Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – from Hancock to Lemon and Carr. Oh, and a few serious bits thrown in. Just to even it out.
Saturday 24th August
The Xtra Factor Rewind
There’s just one week to go until Louis, Gary and Nicole return for another series of The X Factor – alongside Sharon Osbourne, who has been absent for six (long) years.
In this one-off episode, Xtra Factor host Caroline Flack takes us on a trip down memory lane to revisit last year’s ‘Schermazeballs’ series. So, expect a bit of miserable-faced champion, James Arthur; some former shelf-stacker, Jahmene Douglas; a generous helping of semi-finalists Union J; and a lot of Rylan Clark. Oh, and of course Scouse crooner, Christopher Maloney – whose royalties for appearing on Rewind will go straight to his nan. Naturally.
My preview of the tenth series of The X Factor, which begins a week today, will be online from midnight on Tuesday.
Also today: It’s a Pointless Celebrities radio special at 5:35pm (BBC1) as a group of famous faces – or rather famous voices – compete for the ‘coveted Pointless trophy’; Jack Dee and Alex Jones are on That Puppet Game Show (BBC1, 6:25pm); the sixth in the Harry Potter franchise, The Half-Blood Prince is on ITV at 7:00pm; Alex Jones pops up again, alongside Micky, Frank and Gabby, on I Love My Country (BBC1, 7:05pm); film The A-Team is on Channel 4 (9:20pm), as is Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra Live at the Royal Albert Hall (11:35pm).
Sunday 25th August
Starring David Threlfall (pictured), Russell Tovey and Amber Rose Revah, What Remains is a suspense-filled ‘whodunnit’ from Hotel Babylon and Inside Men writer, Tony Basgallop.
Michael and Vidya (Tovey and Revah) are a couple about to embark on an exciting new life together. However, when they move into their flat at 8 Coulthard Street, they find that they have a leak – which leads to the discovery of the remains of Melissa Young. Melissa has been missing for two years – but never registered so, and no one seems to have noticed her disappearance.
This is where DI Len Harper (Threlfall) comes in. He is put in charge of the case, which is seemingly easy to get to the bottom of. Harper has his own problems, though, and the mystery of Melissa’s disappearance and death acts as the perfect distraction for him. He puts his all into the investigation, refusing to take his retirement (which he was due to start a week after he began working on the case) until he uncovers the truth. During his search, he discovers the secrets that each of Michael and Vidya’s new neighbours are holding, and how they all, in some way, have a part to play in Melissa’s death.
Also today: 2011 film, Chalet Girl premieres (Channel 4, 6:15pm); Iolo Williams presents Iolo’s Great Welsh Parks (BBC2, 6:30pm); Liz McClarnon, Keith Duffy and Dan Whiston compete in the last in the series of Tipping Point: Lucky Stars (ITV, 7:00pm); Vera is back (ITV, 8:00pm); Gok Wan takes on the Banker in Celebrity Deal or No Deal (Channel 4, 8:00pm); a night dedicated to Morecambe and Wise begins on digital channel Drama at 8:00pm with Bring Me Morecambe & Wise, followed by biopic Eric & Ernie (9:00pm); Jason Statham stars in The Mechanic (Channel 4, 9:00pm); superb spoof crime series, A Touch of Cloth returns (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); Sandi Toksvig, Jason Manford and Jeremy Clarkson are on the episode of QI which for some reason is being shown over seven months after the J series ended, ‘Just the Job’ (BBC2, 10:00pm); and The Sixth Sense is on Channel 4 at 10:50pm.
Bank Holiday Monday (26th August)
In this one-off programme, zoologist George McGavin sets off in search of the world’s most impressive swarms.
By meeting bats, bees and everything in between, George aims to discover why swarms are the answer to surviving against the odds, and how we can perhaps adopt the thinking of these animals in order to live our lives easier and better.
Also today: Oscar-winning epic Ben Hur (Channel 4, 11:05am); Doctor Who at the Proms (BBC1, 4:00pm); 2008 film The Incredible Hulk (ITV, 4:20pm); one-off documentary World’s Most Pampered Pets (Channel 5, 6:00pm); Only Connect comes to BBC2 for a week, starting with a ‘Champion of Champions’ special (7:30pm); Hugh Hunt presents Attack of the Zeppelins (Channel 4, 8:00pm); World’s Scariest Animal Attacks is on Channel 5 (8:00pm); Matt Damon stars in The Bourne Identity (ITV, 9:00pm); sci-fi film Independence Day is on Sky1 (10:00pm); and BBC2 is showing Last Chance Harvey (10:30pm).
Tuesday 27th August
We’ve already seen Miranda Hart on Eric Morecambe and Hugh Dennis on Ronnie Barker but now it’s time for Death in Paradise star Ben Miller to profile his comedy hero: Tony Hancock.
I’m sure a lot of people won’t be familiar with Tony Hancock’s work. They may have heard his name bandied around a little, but they will likely not appreciate the huge impact he had on British comedy. Tony had huge success from 1954 with his radio series, Hancock’s Half Hour, which also introduced to the public such stars as Hattie Jacques, Sid James and the irrepressible Kenneth Williams. In 1956, Hancock’s Half Hour arrived on television, and became one of the first sitcoms as we know them.
However, Tony also had a tumultuous personal life. He had quite a few mistresses during his 44 year-long life, one of which was his best friend and regular co-star John Le Mesurier’s wife Joan. He also battled depression and alcoholism, all of which led to his suicide by overdose in 1968.
Still, just like so many comics, he kept his demons at bay while he was entertaining the nation, which he did so often – and it is his legacy as a great comedian and angry blood donor (well done if you got that reference) which makes him the perfect hero of Ben Miller’s.
Also today: Protect your ears from the screams – it’s One Direction This Is Us Special (Sky1 HD, 6:00pm); and (no ear-covering required for this one) Michael Scott presents Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show on Earth (BBC4, 9:00pm).
Wednesday 28th August
Martin Luther King and the March on Washington
Narrated by Denzel Washington, this one-off documentary marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s historic March on Washington, which was a hugely important moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.
Through archive footage and interviews with those who were there and even helped organise it, this programme tells the story of the march: how it faced opposition from the JFK administration and the FBI and how it ultimately helped bring about racial equality in the States.
The BBC’s commemoration of this momentous event, and celebration of Luther King in general, continues after March on Washington, as BBC4 are showing MLK: The Assassination Tapes at 10:00pm.
Also today: Footloose (E4, 8:00pm); Nick Hewer is on Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); after less than a week in the house, one famous face must leave as it’s eviction night on Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); see the best of the Fringe with Comedy Festival Live (BBC3, 9:00pm); Jem Stansfield presents Crash Test Dummy: A Smashing History (BBC4, 9:00pm), which does exactly what is says on the tin; and Prisoner: Cell Block H remake Wentworth Prison comes to Channel 5 (10:00pm).
Thursday 29th August
Is the novelty of Keith Lemon wearing off? That’s something I’ve found myself thinking quite often recently. I mean, Sing If You Can and Keith Lemon’s LemonAid weren’t exactly hits for ITV, were they? Keith Lemon: The Film was widely slated, too (I even found myself criticising it with someone who was interviewing me for a job the other week!) and I got very bored of his ‘autobiography’, Being Keith: How I Got ‘Ere If You Don’t Know How I Got ‘Ere after about the tenth page. Is the sight of Northern Businessman of the Year 1993 getting his ‘tallywacker’ out on primetime ITV2 getting old? I would have to say yes.
Still, when he keeps it in his trousers there are still a lot of laughs to be had with Keith, and with his revival of Through the Keyhole to hit our screens soon, it looks like he’s sticking around for a while. Plus, of course, Celebrity Juice is back, which means more comments about Holly Willoughby’s bangers and Fearne Cotton’s nostrils – which she has kindly brought back with her from maternity leave.
So, prepare for morerer laughs, morerer crudeness and morerer Keith – because it seems that you don’t have any choice.
Also today: Monster Moves is back (Channel 5, 7:00pm); documentary series The Railway: First Great Western begins (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Derren Brown: Svengali is repeated (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and one-off documentary The Man Who Ate Himself to Death (Channel 5, 10:00pm), which follows Ricky Naputi in his final few months.
Friday 30th August
Alan Carr: Chatty Man
Channel 4, 10:00pm
It’s not just Leigh Francis who is going to be sticking around for a while – Alan Carr will be too, as Chatty Man begins its eleventh series, and there’s plenty more to come, as it has also been commissioned well into next year.
With his effortless style and highly-entertaining, silly demeanour, it really is no surprise that Alan Carr is Channel 4’s golden boy, is it? Earlier this year, he signed a golden handcuffs deal with the channel, which will see him earn £4million and stay with them until at least 2015. I hope they give him more than just Chatty Man and repeats of his stand-up shows, though. I love seeing him chatting to stars on his sofa but how about something a bit…different for him? I mean, he has started a sitcom pilot but, if his chat with Miranda Hart on the Chatty Man Mash-Up is anything to go by, he found that too difficult and has given up. So what about something like The Friday Night Project or Celebrity Ding Dong? He was brilliant on those and I’m sure a similar show to either would prove very popular. For the time being, though, I’m happy to just enjoy him on Chatty Man.
So, who are his first guests of the series? Well, Rizzle Kicks will be performing their annoyingly catchy song, ‘Lost Generation’, and Lee Evans and Keeley Hawes will be dropping by to talk about their West End comedy, Barking in Essex – and there will likely be chat about Lee’s upcoming tour, Monsters, too.
Also today: Construction Squad: Operation Homefront (Channel 5, 8:00pm) begins by looking at the transformation of an old hospital in Newcastle; Mamma Mia! is on ITV2 – again (8:00pm); Big Fat Gyspy Weddings is back (Channel 4, 9:00pm); another housemate gets the boot in Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); horror film Orphan (More4, 9:00pm); Sara Cox and One Direction members Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles and Niall Horan (who also gets so very slightly naked) are on A League of Their Own (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); documentary Youssou N’Dour: Voice of Africa, profiling the Senegalese musician, is on BBC4 (9:20pm); there are a few laughs with Seann Walsh in his Late Night Comedy Spectacular (BBC3, 10:00pm); and films The Nutty Professor (ITV2) and The Boat That Rocked (ITV) are on at 10:10pm and 10:45pm, respectively.
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: What Remains – Thanks to BBC and Laurie Sparham, ©BBC; Martin Luther King and the March on Washington – Thanks to BBC, ©NARA/Smoking Dog Films; Alan Carr: Chatty Man – Thanks to Channel 4 and Open Mike Productions.