Category Archives: ‘Hebburn’

This Christmas in TV – 21st December 2013 – 3rd January 2014

I don’t know about you, but I often find that the Christmas schedules are filled with great comedies, dramas and family shows up until about 27th December – and then it all dies down. We just get whatever’s left over. It’s like going to the tin of Quality Street a few days after Christmas and having to make do with the toffee pennies that get stuck in your teeth for four hours.

This year, though, I think it’s different. There are some great shows spread across the festive fortnight and I think there’s only one day in the whole of that time that I’ve been hard pushed to find something that I can write a few paragraphs about. Let’s see what you think, though. Here’s what we all have to look forward to on the telly this Christmas…

Saturday 21st December

The Illusionists

ITV, 9:10pm

Dynamo, Ben Earl, Tricked, Derren Brown… There seems to be a particular demand in this country  at the minute for magicians and illusionists. I don’t quite'The Illusionists' - ITV, 9:10pm know why, but suddenly TV channels are crying out for performers and their tricks – the riskier the better. And that’s handy, because this show features a lot of ‘risky’ stunts.

As part of their sell-out world tour, a team of six illusionists arrive at the Hammersmith Apollo and, with Stephen Mulhern overseeing proceedings, perform some large-scale illusions, death-defying stunts and comedy magic for a star-studded audience.

As you can imagine, there are some pretty impressive tricks in here – never to be tried at home, of course. Well, unless you happen to own a large transparent water tank and handcuffs – in which case, that’s your own affair.

Also today: Liz McClarnon, Sherrie Hewson, Russell Grant and Des O’Connor compete in The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 5:30pm); the winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2013 is announced (BBC1, 6:30pm & 8:40pm); ITV’s Harry Potter series continues with The Order of the Phoenix (6:30pm); Caroline Flack and Matt Richardson narrate The X Factor Winner’s Story (ITV2, 8:00pm); and BBC2 finishes its The Wrong Mans re-run with the final three episodes from 11:30pm.

The only new Christmas special today is Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:40pm), which features the Chuckle Brothers, Keith Harris and Orville, Linda Lusardi and Sam Kane, and Roy Wood and Santa Claus himself!

Sunday 22nd December

The Sarah Millican Television Programme

BBC2, 10:00pm

The South Shields-born comedienne returns with a Christmas special of her fabulous chat/stand-up'The Sarah Millican Television Programme' - BBC2, 10:00pm show.

Sarah’s had a brilliant year: two series of her show have been made and broadcast, she was nominated for two British Comedy Awards last week and has gone off on her third tour, Home Bird. And now she’s topping it off with this Christmas special, which sees her chat to Call the Midwife stars Judy Parfitt (Sister Monica Joan) and Helen George (Trixie), as well as her teenage crush (her bedroom walls were plastered with posters): Phillip Schofield.

If you’re a fan of The Sarah Millican Television Programme, it might not be too late to ask for the best of series one and two on DVD for Christmas! Click here to find out how to order it.


BBC2, 10:30pm

Yes, I couldn’t resist writing about both of BBC2’s north-eastern, Christmas comedy specials.

Now, I have a confession to make. I watched all of the first series of Hebburn last year, and actually wasn’t as impressed by it as I made out. Everyone seemed to love it, though, so I just went along'Hebburn' - BBC2, 10:30pm with the hype, despite just finding it a quite funny, likeable show. The fact that I only live about twenty minutes away from Hebburn itself probably helped. I genuinely have loved this series, though – this and Last Tango in Halifax have helped bring gentle humour and pathos to Tuesday nights. And Jim Moir and Patt Dunn are simply brilliant together as Joe and his mum, Dot.

In this Christmas special, and the last episode in the series, Sarah and Jack return to Hebburn from Switzerland, just in time for Christmas Eve. However, Sarah’s mum, dad and nan have also turned up, and the latter begins immediately sparring with Jack’s gran, Dot. Plus, a theft means that the families – Jack’s and Sarah’s – must stay in the house, which leads to unlikely friendships being formed and more than a few enemies being made.

Also today: Big Sing: The UK’s Top 10 Carols (BBC1, 4:35pm); The Muppets and Lady Gaga at Christmas (Channel 5, 5:25pm); the obligatory showing of The Snowman (Channel 4, 6:25pm); Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Channel 4, 6:55pm); The Fir Tree (BBC4, 8:30pm) tells the story of the journey of the Christmas tree; there’s one-off drama The Whale (BBC1, 9:00pm), about the apparent inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick; Matt Edmondson presents Utterly Outrageous Reality TV Moments 2013 (ITV2, 10:00pm); and, with his musical Stephen Ward having recently opened in the West End, Andrew Lloyd Webber explores the Porfumo Affair in Sex, Lies and a Very British Scapegoat (BBC1, 10:30pm).

Monday 23rd December

John Bishop’s Christmas Show

BBC1, 9:00pm

Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop will be joined by a host of celebrity guests for a night of festive'John Bishop's Christmas Show' - BBC1, 9:00pm fun.

Fresh from his stint as host of the Royal Variety Performance, and filmed at London’s Lyceum Theatre, John will welcome comedians including Nina Conti, Tim Vine, Lee Nelson, David O’Doherty and Jason Manford to perform sets, as well as delivering a few routines himself.

So join John and some of his favourite comics for a night of festive laughs as he brings his witty observations and hilarious anecdotes to the audience both in the theatre and at home.

Also today: BBC1’s three days of Toy Story starts at 3:15pm; a new series of Celebrity Mastermind begins (BBC1, 7:00pm); Gary Barlow: Journey to Afghanistan (ITV, 9:00pm) sees the X Factor judge perform for the troops at Camp Bastion; Most Shocking Celebrity Moments 2013 (Channel 5, 9:00pm); the third series of Fresh Meat comes to an end (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Caitlin Moran’s sitcom pilot Raised by Wolves is on Channel 4 at 10:50pm.

Christmas specials include: A Question of Sport (BBC1, 7:30pm); The Gadget Show (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Would I Lie to You? (BBC1, 8:30pm); Peter Andre: My Life (ITV2, 9:00pm); and Bluestone 42 (BBC3, 10:00pm), which sees Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis join the cast.

Christmas Eve

The IT Crowd Night

Channel 4, 9:00pm

Channel 4 has dedicated a whole night to celebrating one of its most successful sitcoms of the century: The IT Crowd.

The evening begins with a repeat of September’s unofficial'The IT Crowd' Night - Channel 4, 9:00pm finale to the series, The Internet is  Coming at 9:00pm and then continues with The IT Crowd Manual at 10:00pm – a special documentary narrated by Stephen Mangan and featuring classic clips from the series. The show’s stars, Chris O’Dowd, Katherine Parkinson, Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry and Noel Fielding, and its creator, Graham Linehan, will also be revealing some behind-the-scenes secrets.

Then, there’ll be The Fans’ Favourite Episode (you can vote here) and, rounding it off, The Writer’s Favourite Episode. I’ve already cast my vote for the best episode: The Work Outing, in which the trio go to see – as Roy puts it – ‘a gay musical called Gay’. As with the best IT Crowd episodes, it has a complex plot and some fantastic one-liners. All of them are great though – it should be interesting to find out which one will be voted top.

Also today: It’s a Wonderful Life (Channel 4, 1:10pm); Toy Story 2 (BBC1, 3:40pm); a repeat of heartwarming drama Fast Freddie, the Widow and Me (ITV, 3:45pm); The Nation’s Favourite Christmas Song (ITV, 5:15pm); Carols From King’s (BBC2, 6:15pm); festive animations Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas (Channel 4, 7:05pm) and The Snowman and the Snowdog (Channel 4, 7:30pm); Midsomer Murders (ITV, 8:00pm); the marvellous Last Tango in Halifax finishes its second series (BBC1, 9:00pm); Greatest Ever Christmas Movies (Channel 5, 9:10pm); and BBC2 celebrates the late Mel Smith in I’ve Sort of Done Things (9:45pm) and Comedy Connections (10:45pm).

Christmas specials include: Trollied (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); Not Going Out (BBC1, 10:00pm); and last year’s Outnumbered (BBC1, 10:45pm).

Christmas Day

Downton Abbey

ITV, 8:30pm

As you can imagine, there was a lot of deliberation over which show to write about today. I have, of course, chosen Downton, though. And just like last year’s, the two hour-long episode is rather  disappointingly set in the summer.

As part of Rose’s ‘coming out’ (not in a Tom Daley way: in'Downton Abbey' - ITV, 8:30pm a ‘coming of age’ way), the Crawleys and Granthams travel to London for her debutante ball at Buckingham Palace. However, not one to miss out on a party, Cora’s mother, the outspoken Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine), and her son, the equally outspoken and morally questionable Harold, are also in tow, and make quite an impression amongst London’s high society.

Elsewhere, Carson treats the downstairs staff to a rare day out and the Crawleys become embroiled in a huge scandal which threatens to besmirch the names of the Granthams and the Royal Family, so Robert has to do all he can in order to keep the controversy at bay.

Also today: Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates host Top of the Pops Christmas (BBC1, 2:00pm); Toy Story 3 (BBC1, 3:20pm); Bear Gryll’s Wild Weekend With Stephen Fry (Channel 4, 8:30pm); the TV premiere of Michael Jackson’s This is It (Channel 5, 9:30pm); Michael McIntyre‘s 2012 stand-up show, Showtime (BBC1, 10:05pm); and Love, Actually (ITV, 10:45pm).

And there aren’t many Christmas specials – just Strictly (BBC1, 5:00pm); Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs (ITV, 5:15pm); Call the Midwife (BBC1, 6:15pm); Emmerdale (ITV, 6:15pm); Doctor Who (BBC1, 7:30pm); Coronation Street (ITV, 7:30pm); Christmas Night With the Two Ronnies (BBC2, 7:40pm); EastEnders (BBC1, 8:30pm); Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC1, 9:30pm); Chatty Man (Channel 4, 9:30pm); Man Down (Channel 4, 10:35pm); and the infamous lingerie department episode of Father Ted (Channel 4, 11:05pm). Like I said, not many specials…

Boxing Day

Gangsta Granny

BBC1, 6:05pm

Following the success of Mr Stink last year, the BBC has this year commissioned another TV'Gangsta Granny' - BBC1, 6:05pm adaptation of one of David Walliams’s bestselling children’s novels.

Gangsta Granny tells the story of eleven-year-old Ben, who loathes having to stay with his granny every Friday night when his Strictly-mad parents go to see a dancing show. He hates her company: she feeds him cabbage, subjects him to games of Scrabble and her telly doesn’t work. However, one night his granny discloses the she is an international jewel thief, known as The Black Cat – and suddenly staying with her is not such a bad prospect…

As well as David himself, Gangsta Granny stars Julia McKenzie, Miranda Hart, Joanna Lumley, Rob Brydon, Robbie Williams and Jocelyn Jee Esien, along with newcomer Reece Buttery as Ben.

Also today: The Wizard of Oz (Channel 5, 5:15pm); Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I premieres (ITV, 7:15pm); the much-anticipated Still Open All Hours (BBC1, 7:45pm); Death Comes to Pemberley (BBC1) and Idris Elba: King of Speed (BBC2) begin at 8:15pm; Channel 4 make a risky move in inviting Jack Whitehall onto The Big Fat Quiz of the Year again (Channel 4, 9:00pm), following his headline-making appearance last year; Len Goodman’s Perfect Christmas (BBC1, 9:15pm); Ben & James Versus The Arabian Desert (BBC2, 9:15pm); and I am Britney Jean: Britney Spears in Las Vegas (ITV, 10:05pm) sees the performer begin her two year residency in Vegas.

Friday 27th December

Open All Hours: A Celebration

BBC1, 1:20pm

When the new Open All Hours episode was announced in October, I felt compelled to write an'Open All Hours: A Celebration' - BBC1, 1:20pm article on this blog. I really didn’t like the idea. Sitcom revivals are always risky anyway – and that’s without the protagonist being dead! I just didn’t think that it was plausible that Granville would carry on running the shop once his uncle died and he had the chance to escape. The fact is, though, it’s happening. And I’ve sort of got used to the idea – and even begun to look forward to the new episode!

This thirty minutes-long documentary features interviews with Open All Hours stars Sir David Jason and Lynda Barron, as well as its creator, Roy Clarke, about why they think that, forty years after it debuted, the corner shop sitcom is still hugely popular. We also go behind-the-scenes of the new episode, taking a look at the preparations and anticipation surrounding it.

I just hope that Still Open All Hours is good. Actually, I hope that it’s more than good! I hope it’s excellent! The BBC clearly seem to think it is anyway: rumour has it a brand new series is in the pipeline!

Also today: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Channel 5, 4:10pm); the second episode of Death Comes to Pemberley (BBC1, 9:00pm); the Christmas special of Vicious (ITV, 9:00pm); The Inbetweeners Movie (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Slapstick Comedy Night on Channel 5 begins at 9:00pm with Mr Bean and continues at 10:00pm with Tommy Cooper’s Christmas; a New Year’s special of The Spa (Sky Living, 9:00pm); and Queer as Pop: From the Gay Scene to the Mainstream (Channel 4, 10:55pm) tells of how the liberation of gay men has influenced pop music over the past four decades.

Saturday 28th December

Death Comes to Pemberley

BBC1, 9:00pm

I’ve mentioned it for the past couple of days but now I’m writing about it for the final episode: Death'Death Comes to Pemberley' - BBC1, 9:00pm Comes to Pemberley is a gripping drama, adapted from PD James’s bestselling novel based on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

At a party at Elizabeth and Darcy’s home in Pemberley, Elizabeth’s brother-in-law Wickham is murdered. Darcy immediately springs into action, launching a search party in the woods, where they find a bloodied corpse. However, the body is not that of Wickham, but of his travelling companion. All that the Darcys hold dear is immediately thrown into jeopardy as they become embroiled in the web of lies and deceit of the ensuing murder investigation.

The three-part series (the conclusion of which is tonight) stars Anna Maxwell-Martin, Matthew Rhys and Matthew Goode.

Also today: An 80s special of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 6:00pm); Kate Garraway and former I’m a Celebrity… stars Rebecca Adlington and Rosemary Shrager are on the last Chase: Celebrity Special of the series (ITV, 6:00pm); the finale of Atlantis (BBC1, 8:15pm); 50 Funniest Moments 2013 (Channel 4, 9:00pm); the penultimate Mad Dogs (Sky 1 HD, 9:00pm); and Charlie Brooker’s 2013 Wipe (BBC2, 10:40pm).

Christmas specials include: All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:00pm), which sees Team Corrie go up against Team Dancing on Ice; The Cube Celebrity Special (ITV, 8:00pm), featuring Sherrie Hewson, Denise Welch, Lisa Maxwell and Greg Rutherford (who has never been a Loose Woman, to my knowledge); and The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:00pm), with John Bishop, Jamie Oliver, Ray Winstone, Susan Boyle and David Attenborough.

Sunday 29th December


ITV, 8:00pm

Despite the fact that it is apparently haunted, Miss Marple’s new acquaintance, the recently widowed Mike Rogers, dreams of building a new home on Gypsy Acre. However, he also has'Marple' - ITV, 8:00pm another aspiration: to woo American heiress Ellie Goldman. When he succeeds and they plan to marry, they also set about building his aforementioned dream home – but they have to contend with the threats of local gypsy, Mrs Lee.

Once the house is built and all seems fine, tragedy suddenly strikes as Ellie dies after being thrown from her horse. When two subsequent murders occur, Miss Marple has to step in and try to get to the bottom of Gyspy’s Acre.

The question is, will she be able to?

Also today: The last in the series of Sunday Side Up (ITV, 10:30am) and Sunday Scoop (ITV, 11:30am); Speed With Guy Martin begins (Channel 4, 8:00pm); the last-ever Mad Dogs (Sky 1 HD, 9:00pm); An Audience With Bruce Forsyth, from 1997, is on Channel 5 at 9:00pm, followed by Bruce Forsyth’s Comedy Heroes at 10:05pm; and 2013: Moments in Time (BBC2, 10:30pm) and Mashed (Channel 4, 11:05pm) both take a look back at the year just gone.

Christmas specials include: The recently-axed That Puppet Gameshow (BBC1, 3:20pm); Catchphrase (ITV, 7:00pm); 8 Out of 10 Cats (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and Rude Tube (Channel 4, 10:05pm).

Monday 30th December

The Thirteenth Tale

BBC2, 9:30pm

Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Colman star in this one-off drama based on Diane Setterfield’s novel of'The Thirteenth Tale' - BBC2, 9:30pm the same name.

When young biographer Margaret Lea visits legendary writer Vida Winter to interview her, previously undisclosed secrets are divulged. Due to the revelations of her childhood and dark past, a strong empathy is formed between Vida and her biographer, who is persuaded to confront her own skeletons in the closet.

Prepare for a dark and thrilling psychological mystery, perfect for seeing out 2013!

Also today: Family favourites The Railway Children (ITV, 11:25am) and Mary Poppins (BBC1, 4:15pm); Gok Does Panto (Channel 4, 7:05pm) goes behind-the-scenes of the fashion stylist’s stage debut at the Birmingham Hippodrome; Neil Oliver’s The Sacred Wonders of Britain begins (BBC2, 8:30pm); Agnes takes in a homeless parrot in Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC1, 9:30pm); Jack Dee presents Twit of the Year (Channel 4, 10:00pm); Rik Edwards hosts the Made in Chelsea end of series party (E4, 10:00pm); and there’s a chance to see Jesus Christ Superstar, starring Mel C, Tim Minchin, Chris Moyles and Superstar winner, Ben Forster (Channel 5, 11:35pm).

New Year’s Eve

Two Doors Down

BBC2, 9:00pm

Starring a cast of comedy actors, including Arabella Weir, Doon Mackichan and Greg McHugh, one-'Two Doors Down' - BBC1, 9:00pm off comedy-drama Two Doors Down shows the goings-on at a New Year’s Eve party thrown by Scottish couple Eric and Beth Baird.

The party is attended by the Bairds’ erratic and often mischievous family, friends and neighbours and, as the night goes on, the drinks flow and the countdown to midnight begins in true Scottish style, the laughs become more frequent – but ructions seem increasingly likely.

Also today: Some of this year’s chart-toppers perform on Top of the Pops New Year (BBC1, 5:30pm); ITV has Mamma Mia! (8:00pm); Alan Carr presents his annual New Year Specstacular (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Channel 5 counts down the Greatest Stand-Up Comedians (9:00pm); Jason Manford presents A Funny Old Year (ITV, 10:15pm); and midnight is counted down to in Gary Barlow’s Big Ben Bash (BBC1, 11:15pm) and Jools Holland’s Hootenanny (BBC2, 11:30pm).

Specials today include: Christmas episodes of Deal or no Deal (Channel 4, 7:00pm), Tudor Monastery Farm (BBC2, 9:00pm) and Mock the Week (BBC2, 10:00pm); and a New Year’s Eve special of The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:15pm), with Frank Skinner, Michael Buble, Joan and Jackie Collins, the Pythons and the stars of Anchorman 2.

New Year’s Day


BBC1, 9:00pm

Fans have been waiting two years for it but it’s finally here: the third series of Sherlock.'Sherlock' - BBC1, 9:00pm

As you can imagine, the BBC are giving very little away at the moment. We know, of course, that Sherlock will return – and that return will come as he is needed when London faces a terror attack. However, with Watson having moved on after two years without Holmes, and facing a safe future of domesticity, is he going to immediately aid him in saving the capital?

Well I think it’d make for an arduous ninety minutes if he didn’t…

Fans of the series may also like to note that a mini-episode in build-up to the third series will be available on Christmas Day. I’m not quite sure where or what time but it will be on Christmas Day. So look out for that!

Also today: The Sound of Music (BBC1, 2:15pm); Gnomeo and Juliet (BBC1, 6:45pm); the final Harry Potter film gets its TV premiere (ITV, 8:00pm); and David Blaine presents tricks for some big names in Real or Magic (Channel 4, 9:00pm).

Wednesday 2nd January

Birds of a Feather

ITV, 8:30pm

I genuinely cannot express the extent of my excitement about the return of Birds of a Feather. Unlike Open All Hours, this is a sitcom revival which I was ecstatic about from the start.'Birds of a Feather' - ITV, 8:30pm

That’s right, I’m a seventeen-year-old Birds of a Feather fanatic. And male. Nothing wrong with that!

Following the hit stage adaptation of the series, and rejection by the BBC, ITV decided to snap up Birds for a tenth series – the first to be broadcast on the network. I’m not particularly worried about this series of Birds not being up to scratch: the live tour was a sell-out and the creators, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, have come back to write a lot of the eight episodes, so everything should be fine.

So, what’s happening in the first episode? Well, in ‘Gimme Shelter’, we find Sharon living back in her council flat in Edmonton while Tracey is still in Chigwell with Travis (played by Charlie Quirke, son of Pauline) – but Dorien is nowhere to be seen. Where on earth could she have got to..? Well, it’s likely something to do with sex, isn’t it?

Also today: This Morning and Loose Women return (ITV, 10:30am and 12:30pm); Channel 5 makes us all feel a bit better about eating one too many chocolates by dedicating a whole night to Obesity and Diet from 7:00pm; The Restoration Man is back (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Dolphins: Spy in the Pod begins (BBC1, 8:00pm); Silent Witness starts a new series (BBC1, 9:00pm); we arrive at the Solana again for more Benidorm (ITV, 9:00pm); Michael Grade’s Stars of Musical Theatre is on BBC4 at 9:45pm; there’s a Christmas special (yes, a Christmas special!) of Rab C Nesbitt (BBC2, 10:00pm); and Matt Edmondson has more Fake Reaction (10:00pm).

Friday 3rd January

Celebrity Big Brother

Channel 5, 9:00pm

Yes, it seems not two minutes since Geordie Shore star and Sunderland ladette (although if'Celebrity Big Brother' - Channel 5, 9:00pm Newcastle want to claim her as theirs that’s fine by us…) was named Celebrity Big Brother champion for summer 2013 but now a new batch of vaguely recognisable faces are about to enter the house.

Obviously, no names have been released yet but rumours are rife, with Katies Hopkins and Price being the most prominent. However, other celebrities being linked with the series so far are Jim Davidson (although his name has been bandied about for the past two series) and Nancy Dell’Ollio.

Whoever goes into the house, though, it’s sure to be another cracker of a series.

Also today: A return for The Martin Lewis Money Show (ITV, 8:00pm), Robson’s Extreme Fishing Challenge (Channel 5, 8:00pm), James May’s Toy Stories (BBC1, 9:00pm), Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, with June Brown (ITV, 9:00pm), and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4, 9:00pm). There’s also a new Rude Tube (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and highlights of the most recent, star-studded series of The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm).

So, there we are: that’s what’s coming up on your tellyboxes over Christmas and New Year. 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 Illusionists – Thanks to ITV, ©Wizard TV; The Sarah Millican Television Programme – Thanks to BBC, ©So Television; Hebburn – Thanks to BBC and Matt Squire, ©Baby Cow Manchester/Channel X North; John Bishop’s Christmas Show – Thanks to BBC, ©Lola Entertainment; The IT Crowd Night – Thanks to Channel 4, Pete Dodds and Talkback Thames; Downton Abbey – ©ITV; Gangsta Granny – Thanks to BBC and Gary Moyes, ©BBC; Open All Hours: A Celebration – Thanks to BBC and Gary Moyes, ©BBC; Death Comes to Pemberley – Thanks to BBC, Origin Pictures and Robert Viglasky, ©Origin Pictures; Marple – Thanks to ITV and Neil Genaver, ©ITV; The Thirteenth Tale – Thanks to BBC, Dayday Films and Laurence Cendrowicz, ©Dayday Films; Two Doors Down – Thanks to BBC and Mark Mainz, ©BBC; Sherlock – Thanks to BBC, Hartswood Films and Robert Viglasky, ©Hartswood Films; Birds of a Feather – ©ITV/Retort/QuirkyMedia Stuff; Celebrity Big Brother – Thanks to Five.


This Week in TV – 23rd – 29th November

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – taking in Gallifrey, Hebburn and Burma.

Saturday 23rd November

Doctor Who

BBC1, 7:50pm

Now, the Beeb has kept it fairly quiet but I can exclusively reveal that tomorrow will mark fifty years since Doctor Who began, and – it gets better! – there will be a special episode to mark it!'Doctor Who' - BBC1, 7:50pm

I know, the sly buggers!

Of course I’m joking: it feels like The Day of the Doctor has been trailed across BBC TV and radio since William Hartnell first stepped into the Tardis but finally the build-up ends tonight as the Steven Moffat-penned episode airs.

Modern-day London, sixteenth century England and the mysterious world of space are about to collide as the Doctor must risk everything to stop a murderous plot from coming to fruition. And that is all that the BBC is giving away – understandably, I suppose.

Joining Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman in the special are John Hurt, Joanna Page and former Doctor Who stars David Tennant and Billie Piper. Plus, if you want to enhance your viewing experience, why not watch Day of the Doctor in 3D on BBC HD and at your local cinema. Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty follows on BBC3 at 9:05pm, hosted by Zoe Ball and Rick Edwards.

Also today: A Doctor Who-themed edition of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:40pm); Strictly (BBC1, 6:30pm); Hebburn star Vic Reeves is on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); The X Factor contestants celebrate ten series of The X Factor on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); Sir Tony Robinson presents Walking Through History (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Rob Lowe stars in drama Killing Kennedy (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Comet Ison is the focus of a Horizon special (BBC2, 9:15pm); The Culture Show centres around DH Lawrence (BBC2, 10:15pm); and Simon Pegg, Gary Barlow and Dame Edna Everage are on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10:30pm).

Sunday 24th November

Morecambe & Wise: The Whole Story

BBC2, 9:00pm

This new series traces Eric and Ernie’s career from beginning to end – how they began as a small-'Morecambe & Wise: The Whole Story' - BBC2, 9:00pm scale variety show duo and finished performing to audiences of 28 million on the BBC.

This first episode focuses on the early years and tells of the beginnings of their friendship, after they were persuaded to perform together by Eric’s mum, Sadie. Of course, they didn’t have an immediate ascension to fame: after their debut show Running Wild in 1954, the pair received horrendous reviews, including the now infamous, ‘Definition of the week: TV set – the box in which they buried Morecambe and Wise’.

Things improved though when, seven years later, they began Two of a Kind at ATV. The public fell in love with them and the rest, as they say, is history…

Also today: Strictly (BBC1, 7:20pm) and X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm) results; documentary Hitler’s 9/11 (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and Owen Jones delivers a speech at The RTS Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture (BBC4, 10:00pm).

Monday 25th November

The CCTV Traffic Wardens: Caught on Camera 

Channel 4, 9:00pm

This one-off documentary follows the work of Bristol City Council and the CCTV Control Centre, manned by traffic engineers and covert traffic wardens.

We see drivers being punished for their parking offences. As you’d imagine, there are a fair few tears and tantrums from the drivers along the way.

Also today: The Legalizer (9:15am) and The Doctor Blake Mysteries (2:15pm) begin on BBC1; Caught Red Handed returns (BBC1, 11:00am); Richard Bacon presents new TV-themed quiz show Show Me the Telly (ITV, 4:00pm); documentary Monty Halls and the Kaiser’s Gold begins (Channel 5, 9:00pm); The Cave: Hiding From the Nazis (Channel 5, 10:00pm) tells the story of five families who hid in a cave to escape from the Nazis; and Tracey Emin celebrates the life of Louise Bourgeois in Secret Knowledge (BBC4, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 26th November


BBC2, 10:00pm

The north east-set comedy is now well into its second series and is as brilliantly funny and poignant  as ever.'Hebburn' - BBC2, 10:00pm

Jim Moir really is excelling himself in this series as he plays stroke sufferer Joe with exactly the right amount of warmth and humour. The most laughs, however, come from Joe’s mam, Dot, who has recently moved in with her son and his wife, Pauline and is already making her presence known.

Tonight, Pauline is away on a training day, Gervaise is shooting the picture for his album cover and Jack and Sarah come away from antenatal classes somewhat traumatised.

Also today: Refugees of the Lost Rainforest (BBC4, 8:00pm); the brilliant Last Tango in Halifax continues (BBC1, 9:00pm); and Safari, Witchcraft and Murder (More4, 9:00pm) tells the story of David Simpson and his boss Erik Marav, who were jailed on suspicion of murder.

Wednesday 27th November

Treblinka: Inside Hitler’s Secret Death Camp 

Channel 5, 9:00pm

Not a lot of laughs in this documentary, as you’d imagine.

A team of archaeologists have been granted exclusive access to Treblinka – one of Hitler’s most notorious death camps. 800,000 people were killed at this camp during 1942 and 1943 and this programme explores its structure and where the victims were buried.

Okay, let’s return to the upbeat stuff now, shall we?

Also today: CS Lewis: The Secret Lives and Loves (BBC4, 9:00pm).

Thursday 28th November

Getting Rich in the Recession: Scrappers 

Channel 4, 9:00pm

This hour-long programme tells viewers how the scrap metal industry could help get Britain out of  recession, being as it is a much under-used but'Getting Rich in the Recession: Scrappers' - Channel 4, 9:00pm potentially huge resource.

Unbelievably, the scrap metal industry is worth £10 billion a year with over a million tonnes of electrical goods alone (half of which are still in working order) being discarded in that time.

In this documentary we will meet the larger-than-life characters at the South London scrap yard and see them at work, making the most of the opportunities that the recession throws up.

Also today: Crimewatch (BBC1, 9:00pm); one-off thriller Legacy (BBC2, 9:00pm); Surviving the Arctic With Chris Terrill (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and documentary series What Happens in Kavos returns (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Friday 29th November

Wild Burma: Nature’s Lost Kingdom 

BBC2, 9:00pm

This three-part series sees scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and filmmakers from the 'Wild Burma: Nature's Lost Kingdom' - BBC2, 9:00pm BBC’s Natural History Unit explore the depths of Burma.

In the first episode of the series, Gordon Buchanan and Justine Evans set out to discover whether a population of elephants are living in the mountains of Burma. It’s not an easy journey, however, and Gordon and Justine must overcome a series of obstacles in order to get the answers they want.

Also today: Kangaroo Dundee (BBC2, 8:30pm); documentary Blues America begins (BBC4, 9:00pm); brace yourselves, Janet Street-Porter is on the QI panel this week in an episode titled ‘Kinky’! (BBC2, 10:00pm); Josh Widdicombe and Beady Eye are on Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Colin Farrell, Jo Brand, Sharon Osbourne and Jeremy Clarkson are on Graham Norton’s sofa (BBC1, 10:35pm).

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: Doctor Who – Thanks to BBC and Adrian Rogers, ©BBC; Morecambe and Wise: The Whole Story – ©BBC; Hebburn – Thanks to BBC and Jason Cook, ©Baby Cow Manchester/Channel X North; Getting Rich in the Recession: Scrappers – Thanks to Channel 4 and Jude Edington; Wild Burma: Nature’s Lost Kingdom – Thanks to BBC NHU and Evania Wright, ©BBC NHU.

This Week in TV – 9th – 15th November

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with nights dedicated to the Quo, the Doctor and some yellow bear named Pudsey…

Saturday 9th November

Status Quo Night

BBC2, 9:00pm

BBC2’s celebration of 80s rock band Status Quo tonight kicks off with an edited version of Alan G Parker’s documentary, Hello Quo – previously exclusive to DVD.

This feature-length programme recounts the band’s story – from Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster’s beginnings as school friends to selling an incredible 128 million albums across the world, having added John Coghlan and Rick Parfitt to the line-up. There are also contributions from famous Quo fans, including Brian May, Paul Weller and even Sir Cliff!

Then, after Hello Quo, at 10:20pm, a selection of the band’s best appearances on Top of the Pops are presented in TOTP2: Status Quo.

Also today: Chris Hollins and Helen Skelton present The Lord Mayor’s Show coverage (BBC1, 10:45am); there’s a music-themed Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:40pm); Claudia steps in for Brucie (thanks, Claud!) for the seventh week of Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1, 6:30pm); Fool Britannia concludes (ITV, 6:30pm); Shane Lynch, Stephen K Amos, Colin Jackson and Emmerdale’s Fiona Wade are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); it’s Big Band Week on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); Huw Edwards presents The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance (BBC1, 9:15pm); and Jonathan Ross chats to Celine Dion, Andy Murray, Johnny Vegas and John Barrowman (ITV, 9:35pm).

Sunday 10th November


Sky1 HD, 6:30pm

If you liked Horrible Histories, I have a feeling you’re going to love this!

From the writers of the aforementioned CBBC hit comes Yonderland: a brand-new sitcom about a thirty-something mum who unexpectedly finds herself in a world of bizarre and idiotic characters.

Debbie is in her kitchen when an Elf appears from one of the cupboards, announcing that she is The Special One and is needed in another world. Intrigued, and deciding that her only other option would be to sit and watch daytime TV, she decides to follow the Elf through the portal into this other world.

She must help the people and creatures in her new world by solving their problems and trying to stop some of them from doing bad. The question is: will she be able to do it?

And the other question is: will she be back in time to pick the kids up from school?

Also today: The Puppini Sisters perform in Strictly Come Dancing: The Results (BBC1, 7:20pm); Robbie Williams makes his obligatory annual appearance on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); Chris Naunton presents Secret History (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Richard Hammond Builds a Universe – the follow up to last week’s Builds a Planet – is on BBC1 at 9:00pm; this series of Downton Abbey ends with a feature-length episode (ITV, 9:00pm); John Bridcut presents one-off documentary Requiem (BBC4, 9:00pm); Our Soldiers: Return to Civvy Street (More4, 9:00pm) sees servicemen go back to civilian life; and the BAFTA-winning The Revolution Will Be Televised returns (BBC3, 10:25pm).

Monday 11th November

The Paul O’Grady Show 

ITV, 5:00pm

Cast your mind right back to 2005. Blair was still in power, Twitter was just an idea in Jack Dorsey’s head, and the names Susan Boyle, Harry Styles and Justin Bieber were unheard of outside of their hometowns. Paul O’Grady was also poised to be the host some new reality show called Britain’s Got Talent and millions of Brits were sitting down to eat their teas (sorry, Southerners, “dinner”)in the company of him and his dog, Buster. However, behind the scenes there were tensions: Granada – the show’s production company – had reportedly ‘forgotten’ to renew Paul’s contract, was paying him less than he wanted and would not give him more creative control over the show. So he jumped ship to Channel 4 – but The Paul O’Grady Show ended there in December 2009.

Since then, the bigwigs with whom Paul clashed so often have left ITV themselves, allowing him to return to the network to present Paul O’Grady Live and, of course, his award-winning and heart-warming documentary series, For the Love of Dogs. And now he’s back for more teatime fun with the twelfth series of The Paul O’Grady Show. And The Organ Game’s back, too!

Coming up this week, Paul will be welcoming Alan Carr, Sir Cliff Richard, Mel C, Patsy Kensit and many, many more onto his sofa. For his first episode tonight, however, Louis Walsh, Helen Worth and The Saturdays will be dropping by.

Also today: Neighbourhood Blues is back (BBC1, 9:15am); Peter Andre presents a new series of 60 Minute Makeover (ITV, 2:00pm); Jimmy McGovern’s daytime drama Moving On returns (BBC1, 2:15pm); Got Thin: Got Fat Again! (Channel 5, 9:00pm) follows Big Brother star Josie Gibson and her weight problems; Michael Bolton hosts Never Mind the Buzzcocks (BBC2, 10:00pm) – which will presumably be less eventful than last week; one-off documentary Storyville (BBC4, 10:00pm) tells the story of an ambitious entrepreneur; and video showcase The Shooting Gallery (Channel 4, Midnight) begins.

Tuesday 12th November


BBC2, 10:00pm

Jason Cook’s popular sitcom about a North-Eastern family returns for a second series.

Starring comedians Chris Ramsey and Jim Moir (Vic Reeves) alongside Kimberley Nixon, Gina McKee and Cook himself, Hebburn hit our screens last year and, while some local residents took objection, it was generally well received – so much so that it was named Best New TV Sitcom in the British Comedy Guide’s annual awards and was swiftly commissioned for this second series and a Christmas special.

As we left the Pearsons in the first series, Jack and Sarah (Ramsey and Nixon) were getting married – for the second time. Only this time the family knew about it – the first time, it was secret. Of course, the wedding day also saw Jack’s dad, Joe, have a stroke, so as we rejoin the family, mum Pauline is having to return to work – but is struggling. Elsewhere, pregnant Sarah is becoming more anxious to move out and Granny Dot has a windfall!

Watch out for Geordie actor Tim Healy and Mackem actress Melanie Hill in this series, too.

Also today: Martin Lewis Money Show: The Twelve Saves of Christmas (ITV, 8:00pm); new documentary series All Aboard: East Coast Trains (Sky Living, 8:00pm); Strange Days: Cold War Britain (BBC2, 9:00pm); Mark-Williams Thomas and Natasha Kaplinsky present Missing Without Trace (ITV, 9:00pm); Snow, Sex and Suspicious Parents (BBC3, 9:00pm) follows young people misbehaving on skiing holidays; Richard Alwyn presents the first of three episodes of Cathedrals (BBC4, 9:00pm); and a treat for any fans of musicals as The Story of Musicals begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm) with a look at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the title of this week’s Imagine (BBC1, 10:35pm) is Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy and, finally, smash-hit musical Cabaret is on BBC1 at 12:05am.

Wednesday 13th November


ITV, 8:00pm

Yes, after a very successful quarter of a century on our screens, tonight Belgian detective Hercule Poirot will solve his last-ever case.

In this final instalment, the immobilised sleuth and his old friend Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser) must return to their first case in order to prevent a looming murder.

As well as Hugh Fraser and, of course, David Suchet, Curtain: Poirot’s Final Case stars Matthew McNulty, Anne Reid, Philip Glenister and Helen Baxendale.

Then, after the News, Being Poirot (10:35pm) sees the man behind the eponymous detective, David Suchet, set off on a personal journey to investigate the appeal of the character and why the Belgian will forever hold a place in murder mystery lovers’ hearts around the world.

Also today: DIY SOS: Million Pound Build for Children in Need (BBC1, 8:00pm); documentary series Tudor Monastery Farm (BBC2, 9:00pm) begins; 24 Hours in A&E returns (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Channel 5 shows one-off documentary JFK’s Secret Killer: The Evidence (9:00pm); Bouffants, Beehives and Bobs: The Hairstyles That Have Shaped Britain is on BBC4 at 9:00pm; and Jack Dee hosts the first episode of Crackanory (Dave, 10:00pm), in which comedy stars read humorous fiction for adults.

Thursday 14th November

Doctor Who Night 

BBC2, 9:00pm

You can’t have failed to notice that this year marks five decades since William Hartnell first stepped into that blue phone box and the longest-running sci-fi series ever began. Well, tonight the BBC’s many celebratory programmes begin, firstly with The Science of Doctor Who.

Recorded at the Royal Institute of Great Britain, Professor Brian Cox takes the audience – both live in the lecture theatre and at home – on a journey into the wonderful world of The Doctor, revealing the physics behind the Time Lord’s space travel.

Then the tone is lowered somewhat with a repeat of a Doctor Who-themed edition of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. David Tennant oversees proceedings while his Who co-stars Catherine Tate and Bernard Cribbins (who I would pay to see smash a mug in Phill Jupitus’s face and then storm off) are joined by Jamie Cullum and Jo Whiley.

Also today: Chris Evans and Fearne Cotton present Children in Need Rocks from the Hammersmith Apollo (BBC1, 8:00pm); it’s the last in the series of period drama Breathless (ITV, 9:00pm); John Bridcut presents Britten’s Endgame (BBC4, 9:00pm); and documentary The Day Kennedy Died is on ITV at 10:35pm.

Friday 15th November

Children in Need 

BBC1 & BBC2, 5:15pm

Yep, it really is a year since everyone was commenting on the nerve of the BBC to ask licence fee-payers to help abused children.

As ever, Auntie is going all-out to make this year’s Children in Need appeal the best and most successful ever. The fun begins with Terry Wogan and Esther Rantzen appearing on a special Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:15pm), Matt Baker and Alex Jones up the hype with The One Show (BBC1, 7:00pm) and then the six and a half hours-long extravaganza kicks off, with “Tezza” (I wonder if he’s receiving his usual fee this year…), Tess Daly and Fearne Cotton covering the first two-and-a-half hours.

Later, One Direction present with Fearne on BBC2 (10:00–10:35pm) before we hop back onto BBC1 for Terry, Zoe Ball and (a presumably very tired) Nick Grimshaw from 10:35pm until 2:05am.

Highlights will include specials of Room 101, Doctor Who, Call the Midwife, Strictly and Holby City as well as performances from JLS, Union J, Dido and, er, Harry Hill and Greg James & Russell Kane. Should be interesting.

The cast of musicals such as Matilda, The Commitments and Spamalot also lend a hand.

Also today: A new episode of The Simpsons (Channel 4, 6:00pm); Impractical Jokers star Joel Dommett presents the first of three episodes of Doctor Who: Greatest Monsters and Villains Weekend (BBC3, 7:05pm); Britten at the Proms (BBC4, 7:30pm); Paul McCartney in Concert (BBC4, 9:30pm); and Russell Brand, Adam Hills and The Wanted are on Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

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

‘Hebburn’ – Episode 1.1

Jason Cook’s new comedy – based on some of his own experiences growing up – Hebburn hit BBC2 last night – and I loved it!


People have compared it to The Royle Family and I do sort of see what they mean, in terms of concept: it focuses on a northern, down-to-earth, quite close-knit family. When it comes to quality, though, The Royle Family is pretty much untouchable – so, not to take anything away from it, I don’t believe Hebburn is at that point (and was therefore shocked to read that the British Comedy Guide have described it as, ‘the identifiable, real family comedy that The Royle Family always thought it was’. Although I love BCG, I have to disagree there).

Hebburn‘s similarities to other sitcoms don’t just end with Aherne and Cash’s – oh, no! There are many cringeworthy moments throughout, quite reminiscent of The Office, the plot about Jack and Sarah secretly marrying abroad smells of BBC3’s most recent hit, Cuckoo, and there’s something about the family and setting which puts me in mind of Simon Amstell’s Grandma’s House. Despite, on reflection, being somewhat of a concoction of these other brilliant programs, Hebburn never feels unoriginal or like a copy of another series – something which appears to be rare in the world of sitcom nowadays.


I know a lot of people from the north east will be up-in-arms about this show but I’m not one of them. After all, this is like a rom-com compared to Geordie Shore!

Even if I wasn’t from Sunderland, I know for a fact that I would still really like Hebburn. However, the fact that I am from the north east – and I’m sure this will apply to others from the area who watched it – enhanced my enjoyment.

I particularly loved Chris Ramsey (Jack), reprimanding his wife Sarah (played by Fresh Meat‘s Kimberley Nixon) for saying, “I’ve never been to Newcastle before”, by replying, “This isn’t Newcastle!” That is exactly how my dad – and probably I, if I’m honest – would react if someone said that! And if you don’t think it is a likely response, why don’t you go up to someone in Sunderland, South Shields, or Middlesbrough and call them “a Geordie” or tell them you’re enjoying being in Newcastle. I doubt you’ll get a response which differs much from Jack’s!

The magic of Hebburn is that I can identify with the family – much like everyone could with The Royle FamilyEarly Doors or even Only Fools and Horses. I know who the Pearsons are: I recognise their personalities, the situations they’re in, the colloquialisms they use. It’s all there! Cook has done so well to tap into north east life, yet also make his show universal, so that no matter where you are in the country, you’ll ‘get it’. That is, once again, a rarity nowadays.


There’s some masterful dialogue in that script, such as Dot – the ‘couldn’t give a damn’ gran – piping up with:

‘I love sitting in the lounge. We only use it on special occasions.’

To which Jack’s sister, Vicki, replied excitedly:

‘We ‘aven’t been in there since The X Factor final!’

It’s a simple enough line, and may not look like much on paper, but really is brilliant when delivered in that familiar Geordie lilt.

With such a well crafted script, excellent one-liners and subplots, I really do urge you to seek out Hebburn on iPlayer. Ya winnit regret it, pet!

To let me know what you think of any of my comments, or just to share your views on anything about the world of TV, drop a comment on this post or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer

Also, watch out for my review on shows such as The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing on my YouTube channel –