Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with such seamless links as Poppins to Cooper and the Comedy Awards to England’s heritage.
Saturday 30th November
The Culture Show
As you’re probably aware, Saving Mr Banks – the film about PL Travers’s reluctant agreement to the Disney adaptation of her books about magical nanny Mary Poppins – was released in the UK yesterday. Tonight, to coincide with the film’s release, The Culture Show sees Victoria Coren-Mitchell take a deeper look at the complex, stubborn and very difficult-to-please woman herself.
While Saving Mr Banks focuses primarily on Travers’s constant interference and objections about Disney’s adaptation of her children’s novels, this programme looks at the writer’s life as a whole, exploring her battle with Walt Disney himself (which lasted for two whole decades!) and the unorthodox adoption of her son, who was a twin. Of course, however, there will be some mention of how the film Mary Poppins completely overshadowed her efforts as a novelist, despite the movie’s success making her very rich indeed.
The programme features contributions from Cameron Mackintosh, PL Travers’s granddaughter and Saving Mr Banks star, Emma Thompson.
Also today: ITV begins its running of the Harry Potter films (ITV, 3:15pm) – which, if shown weekly, will take us through to the middle of January 2014; it’s musicals week on Strictly (BBC1, 7:00pm); Jonathan Davies: Trimsaran Boy (BBC2, 7:00pm) profiles the former rugby player; Eric Bristow, Nadine Dorries, Ed Byrne and Sammy Winward take on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); the X Factor quarter-final (ITV, 8:00pm); Charlie Brooker’s How Video Games Changed the World (Channel 4, 9:00pm); new five-part drama series The Bible (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and Jonathan Ross has another all-star line-up (although I use the term very loosely) in Olly Murs, Keith Lemon, Joanna Lumley and Chris Tarrant (ITV, 10:50pm) – who is probably there to plug new daytime quiz show, Show Me the Telly.
Incidentally, note to the show’s host, Richard Bacon: no matter how many times you say ‘Still funny’ after a comedy clip, you’re not going to create a catchphrase. Other than that, keep up the good work.
Sunday 1st December
50 Years of Rock Excess: Amps, Whips and Rebel Riffs
Channel 4, 10:00pm
Yes, if you haven’t already done so, pop open that first window on your advent calendar, sit back and enjoy the start of Channel 4’s Rock Night.
Although I admit that the likelihood of a rock fan having an advent calendar to ‘pop open’ is low. You never know, though…
Anyway, back to the programme. This is a tongue-in-cheek ride through the past five decades of rock, featuring interviews with stars such as Josh Homme and Alice Cooper. We relive some of the best moments in rock history, hearing some unbelievable anecdotes and find out exactly where the genre can go from here. In another fifty years, will it still be as popular?
Also today: Fern Britton Meets… returns (BBC1, 10:00am), with Susan Boyle her first subject (absolutely nothing to do with her having an album to flog, I’m sure); family favourite Happy Feet (Channel 5, 4:20pm); Cilla Black makes an appearance on the last in the series of Surprise, Surprise (ITV, 7:00pm); the lovely, talented Alfie Boe is on Strictly (BBC1, 7:20pm) while the miserable, homophobic (but apologetic, I’ll give him that) James Arthur is on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); Time Team (Channel 4, 8:00pm) aims to discover the true location of the Battle of Hastings; and the concluding part of Morecambe and Wise: The Whole Story is on BBC2 at 9:00pm.
Monday 2nd December
Liberty of London
Channel 4, 9:00pm
This three-part documentary goes behind-the-scenes at London department store Liberty.
Over the course of the series we will not only get to meet Liberty’s high-end clientele but also see what goes on in preparation for Christmas and London and Paris Fashion Weeks, during which the store’s eccentric designs are showcased.
It’s like Made in Chelsea meets Shoplife.
Also today: Ruth Watson Means Business! and Building the Dream come to Channel 4 daytime (10:00 and 11:00am); Saoirse Ronan announces the winner of the Turner Prize (Channel 4, 7:30pm); festive ideas with A Great Christmas With Sarah Beeny (Channel 4) and The Gadget Show Christmas Special (Channel 5) at 8:00pm; and Frank Skinner, TJ Miller and Richard Herring are the first to take to the stage on Set List (Sky Atlantic, 10:30pm), which sees comedians improvise a routine based on subjects given to them during their performance.
Tuesday 3rd December
Danny MacAskill’s Imaginate
Until I began researching this programme I had no idea who Danny MacAskill even was! It may not surprise you to learn that I’m not a huge fan of stunt riding. Or sport itself. No, give me a hot chocolate and Birds of a Feather marathon any day of the week.
I am now in awe of MacAskill, though. He has achieved incredible feats in his field and this documentary shows how he managed just one of them: to recreate the toys from his childhood (model railway, Rubik’s Cube, Twister, etc.), but large enough for him to ride over. It really is quite something – either watch the video itself or watch this show. Or both.
This programme, named after the project itself, goes behind-the-scenes of the 16 months-long shoot, telling the story of how Danny and his team overcame the many hurdles that they faced when planning this spectacular stunt. Be prepared to be blown away.
Also today: Stephen Hawking in Brief (Channel 4, 7:55pm), which runs for the rest of this week; Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve (BBC2, 9:00pm); Young, British and Broke (BBC3, 9:00pm) investigates payday loan companies; and Dave Cliff presents one-off documentary The Joy of Logic (BBC4, 9:00pm).
Wednesday 4th December
British Comedy Awards Nominations Show
Channel 4, 10:45pm
Reigning (and Official) King of Comedy, Jack Whitehall reveals which comedy shows and their stars are up for gongs at this year’s ceremony, to be broadcast live (no one invite Julian Clary!) next Thursday (12th December).
The only category which we know for certain is the King or Queen of Comedy award – the only one which is voted for by the public. Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack, Sarah Millican and current King Jack Whitehall are all in the running and lines are now open (closing on the night of the ceremony). Take a look here to find out how to vote.
The rest, of course, is pure speculation. What would I like to see get some recognition? The IT Crowd, The Mimic, My Mad Fat Diary, Not Going Out, The Wrong Mans, A Touch of Cloth, Last Tango in Halifax, Mount Pleasant, Big School…I doubt the latter four will, though – unfortunately. What’s not going to be nominated? Well I don’t think I’m being too controversial when I say that I doubt that Boom Town, Pat & Cabbage, Citizen Khan, Father Figure or The Wright Way will be picking up any awards. They might get a little ribbing in Wossy’s opening speech, though…
Also today: A Stop! Police Interceptors montage (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Lionel Bart, Reviewing the Situation (BBC4, 9:00pm), which profiles the Oliver! composer; and a 28 Up South Africa update (ITV, 10:35pm).
Thursday 5th December
Restoring England’s Heritage
In this one-off documentary, historian Tom Holland explores some of the country’s most at-risk heritage sites.
Over thirty minutes, Tom visits a Portsmouth theatre, the location of the earliest iron industry in England and a hospital built in memory of an explorer. These southern sites are all in danger, but with Tom shining a light on them, is there hope for their survival?
Also today: New documentaries Keeping Britain Safe 24/7 (BBC1, 8:30pm) and The Silent War (BBC2, 9:00pm); and The Audience returns (More 4, 10:00pm).
Friday 6th December
Robbie Williams: One Night at the Palladium
Watch Robbie and a whole host of top guests performing some of his biggest hits alongside tracks from his latest album, Swings Both Ways.
Some of the stars taking to the stage with Robbie include Rufus Wainwright, Lily Allen and Miss Piggy and Kermit! Quite an eclectic mix there.
In a crafty (but not uncommon) move on the BBC’s part, Robbie Williams: One Night at the Palladium will also be released on DVD and Blu-Ray next Monday (9th December). You can pre-order it here.
Also today: Kathy Burke hosts Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); there are 8 Out of 10 Cats highlights (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Victoria Coren Mitchell, Rev Richard Coles and Sue Perkins are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); Alan Carr welcomes John Bishop (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and a varied line-up on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm) as he is joined by Sir Cliff Richard, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Berry, David Walliams and Harry Hill. And may I say how great it is to read a Graham Norton Show line-up without a Hollywood star in sight – makes a welcome change!
In a last minute addition to the schedule, following the news of his passing, Nelson Mandela: His Life and Legacy, presented by Mark Austin, will be on ITV at 11:10pm.
The next This Week in TV (for 7th – 13th December) will be published at the earlier time of midnight on Monday (2nd December).
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 Culture Show – ©BBC; 50 Years of Rock Excess: Amps, Whips and Rebel Riffs– Thanks to Channel 4; Liberty of London – Thanks to Channel 4 and Phil Fisk; Danny MacAskill: Imaginate – Thanks to UKTV, ©Fred Murray/Red Bull Content Pool; British Comedy Awards Nominations Show – Thanks to Channel 4 and Dave King; Robbie Williams: One Night at the Palladium – Thanks to BBC, Farrell Music Ltd and Simon Niblett, ©Farrell Music Ltd.