Monthly Archives: October 2013

‘Prize Island’ (ITV) Review

Developed by Richard Osman (off of Pointless) and presented by Alexander Armstrong (also off of Pointless) and Big Brother’s Emma Willis, Prize Island sees couples compete in a variety of challenges on to win everything from a kettle to a car. Despite it being filmed in Mozambique, and therefore costing a lot of money, though, there seemed to be more than a little embarrassment surrounding it – not least on the part of ITV itself, who postponed it from the spring to now – around six months later. The show also had little publicity and was shunted into the unenviable time slot of 5:40 on a Sunday evening.

 

Yes, this Total Wipeout/Takeshi’s Castle/Fort Boyard/Generation Game/Argos commercial began tonight and, do you know what, it actually wasn’t that bad. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s not going  to be scooping an NTA any time soon but it wasn’t quite as horrific as the press (and, admittedly, I) made out.

Of course, there were some moments which were simply car-crash TV (one round consisted of a game of Hoopla, with the prizes being a vacuum cleaner, iron  and ironing board) but I found that if you watch it with low expectations, it’s actually quite bearable. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that ITV had no reason to keep it under wraps for so long. If I was being exceptionally, and begrudgingly, generous, I might even say that Prize Island is worthy of a Saturday night broadcast. I’m not certain about that last one yet, though.

 

So, that’s it. Not a long review but it says everything I want to say. Prize Island is obviously going to be hated by those who think that no TV is worth being made if it isn’t biting satire or high-brow drama but there’ll also be those who’ll spend the next few Sundays sitting down for an hour of average games with average prizes. As with a lot of shows nowadays, it’s harmless fun.

Image credits: Thanks to ITV and Endemol, ©Endemol

Prize Island is on Sunday evenings on ITV

What did you think of Prize Island? 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.

‘Sunday Side Up’/’Sunday Scoop’ (ITV) Review

Be warned. This review contains excessive (yet unavoidable) use of the word ‘Sunday’.

At a time when Saturday mornings are filled with sports, black and white films and repeats, the public are crying out for a brand-new weekend morning show. You know, something interactive, madcap and fun for the kids – something reminiscent of, say, Live & Kicking, SMTV: Live, Tiswas or even – God help us – Dick & Dom. Well, ITV seem to be trying to fill that gaping chasm with Sunday Side Up and, to a much lesser extent, Sunday Scoop. Well, they might be a day late and not survive more than one (perhaps two) series on Saturday mornings, but I guess they’re welcome on an idle Sunday.

Sitting down, pen and paper in hand, this morning, ready to watch these two shows, I fully expected to be more taken with Side Up than Scoop. However, to my surprise, it was the other way around. I  much preferred the homely and relaxed feel of Sunday Scoop to Sunday Side Up – where there were awkward silences aplenty (note no cheering or applause when coming in and out of the ad breaks and ‘stings’, despite there being a Big Breakfast-esque throng of crew'Sunday Side Up' host, Stephen Mulhern visible on the set) and a general feeling of ‘Guys, we should have rehearsed this more’.

Stephen Mulhern was at the helm of Sunday Side Up and, to be fair, he did make a decent fist of it. Even when he was handed mediocre games to play (which were seemingly ‘inspired’ by Catchphrase, The Saturday Show, TV Burp and the ‘You Say We Pay’ segment of Richard & Judy) and guests with merchandise to plug or a work diary to be filled, he managed to soldier on with an eye roll and a wise crack. I can only hope that Bruce Forsyth was watching, so that he could learn that that is how you read an autocue gag – and get a laugh.

Without the brilliant-as-ever ad-libs of its host, I don’t think I would have stuck around for the duration of Sunday Side Up, though. The fun that they all thought was obvious was actually lacking, meaning that the show limped through its sixty minute slot, instead of sailing through.

Of course, as Stephen quite rightly pointed out, this was only the first episode and teething problems were inevitable. It’s somewhat hard to ignore those teething problems, however, when they involve the show itself being dry and clunky. There was nothing there to make it seem new and fun and exciting. Sorry.

Sunday Scoop, on the other hand, was much more enjoyable and easier to watch, mainly because I didn’t feel on edge in case anything went wrong (well, apart from Nadia Sawalha coming close to burning the Sunday dinner (or “lunch” if you’re in the south, I (L-R) 'Sunday Scoop' guest host, Peter Andre with regulars, Kaye Adams and Nadia Sawalhasuppose) that she was apparently cooking throughout the show).

Sunday Scoop sees returning Loose Women, Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams present a mixture of news, chat and cookery alongside a guest presenter (this week Peter Andre) and a celebrity guest  or two, and unlike its sister-show feels very casual and comfortable to watch, as its hosts flit between the kitchen and the sofa, as if they’re inviting you round for a bite to eat rather than presenting a TV programme. Like Lorraine – but on a Sunday.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: there were some little annoyances in this final hour of ITV’s new Sunday line-up. For instance, Kaye and Nadia’s every word to each other had the subtext of ‘We’re friends, it’s banter, it’s fine!’ and the, albeit rather satisfying, end to the show, which saw the presenters and guests all sit round and have a natter while tucking in to a Sunday roast, did include clips of two of the topics of conversation (The Escape Artist and Philomena) which were all too readily available, meaning that the chat didn’t seem quite as spontaneous as they all wanted us to think it was. But then hey, come on, what TV programme isn’t meticulously orchestrated nowadays – eh, X Factor producers?

So, overall, it appears that ITV have served up quite an entertaining two hours of weekend morning fun here. I suppose there is an argument for it making more sense to just bring back This Morning Sunday (perhaps with Stephen and Nadia as hosts..?) but for the time being these will do. Hopefully Sunday Side Up will manage to quickly iron out those few problems and we’ll be able to look forward to at least another nine weeks of entertaining gossip and games.

Image credits: Thanks to ITV Studios and Nicky Johnson, ©ITV

Sunday Side Up and Sunday Scoop are on…you guessed it, Sundays, at 10:30 and 11:30am, respectively, on ITV

What did you think of Sunday Side Up and Sunday Scoop? 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 – 26th October – 1st November

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – from real car crashes on Sky to potential ones on ITV – in the form of Prize Island

Saturday 26th October

Strictly Come Dancing

BBC1, 6:30pm

As the winter nights draw in (don’t forget to put your clock back tonight!), what better way to spend your Saturday nights than with Strictly – seemingly the only talent show on TV in which the judges don’t feel the need to orchestrate bitchfights, take forever and a day to make decisions or out Operation Yewtree suspects live on air (unless Sharon Osbourne meant something else when she called a  backing dancing a “paedophile” last week…). 'Strictly Come Dancing' - BBC1, 6:30pm

I’m much preferring this series of Strictly to X Factor – and it appears that you lot are, too, with the BBC1 show regularly getting over 1.5 million viewers more than its ITV rival. Of course, it could be argued that the ratings are academic as the two shows overlap now by a mere fifteen minutes, and even if they didn’t people would still be able to watch them both, such is the brilliance of Sky+ and the like, but they’re nice to hear about to gauge which is doing better.

So, what’s happening on Strictly this week? Well, Abbey and Aljaž are dancing to Olly Murs’s ‘Dear Darlin’’ while favourite-to-go Fiona Fullerton will be dancing with Anton to ‘If My Friends Could See Me Now’’. Meanwhile, my personal favourite (and, I think it’d be fair to say, the ‘Lisa Riley’ of this year) Mark Benton will be performing a Waltz with his partner Iveta Lukosiute to OneRepublic’s ‘Apologize’. It surely can’t top last week’s MC Hammer-inspired Cha Cha (pictured), though?

Also today: A whole host of record breakers battle it out in Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:40pm); it’s possibly the campest The Chase: Celebrity Special yet as Linda Robson, Christopher Biggins and Dancing on Ice’s Jason Gardiner and Ashley Roberts all compete (ITV, 7:00pm); and Naomi Campbell, Stephen Merchant and a third of the X Factor judging panel are on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10:00pm).

Sunday 27th October

Prize Island 

ITV, 5:40pm

I’m writing about this new game show not because I think it is going to be any good but because I’m intrigued by it. I’m intrigued by how little faith ITV itself has in it.'Prize Island' - ITV, 5:40pm

Prize Island has been developed by Richard Osman (off of Pointless), is presented by Alexander Armstrong (also off of Pointless) and Big Brother’s (and pretty much everything else’s) Emma Willis and sees couples compete in a variety of challenges to win prizes. The twist? It was filmed in Mozambique. So, it may not surprise you to learn that it has cost ITV quite a lot of money.

But it seems that everyone is embarrassed by it – not least ITV, who postponed it from the spring to now – around six months later. It also doesn’t fill me with confidence that the show has not had any publicity or hype surrounding it, and has been shunted into this unenviable time slot.

I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if it’s a success. I’m going to go out on a limb, however, and say that it won’t be. At all.

Also today: New magazine shows Sunday Side Up (terrible title) with Stephen Mulhern at 10:30am and Sunday Scoop (a slightly more understandable title) with Loose Women Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams at 11:30am on ITV; Bill Turnbull presents Big Sing: The UK’s Top 10 Hymns (BBC1, 4:15pm); Great Continental Railway Journeys (with Michael Portillo) and A Very English Education (with Hannah Berryman) are on BBC2 at 8:00pm and 9:00pm, respectively; Bob Mortimer and Katherine Ryan are on Was It Something I Said? (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Scream: The True Story is on Channel 5 at 11:10pm.

Monday 28th October

Release the Hounds 

ITV2, 10:00pm

Once again, an intriguing show.

In this one-off game show, hosted by Reggie Yates, contestants must try to unlock three chests  which are filled with money. Sounds simple enough,'Release the Hounds' - ITV2, 10:00pm right?

Wrong, because what the three contestants – and friends – must do to get this cash is work their way through a dark forest late at night, completing all manner of scary tasks to obtain the keys which unlock the chests. However, even when they get to the chests, there will be a pack of hounds waiting – and on guard. If the contestants manage to outrun the hounds, they win the money. But if they don’t…

Who knows?

Also today: Saints and Scroungers returns (BBC1, 11:00am); Harry Hill’s TV Burp comes to Gold (for repeats, I should add) at 6:00pm; Tales from Northumberland with Robson Green begins (ITV, 8:00pm); Ripper Street is back (BBC1, 9:00pm); one-off documentary OCD Ward is on ITV (9:00pm); John Hannah narrates documentary Timeshift (BBC4, 9:00pm); Strike Back: Shadow Warfare returns (Sky1, 9:00pm); and Tommy Robinson and Mo Ansar lock horns as they compare their views on British Muslims in Quitting the English Defence League: When Tommy Met Mo (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Tuesday 29th October

The Escape Artist 

BBC1, 9:00pm

David Tennant and Sophie Okonedo star in this three-part, suspense'The Escape Artist' - BBC1, 9:00pm-filled thriller about a gifted  junior barrister who invariably manages to get people out of tight legal corners – thus his nickname, ‘The Escape Artist’.

The BBC seem to be keeping their cards quite close to their chest with this one – they’re not giving away too much plot. This has to be a good thing though: it means there’ll be more suspense and twists and turns packed into the next three weeks. We do know, however, that Will (Tennant) may soon regret using his excellence to acquit a man accused of murder as he soon feels the very serious repercussions.

Also today: The Great British Bake Off Masterclass (BBC2, 7:00pm); Autumnwatch (BBC2) and Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners (Channel 4) return at 8:00pm; The Wrong Mans (9:00pm) and The Sarah Millican Television Programme (9:30pm) conclude on BBC2; On the Run is on ITV, following its postponement in August (9:00pm); Disowned & Disabled takes a look at how children with disabilities were treated during the second World War (BBC4, 9:00pm); and Imagine is back (BBC1, 10:35pm), with Jimi Hendrix as its first subject.

Wednesday 30th October

I Lost Weight But Lost My Husband! 

Channel 5, 9:00pm

You are forgiven for initially thinking that this is a Take a Break headline. It isn’t. It is in fact the title of a one-off documentary on Channel 5 (where else?) tonight.

I Lost Weight But Lost My Husband! meets a variety of people for whom weight loss has spelled the end of relationships. There’s: Cheryl (no, not the Royle Family character), who dropped an astonishing 24 dress sizes, but whose husband had an affair; Dave, who became so obsessed with his weight that he began to consider cheating on his wife, who had also shed the pounds; and Jo and Darren, who, after eleven years together, are witnessing cracks beginning to show in their marriage, but hope to stop this by seeking therapy.

Also today: The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow (Sky1, 6:00pm); Ben Fogle’s Animal Clinic (Channel 5, 8:00pm); the conclusion of what has been a fantastic series of Mount Pleasant (Sky Living, 9:00pm); and one-off documentary The Dark Matter of Love (BBC4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 31st October

Drifters 

E4, 9:00pm

This new comedy-drama has been described as the female version of The Inbetweeners, and it’s easy to see why.

As well as being executive produced by Inbetweeners co-writer Iain Morris and slightly naughty in its'Drifters' - E4, 9:00pm gags, Drifters is written by and stars The Inbetweeners Movie star Jessica Knappett, alongside Lydia Rose Bewley and Lauren O’Rourke, who also appeared in the film hit.

The series follows three young women – Laura, Meg and Bunny – as they leave university and begin to question their present and future in the big wide world. Along the way they try to figure out everything about their lives: from career prospects to lifestyle choices and who they want to have sex with.

All of the important questions in life.

Also today: Documentary series Jews on Bikes (Sky Atlantic, 8:00pm); Bedlam (Channel 4, 9:00pm) shows the day-to-day lives of psychiatric patients in a mental health hospital; Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars in the small screen adaptation of Dracula (Sky Living, 9:00pm); and this week’s Up All Night (Channel 4, 10:00pm) follows those who work around the clock in Manchester, and are on call morning, noon and night.

Friday 1st November

A League of Their Own 

Sky1 HD, 9:00pm

Yes, another series of the hilarious sports quiz has almost come and gone, but before the final  highlights package next Friday there’s just time to squeeze in this 30 minute special, showing the rally car'A League of Their Own' - Sky1 HD, 9:00pm race (from episode one) in its entirety.

Now, ALOTO fans will likely remember exactly what happened when James, Freddie, Jack, Jamie, Jimmy Carr and Amy Williams went rally car racing in Wales. Basically, Freddie Flintoff (pictured) crashed, meaning that a £100,000 car had to be written off. It was quite something.

Remind yourself of what went on during tonight’s special.

Also today: Chris Tarrant Goes Fishing (well he’s got nothing better to do now that Millionaire’s been axed, has he?) on Channel 5 at 7:00pm; Christine Bleakley presents travel series Off the Beaten Track (ITV, 8:00pm); Kirsty Young presents Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); Michael Flatley is on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); Britain’s Funniest Comedy Characters gets a repeat (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Jo Brand, Danny Baker and Marcus Brigstocke are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); James Corden and Joan Collins pull up a pew for Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); Pink Floyd: A Delicate Sound of Thunder is on BBC4 at 10:00pm; it’s yet another star-studded Graham Norton Show at 10:35pm on BBC1 as Sir Elton John, Dame Judi Dench, Jay-Z and John Bishop drop by; Stand Up for the Week returns, with new host Paul Chowdhry (Channel 4, 11:05pm); and comedy pilot Going Native is on BBC3 at 11:45pm. Phew! That was a long list.

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 – Thanks to BBC and Guy Levy, ©BBC; Prize Island – Thanks to ITV and Endemol, ©Endemol; Release the Hounds – Thanks to ITV, Sony Pictures Television 2013 and Gogglebox Productions, ©Sony Pictures Television 2013; The Escape Artist – Thanks to BBC, Endor Productions and Steffan Hill, ©Endor Productions; Drifters – Thanks to Channel 4, Zodiac Media Company and Pete Dadds; A League of Their Own – Thanks to BSkyB, Wales News Service and Tom Martin, ©Wales News Service.

This Week in TV – 19th – 25th October

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with frozen pizzas, scrumptious cupcakes and a bit of toast, too. Oh, and there’s some Japanese sex as well, if that’s your bag… 

Saturday 19th October

David Frost Night

BBC2, 8:20pm

Following his untimely death in August, BBC2 are dedicating a whole night to legendary broadcaster'Sir David Frost: That Was the Life That Was' - BBC2, 8:20pm Sir David Frost. 

The night begins with Sir David Frost: That Was the Life That Was, which tells the story of his life both on- and off-screen: from the satire of shows such as TW3 and The Frost Report to Through the Keyhole and, of course, the groundbreaking journalism of The Nixon Tapes. Narrated by Stephen Fry, the one-off documentary will also feature contributions from stars such as Ronnie Corbett, Barry Cryer and Michaels Caine, Palin and Parkinson.

That Was the Life That Was is followed by a repeat of Sir David’s 2010 BBC4 documentary, Frost on Satire, at 9:20, and then later at 11:00 is Frost/Nixon, the 2008 dramatisation of the aforementioned Nixon interviews.

Also today: Kim Woodburn no doubt gives Xander and Richard a piece of her mind on Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:40pm); Strictly Come Dancing is at 6:30pm (BBC1); Kim Woodburn has her brains picked for the second time tonight in The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); it’s Love & Heartbreak week on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); there’s coverage of the MOBOs on BBC3 at 9:00pm; and Harry Redknapp, Gordon Ramsay, Julie Walters and Frankie Lampard pull up a pew for The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10:05pm).

Sunday 20th October

Toast of London

Channel 4, 10:40pm

This sitcom (co-written by Matt Berry and Arthur Mathews) was piloted last year during Channel 4’s ‘Funny Fortnight’ (very few of the shows broadcast during which managed to live up to that title). It'Toast of London' - Channel 4, 10:40pm follows Steven Toast (Matt Berry), a struggling thespian with life problems and a shady past.  However, he’s trying to get his acting career back on track – alas often to no avail.

I have to say that I was rather unimpressed with the pilot episode. Matt Berry seemed simply to be playing a darker version of his IT Crowd alter-ego, Douglas Reynholm, and the storylines and characters were largely disengaging. I thought it was just a bit of a disappointing mess.

I am prepared to give it another go, though. Channel 4 committed themselves to a full series, after all, so there must be some magic in it which I missed first time around. In this episode, Steven struggles with attention from the ladies and the fact that his housemate Ed has invited an old friend to stay at the flat who has recently had some rather disastrous cosmetic surgery. However, there is some good news for him: he has just won a Best Actor award!

Also today: Animated film Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs premieres on Channel 5 (4:20pm); one-off documentary Royal Babies looks at…you guessed it, royal babies (Channel 5, 6:10pm); there’s a performance from Keane on Strictly Come Dancing: The Results (BBC1, 7:15pm); The Paradise returns (BBC1, 8:00pm); Jules Hudson presents Dive WWII: Our Secret History (BBC2, 8:00pm); another act has to leave The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); Bryan Sykes and Mark Evans host the first of three-part documentary series, Bigfoot Files (Channel 4, 8:00pm); and Karl Pilkington: The Moaning of Life (Sky1, 9:00pm) sees the perpetually miserable broadcaster answer some of life’s most challenging questions.

Monday 21st October

Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet 

BBC2, 9:00pm

Just look at that title. It’s almost as if they had to come up with a name for this series at 4:58 on a Friday afternoon, and then when someone said, ‘Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet?’ a chorus of approval began and they all filed down to the pub for an end-of-week drink.

This new three-part series shows what life is like inside Iceland'Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet' - BBC2, 9:00pm supermarkets, which once topped the Sunday Times list of the best big companies to work for. The series leaves no stone (-baked frozen pizza, I thank you) unturned as it offers a candid insight into the goings-on in one of the biggest retail giants, which regularly feeds over four million families a week.

One of the stand-out stars is Iceland CEO Malcolm Walker (pictured, right): a somewhat eccentric man who even often offers £10,000 in cash to the best-performing employee. (I’m starting to wish I’d tried harder at my interview at the Sunderland branch in July!). 2013 is not a great year for Malcolm: the recession is beginning to take its toll on Iceland, and what with the revelations about horsemeat allegedly being found in some of the company’s products, sales are threatening to plummet. Will he be able to prevent it from getting too bad?

Also today: After a few postponements, A Question of Sport finally returns for a new series (BBC1, 8:30pm); it’s the last in the series of Doc Martin (ITV, 9:00pm); Channel 5 truly scrapes the bottom of the barrel with Shoplifters & Proud (9:00pm); Cherry Healey: Old Before My Time (BBC3, 9:00pm) sees the broadcaster investigate a variety of health risks; Impact! A Horizon Guide to Car Crashes (BBC4, 9:00pm) takes a look at the journey (see what I did there?) of road collisions through the decades; Flight of the Conchords star Kristen Schaal hosts Never Mind the Buzzcocks (BBC2, 10:00pm); and Channel 4’s Campaign for Real Sex season continues with Date My Porn Star (10:00pm).

Tuesday 22nd October

The Great British Bake Off 

BBC2, 7:00pm

This is the fourth year now that I have been out of the Bake Off loop. Don’t get me wrong, I started with good intentions: I watched the first couple of weeks, and really enjoyed salivating over Paul Hollywood. Erm, I mean salivating over the cakes. The trouble is, though, I then got a bit behind'The Great British Bake Off' - BBC2, 7:00pm with Bake Off, and because it was taking too much room up on my Sky+ planner I just had to let it go.

For some reason I felt compelled to give that explanation, as it seems unacceptable now not to watch the show. After all, it is undoubtedly growing in popularity, with the Beeb last week announcing that in 2014, for its fifth series, The Great British Bake Off will move to BBC1. Whether it will be at home there I don’t know. Perhaps it will be a little bit like QI and people will realise that it isn’t suited to the flagship channel, and move it back to its home of BBC2.

Enough about next year, though: the final of the fourth series is tonight! Yes, there will be no more soggy bottoms and big baps for quite a while as Mel, Sue, Mary and Paul all leave the tent to try and shift some of the weight they have gained as a result of sampling cakes every day.

The night of Bake Off action kicks off at 7:00 with The Great British Bake Off 2012 Winner’s Story, in which we catch up with some of last year’s contestants, including, of course, winner John Whaite. Then, at 8:00, it’s the big one: The Great British Bake Off Final. Will it be Ruby, Frances or Kimberley who is crowned Bake Off champion 2013?

Also today: While football dominates ITV, there are some pretty average guests on The Sarah Millican Television Programme (BBC2, 9:30pm) and one-off documentary Fox Wars (BBC1, 10:35pm), which does exactly what it says on the tin.

Wednesday 23rd October

Ambassadors 

BBC2, 9:00pm

Comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb play a British ambassador and his assistant in this new comedy drama from James Wood (Rev.) and newcomer Rupert Walters.'Ambassadors' - BBC2, 9:00pm

Keith Davis (Mitchell) is the newly-appointed British ambassador for the fictional country of Tazbekistan and is not-so-ably assisted by Neil Tilly (Webb). Along with the rest of the Embassy team – who are either in love or fighting with each other – they try to make a little into a lot by working with their minimal budget to boost British prosperity and values.

As you can expect, however, they hit a fair few obstacles along the way…

Also today: Patricia Hodge guests in a new Poirot mystery (ITV, 8:00pm); Saving Britain’s 70-Stone Man (doesn’t it make you feel proud?) is on Channel 5 at 9:00pm; new sitcom You, Me & Them begins (Gold, 9:00pm) – read my review here, and see if you like it (because there are quite a few who apparently don’t…); and Misfits begins its final series (E4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 24th October

This World 

BBC2, 9:00pm

Japan is in something of a crisis at the moment – in terms of both its struggling economy and'This World' - BBC2, 9:00pm quickly-dwindling population.

In this special documentary, entitled ‘No Sex Please, We’re Japanese’, Anita Rani sets out to discover why the Japanese aren’t having enough sex. To do this, she investigates the effect of the otaku culture, which sees Japanese men being far too obsessed with computer games to actually go out and get girlfriends. Anita meets some of the followers of this culture, one of whom tells her that he has reservations about going out with ‘a 3D woman’, as his virtual love interests are for more exciting.

Anita will also speak to some pensioners, as Japan currently has the oldest population in the world, with 50,000 inhabitants being over one hundred years old.

Also today: Trust Me I’m a Doctor concludes (BBC2, 8:00pm); property series George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces (Channel 4) and documentary Benidorm ER return at 8:00pm; Educating Yorkshire draws to a close (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Arena: The National Theatre (BBC4, 9:00pm) explores the iconic London venue; a minicab office is the focus of this week’s Up All Night (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Dan Poole presents Muse of Fire: A Shakespearean Road Movie (BBC4, 10:00pm).

Friday 25th October

The Graham Norton Show 

BBC1, 10:35pm

Now, the fact that Jonathan Ross and Alan Carr are fantastic chat show hosts is not open to  dispute. However, the king of chat at the moment has to be'The Graham Norton Show' - BBC1, 10:35pm Graham Norton.

Unlike his talk show counterparts, he manages to pull in the big audiences and big names week after week. We are now only into the third episode of this series of his show, and he has already welcomed to that red sofa of his Benedict Cumberbatch, Harrison Ford, Sir Paul McCartney and Katy Perry, to name just a few. This week is thankfully no different as joining him will be: Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, who discuss their new film, The Family; the absolutely fabulous Jennifer Saunders, who will be chatting about her autobiography, Bonkers; and Cher, who will also be performing her new song, ‘I Hope You Find It’.

Also today: Jo Brand hosts Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); Pete Waterman gets a grilling on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); TV’s 50 Greatest Magic Tricks gets a repeat (Channel 5, 9:00pm); The Who: The Story of Tommy is on BBC4 at 9:00pm; Greg Davies’s Man Down continues (Channel 4, 9:30pm); Isy Suttie, Bill Bailey and Tim Minchin are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); Amanda Holden, Karl Pilkington, Jared Leto and Icona Pop have a drink and a natter on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); Basic Instinct is on ITV (10:35pm); and sketch show pilot The Cariad Show 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: Sir David Frost: That Was the Life That Was – ©BBC; Toast of London – Thanks to Channel 4, Objective Pictures and Kuba Wieczorek; Iceland Foods – Life in the Freezer Cabinet – Thanks to BBC, Films of Record and Phil Fisk, ©Films of Record; The Great British Bake Off – Thanks to BBC, Love Productions and Des Willie, ©Love Productions; Ambassadors – Thanks to BBC, Big Talk and Colin Hutton, ©Big Talk; This World – Thanks to BBC and Elizabeth Mullen, ©BBC; The Graham Norton Show – Thanks to BBC, So TV and Christopher Baines, ©So TV.

‘Stephen Fry: Out There’ (BBC2) Review

Almost three years in the making and much-anticipated, Stephen Fry: Out There – the actor and presenter’s documentary about sexuality and homophobia across the world – aired in two parts this week, with the final instalment broadcast last night.

As someone who is gay and has an interest in LGBT rights across the world, I was looking forward to these films hugely. I hoped that they would shine a light on the narrow-minded individuals who are somehow given a platform far too often on which to spout their detestable, absolutely sickening anti-gay propaganda, and show them for the fools that they really are.

And that is exactly what it did.

 

Across the two programmes, Stephen met people who have either been an advocate and victim of the, sadly many, homophobic laws and traditions which still exist in this world. Before I get into the advocates (about which I have a lot to say, I can assure you), let me first focus on those inspirations who have been ostracised, had their lives threatened and rights removed simply because of their sexuality.

One such person was Farshad: a man who is seeking refuge in the UK, having had to flee his home country of Iran, because he was ‘outed’ and accused of raping his boyfriend, when all he had in fact done was partaken in consensual sex. He said that he would seriously consider suicide if he was made to return to his home country – an outcome which unfortunately seems quite likely as the UKStephen with Stosh, a Ugandan lesbian who was the victim of 'corrective rape' when she was just 14 years old authorities are reluctant to believe that he is gay.

There were many other people and groups that Stephen met during his travels: Stosh (pictured), a victim of the so-called ‘corrective rape’ in Uganda; Ice Breakers, an African LGBT support group; Renata Peron, a Brazilian drag queen who, despite having been severely attacked, continues to go out and be proud of who she is; and Coming Out, a Russian support service for gay teens. They are just some of those who Stephen visited, and whose determination and defiance was nothing short of inspirational and deserving of unending admiration. But then there was the other side. The homophobes.

There was Pastor Male in Uganda, who claimed that homosexuality is a self-inflicted ‘addiction’ and, as Stephen quite rightly pointed out, had a very strange obsession with anuses, penises and vaginas. In the documentary, he seemed more obsessed with gay sex than even gays are. In fact, he spoke almost as if he were a member of the, to quote Sir Gerald Howarth, ‘aggressive homosexual community’ himself.

Also in Uganda, Stephen met a vile…creature (although I can think of another rather apt C-word with which to describe him…) named Simon Lokodo, who – in not so many words – claimed that child rape is more acceptable than sodomy, because at least it is the ‘natural way of desiring sex’. Now I’m sure that even the most active member of the, to alter Sir Gerald Howarth’s quote slightly, ‘aggressive homophobic community’ would take umbrage with Lokodo’s opinion that paedophilia is not only better than gay sex but ‘natural’ too. His far-right views came so far from left field that they were quite difficult to comprehend. Is this man so idiotic, the possessor of such a clouded mind, that he actually, truly believes the tripe that he espouses? If so, I am sorry but I cannot feel angerStephen meeting Bob Corff, who trains actors to tone down their campness towards him: only pity. Huge pity. And the same goes for Rio congressman, Jair Bolsonaro and Russian politician, Vitaly Milinov, both of whom also waxed lyrical about how discussion of homosexuality – and sexuality in general – leads to primary school children being sucked into a life of buggery and immorality. All I could think when I watched these people speaking to a rather stunned Stephen Fry was, What an injustice. What an injustice it is that narrow-minded idiots like Bolsonaro, Milinov and the thousands like them will likely never have felt the isolation, the confusion and the sheer terror that grips a young person’s body when they realise, at whatever age, that they are gay. How sad that they may never have felt the anguish, the pain and the dread that often mars someone’s teenage years, simply because they have realised that they love people of the same gender or they were born the wrong sex. Then again, thank God that they will never feel the elation, happiness and overwhelming love that engulfs someone when they come out and are finally honest and frank. Thank God too that they will never experience the self-satisfaction that comes with accepting and loving others.

 

Of course, two hours of primetime television could not have been given to these bigots, most of whom are of the opinion that homosexuals should be executed, without there being a counter-argument, someone defending what is good and what is moral in the world today – and I cannot think of anyone better to do this than Stephen Fry. He made the perfect host and managed to produce a documentary which was not only better than his Key to the City programme for ITV (although that wasn’t exactly a tough feat) but really emphasised how lucky LGBT people in Britain are, as we live in a (largely) accepting society, where we can be who we want to be, and many don’t even bat an eyelid, while others in other countries like Uganda and Russia are having to fight authorities – the people who have ironically been put in power to protect them – and stand up for themselves, trying to prove that they can’t change the way that they were born.

For that is how they were born.

These films would not have been anywhere near as entertaining and informative if the presenter had not been Stephen Fry: a man so articulate, frank and utterly compelling. At no point did he shy  away from pointing out to pastors and ministers that what they were claiming was not right, was not moral, and should not be accepted by anyone. Although, to be honest, how anyone of sound mind can just take these people’s views as read in the first place is nothing short of baffling.

 

So, I hope that Out There fulfilled its mission to inform and educate people. To be honest, if you didn’t take at least something away from this – whether it be increased awareness of the importance of gay rights or simply empowerment about your own sexuality – I don’t think you were watching properly. I also hope that it showed that us gays aren’t all mincing personifications of camp, and that Pride isn’t just a ‘big gay party’ (as I’ve heard people call it in the past). The history of it is so much deeper and more serious than that, and it’s hopefully something which, in a few year’s time, will be celebrated across the world – sticking two fingers up to the homophobes and reminding them that they will not eradicate homosexuality.

No matter how hard they try.

Stephen with the Hijras, a transgender community in India

Image credits: Thanks to BBC and Maverick, ©Maverick

Stephen Fry: Out There is still available for a limited time on BBC iPlayer, via this link

What did you think of Stephen Fry: Out There? 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 – 12th – 18th October

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – including a rant or two about Downton and homophobes. It’s all in context, I assure you…

Saturday 12th October

The Jonathan Ross Show

ITV, 10:15pm

Yes, far gone are the days of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross and the legendary (well, to a certain section of society, anyway) Four Poofs and a Piano – it is three years now since Wossy jumped  the good ship'The Jonathan Ross Show' - ITV, 10:15pm Auntie, and a year later began on ITV with The Jonathan Ross Show.

Of course, his ‘new’ show is pretty much the same (but sans Four Poofs), and is beginning its fifth series tonight, which will take it up to just before Christmas. Many – and by ‘many’ I mean the Mirror’s Ian Hyland – have commented on how the calibre of guests has deteriorated since the host’s move to ITV, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for tonight’s opening episode, as he welcomes Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Cilla Black, who will be discussing her five decades in showbusiness and one-off show, The One and Only Cilla Black (see Wednesday).

James Arthur will also be performing his song ‘You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You’, which proves that, no matter how catchy a song’s tune is, it can’t mask the fact that its singer is perpetually miserable and monotonous.

Also today: If fans can bear to tear themselves away from the recently-discovered lost episodes, Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited begins (Watch, 2:00pm); stars of sitcoms past and present compete in Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:40pm); love is in the air on Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1, 6:30pm); Anton Du Beke, Matt Le Tissier, Diane Abbott and Denise Van Outen play The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); The X Factor live shows kick off (ITV, 8:00pm); and The Rolling Stones Return to Hyde Park: Sweet Summer Sun is on BBC1 at 10:35pm.

Sunday 13th October

Downton Abbey

ITV, 9:00pm

Naughty Downton, eh?

Last week’s episode caused a bit of a stir when it showed a scene involving new arrival Mr Green (played by Nigel Harman) raping long-term favourite Anna (Joanne Froggatt, pictured). Even if you don’t watch Downton, you can’t have failed to have sensed the universal shock and almost-universal anger – or so the press would like us to believe – surrounding this plot. Now, I have to say that I don’t have too much of a problem with it. Granted, the shot in a corridor, filled not with people but with the screams of Anna being assaulted in one of the servants’ rooms, was quite harrowing, and at odds with the gentle, nostalgic stuff that fans are accustomed to, but, in my opinion at least, viewers are simply upset because it has happened to a character so treasured as Anna. But then all of the characters are loved – I’m sure people would have reacted the same if it was Daisy or Ivy or Edna.

We just can’t pretend that things like this didn’t happen, and I for one think it was a good idea on the writer, Julian Fellowes’s, part to give a storyline of such weight and importance to a character who is usually so strong-minded and in control: if this is how it affects someone like Anna, how did it affect others, we should ask ourselves. Plus, it’s not like Downton hasn’t dealt with difficult issues before: there wasn’t a flood of complaints when William died during the Battle of the Somme, Sybil from flu or Matthew in a car accident. Neither was there when Cora miscarried in the first series. All of these  were very sad events – I actually found the loss of Lord and Lady Grantham’s child more difficult to'Downton Abbey' - ITV, 9:00pm watch than Sunday’s episode – but did not attract over 250 complaints (and that’s just at the time of writing).

So, now that that’s off my chest, let’s find out what’s coming up this week. Well, the fourth episode of this series will see the introduction of Downton Abbey’s first black character, in the form of Gary Carr, who will play jazz singer Jack Ross, to whom Lady Rose takes a bit of a fancy during a risky trip to London, which could throw the Crawleys into disrepute.

Also today: Find out who will be following Tony Jacklin out of the door in Strictly Come Dancing: The Results (BBC1, 7:20pm); and Ed Byrne and Gabby Logan are this week’s guests on the very funny Was It Something I Said? (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Monday 14th October

Stephen Fry: Out There

BBC2, 9:00pm

In this two-part documentary (concluding on Wednesday), openly gay broadcaster Stephen Fry travels to America, Russia, Brazil and India to find out what it means to be gay in various countries across the world, and try to decipher what exactly is at the root of homophobia.

Stephen claims that he is fascinated by homophobes and says of them, ‘It’s as if you met somebody who all of their life tried to get rid of red telephones,’ and that is exactly right. Their hatred really is that ludicrous. But what he wants to do in these two films is find out why some people are so irrational, so afraid of people who pose absolutely no threat to them but have that hatred inflicted upon them simply because they were born LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender).

While on his travels, Stephen visits Uganda – a country which is infamous for its pushing of anti-gay legislation, which is possibly soon to include the death penalty. This'Stephen Fry: Out There' - BBC2, 9:00pm is a country which Stephen has previously claimed is one of his ‘favourite places in the world’, a statement which I was shocked by when I heard it, having seen Scott Mills’s excellent 2011 documentary, The World’s Worst Place to be Gay, which showed the extent of Uganda’s horrific homophobia. Just like Scott, Stephen will meet Stosh (pictured, right), a young Ugandan lesbian who was the victim of ‘corrective rape’. I’m sure you can imagine what that involves. When Stosh was subjected to this by some of the local boys, who she had previously enjoyed games of football with, she became pregnant, was forced to undergo an abortion, only to then discover that she had contracted HIV – which could only have been a result of the rape. It truly is horrifying.

Along the way, Stephen will speak to not only many homophobes but many gay people too – including Sir Elton John and David Furnish – who share their own experiences, good and bad, of being gay in their country.

Now, as you may have guessed if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I myself am gay. Next Thursday (24th October) will mark one year since I came out to my parents. Part of the reason that I came out in the first place was the same as Stephen’s for making this documentary: because I realised just how lucky I am to live in a country where the large majority of people are understanding, accepting and not prejudiced. We really are so lucky. It’s difficult growing up, let alone as LGBT, but – and I know this is a cliché but it is incredibly apt – it does get better. I’ve only realised that in the past few months as I’ve begun to tell my friends, none of whom have had a single problem with it (not even the ones which I thought would!) but the important thing is I have realised it. Yes, some members of my family took a while to adjust (I think my mam thought that her world was ending when I told her) but they’re alright now. They realise that I’m not going to change and I’m happy – and that makes them happy.

I know I’ve gone a little off-topic here, but I did write a #ProudtoLove article for LGBT Pride Month in June, which explains more about…well about everything. Click here to read it. And if you’re reading this and struggling, you can always send me a message on here or Twitter (@UKTVReviewer) – or contact Stonewall. Or you could just buy a copy of Attitude magazine that worked for me!

Also today: Britain’s Empty Homes is back (BBC1, 11:45am); Dogs: Their Secret Lives is on Channel 4 at 8:00pm; The Gadget Show returns (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Kirsty Young presents another edition of Crimewatch (BBC1, 9:00pm), with a new appeal for Madeleine McCann; infuriating documentary On Benefits & Proud is on Channel 5 at 9:00pm; Dallas Campbell presents Impact! A Horizon Guide to Plane Crashes (BBC4, 9:00pm); and Diary of a Teenage Virgin provides an insight into the lives of Britain’s sexually inexperienced teens (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 15th October

Sweat the Small Stuff

BBC3, 10:00pm

The forever chirpy Nick Grimshaw returns for a second series of his – quite average – panel show,'Sweat the Small Stuff' - BBC3, 10:00pm Sweat the Small Stuff.

There seems to be very little change this series, apart from the fact that Rochelle Humes – a regular during the first series earlier this year – has now replaced Rickie Haywood Williams as team captain, alongside Melvin Odoom.

The guests for this first episode are The Xtra Factor’s Matt Richardson, comedian Seann Walsh, singer Conor Maynard and EastEnders actress Jacqueline Jossa.

Also today: Dr Christian Jessen and some of the Game of Thrones cast are on The Sarah Millican Television Programme (BBC2, 9:30pm). And that’s it – the football on ITV will of course be the main focus.

Wednesday 16th October

The One and Only Cilla Black

ITV, 9:00pm

She may be best known for setting up blind dates and springing ‘surprise, surprises’ on members of the public but Cilla Black has had a long and illustrious career, which is celebrated in this'The One and Only Cilla Black' - ITV, 9:00pm programme.

Hosted by one of Cilla’s closest friends, Paul O’Grady (alongside whom she is soon to star in a new sitcom pilot from Marks & Gran – read more here), this one-off special will take Cilla, and viewers, on a trip down memory lane as she marks fifty years in showbiz.

Also contributing will be a variety of big names from the world of music and television, all wishing to convey their love of Cilla and her career. There may also be a one-off revival of Blind Date, too…

Also today: Oscar-winning epic Chariots of Fire (Channel 4, 12:45pm); Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall presents River Cottage to the Core (Channel 4, 8:00pm); fly-on-the-wall series Freshers begins (ITV2, 8:00pm); one-off documentary When Gastric Bands Go Wrong is on Channel 5 (where else?) at 9:00pm; Stephen Merchant’s sitcom Hello Ladies crosses the pond to arrive on UK screens (Sky Atlantic, 10:00pm); and documentary Night of the Fight: Hatton’s Last Stand is on ITV4 at 10:00pm.

Thursday 17th October

Up All Night

Channel 4, 10:00pm

This brand-new four-part series uses mini-rig fixed cameras to show what goes on after dark in the UK, and celebrate some of the unsung heroes of this country as they work during the night.'Up All Night' - Channel 4, 10:00pm

Each episode will show a different part of Britain’s nightlife, from karaoke contests to mini-cab officers and out-of-hours locksmiths. The first instalment, however, shows exactly what goes on in the toilets of a West Sussex nightclub. Over the course of an hour, we witness the laughs, the cries and the make-up application which are common in not only this club, but many more across the country.

Ever wondered what goes on in the washrooms of the opposite sex? Now’s your chance to find out…

Also today: Location, Location, Location concludes (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Michael Buerk and Bettany Hughes present Britain’s Secret Treasures (ITV, 8:30pm); and medical drama Breathless continues (ITV, 9:00pm).

Friday 18th October

Man Down

Channel 4, 9:30pm

This new sitcom, from Inbetweeners star and comedian Greg Davies, centres around Dan: someone who is essentially a child at heart but is forced to lead the life of a full adult – with responsibilities and everything!

Dan is, just as the man who plays him once was, a teacher and, for some reason, loved by his pupils (well,'Man Down' - Channel 4, 9:30pm except one). It’s just a shame that the headmistress of the school, Emma Lipsey, doesn’t feel quite the same way about him. Emma regards Dan only ever with a mixture of pity and despair, owing to his increasingly disastrous life. He has oddball friends – the heavily moustachioed Brian (Mike Wozniak) and unlucky-in-love Jo (played by the wonderful Roisin Conaty) – an interfering, humiliating father (in the form of Rik Mayall) and a girlfriend who has just left him, citing his inability to navigate his way around life as one of her main reasons.

So that’s the world of Dan!

I haven’t been able to watch Man Down yet, but I know that many critics are raving about it, claiming that it has broken the mould by being a sitcom which has been written by a comedian, but is actually funny! Channel 4 also clearly have high hopes for it, too, as they’ve already ordered a Christmas special for this year. Let’s hope they haven’t counted their chickens by doing that – much like ITV did with Vicious.

Also today: Criminals: Caught on Camera begins (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Stephen Merchant hosts Have I Got News For You – not to plug his new sitcom, of course – with panellists including Hal Cruttenden – not to plug his new DVD, of course (BBC1, 9:00pm); Julian Clary is the subject of this week’s Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); Graham Linehan pops his QI cherry on an episode simply entitled ‘Knowledge’ (BBC2, 10:00pm); Britney Spears, Jake Bugg and Mo Farah are on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); Natalie Portman, James Corden, Katy Perry and Sir Paul McCartney (!) pull up a pew for The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm); and BBC3’s run of comedy pilots continues with sitcom C-Bomb (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: The Jonathan Ross Show – Thanks to ITV Studios, Hot Sauce and Nicky Johnston, ©ITV; Downton Abbey – ©ITV; Stephen Fry: Out There – Thanks to BBC, Maverick and Sprout Pictures, ©Maverick; Sweat the Small Stuff – Thanks to BBC, Fremantle Media UK and Joel Anderson, ©Fremantle Media UK; The One and Only Cilla Black – Thanks to ITV Studios and Kieron McCarron, ©ITV; Up All Night – Thanks to Jude Edington and Channel 4; Man Down – Thanks to Shamil Tanna and Channel 4

Is Reopening the Doors of Arkwright’s Such a Good Idea?

Which sitcom favourite would you like to see make a return? Only Fools and Horses? Gavin & Stacey? Fawlty Towers? Perhaps Blackadder?

Whatever your preference, it is unlikely to be Open All Hours. Nevertheless, the BBC have seen fit to revive the 70s classic for a Christmas special, in celebration of its fortieth anniversary.

I have to say, my first feeling when I read about this was – despite my love of the programme – one of disappointment and, if I’m honest, dread. I just think that the stakes are so high. Open All Hours is much-loved and well-remembered by many, having received a huge 67,237 votes in the 2004 Britain’s Best Sitcom poll, placing it in an impressive eighth place, and Arkwright being voted the nation’s favourite shopkeeper ever in a 2010 Which? survey. Therefore there will be a lot of pressure for this new special to live up to fans’ expectations.

But then do fans even want it to happen? I consider myself a huge fan of Open All Hours but it certainly wouldn’t be top of my list of dream sitcom revivals. I don’t think I want to see an Arkwright-less shop, being run by Granville and his son. Yes, that’s right: his son! Wasn’t part of Open All Hours‘ charm the fact that Granville was eternally dissatisfied, desperately trying to break free from his uncle’s clutches and live the life of the trendy Jack-the-lad that he yearned to be? But now he has a son! Now Arkwright isn’t there, so there’s no antagonist, no one to stop him from living his life as he sees fit. So with the freedom that came with the miserly old Arkwright’s death, we surely have to ask ourselves, really, would Granville have stayed in the shop? Or would he have grasped the opportunity to escape the business, and perhaps even South Yorkshire, to live the life he wanted?
I would be inclined to say yes, but hopefully Roy Clarke will provide a decent reason as to why he didn’t in the special. Or perhaps he did, but felt that he had to return for whatever reason to fulfil his uncle’s wishes and take ownership of the grocer’s. Whatever his reason for still being there, it needs to be explained – else Clarke will be failing before he has even started.

The trouble is we tend not to like seeing sitcom characters moving on, even in the small way that Granville apparently has. When another David Jason favourite, Only Fools and Horses, came back for a series of three Christmas specials in 2001, after a five year-long absence, many viewers were disappointed, claiming that it should have ended with Del and Rodney realising their dream and walking off into the sunset. What you have to admire John Sullivan for, though, is that he didn’t try to keep the Trotters in those millionaire lifestyles: within minutes of the 2001 special, ‘If They Could See Us Now…’, they were back in their humble old Peckham flat, coming up with new, innovative – if legally questionable – ways to make money once again. When The Vicar of Dibley made a successful return, Geraldine was still stuck with Alice and surrounded by her mad parishioners: nothing had changed, so people loved it. Ditto Ab Fab, Rab C Nesbitt, To The Manor Born, Red Dwarf, The Likely Lads…need I go on? I have a feeling that Granville’s son will be just too big an adjustment for long-term fans.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh and rubbishing this return before it has even been recorded. I suppose I’m just protective of the characters and the series, and don’t want to see its reputation muddied by a single thirty minute special. I know that I’ll be watching Still Open All Hours – the show’s new title – on Christmas Day, whatever happens, though. It could prove to be a waste of time and money, but then it could be hugely popular, find a legion of new fans and spawn a spin-off series.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

‘Was It Something I Said?’ (Channel 4) Review

Hosted by David Mitchell, Was It Something I Said? tests its participants’ verbiage mettle by having them identify the creator of various quotes, taken from sources as varied as tweets, autobiographies and sometimes even their own comedy routines.

There’s been quite a bit of publicity surrounding this new show, with a barrage of trailers and David Mitchell himself appearing on shows such as This Morning and Chatty Man to attract viewers. Was it all worth it? Not quite, but it was far from a bad start.

Let’s be honest, it’s no surprise that Was It Something I Said? was publicised so much. It is, after all, the first panel show in the world to allow viewers to play along at home on Twitter, despite it not being recorded live. As is the trouble with a lot of shows, however, it did lead to a lot of high expectations, and mine weren’t quite met, unfortunately. It was in no way bad – on the contrary it was a confident, promising start – but it didn’t see as many quick quips and off-the-cuff gags which I was led to believe it would.

I’m still expecting great things from Was It Something I Said?, however, as the threesome that is David Mitchell and team captains Micky Flanagan and Richard Ayoade is simply a dream, with all of them bringing something very different to the show. As the host, David brings his authoritative, somewhat deadpan style, Micky delivers his trademark Cockney charm and Richard is…well he’s just a dumbed-down version of his IT Crowd character, isn’t he? I was glad to see that he had brought with him some of his awkwardness, dryness and general objections to what he sees as the unnecessary and trivial things in life, as seen during his appearances on shows such as A League of Their Own and the many Big Fat Quizzes.

One aspect of the show that I was less pleased with, though, was the incorporation of Twitter. Now, yes, I was relieved to see that it wasn’t the prime focus (a couple of mentions by David at the beginning were ample to remind the viewers that the interactive element existed) but it didn’t seem to work very well. I tweeted two answers during the show, one of which I actually managed to get right – thanks to a very lucky guess, I should add. When I logged onto my online scorecard on the Channel 4 website at the end of the show, however, I was greeted by David Mitchell telling me that I’d done badly, and apparently scored a measly 0/1. Obviously it’s only a petty, pretty insignificant, criticism, but it does emphasise the fact that the Twitter element needs some revision.

 

The Twitter incident aside (I wanted that point added onto my score next week, Channel 4!), I did enjoy Was It Something I Said? – albeit not quite as much as I thought I would. I’m sure it’ll be an entertaining series, though.

And you can quote me on that.

Image credits: Thanks to Channel 4, Mark Johnson, Maverick Television and That Mitchell & Webb Company

Was It Something I Said? is on Sundays at 10pm on Channel 4

An extended edition of the show is also on on Friday nights

What did you think of Was It Something I Said? 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 – 5th – 11th October

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – from Chasers to truckers and real-life lovers!

Saturday 5th October

The Chase: Celebrity Special

ITV, 7:00pm

When it began back in 2009, The Chase was quite a modest affair: it had a two week-long transmission, consisting of ten episodes, and just two Chasers in the form of Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett and Shaun ‘The Dark Destroyer’ Wallace. Since then, however, it has gone from strength to strength, with two new Chasers having been added to the line-up (Anne ‘The Governess’ Hegerty in 2010 and Paul ‘The Sinnerman’ Sinha in 2011) and the current run consisting of 150 episodes – not to mention a Broadcast Award under its belt, too.

So, it’s doing well but what if you haven’t seen it? Well, each episode sees a team of four players individually take'The Chase: Celebrity Special' - ITV, 7:00pm one of the four aforementioned Chasers, playing for money which they have accumulated in the Cash Builder round (at £1,000 for each correct answer). When they take on the Chaser, they can either accept a lower offer – to take a step closer to home – or a higher offer – to  take a step closer to the Chaser. Once the money has been settled, it’s down to the serious business of the contestant answering as many correct answers as they need in order to move down the gameboard and get home without the Chaser (who is just a few spaces behind them) catching, and therefore eliminating, them. Once all of the contestants have taken on the Chaser, those surviving enter the Final round, where they have two minutes to answer a series of quickfire questions, each one of which they get right earns them a ‘step’. The Chaser then gets the same amount of time to answer as many questions as they can, and if they achieve as many steps as the contestants, no money is won – but if they don’t, the team walk away with the contents of the prize fund split between them.

It really is simpler than I’ve made out.

This is the third celebrity series of The Chase and kicks off with Jon Culshaw, Charlotte Jackson, Tina Malone and Dr Hilary Jones (pictured above, L-R (excluding Bradley Walsh)) taking on the Chaser – but who will it be?

Also today: It’s a West End-themed edition of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:30pm); Claudia Winkleman steps in for a flu-stricken Brucie in Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1, 6:20pm); Dom Joly is once again hoping to Fool Britannia (ITV, 6:30pm); Louis Walsh has three aides on hand (isn’t that just a little excessive?) as the judges’ houses round of X Factor begins (ITV, 8:00pm); 2011 film Friends with Benefits premieres (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Chris Evans hosts the new (and more expensive: damn you, Camelot!) Lotto draw (BBC1, 9:10pm); Mollie King and Simon Gregson are on Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:50pm); and wartime drama Bomb Girls returns (ITV3, 10:00pm).

Sunday 6th October

Was It Something I Said?

Channel 4, 10:05pm

Hosted by David Mitchell, this new panel show tests its participants’ verbiage mettle by having them identify the creator of various quotes, taken from sources as varied as tweets, autobiographies and sometimes even their own comedy routines.

Richard Ayoade (who, following appearances on Buzzcocks, A League of Their Own and many Big'Was It Something I Said?' - Channel 4, 10:05pm Fat Quizzes, is fast becoming a panel show staple) and Micky Flanagan act as team captains and in this episode are joined by Jimmy Carr and Charlie Higson. I really hope this works for Micky! After Epic Win, The Mad Bad Ad Show and I Love My Country, I think it would be fair to say that he has taken part in a hat trick of TV turkeys (get me with my alliteration, eh?). I mean I really liked I Love My Country but other critics? They really didn’t find the funny side. So hopefully it will be fourth time lucky for Micky – but then it looks set to be, if this trailer is anything to go by.

Was It Something I Said? is particularly notable because it is to be the first panel show in the world with which viewers can play along on Twitter – despite it not being recorded live. How it works is, whenever David poses a question to the panellists, he puts aside his hatred of the internet and encourages viewers to tweet their own answer to the show’s Twitter account. The more answers viewers get right, the more bonus content they are invited to unlock, including behind-the-scenes clips, pictures, deleted scenes and facts and jokes from that night’s panellists.

As with most panel shows nowadays, there will also be an extended repeat of Was It Something I Said? on Friday at 10:50pm, once again on Channel 4.

Also today: The first celebrity gets the boot from Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1, 7:20pm); Rageh Omaar presents The Ottomans: Europe’s Muslim Emperors (BBC2, 9:00pm); it’s the battle of the big dramas as Downton Abbey (9:00pm) faces stiff competition in the form of the return of Homeland (Channel 4) at 9:00pm; Mark Lawson Talks to Bob Geldof on BBC4 (9:00pm); The Only Way is Vegas is on ITV2 at 10:00pm; and Myleene Klass hosts The Classic BRITs for a sixth year (ITV, 10:20pm).

Monday 7th October

Sex Box

Channel 4, 10:00pm

Yes, it’s not uncommon for them, but Channel 4 do seem to be particularly obsessed with sex at'Sex Box' - Channel 4, 10:00pm the moment. Following on from last week’s intriguing but ultimately shocking documentary Porn on  the Brain, which sparked national debate when it aired, they now have Sex Box, which sees three couples having a bit of a love-making session in a sound-proof booth, and then discuss the experience with Mariella Frostrup, a panel of experts and a live studio audience.

Now what is abnormal about that?

Sex Box is all part of Channel 4’s ‘Campaign for Real Sex’ season, which is investigating how pornography is affecting British couples’ sex lives, and will continue all week in bitesize episodes of five minutes at 7:55pm.

Also today: Coleen Nolan makes a return to the now Denise Welch-less Loose Women panel (ITV, 12:30pm); Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is (BBC1, 4:30pm), 999: What’s Your Emergency? (Channel 4, 9:00pm), Hollyoaks Later (E4, 10:00pm) and The Agenda (ITV, 10:35pm) all return; and hit thriller Reservoir Dogs is on Channel 5 at 10:55pm.

Tuesday 8th October

The Pride of Britain Awards

ITV, 8:00pm

Fetch the tissues and prepare to feel guilty about your everyday grumbles as Carol Voderman  presents the fifteenth Pride of Britain awards.'The Pride of Britain Awards' - ITV, 8:00pm

Each year the Daily Mirror, Lidl, ITV and Daybreak get together to champion the unsung heroes of Great Britain by rewarding them for their charitable achievements and outstanding bravery, whatever their age, and, even just for one night, letting them know that the whole country appreciates and respects their wonderful achievements.

This year’s event will see people awarded in a array of categories, with just some being: Child or Tennager of Courage; Fundraiser of the Year; Teacher of the Year; Daybreak Emergency Services; and Local Hero of the Year.

It’s also worth noting that the nominations for 2014’s awards are now open, so if you know someone who deserves to be recognised for their outstanding bravery or achievements, simply nominate them at the Pride of Britain website, and they could just be picking up an award next year!

Also today: Jungles Babies (7:00pm) and The Dog Rescuers (7:30pm) begin on Channel 5; US drama Masters of Sex, starring Michael Sheen, begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Art of Australia begins (BBC4, 9:00pm); and The Day I Got My Sight Back, about Ian Tibbetts’s surgery to correct his blindness, is on BBC1 at 10:35pm.

Wednesday 9th October

Fat for Cash

Channel 5, 9:00pm

Kicking off Channel 5’s Supersize Season this week is Fat for Cash: an eye-opening documentary about the girls with extraordinary figures and the men who pay to see them.

In this hour-long, one-off show, we meet women such as'Fat For Cash' - Channel 5, 9:00pm Jen and Christina (who weigh 30 and 40 stone, respectively). Dieting is simply not an option for them as their large frames are their sources of income. They make their money by flaunting themselves on the web, with Jen having to do as little as step on the scales and try to get a measuring tape around her huge thighs to get men paying to watch her online.

Fat for Cash also sees mom-of-three Christina embark on her new business venture: her very own subscription website, on which men can pay to see her in various positions – including sitting topless in a child’s paddling pool – simply because they can’t get enough of the fuller figure.

Along the way we also meet former supersize model Samme, who is beginning a series of special nights in Vegas entitled ‘Thick Sundaes’: obese women pole dancing. There’s clearly an appetite for it, though, as men are queuing up to pay the girls lots of money for their dances.

It may not surprise you to know that this documentary was made in America…

Also today: Big Star’s Little Star concludes with Sally Bercow’s child revealing an awful lot about mummy and daddy’s opinions on the Prime Minister himself (ITV, 8:00pm); The Great British Year continues (BBC1, 9:00pm), this time with the focus on spring; Whitechapel draws to a close (ITV, 9:00pm); Helen Castor presents the first episode of Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage, Death (BBC4, 9:00pm); and fact-based drama Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight is on Sky Atlantic at 9:00pm.

Thursday 10th October

Truckers

BBC1, 9:00pm

Stephen Tompkinson leads a cast of accomplished drama stars in this new five-part series about a Nottingham-based haulage company.

Each episode focuses on a different trucker, as each of them are about to undergo a major life change. Alone in'Truckers' - BBC1, 9:00pm their cab they are able to reflect on their lives and think about where they are heading – both geographically and emotionally. Each story is told with warmth, humour and just a tinge of sadness.

The first of those stories centres around Malachi (Tompkinson, pictured), who, despite splitting from her eighteen months ago, is still living with his wife and grown-up son. Sadly he is still under the illusion that everything can be fixed between them, so when she comes home one day with the news that she’s going to remarry, Malachi is heartbroken. Feeling like he is at a dead end, he begins to re-evaluate his life and how he can get it back on track. It’s not an easy ride, though.

Also today: Three-part series Trust Me I’m a Doctor begins (BBC2, 8:00pm); ITV’s ratings – but not critical – success Pat & Cabbage comes to an end (8:30pm); new dramas Breathless (ITV) and Countdown to Murder (Channel 5) begin at 9:00pm; and ITV2’s Dynamo rip-off – um, sorry, I mean brand new magic show Tricked – starts at 9:00pm.

Friday 11th October

Hens Behaving Badly

Channel 5, 9:00pm

This new series, postponed from last month, begins tonight with the focus on the hen night revellers in Nottingham.'Hens Behaving Badly' - Channel 5, 9:00pm

Usually what the groom doesn’t know won’t hurt him but in this series the men find out exactly what happened during their new spouse’s last night of freedom, from exactly how drunk they actually got to whether they indulged in a bit of promiscuity while they still could.

The series meets all sorts of hens: the bitches, the brawlers and the control freaks. An example of the latter is Charlene, who we see this week struggling to make her friends stick to the itinerary she has planned for their wild weekend in Amsterdam.

And no documentary which shows the alcohol-swillers and constants partiers of this country would be complete without a trip to Newcastle, would it? So you can expect to see Hens Behaving Badly reinforcing the stereotypes set up by Geordie Shore and Bouncers in the coming weeks.

Also today: Richard Hammond and Carol Vorderman are among those discussing the week’s most talked about news stories on 8 Out of 10 Cats (Channel 4, 9:00pm); BBC4 is showing Tubular Bells: The Mike Oldfield Story (9:00pm); Nicole Scherzinger and Gok Wan are on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 9:50pm), while OneRepublic drop by to sing their terribly catchy song ‘Counting Stars’; Sandi Toksvig, Jason Manford and Trevor Noah discuss killers – but in a light-hearted way, of course – on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); Channel 5 show that they sure know how to attract the big names as Pete Burns and John McCririck are on Celebrity Wedding Planner (10:00pm); The Graham Norton Show returns with Harrison Ford, James Blunt and Jack Whitehall (BBC1, 10:35pm); BBC3 comedy drama Bluestone 42 comes to BBC1 (10:35pm) – read my review of the first episode here; and Kerry Howard stars in her own sketch show pilot, the imaginatively titled Kerry, 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: The Chase: Celebrity Special – Thanks to ITV and Steve Peskett, ©ITV; Was It Something I Said? – Thanks to Channel 4, Mark Johnson, Maverick Television and That Mitchell & Webb Company; Sex Box – Thanks to Channel 4 and Richard Ansett; Fat for Cash – Thanks to Five and Ronda Churchill; Truckers – Thanks to BBC, Company Pictures & ALL3MEDIA and Robert Viglasky, ©Company Pictures & ALL3MEDIA; Hens Behaving Badly – Thanks to Five.