  he is licking poo off of his son or ironing a steak, Tom Whyte (Byrne) just gets it all wrong. And how unbelievably hilarious Byrne clearly thinks it is.

It’s almost as if he didn’t read his own script, as if he wrote a line here and there over a few weeks’ worth of bus journeys, and when he reached thirty pages said to himself, ‘That’ll do’ and handed it into the BBC. Didn’t he at least take a glance at the first episode and realise that it was joke-free? Actually, I’ll put it another way: that it was free of any real jokes? Any funny jokes?

All it seemed to be was a constant leap from one gaffe to another, with disapproving neighbours, a stressed-out wife and Pauline McLynn (pictured) all cropping up at regular intervals. Just like Tom’s life, it was a complete mess.

The point of having a family like the Whytes is for all of the characters to be irritated by each other, while the audience find them simply hilarious, just like The Royle Family, Only Fools and Horses, My Family, even Mrs Brown’s Boys. Need I go on? This show, on the other hand, has everyone irritated: the characters, the audience, and no doubt the BBC bigwigs when they realise that this drivel is almost universally disliked.

 

It would have been bad enough if a new writer had penned Father Figure. In fact, that could even possibly have been forgiven. But the fact that such a much-loved stand-up as Jason Byrne is responsible is simply baffling.

Images courtesy of BBC and Idil Sukan, ©BBC

Father Figure is on Wednesdays at 10:35pm on BBC1

What did you think of Father Figure? 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.

This Week in TV – 14th – 20th September

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – from a tribute to broadcasting royalty to an interview with actual royalty. Oh, and a few comedy bits thrown in too.

Saturday 14th September

I Love My Country

BBC1, 7:10pm

This patriotic panel show began with very few fans (my and Metro‘s reviews are the only positive ones that I know about!) but I think people have warmed to it as the weeks have passed and realised that it’s not to be taken too seriously: it’s just a bit of fun. And if Ian Hyland’s mind can be changed, anyone’s can!

If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, the basic premise is that Gabby Logan oversees a series of light-hearted, often odd games which test the celebrity teams’ (captained by Micky Flanagan and Frank Skinner) knowledge of all things Britain, from geography to history and popular culture. Each team has a group of loyal supporters in the audience who, if they win, walk away with an I Love My Country commemorative plate. Wooh!

The panellists this week are Dan Walker, Kate Humble, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Edith Bowman, Rebecca Adlington and Tyger Drew-Honey.

Also today: Tess Daly and Ronan Keating have fun on That Puppet Game Show (BBC1, 5:20pm); there’s a Pointless Celebrities sportspeople special (BBC1, 6:20pm); Cilla Black and Holly Willoughby (or Willoughbooby) join Dave and Keith for a few rounds of Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:00pm); films The Green Mile (ITV4, 10:10pm) and I Am Legend (ITV, 10:15pm); the inmates of Slade get stuck in a church in a classic Porridge (BBC2, 10:40pm); and James McAvoy stars in romantic film Starter for Ten (BBC2, 11:10pm).

Sunday 15th September

Prince William’s Passion: New Father, New Hope

ITV, 6:00pm

In his first television interview since the birth of his son George in July, the Duke of Cambridge discusses his passions in life – from his family to his work.

Recorded at Kensington Palace, this intimate interview will see Prince William talk in-depth about his joy surrounding becoming a father, his plans for his family and also his work with Tusk Trust, of which he is patron. The hour-long special will also include coverage of the Tusk Conservation Awards, held last Tuesday, at which the Duke and Duchess were guests of honour, making it their first public appearance after the birth of their son.

With the news of Prince William having left the military breaking this week, it is also possible that he will discuss his time with the forces.

Also today: Jonathan Edwards presents coverage of The Great North Run (BBC1, 9:30pm); Holly Willoughby returns with more Surprise Surprise (ITV, 7:00pm); it’s the last episodes of detective dramas What Remains (BBC1) and Vera (ITV) at 9:00pm; and comedy films Paul (Channel 4) and Did You Hear About the Morgans? (Channel 5) premiere at 9:00pm.

Monday 16th September

David Frost: Hello, Good Evening & Farewell

ITV, 10:35pm

Following the sad death of broadcasting legend Sir David Frost in August, ITV is screening this one-off show in tribute to him.

There are very few people in the entertainment industry with the influence and diverse experience that Sir David had. From the satire of This Was the Week That Was and The Frost Report (without which the names John Cleese and Ronnies Barker and Corbett may never have been known) to the groundbreaking journalism of The Nixon Interviews, there was barely an area of broadcasting that Sir David did not cover.

Still working right up until his death (he died on MS Queen Elizabeth ,where he was booked as a guest speaker), his absence will undoubtedly be noted in the world of television, as many viewers mourn for him on both sides of the Atlantic.

Also today: Claimed and Shamed returns (BBC1, 11:45am); James Martin’s Food Map of Britain begins in the south east (BBC2, 6:30pm); Storage Wars comes to ITV4 (8:00pm); The Fried Chicken Shop is back, this time for a full three-part series (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Celebrity Super Spa continues (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Fazer’s Urban Takeover sees the N-Dubz star perform with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC3, 9:00pm); Bradley Walsh presents The Crime Thriller Club (ITV3, 9:00pm), celebrating the best crime novels and TV programmes; and get the chance to see Robert Webb and Olivia Colman – whichever you fancy – naked in comedy film Confetti (BBC1, 11:35pm).

Tuesday 17th September

Britain’s Broken Families

BBC1, 10:35pm

This one-off documentary follows the work of Newcastle’s Family Intervention Project, where staff work tirelessly to help families who are living in some of the most run-down and challenging areas.

It is the job of the many FIPs across the country to do what the police, social workers and many others have tried and failed to do: improve the lives of families. If they fail, the families stand a chance of losing their homes or children.

Cases featured in the programme include a woman whose fourteen-year-old daughter refuses to go to school, and whose house is frequented by gangs, and a mother whose two sons are being neglected.

Also today: One-off documentary Posh Pawn (Channel 4, 9:00pm); The Magaluf Weekender returns to ITV2 (9:00pm); Later Live…With Jools Holland is back (BBC2, 10:00pm); Crazy Beaches (ITV2, 10:00pm) follows holidaymakers in Malia; and Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish (Dave, 10:00pm) takes a witty look at how today’s Britain is ok – but could do with improving.

Wednesday 18th September

Father Figure

BBC1, 10:35pm

This new sitcom, written by and starring Irish stand-up Jason Byrne, focusing on a dad whose attempts to be the best often result in him being the worst.

Based on the radio show of the same name (which ran for just one series), the eponymous father figure is Tom Whyte (Byrne), who always throws himself into his household tasks with aplomb – but seldom succeeds. The eclectic mix of characters in the series are apparently based on Byrne’s own family and friends, and the situations in which Tom finds himself are taken from the writer’s life too. That’s quite worrying.

There’s also a host of comedy talent due to crop up in the series as well: Pauline McLynn (Father Ted), Karen Taylor (I’m Karen Taylor), comedian Michael Smiley and Peter Serafinowicz are just some of those who will appear.

Also today: Annie, Matt and Chris are back to fix some more consumer rights issues in Watchdog (BBC1, 8:00pm); Kieran Long and Piers Taylor present The House That £100K Built (BBC2, 8:00pm); Edwina Currie, John Barnes and Claire Richards prepare to cringe in Big Star’s Little Star (ITV, 8:00pm); The Three Day Nanny begins (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Animal Maternity (Channel 5, 8:00pm) follows the work of professionals who bring newborn animals into the world; Marianne Faithful is the subject of this week’s Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); Professor Brian Cox presents Science Britannica (BBC2, 9:00pm); Rebecca Front narrates the story of twentieth century knitting in Fabric of Britain: Knitting’s Golden Age (BBC4, 9:00pm); The Last Leg comes to a close with Eddie Izzard joining Adam, Josh and Alex (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and, it’s where it all started for James Corden, The History Boys is on BBC1 at 11:45pm.

Thursday 14th September

The Wonder of Dogs

BBC2, 8:00pm

In this three-part series, Kate Humble and Steve Leonard will be joined by a team of canine experts to explore the innermost secrets of dogs – like what makes one breed so different to another?

In this first episode, historian Ruth Goodman visits Guisachan Estate in the Scottish Highlands, the ancestral home of the Golden Retriever, to meet some very pampered dogs and discover how far some animal-lovers are prepared to go to shower their pets with affection.

If ever you have been curious about the genetic make-up of dogs, and how certain brreds came to be, the answers may just lie in The Wonder of Dogs.

Also today: The Guilty concludes (ITV, 9:00pm); and crime comedy Burn After Reading is on ITV (10:35pm).

Friday 20th September

The Channel 4 80s Night

Channel 4, 8:00pm

For one night only, Channel 4 is taking a step back in time and filling its schedule with a whole host of retro goodness as they celebrate the 1980s. (Don’t tell anyone but all they’ve done is bring back Fifteen to One and jazzed up the Countdown and Chatty Man sets!)

So, as I’ve just mentioned, Fifteen to One is back for a special one-off episode at 8:00pm. There are a few changes for this revival, however: William G Stewart is out and The Last Leg’s Adam Hills is in, alongside the obligatory fifteen contestants – who this time are celebrities. Hoping to win thousands of pounds for charity, and take the title of Celebrity Fifteen to One Champion, is Jo Brand, Jonathan Ross, Dr Dawn Harper, Eamonn Holmes, Fern Britton, Konnie Huq, Stephen Mangan and, Adam’s Last Leg co-star, Alex Brooker – and that’s just a few of them!

Then, after Celebrity Fifteen to One, at 9:00pm there’s yet another 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (is it just me who now wishes they would get back to talking about the news and statistics?). As Sean Lock was absent for this recording, Lee Mack takes the role of team captain opposite Jon Richardson. Helping them out are Henning Wehn and David O’Doherty, with Vic Reeves in Dictionary Corner and Joe Wilkinson once again pestering Rachel Riley at the numbers and letters.

Chatty Man (10:00pm) is also getting a bit of an 80s feel injected into it, as the set is glammed up to welcome Jessie J and Matthew Fox.

Then finally 80s: Rewind The Tube looks back at the music show’s rise and fall at 11:05pm, with previous guests reliving their experiences on the show, and no doubt there’ll be talk of Jools Holland’s infamous ‘F’ bomb live on air.

It looks set to be a fun night of celebrations!

Also today: Bargain Hunt is back (BBC1, 12:15pm); Ronnie Corbett takes a sideways look at the nation’s obsession with animals in Ronnie’s Animal Crackers (BBC1, 7:30pm); The X Factor USA begins on ITV2 (8:00pm); David Attenborough’s Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates begins (BBC2, 9:00pm); Piers Morgan’s Life Stories is back, with Julie Goodyear the first to take a grilling (ITV, 9:00pm); fly-on-the-wall documentary Hens Behaving Badly begins (Channel 5, 10:00pm); and Katherine Ryan and Josh Widdicombe make their debuts on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm).

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.

‘The X Factor’ 10 – Auditions Week 2 Review

With a second week of X Factor came some more of the weird and wonderful warbling hopefuls this country has to offer.

Actually, this series seems to be offering more of the wonderful than the weird, which is a welcome change for The X Factor. Each week I select and write about my five favourite auditions, so naturally not all of the best – and by that I mean talented – contestants will make it onto here. There were some fantastic auditionees this week, and I particularly wish I’d written about the Yodeller, but these are my favourites, and the ones which stuck in my mind the most. So, here we go…

Thomas FeelyThomas Feely
Let’s start with someone who was memorable for all the wrong reasons, shall we? This incredibly boring and straight-faced disc jockey was simply hilarious. He entered the audition room, laptop in hand (innuendo very much intended there) and proceeded to warble through Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’. Bless him, it wasn’t brilliant and he received some brutally frank feedback from Gary, but he tried – and you have to admire him for that.

Relley C
This very giggly, overwhelmed housekeeper from Birmingham got off toRelley C a bit of a shaky start with her song in her first audition but soon came into her own and managed to showcase her talent. Not only did Relley seem a fantastic singer, she had such likability, too. At her arena audition, however, things were quite different. Her chosen song, Chase and Status’s ‘Blind Faith’, was not right for her at all, and she tried to do too much with it. Nicole stopped the song half way through and Relley was met with silence from the audience and negative comments from the judges – but because of her ‘potential’ and strong original audition, she received four yeses. So she sailed through to Boot Camp. Despite how good we’ve seen her be previously, does this make something of a mockery of the arena auditions? Hmm, I’ll leave that for you to decide.Abi Alton

Abi Alton
Morrisons worker Abi, from near Middlesborough, went to her X Factor audition armed with only her dad, guitar and superb voice. I can’t believe Louis didn’t think she was right for the show: I thought she couldn’t have been more perfect, and am so pleased he realised that at the arena stage, when Abi sang her wonderful self-penned song. She sounds quite similar to Ellie Goulding and I have no doubt will have an awful lot of fans out there and will go far in the competition.

Colin Stacey
Whereas Abi turned up at her audition with her biggest fan – her dad – ColinColin Stacey appeared with a framed picture of his: his cat, Patch. His song of choice was ‘Someone Like You’ – but unfortunately sang it about twice as fast as Adele, and with less than half the ability, too. Despite Gary and Nicole singing along and trying to get him back on track, Colin failed to stay in time with the music – not that it would have been any better if he did, mind you – and was sent home. I guess Colin won’t be following in the footsteps of Joe McElderry and Matt Cardle after all – or “Joe McElddy and Matt Cardell”, according to him.

Melanie McCabe
The final auditionee of each X Factor episode is invariably brilliant, andMelanie McCabe Melanie was no different. She was the last in a long line of former auditionees (which included 2011’s Jade Richards, 2012’s Amy Mottram and 2006’s The Dolly Rockers) and was hoping that it would be fourth time lucky for her, having tried in 2009, 11 and 12 – but only ever getting as far as Judges’ Houses. I have huge respect for her for auditioning four times: that shows true dedication and determination. In my opinion her arena audition wasn’t as impressive as that in the room, but nevertheless she has a beautiful voice and I really hope that Dermot’s right, and this year will be different for her.

The X Factor is on Saturday and Sunday nights on ITV, with The Xtra Factor immediately after on ITV2

What did you think of The X Factor? 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.

All images thanks to ITV and Tom Dymond, ©Thames TV

This Week in TV – 7th – 13th September

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with something for everyone, whether you like your reality TV, wartime dramas or daytime discussions.

Saturday 7th September

Strictly Come Dancing

BBC1, 6:50pm

It doesn’t seem two minutes since gymnast Louis Smith lifted that glitterball, but now a brand new batch of 15 famous faces are preparing to take to the dancefloor for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The 2013 season kicks off tonight as we see the celebrities arrive to be introduced to their dance partners and perform their first group number, which of course will be overseen by the fearsome foursome that is Len Goodman, Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Mr Nasty himself, Craig Revel Horwood. But who are the contenders for this year’s prize? Well – ladies first – there’s…

Mrs. Peter Crouch, Abbey Clancy

Abbey Clancy

Trying to avoid ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’, singer, Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Broadcaster, Vanessa Feltz

Vanessa Feltz

James Bond actress, Fiona Fullerton

Fiona Fullerton

Coronation Street actress, Natalie Gumede

Natalie Gumede

Businesswoman and Dragons’ Den star, Deborah Meaden

Deborah Meaden

Newsreader, Susanna Reid

Susanna Reid

Countdown’s resident maths whizz, Rachel Riley

Rachel Riley

And now for the boys:

Casualty actor, Patrick Robinson

Patrick Robinson

Former rugby union player (or, as I know him, former Attitude cover star), Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen

Fashion designer and Next Top Model regular, Julien Macdonald

Julien Macdonald

Golf pro, Tony Jacklin

Tony Jacklin

Hairy Biker, Dave Myers

Dave Myers

Hollyoaks actor, Ashley Taylor Dawson

Ashley Taylor Dawson

Waterloo Road and Early Doors star, Mark Benton

Mark Benton

God I love Mark Benton’s picture!

At the moment it seems that Natalie Gumede and Rachel Riley are the favourites to take the crown – before any of them have even taken to the dancefloor! Personally I think it’s far too early to tell. I mean, this time last year I’m sure people wouldn’t have tipped Lisa Riley to wow the judges, and might have had their money on Denise Van Outen winning.

The launch show also features performances from Rod Stewart, Jessie J and last year’s winner, Louis Smith, alongside his dance partner Flavia Cacace – who sadly will not feature in this year’s series.

Also today: James Martin serves up another series of Saturday Kitchen Live (BBC1, 10:00am); Vernon Kay and Mel Giedroyc are on That Puppet Game Show (BBC1, 5:00pm); stars of Blue Peter, EastEnders and the Harry Potter films take part in – a quite varied – Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 6:00pm); one couple gets the boot in the fledgling Stepping Out (ITV, 6:30pm); there’s a Time Team Special on More4 (6:55pm); The X Factor continues (ITV, 8:00pm); Denise Van Outen and Jonathan Ross join Dave Berry and Keith Lemon for some more Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:00pm); Italian drama The Young Montalbano comes to BBC4 (9:00pm); and film The Krays is on ITV4 at 10:15pm.

Sunday 8th September

Hitler’s Rise: The Colour Films 

Channel 4, 8:00pm

This two-part documentary, beginning tonight, follows Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.'Hitler's Rise: The Colour Films' - Channel 4, 8:00pm

The first episode shows how the young Führer was for a long time pampered by his mother, despite failing at pretty much everything and avoiding military service. However, Germany’s defeat in World War I awoke something in him, and he soon became a strong politician and nationalist, leading a small right-wing group.

After being imprisoned in 1924, Hitler tried to resume his battle for power, but Germans tended to just regard him as a deluded soul who was merely on the periphery of the country’s politics.

Next Sunday, the second episode will document how Hitler quickly rose to power and, unbeknownst to Germans, prepared for war.

Also today: Bugsy Malone (Channel 4, 2:25pm); Nothing to Declare returns (Sky Living, 4:00pm); Robert De Niro is in Stardust (Channel 4, 5:20pm); find out which of last night’s auditionees progressed to Boot Camp in The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy premieres on Channel 4 (9:00pm); Mr & Mrs Smith is on Channel 5 (10:00pm); and Rude Tube returns (E4, 10:00pm).

Monday 9th September

Loose Women 

ITV, 12:30pm

An unusual choice, you might think, but there is a lot to talk about with the return of Loose Women – as some panellists’ jobs appear to be in jeopardy.

Helen Warner, the woman who created Loose Women back in 1999, has recently returned to the network as Director of Daytime, having worked in a similar position at Channel 4 for five years.  Therefore, she now has power over Loose Women again – and is reportedly not happy with how the'Loose Women' - ITV, 12:30pm show has gone off track and is no longer the current affairs discussion show which she played a part in creating. As a result, a huge shake-up is apparently imminent, and Carol Vorderman (pictured) – who began anchoring the show in 2011 – is favourite to go. Now I like Carol (in fact I like all of the Loose Women, now that Lesley Garrett is no longer there) so would be sad to see her be booted off the panel. If Warner’s vision of Loose Women’s future is one without Carol, however, so be it. At this stage, we’re still not entirely sure what’s going to happen.

As for the other Loose Women, could it perhaps be a case of ‘last in, first out’? After all, Shobna Gulati only began on the show earlier this year, and Sally Lindsay (who joined in 2011) seldom appears, as she asked for her hours to be reduced to allow her to spend more time with her children. Plus, Linda Robson now has her Birds of a Feather commitments (the revival for ITV is currently filming), so I doubt it would be a huge disadvantage to her if she left. As I said, I like all of the panellists – especially Sally – but wouldn’t it make more sense for one of the latecomers to go, rather than established members like Denise, Jane or Sherrie? Like I said, we don’t know what Warner has planned. One thing is for sure, though: there will be a big McGiff-shaped hole when Loose Women returns, as Celebrity Big Brother contestant Carol has quit the show after a decade. Shame.

Anyway, enough about the backstage goings-on, who’s coming up on this series? Well, the Loose Ladies return with Martin Clunes today and then the week continues with: Chatty Man himself, Alan Carr (Tuesday); Rylan Clark and Celia Imrie (Wednesday); Gok Wan (Thursday); and Whitechapel’s Steve Pemberton and Sheffield  (well, according to Keith Lemon) chef Gino D’Acampo round off the week on Friday.

Also today: Dominic Littlewood presents Street Patrol UK (BBC1, 11:00am); The Alan Titchmarsh Show returns (ITV, 3:00pm); Alexis Conran finds out more about US con men in Hustling America (Channel 5, 7:00pm); and Blackout, a one-off docudrama about a cyber attack on the National Grid, is on Channel 4 at 9:00pm.

Tuesday 10th September

Building the Dream 

More4, 9:00pm

In this new ten-part series, architectural designer Charlie Luxton helps people build their ideal homes from scratch, showing that achieving your dream doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank.

The series will see Charlie help people across the country – starting off in Hertfordshire – turn an empty plot of land into their dream building and finally own a place which they have helped create and matches their lifestyles.

Along the way, the budding homeowners are sent to visit others who also built their houses from nothing. However, it’s up to them whether they follow Charlie and his team’s advice or try to create a building their way.

Also today: New series Britain on Film starts by looking at how Look at Life mirrored the nation’s interests (BBC4, 8:30pm); and challenge series Nitro Circus returns to ITV4 (10:00pm).

Wednesday 11th September

The Wipers Times 

BBC2, 9:00pm

Written by Nick Newman and Ian Hislop, this one-off wartime drama focuses on the true story of the founding of The Wipers Times – a trench magazine published between 1916 and 1918.

Captain Fred Roberts (Ben Chaplin) and Lieutenant Jack Pearson (Julian Rhind-Tutt) discover a printing press in'The Wipers Times' - BBC2, 9:00pm the bombed-out ruins of Ypres in 1916, and decide to create a satirical magazine to raise the troops’ spirits. They call it The Wipers Times (after the way the soldiers pronounced ‘Ypres’), and its satirical style and wry jokes could be said to have influenced publications such as The Onion and Private Eye, of which Ian Hislop is the current editor.

The paper does the trick and proves to be a fantastic antidote to the horrors of war, although Roberts and Pearson’s superior officers don’t see the funny side and try to get the newspaper shut down – thankfully to no avail.

After the war suddenly ends, Roberts goes on to land his dream job of working for a newspaper. The question is whether he’ll be able to hold it down?

Also today: Gregg Wallace and Philippa Forrester present Harvest (BBC2, 8:00pm); Big Star’s Little Star continues with Duncan James, Sinitta and Robbie Savage and their kids (ITV, 8:00pm); Sarah Millican’s search of her ancestry takes her to Canada in Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); we find out which celebrity has just missed out on the Final in the Celebrity Big Brother: Live Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Professor Alice Roberts presents Sex: A Horizon Guide, which needs little explanation (BBC4, 9:00pm); Nigel Harman joins the cast of the brilliant Mount Pleasant (Sky Living, 9:00pm); Jack Whitehall joins Adam, Josh and Alex to discuss who’s ‘being a dick’, and more, on The Last Leg (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and John Barrowman hosts the National Lottery Stars ceremony (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Thursday 12th September

Peaky Blinders 

BBC2, 9:00pm

Set just after World War I, this new six-part drama follows a family from Birmingham who are the most powerful gang of criminals in the city, the Peaky Blinders.'Peaky Blinders' - BBC2, 9:00pm

Thomas Shelby (pictured) is the head of the gang, who are so-called for their practice of sewing razor blades into the tips of their caps, and has recently come into possession of a crate of guns. He is urged by Aunt Polly, the family matriarch, to get rid of them, but Thomas isn’t someone who takes orders well. However, her advice may prove to be invaluable as Chief Inspector Campbell has just arrived from Belfast, and has been ordered by Winston Churchill himself to recover the guns.

Also on Campbell’s list of suspects is Freddie Thorne, a communist and Thomas’s former best friend, who is also having an affair with Ada: Thomas’s sister.

Just imagine Channel 4’s recent drama, Run – only set nearly a century ago.

Also today: Crimewatch (BBC1, 9:00pm), which includes the unsolved case of Nikki Allan, who was killed aged seven in Sunderland; documentary The Teenage Exorcists (BBC3, 9:00pm) follows three American teenagers’ work in London; Sound of the Cinema: The Music That Made the Movies begins (BBC4, 9:00pm); Pscyho prequel, Bates Motel begins on Universal (Sky channel 113, Virgin Media channel, 137) at 9:00pm; and Question Time is back (BBC1, 10:45pm).

Friday 13th September

Celebrity Super-Spa 

Channel 5, 10:00pm'Celebrity Super-Spa' - Channel 5, 10:00pm

This brand-new reality series sees six celebrities train to become beauty therapists.

Guided by salon supremo Herbert Howe, stars Helen Flanagan, Yvette Fielding, Rustie Lee, John Burton Race, James ‘Arg’ Argent and Jody Latham will learn how to pluck, preen and pamper guests at their own spa.

Over six weeks we will follow the contestants’ highs and lows before one of them is eventually crowned the first Celebrity Super-Spa champion!

Also today: Gino’s Italian Escape begins (ITV, 8:00pm); Rylan Clark’s successor is announced in the Celebrity Big Brother: Live Final (Channel 5, 8:30 & 11:00pm); Dermot O’Leary presents the first ever BRITs Icon, with the award going to Sir Elton John (ITV, 9:00pm); Lee Mack, Bob Mortimer and Adam Hills are guests on a one-off 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown – of which there now seem to be more episodes than 8 Out of 10 Cats itself (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Noel Fielding and Colin Lake make their QI debuts alongside Ross Noble, Alan and Stephen (BBC2, 10:00pm); Bake Off stars Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins are on Alan Carr: Chatty Man, along with the world’s most infamous twerker, Miley Cyrus (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Rylan and AJ talk to tonight’s winners and losers on Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Side (Channel 5, 11:30pm).

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: Strictly Come Dancing – All images courtesy of Ray Burmiston, ©BBC; Hitler’s Rise: The Colour Films – Thanks Channel 4; Loose Women – Thanks to Steve Meddle, ©ITV; The Wipers Times – Thanks to BBC, Trademark Productions and Helen Sloan, ©Trademark Productions; Peaky Blinders – Thanks to BBC, Tiger Aspect and Robert Viglasky, ©Tiger Aspect; Celebrity Super-Spa – ©Five

‘Pat & Cabbage’ (ITV) Review

From writers Amy Shindler (My Family) and Beth Chalmers (Threesome) comes ITV’s latest comedy: Pat & Cabbage, a series about two women who are hell-bent on growing old disgracefully.

With Pat’s husband having recently died and (the bizarrely named) Cabbage becoming divorced, both women are newly single and determined to exploit this status as they immerse themselves in many a caper, all the while trying to keep their home lives running smoothly.

MISSING THE MARK

Since the BAFTA-winning Last Tango in Halifax, there has been a yearning for programmes about sixty- and seventy-somethings trying to recapture the freedom and folly of their youth. Sally Wainwright did it brilliantly with Last Tango (a second series of which is on its way) but, if this first episode is anything to go by, Shindler and Chalmers have just missed the mark.

It was quite sweet and cheerful (even Nicola’s tales of a lonely childhood couldn’t lessen the mood)  but was unfortunately lacking in laughs. I faintly smiled at the final scene in Michael’s driveway but other than that was unimpressed with Pat & Cabbage, and how it failed to live up to its hype.

What I was even more unimpressed by, however, was the brief insulting of the viewer’s intelligence by the writers. Now I have to say that this is only a minor thing, and if you watched Pat & Cabbage, you’ll probably hardly even remember it happening, but it is a bit of a bugbear of mine, and when else will I get the opportunity to voice it? (Unless I am one day a guest on Room 101, of course.) So bear with me. This insult of viewers’ intelligence concerns technology, and how many writers – not just Shindler and Chalmers – think that they can have mobile phones and computers do whatever the hell they like, the thought clearly being that technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that surely they cannot be far wrong. Well they more often than not are wrong. Within the first ten minutes of this episode we saw Cabbage take Pat’s phone from her, enter her friend Michael’s name into Google and, hey presto, instantly be given his details, including his profession. And then she clicks the wrong thing on the results page and accidentally ends up calling Michael himself. Whoops! Do writers really think that viewers are going to buy a plot like that? I mean I’ve heard of narrative license but that’s something else!

I will now step off of my soapbox. Thank you.

Another reason why I found Pat & Cabbage disappointing was the almost complete lack of characterisation. With the possible exception of Helen and Nicole (one of whom was a fun-seeker, the other a loner), none of the characters here had anything particularly unique about them. If I wasn’t able to differentiate between Barbara Flynn and Cherie Lunghi, I think I would have often forgotten which one was Pat and which one was Cabbage! There was just nothing engaging about the characters. It would have been bad enough not to have the supporting cast developed, but for the two leads not to be either was very disheartening. Or are we to believe that their mischievousness is the only aspect to them?

Perhaps Pat & Cabbage simply suffered from a touch of ‘First Episode Syndrome’ – that fiendish problem with which a lot of new shows battle as they try to bed in characters and situations, without giving much thought to the actual comedy. But then the majority of Twitter users seemed to like it, so Shindler and Chalmers have clearly done something right. I’m just afraid there’ll have to be an improvement in the second episode before I find out what that ‘something’ is.

Images courtesy of Rachel Joseph, ©ITV 

Pat & Cabbage is on Thursdays at 8:30pm on ITV

What did you think of Pat & Cabbage? 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.

‘Big Star’s Little Star’ (ITV) Review

Big Star’s Little Star sees Catchphrase host Stephen Mulhern invite three celebrities and their children to play for a possible prize of £15,000 for a charity of their choice. But what do they have to do to win such money?

Well, after we as viewers have mastered the Stars in Their Eyes-style guessing game as to who the eponymous ‘big stars’ are, they must go through three Mr & Mrs-style rounds, in which the adult is asked a question – more often than not about their child’s opinion on them – and their answer must match that of their ‘little star’, and which will invariably cause them embarrassment. Whichever parent and child team has the most points at the end of the three rounds progresses to the final, where they have an allotted time to play a game of pairs, with the pictures representing an aspect of their lives – be it a family member, hobby or something related to their job. For each pair they match correctly, they win £1,000. As they already have £5,000 guaranteed, they must match all ten pairs in order to win the £15,000 jackpot.

It’s slightly similar to Ronnie Corbett’s quiz show, Small Talk – except in Big Star’s Little Star the parents are present and they stand a chance of winning £15,000 for charity, instead of theatre tickets for themselves…

A TRIUMPH

The big stars in this opening episode were: EastEnders actress Nina Wadia and her son, Aidan; Two Pints actor Will Mellor and his daughter, Renee; and pop star Jamelia and her daughter, Tiani. The kids were brilliantly cute and the adults were perfectly game, and a lovely sense of camaraderie developed between Nina, Will and Jamelia as they sat cringing due to the embarrassing truths that(L-R) Nina and Aidan, Will and Renee, and Jamelia and Tiani their darling offspring were revealing to the nation, and they all laughed along and look at each other as if to say, ‘We’re all in the same boat here.’

Of course, the whole point of making this show was to see celebrities embarrassed and have secrets revealed about them which they wish had been kept between the four walls of home, and in that respect, Big Star’s Little Star triumphed. Over the course of an hour we learned that Nina Wadia tells her son that she’s 24, Prince William once held Will Mellor back in ‘a scuffle’ (actually I was just surprised to hear that he even knew Will’s name – clearly a Broadchurch fan) and that Jamelia relaxes on the toilet – but doesn’t do ‘a number two’. I think there are a lot of critics who would argue with that, having seen her on I Love My Country.

The only criticism I really have of Big Star’s Little Star is that it sometimes needed a bit of a kick up the backside – it was often quite slow in pace, and was a bit more fun when the kids were on-Jamelia's daughter, Tiani screen, rather than cooped up in the toy-filled VIP lounge. However, I know that the show would have felt a hell of a lot slower without Stephen Mulhern, who brought along his quick wit and slick presenting techniques from Catchphrase and More Talent and provided many fantastic moments throughout. Having worked with kids on CITV and Britain’s Got More Talent, he was perfect to host this show but also created more than a few risqué moments, too – but none so risqué that it prevented Big Star’s Little Star from firmly fitting the ‘family entertainment’ bill. I’m sure that, just like the little stars in the studio, most kids watching wouldn’t have understood why the thought of Zainab from EastEnders tying up her husband was so funny…

I thought Big Star’s Little Star was great family entertainment, and probably even good enough to be given a Saturday night slot. I’m sure it’d be more popular than Stepping Out. For now, though, it’s sitting quite comfortably on Wednesday night, and I for one think it’s nice that ITV have a bit of light and shade in their schedules, as Whitechapel followed immediately after. I think a lot of young viewers will have been sent to bed at 9:00pm sharp.

Images courtesy of ITV and Nicky Johnson, ©ITV

Big Star’s Little Star is on Wednesdays at 8:00pm on ITV

What did you think of Big Star’s Little Star? 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.