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
Following his untimely death in August, BBC2 are dedicating a whole night to legendary broadcaster 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 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
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 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
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 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
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.
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
Japan is in something of a crisis at the moment – in terms of both its struggling economy and 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
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 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.