Category Archives: Sky

This Week in TV – 11th – 17th January

Following on from a week that provided a triumphant return for Catherine Tate, a hugely enjoyable Life Stories thanks to Mary Berry and the best first week of Celebrity Big Brother for a long time, here’s what is in store for the next seven days.

Saturday 11th January

The Voice UK

BBC1, 7:00pm'The Voice UK' - BBC1, 7:00pm

Yes, everyone’s fifth favourite talent show is back for a third (and final?) series.

As I’m sure you’re aware, there are a few changes this year: Jessie J and Danny off of The Script have left to focus on their music (code for ‘have jumped ship before it sinks’), so Kylie Minogue (pictured) and Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs are sitting in their chairs, alongside regulars will.i.am and Tom Jones. He used to know Elvis, don’t you know.

The presenting team has altered somewhat in this series too. And by ‘somewhat’ I do of course mean ‘entirely’. Emma Willis has signed up as part of her quest for TV domination, and Marvin Humes is also on board. Well, it keeps him out of the dole queue.

Perhaps I should make it clear that I’m not a huge fan of The Voice. But I do like Kylie. And Emma Willis. So I might gave it another chance.

Also today: Dynamo: Magician Impossible comes to BBC1 (5:30pm); Shane Richie hosts new game show Reflex (BBC1, 6:15pm); Keith Duffy dons his budgie smugglers for Splash! (ITV, 7:00pm); new US series Hostages begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Torvill and Dean are on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:45pm); and star-studded comedy film Burke and Hare premieres (BBC2, 10:15pm).

Sunday 12th January

Sherlock

BBC1, 8:30pm

Unsurprisingly, the new series of Sherlock has been as popular as ever, but it all ends for another year tonight, seemingly just two minutes since it came back. Worry not, though, Steven Moffat said last week that series four and five have already been planned out, so it seems that we’ve a few more'Sherlock' - BBC1, 8:30pm years’ worth of Conan-Doyle’s tales left to enjoy.

Tonight, in an episode entitled ‘The Last Vow’ (ooh, ominous), a case of stolen letters leads Sherlock to confront the one man he truly hates: Charles Augustus Magnussen. It’s certainly not going to be easy for him to get to the bottom of this one.

A Timeshift special, entitled ‘How to be Sherlock Holmes: Many Faces of a Master Detective’, follows on BBC4 at 10:00pm, taking a look back at the many actors who have taken on the role of the sleuth.

Also today: The next batch of ‘all stars’ enter the rink for Dancing on Ice (ITV, 6:15pm); Paul Potts and Ann Widdecombe lock horns on All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:45pm); Simon Reeve explores the east African tea industry in This World (BBC2, 8:00pm); and a highlights package of the very best of thirty seven years of It’ll Be Alright on the Night (ITV, 9:00pm).

Monday 13th January

The Great Sport Relief Bake Off

BBC2, 8:30pm

The baps will be out and there’ll be soggy bottoms galore (but enough about Mazza Bezza) as a whole host of stars – and, unusually for a celebrity series, I do mean stars – enter the tent, roll up'The Great British Sport Relief Bake Off' - BBC2, 8:30pm their sleeves and get baking in aid of Sport Relief.

While Downton’s Samantha Bond, boxer Nicola Adams, actress Bonnie Wright and (the unrelated) Michael and Johnny Vaughan take part tonight, we can also look forward to seeing Jane Horrocks, Jason Gardiner, Michael Ball, Jamelia, Rochelle Humes and many more try their hands at baking this week.

Not only that, but over the next four nights we will also see a variety of presenters guide the competitors through their cake-based disasters: 50% of the regular team, Sue Perkins, will host the first episode, then we’ll have Jo Brand on Tuesday, Omid Djalili on Wednesday and Ed Byrne on Thursday. Don’t ask me why; we just do.

Also today: Dramatically-titled documentary series The Sheriffs Are Coming returns (BBC1, 11:00am); A Place in the Sun: Winter Sun is back (Channel 4, 2:10pm); Hannah White presents endurance series Go Hard or Go Home (Channel 5, 8:00pm); there’s a Fake Britain special (BBC1, 8:30pm); Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents is back, this time with the focus on Thailand (BBC3, 9:00pm); one-off documentary Dave: Loan Ranger (Channel 4, 10:00pm) sees entrepreneur Dave Fishwick help people who are in deep debt; Baby Faced Brides (Channel 5, 10:00pm) follows teenagers who are getting married; and Nick Helm’s likeable sitcom Uncle gets a full series on BBC3 (10:00pm), following its pilot on Channel 4 in 2012.

Tuesday 14th January

House of Fools

BBC2, 10:00pm

Set in Bob’s home, House of Fools is exactly what you’d expect of a Reeves and Mortimer sitcom: it’s disorganised, it’s surreal but, above all, it’s very funny. Well, it looks like it is anyway.

Yes, this new series is set in Bob Mortimer’s house – but you wouldn’t think it, as the place is'House of Fools' - BBC2, 10:00pm perpetually populated by a plethora of people (ok, I’ll stop with the alliteration) who it seems are uninvited and merely turn up in order to annoy poor Bob. People such as Vic, whose long-term stay in the house means that he has come to have a complete disregard for Bob’s wishes and has begun to treat the place like his own. Then there’s Erik – Bob’s Norwegian son (did I really have to tell you that this is a Reeves and Mortimer script?), Julie from next door, ladies’ man Beef, and ex-con Bosh. Together, they all comprise the titular House of Fools.

As well as starring Vic and Bob themselves, the series also features top comedy talent such as Daniel Simonsen, Matt Berry, Morgana Robinson and the much under-valued Dan Skinner.

Also today: Ben Miller bows out of Death in Paradise (BBC1, 9:00pm); wildlife documentaries Wild Brazil (BBC2, 9:00pm) and Paul O’Grady’s Animal Orphans (ITV, 9:00pm); Underage and Over the Limit focuses on underage drinkers in, surprise surprise, Sunderland (BBC3, 9:00pm); and Autopsy: The Last Hours of Whitney Houston is on Channel 5 at 10:00pm.

Wednesday 15th January

The Kumars

Sky1 HD, 9:00pm

Yes, after an eight year absence from our screens, Britain’s best-loved, and only, chat show family are back for a brand new series, this time on Sky.

So, what’s happened to the British-Asian family since we'The Kumars' - Sky1 HD, 9:00pm last saw them? Well, following a downturn in fortunes, the Kumars have had to move out of number 42 and are now living in a flat in Hounslow. Also, Sanjeev is divorced and Madhuri (Mum) has returned to India, meaning that the series has been made without Indira Joshi. Whether that was her choice or not we don’t know.

Other than that, things are pretty much as-was, and Sanjeev will continue to battle through his family squabbles and try to keep control of his chats. And what chats they’ll be as the recession may have hit the Kumars but the quality of their guests has not been compromised: Olivia Colman, Richard E Grant, Elizabeth McGovern, Daniel Radcliffe, Dame Diana Rigg and many, many more will drop in for a chat throughout the six weeks.

Also today: We find out who will follow in Evander Holyfield’s footsteps and be the next to leave Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); British Comedy Award-winning Nina Conti hosts Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); and a Cutting Edge special takes a look at a new adoption scheme (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 16th January

Birds of a Feather

ITV, 8:30pm

It was always going to fare quite well. Given that, at its peak, the series was drawing in 27 million viewers and ran for 102 episodes, Birds of a Feather was undeniably a hit in the nineties, and while'Birds of a Feather' - ITV, 8:30pm the return was met with some anger, confusion and more than a little indifference, it has been generally warmly received, giving ITV its biggest audience for a sitcom since Barbara (remember that?) almost fourteen years ago.

It does seem to me that Birds wouldn’t have been commissioned without the preceding BBC series. It is enjoyable, but mainly because we already know and love the characters, and are therefore likely to laugh at anything they say or do. It wouldn’t be able to hold its own against more contemporary series (Miranda and Mrs Brown’s Boys stand out in my mind) but it is enjoyable. Even just for Lesley Joseph.

Tonight, Garth and Marcie aren’t having any ‘together time’, so Tracey decides to move Sharon out of her room and onto the sofa. However, when this fails, Sharon takes to sleeping in the loft, where she may just find something to solve her sister’s financial problems.

Also today: Wildlife series Hidden Kingdoms begins (BBC1, 8:00pm); and the brilliantly acerbic Charlie Brooker has more Weekly Wipe (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Friday 17th January

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories

ITV, 9:00pm

We’ve already had two highly enjoyable Life Stories this series, thanks to June Brown and Mary Berry, and now it’s the turn of Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey to take a grilling from Piers.'Piers Morgan's Life Stories' - ITV, 9:00pm

In this candid interview, Neil tells his side of the story for the first time about his infamous five week- long affair with Amanda Holden, who was married to Family Fortunes host Les Dennis at the time. He claims that the affair was inevitable and he never has apologised to Les, nor has any intention to. It may be worth noting that, while talking about the affair, Neil condemns Amanda for discussing the topic in her autobiography, published around the time that the programme was recorded. Pot. Kettle. Black.

The actor will also talk about going into care at the age of ten, his current marriage and his many encounters with the rich and famous. But not Amanda Holden. Because it would be wrong to talk about that so publicly, wouldn’t it Neil?

Also today: An Island Parish returns (BBC2, 8:30pm); Kathy Burke and Josh Widdicombe join in the literacy- and numeracy-based fun of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4, 9:00pm); there’s another Celebrity Big Brother Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Susan Calman, Sandi Toksvig and Liza Tarbuck are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); there’s a repeat of Sarah Millican’s brilliant 2011 show, Chatterbox (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Graham Norton welcomes Michael Fassbender, Lena Dunham, Idris Elba and Olivia Colman onto his 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: The Voice UK – Thanks to BBC and Guy Levy, ©Wall to Wall; Sherlock – Thanks to BBC and Robert Viglasky, ©Hartswood Films; The Great Sport Relief Bake Off – Thanks to BBC and Scott Kershaw, ©Sport Relief Ltd; House of Fools – Thanks to Pett Productions and Christopher Baines, ©BBC; The Kumars – ©Justin Downing for Sky 1 HD; Birds of a Feather – ©ITV/Retort/QuirkyMedia Stuff; Piers Morgan’s Life Stories – Thanks to Kieron McCarron, ©ITV.

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This Week in TV – 4th – 10th January

Happy new year! Let old acquaintance be forgot, etc.

Right, now down to the matter in hand. I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas telly! Last Tango in Halifax and Downton Abbey were particular highlights for me. In fact, I must have been full of Christmas spirit as I actually found myself laughing at Vicious. Out loud, too! Please don’t think bad of me.

Thankfully the people behind the programmes haven’t rested on their laurels in the new year and are instead treating us to some fantastic returning shows. Oh, and Splash!. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Saturday 4th January

Nan

BBC1, 9:30pm

Forget your Ted and Ralphs and your Lou and Andys, I think that the greatest British sketch show character of all time is Catherine Tate’s foul-mouthed Joannie ‘Nan’ Taylor.'Nan' - BBC1, 9:30pm

Having become the star of many charity specials (most recently last year’s Children in Need Holby  City sketch) and her own take on a Dickensian tale (2009’s Nan’s Christmas Carol), it’s quite safe to say that Nan was the stand-out character in The Catherine Tate Show, so it’s little surprise that the comedienne has brought her back for – a disappointingly short – thirty five minute special.

As we rejoin Nan, there have been a few changes in her life: her put-upon grandson Jamie is having to communicate via Skype, as he’s doing charity work in Africa (as actor Mathew Horne was busy during filming), so a young girl named Alice has been allocated to Nan as part of a ‘Young and Old Buddy-Up Foundation’ scheme in order to keep the pensioner in good spirits. Unfortunately that’s where the changes end, as, as you can imagine, Alice does not manage to perk Nan up. Over the course of the episode we see her causing a stir at the local council offices, disturbing the peace in a hospital and interfering in her new neighbours’ weddings plans.

I bet she’s still more cheerful than Catherine Tate was on The One Show though, eh?

Also today: An education special of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 7:00pm); huge A-list stars such as Paul Ross and Ricky Groves take part in the new series of Splash! (ITV, 7:20pm); The Making of David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum (Sky1 HD, 7:35pm) goes behind the scenes of the broadcaster’s latest documentary; The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins (BBC1, 7:50pm) and Take Me Out (ITV, 8:50pm) are back; BBC2 has a Dave Allen Night from 9:00pm; Jennifer Saunders, Jamie Cullum and Paddy McGuinness are on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:50pm); Little Fockers premieres on TV (10:25pm, BBC1); and Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Psych returns (Channel 5, 11:00pm).

Sunday 5th January

Dancing on Ice

ITV, 6:15pm

Just as the theme tune to Heartbeat used to, the opening credits of Dancing on Ice reminds a nation of young people that they have school the next day. That’s certainly the effect it used to have on me,'Dancing on Ice' - ITV, 6:15pm anyway! Soon though that will all change as tonight marks the beginning of the end for Dancing on Ice.

For the past eight years we have joined Phillip, Holly/Christine, Torvill & Dean and the ever-changing judging panel to watch as a myriad of reality TV stars, soap actors and Loose Women risked serious injury by stumbling out onto the ice and performing for the nation but in just ten weeks’ time it will all be over, as Jayne and Chris and ITV have mutually agreed to end the series now, thirty years after the pair won gold for their Bolero at the Sarajevo Olympics.

As has been widely reported, this year sees the cream of the crop – and Todd Carty and Joe Pasquale – return to the ice in the hope of being crowned champion of champions. Competing are: Beth Tweddle, Bonnie Langford, David Seaman, Gareth Gates, Gary Lucy, Hayley Tamaddon, Jorgie Porter, Kryan Bracken, Ray Quinn, Sam Attwater, Suzanne Shaw and Zaraah Abrahams, as well as the aforementioned Todd and Joe.

Should be an exciting ten weeks!

Also today: Nicky Campbell hosts a new series of The Big Questions (BBC1, 10:00am); one-off fly-on-the-wall documentary Shipping Wars is on Channel 4 at 7:00pm; Kimberley Walsh and Wayne Sleep take part in All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:45pm); the new series of Sherlock continues (BBC1, 8:30pm); Operation Grand Canyon with Dan Snow (BBC2, 9:00pm) sees the presenter try to recreate John Wesley Powell’s 1869 journey around the Grand Canyon; Griff Rhys Jones presents another It’ll Be Alright on the Night (ITV, 9:00pm); 2011 film Bad Teacher premieres (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and The Magaluf Weekender returns (ITV2, 9:00pm).

Monday 6th January

The 7.39

BBC1, 9:00pm

New star-studded drama series The 7.39 encapsulates the monotony of the daily morning commute'The 7.39' - BBC1, 9:00pm to work, but also shows how these boring journeys can lead to something life-changing.

The series focuses on Carl (David Morrissey) and Sally (Sheridan Smith), who have an argument one Monday morning over a seat on the train. Things do improve between them, though, as they begin to chat and a bond grows between them. It soon becomes apparent to the pair of them, however, that their feelings for each other are deeper than just friendship.

The problem is, with Carl happily married to Maggie (Olivia Colman) and Sally engaged to the enthusiastic and devoted Ryan (Sean Maguire), will they find it within themselves to confess their feelings to each other, and risk everything they have?

Concludes tomorrow.

Also today: New series of Wanted Down Under (BBC1, 9:15am), Rip Off Britain (BBC1, 11:00am), Real Lives Reunited (BBC1, 11:45am), Loose Women (ITV, 12:30pm), A Place in the Sun (Channel 4, 2:10pm), Father Brown (BBC1, 2:15pm), Britain’s Best Bakery (ITV, 4:00pm), Great British Railway Journeys (BBC2, 6:30pm) and Inside Out (BBC1, 7:30pm); A Great British Adventure with Griff Rhys Jones begins (ITV, 8:00pm); there’s a Food Unwrapped Diet Special (Channel 4, 8:00pm); The Bletchley Circle is back (ITV, 9:00pm); infuriating documentary Benefits Street begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Jake Hanrahan presents The Truth About Skunk (BBC3, 9:00pm); Secrets of the Living Dolls (Channel 4, 10:00pm) and Secrets of the Sales (BBC1, 10:35pm) are revealed; and I Shot 2013 (ITV, 10:35pm) reflects on some of last year’s biggest news stories, told through the images that members of the public captured with their cameras.

Tuesday 7th January

Weight Loss Ward

ITV, 8:00pm

I love living in, and am very proud to be from, Sunderland. I think that it’s a brilliantly diverse city'Weight Loss Ward' - ITV, 8:00pm which is often cast in Newcastle’s shadow. It’s just a shame that TV executives don’t regard it as  favourably, because instead of having documentaries set here which show us in a good light, we get Geordie Shore. Secret Millionaire. And Weight Loss Ward – a programme following the work of doctors in ‘one of the busiest NHS obesity units in the UK’. So Sunderland is home to perpetual ‘sessioners’, people desperate for charity and the morbidly obese. Hooray for us, eh?

As well as meeting new patients, the series also catches up with some of those who appeared on the programme in 2012, such as Terry, from Hetton le Hole,  and who when we last saw him had ballooned to 47 stone. Having previously fallen out of love with each other, Terry and his wife are now back together, and he is on a quest to lose weight once again.

Will Terry be able to do it for the sake of his children?

Also today: The return of River Monsters (ITV, 7:30pm), Stargazing Live (BBC2, 8:00pm), Location, Location, Location (Channel 4, 8:00pm), and Gibralta: Britain in the Sun (Channel 5, 8:00pm); The Lying Game: Crimes That Fooled Britain (ITV, 9:00pm) investigates the criminals who used crocodile tears to deceive the nation; Nigella’s new series The Taste comes to the UK (Channel 4, 9:00pm); God’s Cadets: Joining the Salvation Army (BBC4, 9:00pm) follows new recruits as they are put through their paces; Nick Robinson presents The Truth About Immigration (BBC2, 9:30pm); and Secrets of the Body Clock with Terry Wogan (BBC1,10:35pm) is…well…is exactly what it sounds like.

Wednesday 8th January

This is Jinsy

Sky Atlantic, 10:00pm

The surreal sitcom about a group of oddballs who live an Orwellian existence of constant surveillance'This is Jinsy' - Sky Atlantic, 10:00pm on the island of Jinsy returns for a second series.

The series is notable for its guest stars, and over the next eight weeks we can look forward to seeing Eileen Atkins, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman, Rob Brydon, Stephen Mangan, Olivia Colman, Ben Miller and Greg Davies – to name just a few. Starring in tonight’s episode is Stephen Fry, who plays ‘wig keeper’ Dr Bevelspepp.

Also today: Bigger Big Body Squad (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Ashley Banjo’s Big Town Dance (Sky1 HD, 8:00pm); Waterloo Road (BBC1, 8:30pm) and 24 Hours in A&E (Channel 4, 9:00pm) return; the first housemate gets the boot from Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Jack Whitehall hosts a postponed Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); Fergal Keane presents The Hidden World of Britain’s Immigrants (BBC2, 9:30pm); Hurricanes and Heatwaves: The Highs and Lows of British Weather (BBC4, 9:30pm) takes a look at the journey of the weather forecast; and Hens Behaving Badly is back for a second series (Channel 5, 10:30pm).

Thursday 9th January

The Undateables

Channel 4, 9:00pm

Well this is unfortunate. Having said all that about Sunderland being badly represented in'The Undateables' - Channel 4, 9:00pm documentaries, I come to The Undateables – the brilliant last series of which featured Steve, a shelf- stacker in Asda, Sunderland. Unfortunately he didn’t manage to find love during the programme, but we will be catching up with him in the next few weeks to find out how he’s got on.

The Undateables is quite a controversial series. For some reason, people think that the participants are being singled out for their disabilities, but anyone who has seen the series will know that that is not what happens. It’s just a documentary about dating – but featuring people who often find it difficult to get dates.

Looking for love in this series are: Mary, who has dwarfism; Daniel, who is autistic; Hayley, who has Apert Syndrome; Ruth, who has Tourette’s; John, who has Asperger’s; and Zoe, who has Mosaic Down Syndrome.

Also today: Supersize vs Superskinny (Channel 4, 8:00pm); World’s Worst Holiday Horrors (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Tough Young Teachers (BBC3, 9:00pm) follows graduates taking their first jobs in tough London schools; Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe (BBC2) and Botched Up Bodies return at 10:00pm; documentary series What Happens in Sunny Beach (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Nick Grimshaw reveals this year’s BRIT Awards nominees in The BRITs Are Coming (ITV, 10:35pm).

Friday 6th January

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories

ITV, 9:00pm

In last week’s Life Stories, Piers interviewed EastEnders legend June Brown – whose autobiography came out last year.'Piers Morgan's Life Stories' - ITV, 9:00pm

This week, he’s interviewing Mary Berry – whose autobiography came out last year.

Does anyone else see a pattern developing here?

Not to worry, though: June Brown’s interview was quite enjoyable last week and Mary’s is sure to be this week as she opens up about her experience with Polio as a child, as well as her son’s death at the age of 19. She will also discuss, of course, her new-found fame as star of The Great British Bake Off.

Also today: Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli present a new series of Italy Unpacked (BBC2, 9:00pm); there’s another Celebrity Big Brother Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Sue Perkins, Jimmy Carr and Reginald D Hunter are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); Graham Norton has an all-star line-up in the form of Robert De Niro, Carey Mulligan, Sylvester Stallone and Jonah Hill; and Russell Kane introduces a new series of Live at the Electric (BBC3, 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: Nan – Thanks to BBC, ©Tiger Aspect; Dancing on Ice – Thanks to Nicky Johnston, ©ITV; The 7.39 – Thanks to BBC and Giles Keyte, ©Carnival Films; Weight Loss Ward – Thanks to Shiver Productions, ©ITV; This is Jinsy – ©Des Willie; The Undateables – Thanks to Channel 4 and Ray Burmiston; Piers Morgan’s Life Stories – Thanks to Kieron McCarron, ©ITV

British Comedy Awards Nominees 2013

Yes, it’s not long until the British Comedy Awards and, ahead of the official nominations reveal show on Wednesday (10:45pm), Channel 4 have announced which comedy shows and stars are up for gongs this year.

So, here are the nominations. I did toy with the idea of including my opinion on each but I knew that I’d just witter on about how great they are, so instead I’ve just highlighted my favourite in red…

Best Comedy Panel Show

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4)

Have I Got News For You (BBC1)

A League of Their Own (Sky 1 HD)

Would I Lie to You? (BBC1)

Best Comedy Entertainment Programme

Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV)

Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4)

The Last Leg (Channel 4)

The Graham Norton Show (BBC1)

Best Sketch Show

Horrible Histories (CBBC)

Harry & Paul (BBC2)

It’s Kevin (BBC2)

Psychobitches (Sky Arts 1)

Best Sitcom

Bad Education (BBC3)

Count Arthur Strong (BBC2)

Getting On (BBC4)

Peep Show (Channel 4)

Best New Comedy Programme

Plebs (ITV2)

Cuckoo (BBC3)

Count Arthur Strong (BBC2)

Psychobitches (Sky Arts 1)

Best Male Television Comic

David Mitchell

Jon Richardson

Lee Mack

James Corden

Best Female Television Comic

Nina Conti

Miranda Hart

Sarah Millican

Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc

Best Comedy Entertainment Personality

Adam Hills

Graham Norton

Alan Carr

Ant & Dec

Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist

Adam Hills (The Last Leg)

Steve Delaney (Count Arthur Strong)

Jonny Sweet (Chickens)

Tom Basden (Plebs)

Best TV Comedy Actor

Greg Davies (Cuckoo)

David Mitchell (Peep Show)

Jack Whitehall (Fresh Meat)

Kevin Eldon (It’s Kevin)

Best TV Comedy Actress

Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat)

Miranda Hart (Miranda)

Jo Brand (Getting On)

Vicki Pepperdine (Getting On)

King/Queen Of Comedy

This is the only award which is voted for by the public. The numbers to vote for each contender are below and will close during the live ceremony. To vote from a mobile, call 6 50 58 and then add the number of your favourite. To vote from a landline, call 09020 50 58 and then add the number of your favourite.

 Alan Carr (01)

David Mitchell (02)

Graham Norton (03)

Jack Whitehall (04)

Lee Mack (05)

Sarah Millican (06)

Well there we go – those are the nominees. I would have liked to have seen a comedy-drama category as I think there have been some fantastic examples in the last twelve months (Last Tango in Halifax, Mount Pleasant, Stella, The Wrong Mans, etc.) which sadly will not get a look-in – and were often funnier than some of the shows nominated. There are some brilliant shows and performers in the running, though, and I look forward to finding out who the panel of judges/public have chosen to be the winner.

Image courtesy of Channel 4 and Dave King

The British Comedy Awards Nominations Show, narrated by the reigning King of Comedy, Jack Whitehall, is on Wednesday at 10:45pm on Channel 4

The ceremony itself is on live next Thursday (12th December) at 9:00pm on Channel 4

What do you think of this year’s nominees? Who are you backing? Feel free to 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 – 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

Yonderland

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

Hebburn 

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

Poirot 

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.

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 – 28th September – 4th October

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV, taking stops at the mystery world of Atlantis, an inner-city estate which is home to ‘some girls’ and finally the Mr Khan-led area of Sparkhill.

Saturday 28th September

Atlantis

BBC1, 8:25pm'Atlantis' - BBC1, 8:25pm

The much-anticipated fantasy drama, featuring a host of legendary figures, finally arrives on BBC1  tonight.

Jason (Jack Donnelly) has been in search of his father for twenty years. However, that search is about to turn his whole life upside down as he becomes washed up on the shores of the mysterious land of Atlantis. Life is far from easy in this place: he has to contend with violence and deadly rituals from the moment he arrives, as he is faced with legends like Pythagoras (Robert Emms), Ariadne (Aiysha Hart) and Hercules (Mark Addy).

The BBC have clearly spent a lot of money on Atlantis (what with this and The Wrong Mans, it’s a wonder there was money spare for other shows) and it looks set to be a sure hit, especially seeing as many are treating it as the replacement for Merlin.

Also today: I Love My Country comes to an end (BBC1, 5:30pm) with Ashley Banjo, Duncan Bannatyne and Will Mellor taking part; it’s a period drama special of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 6:15pm), and Xander has kindly dressed up for the occasion; the second batch of celebrities make their debut on the Strictly Come Dancing dancefloor (BBC1, 7:00pm); it’s Oritsé & AJ v Brian & Vogue in the Stepping Out final (ITV, 7:20pm); it’s bootcamp time at The X Factor (ITV, 8:20pm); Hello: A Portrait of Leslie Phillips (More4, 9:00pm) celebrates the life and career of the Carry On actor; The Sarah Millican Slightly Longer Television Programme (it’s basically Tuesday’s show but ten minutes longer) is on BBC2 at 9:30pm; Larry Lamb and Emma Bunton are on Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:50pm); and Dara O Briain: Craic Dealer makes its TV debut (BBC2, 10:10pm).

Sunday 29th September

The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek

BBC2, 7:30pm

Live comedy trio The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek (Graeme Rooney, Paul Charlton and Kevin  O’Loughlin) have now been given the chance to present their surreal humour to a wider audience with their very own sketch show.'The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek' - BBC2, 7:30pm

As you can tell from the time that this show is scheduled, it’s not going to be the most near-the-knuckle material you’ve ever heard, but what is should be is a bit of fun – and isn’t that what comedy is intended for?

The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek will include brand new material from the trio, but just to give you a flavour of the weird and wonderful world you may be about to enter into, here’s a rundown of some of their previous sketches: gay vegetarian lions, adulterous Yetis and a psychopathic lollipop man.

Brace yourselves, this is something which we possibly have never seen before…

Also today: Find out who’s through to judges’ houses in The X Factor (ITV, 7:30pm); and Jonathan Ross, Sue Perkins, Lee Mack, Jo Brand and many, many more pop up on The Big Fat Quiz of the 90s on Channel 4 at 9:00pm – let’s hope it’s a bit better than last week’s 80s-themed episode…

Monday 30th September

Some Girls

BBC3, 10:00pm

Unfortunately this series seemed to pass by pretty much unnoticed last year. I admit that I only became a fan when the repeat run of the first series began. It’s a pity that more didn’t pick up on it,'Some Girls' - BBC3, 10:00pm though, as it really is very funny. Hopefully more will catch on this year.

Some Girls centres around a group of four quirky friends living on an inner-city estate. There’s the dumb one (Amber), the disruptive one (Holli), the geeky one (Saz) and then the level-headed one, and narrator of the series, Viva. Not conventional names, you may think, but then these aren’t conventional girls. Yes, they may be dumb, disruptive and geeky but they’re all really rounded, too, and can be strangely moving to watch. Bernadette Davis (Game On) has written them all brilliantly, and they are portrayed perfectly, too.

The first episode of this series has been available on iPlayer since last week, but is debuting on BBC3 tonight. As we rejoin the girls, Viva is in a relationship, but is worried that her boyfriend is taking it too seriously, and Saz is once again questioning whether she is normal.

My guess would be no.

Also today: Real Rescues (BBC1, 11:00am), Four in a Bed (Channel 4, 5:00pm) and Oddities (Watch, 5:00pm) return; Zoe Ball reflects on the goings-on in the ballroom in Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two (BBC2, 6:30pm); A Question of Sport is back (BBC1, 8:30pm), with Michael Owen and Louis Smith; two-part series Broadmoor: The Inside Story begins (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Ax Men, following lumberjacks in their work, begins on ITV3 (9:00pm); reality series The Face comes to Sky Living (9:00pm); Russell Howard hosts Never Mind the Buzzcocks (BBC2, 10:00pm); and journalist and ‘lads mag’-advocate Martin Daubney presents one-off documentary Porn on the Brain (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 1st October

Drama Matters

Sky Living, 9:00pm

This dramatic and often blackly comic series of one-off stories begins tonight with an episode'Drama Matters' - Sky Living, 9:00pm entitled ‘The Psychopath Next Door’.

It’s not quite as The Shining-esque as you might imagine – on the contrary, ‘The Psychopath Next Door’ is set in a beautiful, seemingly idyllic close (not dissimilar to that seen in Mount Pleasant, actually). Marianne, Imogen and Catriona have been friends for a long time, and all live happily and peacefully on the close. However, their lives are turned upside down when the eponymous psychopath, Eve (Anna Friel, pictured), arrives and causes much anxiety and worry between the trio. What exactly is she plotting?

In the coming weeks, Drama Matters will see Suranne Jones play a fledgling judge in ‘Lawless’, Scottish footballer Gemma Fay as a referee-turned-plus-size model in ‘Rubenesque’, Katherine Kelly as a scorned sister in the eerie ‘The Last Witch’, and Russell Tovey and Keith Allen star in ‘Talking to the Dead’, based on Harry Bingham’s novel of the same name.

Also today: One-off documentary House of Surrogates (BBC4, 9:00pm); film Run Fatboy Run (E4, 10:00pm); and highlights of The Stephen Lawrence Unity Concert (BBC1, 10:35pm), which was held on Sunday in support of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and included performances from Ellie Goulding and Jessie J.

Wednesday 2nd October

The Great British Year

BBC1, 9:00pm'The Great British Year' - BBC1, 9:00pm

Each week this documentary series will show how the changing of the seasons affects our British wildlife, beginning this week with winter.

Beginning with New Year’s Day, this first episode shows how red squirrels, kites (pictured) and adders all cope with the ice and snow.

I’ve only seen a few clips of The Great British Year but it is clear that, just like all of the BBC’s other wildlife documentaries, it is going to be a fascinating insight into the behaviour of animals in extreme conditions.

Also today: Unsafe Sex in the City, following life in a northern sexual health clinic, is back (BBC3, 9:00pm); Mat Watson and Rebecca Jackson present new motoring show I Want That Car (ITV4, 9:00pm); and current affairs series Exposure, which earlier this year won a Royal Television Society award for its uncovering of the Jimmy Savile scandal, returns (ITV, 10:35pm).

Thursday 3rd October

Mayhem & Mishaps: Britain Caught on Camera

BBC1, 9:00pm

Mark ‘Chappers’ Chapman presents this one-off look at the everyday accidents we encounter in our lives, using home videos and CCTV footage to illustrate'Mayhem & Mishaps: Britain Caught on Camera' - BBC1, 9:00pm his points.

Some are shocking and others are just plain hilarious, but all have been caught on camera (no this isn’t a post-watershed You’ve Been Framed: why on earth would you think that?). Chappers also tries to recreate these mishaps by setting up stunts and visiting testing units across the country, and trying to find out what we can do to stop these incidents from happening in the first place.

Also today: A new BBC3 series with a typical BBC3 title: Hotel of Mum and Dad begins (9:00pm); and over on BBC4, Dr Michael Mosley presents Pain, Pus and Poison: The Search for Modern Medicines (9:00pm).

Friday 4th October

Citizen Khan

BBC1, 9:30pm

Hands up, who’s surprised to see this sitcom back? So pretty much all of us, then? Good.'Citizen Khan' - BBC1, 9:30pm

Yes, Adil Ray’s comedy about a Pakistani Muslim family attracted over 200 complaints when it  began last year, with many upset at its farcical and, according to some, ‘mocking’ portrayal of Islam. It’s not the portrayal of Islam that I found offensive (I think people just weren’t prepared for a sitcom about a Muslim family), it was the almost complete lack of laughs. It just seemed to be another in the long line of BBC sitcoms which were barren of gags. Of course, since Citizen Khan ended last year, we have now been able to add The Wright Way and Father Figure to that list.

Anyway, the point is that the show is back and as we rejoin the Sparkhill-based family, Mrs Khan wants her daughter Alia to sign up for the local Muslim Academy – but Mr Khan has other ideas. Elsewhere, Shazia has invited her boss round for dinner, but can she count on her dad not to mess the evening up for her?

Probably not.

Also today: Unreported World returns (Channel 4, 7:30pm); the fifth series of Glee comes to Sky1 (8:00pm); Ian and Paul return for a 46th (!) run of Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); Brian Blessed is in the guest’s chair for Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); 8 Out of 10 Cats is back (Channel 4, 9:00pm), and for once they aren’t playing Countdown; Elton John in Concert is on BBC4 (9:00pm); Jeremy Clarkson, Bill Bailey and Jimmy Carr discuss Kings in QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); David Mitchell and James McAvoy drop by for Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); Kevin Bridges: The Story Continues, the stand-up’s 2012 show, is on BBC1 at 10:35pm; eerie thriller The Hand That Rocked The Cradle is on BBC1 (11:35pm); and one-off stand-up show Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment 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: Altantis – Thanks to BBC, Urban Myth Films and Nick Briggs, ©Urban Myth Films; The Ginge, the Geordie and the Geek – Thanks to BBC and Yalli, ©Yalli; Some Girls – Thanks to BBC, Hat Trick and Des Willie, ©Hat Trick; Drama Matters – Thanks to Sky, Colin Hutton and ITV Studios; The Great British Year – Thanks to BBC BHU and Luke Massey, ©Luke Massey; Mayhem & Mishaps: Britain Caught on Camera – Thanks to BBC, Lion TV and Matthew Ainsworth, ©Lion TV; Citizen Khan, Thanks to BBC and Jay Brooks, ©BBC

This Week in TV – 17th – 23rd August

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – and it’s a good one if you like Dan Brown, Big Brother and baking. Although I admit that the chances of you liking all three are very slim.

Saturday 17th August

Pointless Celebrities

BBC1, 5:45pm

Xander and Richard are back to welcome some more celebrities to play the game which tests general – and pointless – knowledge like no other.

Surely no one can be unfamiliar with the premise of Pointless by now, but I’ll briefly explain it anyway: 100 people have been given 100 seconds to name as many things which apply to a category. So, to give an example from Wednesday’s show, it could be, ‘Name as many Christmas songs with the word ‘Christmas’ in the title’. The aim is to think of the least popular answer – one which none of the 100 said (in this case it was ‘Christmas Wrapping’ by The Waitresses – a very good song, contrary to what Alexander Armstrong claimed). The pair with the most amount of points at the end of each round is eliminated until only one remains, and they will not only win the coveted Pointless trophy, but will also have a chance to take that episode’s jackpot by giving three answers to a question and hoping that one of them is pointless. Do that, and they’ve won!

It really is simpler than I’ve made it sound.

The first episode is sitcom-themed, with stars of comedies past and present competing to win money for their charities. The contestants are: Red Dwarf stars, Craig Charles (Lister) and Danny John-Jules (Cat); Bread’s Jean Boht (Nellie) and Nick Conway (Billy); Hi-de-Hi! actors, Su Pollard (Peggy) and Jeffrey Holland (Spike); and Mrs Brown’s Boys couple, Brendan O’Carroll (Agnes) and Jennifer Gibney (Cathy).

So, will the Browns beat the Boswells? Will the Maplins crew maul the mining ship mob? We’ll have to wait and see – although it may be worth pointing out that Brendan O’Carroll is a member of Mensa, so the odds are in his favour…

Also today: The surprisingly good That Puppet Game Show continues (BBC1, 6:35pm), with guests Gary Lineker and Freddie Flintoff; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is on ITV while Channel 4 are showing Mission: Impossible (both at 7:00pm); some more patriotic silliness in I Love My Country (BBC1, 7:15pm); Thatcher: The Downing Street Years (BBC2, 8:10pm) gets a repeat; Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star in comedy thriller, Knight and Day (Channel 4, 9:00pm); A Very British Witchcraft (More4, 9:00pm) tells the story of the Wicca group; and Stephen Merchant: Hello Ladies, the comedian’s 2011 tour, makes its debut on Channel 4 at 11:10pm.

Sunday 18th August

Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival

BBC1, 5:35pm

Over six weeks, Countryfile presenter, Ellie Harrison will be joined by some of the BBC’s most'Britain's Big Wildlife Revival' - BBC1, 5:35pm highly-regarded wildlife experts to bring us the stories of the plight of some of Britain’s most endangered animals.

Each week, Ellie and her guests will champion a creature which they want to save from extinction, and also recall the stories of animals who managed to survive against the odds. This week, the focus is on animals such as the red squirrel, adder and Scottish wildcat.

Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival is just one part of BBC Learning’s Summer of Wildlife strand, which also includes Springwatch and BBC2’s The Burrowers.

Also today: Helen Mirren delivers her multi award-winning performance in The Queen (ITV, 4:30pm); Step Up 3 premieres (Channel 4, 4:40pm); Will Smith and Eva Mendes star in Hitch (Channel 5, 5:50pm); Sherrie Hewson, Britt Ekland and Robin Cousins (who I share my birthday with – not that it’s relevant) are on Tipping Point: Lucky Stars (ITV, 7:00pm); Antiques Roadshow returns (BBC1, 8:00pm); period drama, The Mill concludes (Channel 4, 8:00pm), as does BBC1’s The White Queen (9:00pm); and (very different) films Dear John (10:05pm) and Frost/Nixon (10:30pm) are on Channel 4 and BBC2, respectively.

Monday 19th August

Big Brother: The Final

Channel 5, 9:00pm

After nearly ten weeks of twists, turns, bitch fights and love triangles – and that’s just Dexter! – the'Big Brother: The Final' - Channel 5, 9:00pm Big Brother 14 Final is here, but who will walk away with that £100,000 prize?

Now, I’m writing this on the morning of the final eviction (Friday), so, apart from Gina and Dexter, I don’t know for definite who’s in the Final. So, I’m just going to write about each housemate and their chances of winning. If you haven’t watched Big Brother this year, the following few paragraphs will be tedious and confusing; I advise you don’t read them – unless of course you love my writing so much that you can’t resist the urge to…but that’s unlikely.

Charlie I have to admit that I missed the whole Charlie/Dexter/Callum love triangle – actually I missed the first five weeks of the show altogether – so I’m not basing my opinion of her on that. I quite like her. I’m not entirely sure whether she’s trying to create a ‘showmance’ – to quote Sophie – between herself and Dexter but on the whole I do like her, and felt very sorry for her when she was annihilated during the friends and family nominations. I don’t think she has much chance of winning, but I wouldn’t be particularly bothered if she did.

Dexter I think Dexter’s great. In my opinion, he hasn’t playing the game at all (well…not much) and the tense twist last Thursday, after which he claimed he didn’t see the £99,000 option, was a genuine mistake. He’s been a very entertaining housemate and handled situations with dignity. I would very much like to see him be this year’s winner.

Jack & Joe Oh God! Please don’t let these two win! Their attempts to be the roly-poly funny ‘uns of the house are blatant and embarrassing. Everyone’s focusing on Dexter not taking the £99,000 but let’s not forget that Jack and Joe had the opportunity to pick that sum before he did, but instead opted for £96,850. Now that might be a mere £2,150 difference, but in terms of that game – in which the housemate who chose the least amount of money would apparently have won that and left the house that night – it made all the difference. I just hope that they don’t win – and I don’t think they will, either.

Sam Yes, he’s cute. Yes, I go slightly weak when I see him without his shirt, but I believe that Sam has been very lucky not to have been booted out already. Apart from having – to coin his own phrase – an infamous ‘winky expansion’, he hasn’t done much. Therefore, in the past few weeks, he has been kicking off about anything and everything – particularly with Dexter – to get himself noticed. Of course, I can’t argue with the fact that he sets a good example to other people with hearing difficulties, but he has done nothing, in my opinion, to warrant winning the show.

Sophie Just like Sam, Sophie has been in the background somewhat during this series, with the focus usually being on people like Gina, Dexter, Daley, etc. – the characters in the house. I wouldn’t mind seeing her win, though. When I spoke to my auntie yesterday about Big Brother (I don’t know anyone else who watches it and neither does she, so when we see each other it’s the only topic of conversation), she said that Sophie is a game-player and troublemaker. So she may have seen something during the first five weeks which I missed but I really like Sophie. Whether she will have enough fans to be voted as the winner, however, is another matter.

Gina When I watched the Launch Shows (I stopped after the second), I despised Gina. She seemed incredibly stuck-up and dismissive of everyone who didn’t live the life of luxury like herself. Now, though, I think she has mellowed and become a really likeable person, with possibly the biggest chance of taking the Big Brother crown than any of her fellow housemates. I have to say that I’ve become slightly confused in the past couple of days with Gina: one minute she likes Charlie and is defending her against Hazel, and the next she’s slating her to Dexter and telling him that she cannot bear to live with her any more. I’m willing to overlook the inconsistencies in her attitude, though, because I think she’s been a fantastic housemate.

What do you think of this year’s Big Brother? Tell me who you think should win by commenting here or tweeting me – @UKTVReviewer.

Also today: Jane McDonald pampers workers across the country in Star Treatment (ITV, 12:30pm); get ready for the fourth series of Downton Abbey as ITV3 begin their repeat of all of the episodes to date from 5:25pm; Flog It! Trade Secrets returns (BBC2, 6:30pm); Paralympian, Ade Adepitan returns to Nigeria in Journey of My Lifetime (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Tony Singh and Cyrus Todiwala host The Incredible Spice Man (BBC2, 8:30pm); Natasha Kaplinsky goes behind-the-scenes of the selection process for the Royal British Empire Medal in The People’s Medal (ITV, 9:00pm); Thailand’s Drug Craze: Stacey Dooley Investigates is on BBC3 (9:00pm); Shaun of the Dead is on ITV2 – again (9:00pm); sci-fi drama Under the Dome, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, begins (Channel 5, 10:00pm); ahead of its return on 25th August, remind yourself of Brooker and Maier’s brilliance as the first series of A Touch of Cloth is repeated (Sky2, 10:00pm); and Road to Referendum (ITV, 10:35pm) looks at the changes in Scotland over the past six decades.

Tuesday 20th August

The Great British Bake Off

BBC2, 8:00pm

Yes! Mel, Sue, Paul and Mary are back for another ten weeks of tense whisking, crimping and'The Great British Bake Off' - BBC2, 8:00pm piping as the tent is re-opened for the fourth series of Bake Off.

This year sees a first for the show as 13 bakers will enter the marquee in the first episode and, as the weeks go on, will be whittled down until just one remains and takes the crown from 2012 winner, John Whaite. There’s not necessarily safety in numbers, either, as this baker’s dozen will have to work extra hard if they want to impress Paul and Mary and stay in the competition. That’s because, if they decide to, they could send not one but two bakers packing at one time. Harsh!

Angel Food, chocolate and sandwich cakes are all on the menu in this first episode, but who will be the first to – or first two to – leave the contest?

Also today: There’s the return of Double Your House for Half the Money (Channel 4, 8:00pm), The Midwives (BBC2, 9:00pm), urban drama Top Boy (Channel 4, 9:00pm) and Don’t Tell the Bride (BBC3, 9:00pm); as well as one-off documentary The Naked Rambler (BBC1, 10:35pm), which follows former Royal Marine, Stephen Gough as he walks naked from Scotland to Hampshire.

Wednesday 21st August

Welcome to the World of Weight Loss

BBC2, 9:00pm

With more people than ever on diets, and obesity rates continuing to sky-rocket, this one-off'Welcome to the World of Weight Loss' - BBC2, 9:00pm documentary follows those who attend slimming clubs and aims to find out whether following such regimes helps.

Welcome to the World of Weight Loss follows attendees at Weight Watchers, Slimming World and Rosemary Conley Groups across the country over a twelve week period, showing their highs and lows as they battle the fat and try to shed the pounds.

One person who features in the light-hearted programme is Slimming World regular, Santash Sharma (pictured), who was given the title of Miss Slinky 2012 in her local group.

Also today: Gary Lineker’s past is the focus of this week’s Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen star in movie adaptation, The Da Vinci Code (Channel 5, 9:00pm), followed by The Da Vinci Code: The True Story (Channel 5, 11:55pm); The Man Who Collected the World (BBC4, 9:00pm) looks at William Burrell’s vast art collection, which he donated to Glasgow in 1944; and, despite having been axed after just one series, comedy-drama Great Night Out begins its repeat run (ITV, 10:35pm).

Thursday 22nd August

Trollied

Sky1 HD, 9:00pm

Budget supermarket Valco is re-opening its doors for a third year as Gavin, Julie and co. return for a new series of the jewel in Sky’s comedy crown, Trollied.

I recently reminded myself of the brilliance of this show by watching the first series yet again on'Trollied' - Sky1 HD, 9:00pm DVD – and the second series is now on order. There’s not one weak performance and all of the characters – whether they be the foul-mannered Colin, warm-hearted Margaret or prissy Julie – are great to spend time with. Why no other channel snapped it up before Sky, I’ve no idea.

As you may have gauged from the advertisements, Valco is now under new management. As we saw at the end of the last series, Stephanie Beacham’s Hilary Devey-esque character, Lorraine is gone, leaving Julie and Gavin holding fort again. However, that’s all soon to change as The Spa and Pete vs Life star, Chris Geere turns up as Valco’s new Head of Strategy, Richard France, whose unorthodox approach to management doesn’t sit well with some of the staff. Plus, Gavin’s Spanish love interest, Anna (Elizabeth Bower) gets a job at the store to be closer to him. Julie doesn’t take this news well, however, as she still has eyes for her manager.

It looks set to be another series which will have us rolling in the aisles.

Chickens

Sky1, 9:30pm

The second part of Sky1 HD’s all-new Thursday night line-up is Chickens, which began life as a pilot for Channel 4 in 2011. As you can probably tell, though, Channel 4 decided not to develop it any further,'Chickens' - Sky1 HD, 9:30pm so Sky jumped in and took it for themselves.

Written by comedy pals Jonny Sweet, Simon Bird and Joe Thomas, the series follows Bert, Cecil and George – three men who have decided not to go to war, whether that be due to flat feet, conscientious objection or just pure laziness.

Having been written by and starring two of the stars of The Inbetweeners, there was a lot riding on Chickens first time around – and perhaps that’s why I was left disappointed by it. Hopefully now that it’s on digital TV and has got the first episode out of the way already, the pressure will be off and expectations won’t be quite as high.

Also today: Location Location Location is back (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain comes to an end (BBC1, 9:00pm); Poaching Wars with Tom Hardy (ITV, 9:00pm) sees the Dark Night Rises actor travel to Africa; The Imposter premieres on Channel 4 (9:00pm); and Celebrity Big Brother begins (Channel 5, 9:00pm).

Friday 23rd August

Celebrity Big Brother: The Big Twist – Live

Channel 5, 9:00pm

Yes, this summer’s famous faces may have entered the house last night but it is tonight that the Big Twist is to be announced.

I’m not even going to speculate what that twist is going to be – what with Big Brother’s track record,'Celebrity Big Brother: The Big Twist - Live' - Channel 5, 9:00pm he could throw anything at the contestants. However, I will run through who is rumoured to be taking part this year: larger-than-life dancer, Louie Spence; GMTV fitness guru, Mr Motivator; shamed football pundit, Ron Atkinson; Loose Woman, Carol McGiffin; whiney-voiced Apprentice star, Luisa Zissman; extravagant singer, Boy George; and ex-Corrie star (read attention-seeking bimbo), Helen Flanagan.

As any Loose Women viewer will know, Carol is a huge fan of Celebrity Big Brother, and her close friend Denise Welch of course won the show in early 2012, with her former LW panellist, Coleen Nolan coming an admirable second in last year’s summer series. I think she’d be great in the house – and certainly wouldn’t hold back if she disagreed with something. I’d definitely vote for her to win – but maybe that’s just because I have an obsession with Loose Women that a seventeen-year-old boy should never have.

Also today: Football’s Funniest Moments (Sky1 HD, 8:00pm); a repeat of Peter Kay Live at the Top of the Tower (Channel 4, 9:00pm); film, The Shawshank Redemption (ITV2, 9:00pm); the unnecessarily lengthily-titled, How to Become a World Music Star: Buena Vista, Bhundu Boys and Beyond (BBC4, 9:00pm); James, Freddie, Jamie and Jack return with more sports-themed fun in A League of Their Own (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); Jack Dee hosts the second series of (the often tedious) Don’t Sit in the Front Row (Sky1 HD, 10:00pm); another chance to see Peter Kay: In Conversation (Channel 4, 10:20pm), in which Danny Baker interviews the comedian about his career; and A to Z of World Music (BBC4, 10:30pm) showcases the wide range of musical genres from across the globe.

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: Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival – Thanks to BBC and Outline Productions, ©Outline Productions; Big Brother: The Final – ©Five; The Great British Bake Off – Thanks to BBC, Love Productions and Des Willie, ©Love Productions; Welcome to the World of Weight Loss – Thanks to BBC and Vanessa Engle, ©BBC; Trollied – ©Sky1/Jon Hall; Chickens – ©Colin Hutton for Sky1 HD; Celebrity Big Brother: The Big Twist – Live – ©Five.

‘The Spa’ – Episode 1.1 Review

Written by and starring Benidorm creator Derren Litten, alongside Rebecca Front and Tim Healy, Sky Living’s new sitcom The Spa has begun, following the day-to-day, and hectic, lives of people working in…a spa.

ODD’

It’s hard for me to be too enthusiastic about this show because it didn’t blow me away in quite the same way as Benidorm did when I first watched it (and I’m sure as when many others did, too). Having said that though, there’s nothing there which I can hugely criticise. It’s as odd as the characters within.

“’EY UP, PET”

Once you get over Tim Healy (renowned for his strong Geordie accent) playing a Lancastrian odd-job man, you can enjoy the jokes which, while quite a few minutes apart and more obvious than a bowling ball in a bag of diamonds, are very good.

IRRITATED’

While watching this first episode, I felt slightly irritated by the lack of storyline. Actually, ‘lack of’ should read ‘pretty much absence of’. Litten seems to have penned this episode as a showcase for his characters – so that we can become acquainted with them and their ways. For example, Alison (the manageress, played beautifully by Rebecca Front) is a tactless busybody; Eric (Tim Healy) is an odd-job man who cannot see the harm in wearing shorts, despite his (ridiculously) huge penis falling out at inappropriate moments; Marcus (Litten) is a disgruntled fitness instructor now seeking compensation, having been rendered disabled after an accident at the spa; Niky Wardley plays dizzy receptionist Sally; and Cheryl Fergison (‘Heather off Eastenders’) is an overweight spa guest, comically named Bergita (pronounced ‘Big Eater’).

Despite providing a few laughs along the way, these people don’t seem to be much more than stock characters which is a shame as the characters in Benidorm could potentially have been this, but instead were given depth to them – so we know Derren Litten can do it.

 

I’m not saying The Spa wasn’t enjoyable – it was – but just don’t watch it expecting laugh-a-minute stuff. Laugh-every-four-minutes would be more accurate.

The Spa is on Thursdays at 9:00pm on Sky Living

What did you think of The Spa? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on my YouTube channel.

More ‘Mount’ Than ‘Pleasant’

Popular with couples, but suitable for everyone, one of Sky’s biggest home-grown comedy-dramas Mount Pleasant is currently about half-way through its well-deserved second series. I’m finding it very hard to see it as a match for the first, however.

THIS CHARMING MOUNT?

The problem with this series is that it doesn’t have the same charm as its predecessor. When I watched Mount Pleasant for the first time on Sky1 last year, I immediately fell in love with everything about it: I worked out the individual characters’ ways, what makes them tick, and what they think of each other. I recognised the place Mount Pleasant straight-away, too, and I really wanted (even want!) to live there. Each character had a little subplot, each gripping with brilliant glimpses of hilarity. Lisa and Dan continued with their bickering but undying love for each other – their lives punctuated (or should that be hindered?) by neighbours, friends and family; Barry and Sue had their ice-skating and daughter to keep them occupied; Shelley and Greg’s turbulent marriage – owing to the latter’s intense gambling addiction – was so well written and performed I couldn’t believe it! Then we had Denise’s affair with Fergus, Kate’s dangerous infatuation with Dan and Bianca’s general tartiness, and so much more. I would say it was not just my favourite comedy of 2011, nor my favourite drama, I would go as far as to say that it was my favourite program of the year.

The reason I still hold the first series on such a pedestal is purely down to the creator and writer, Sarah Hooper. Where did she come from? I had never heard her name prior to her bursting onto the scene with this fantastic series! This time around, however, it’s different. Oh so different.

SUPER HOOPER

The difference is that most of this series – tragically – hasn’t been written by Hooper. Instead, she has passed the baton to Mark Brotherhood: a writer whose previous credits include a couple of Hollyoaks episodes, one Shameless and a few kids’ TV shows. I really don’t want to condemn Brotherhood too much but I wish he hadn’t taken on something so special as Mount Pleasant. I don’t know how much input Sarah Hooper has had when it comes to the episodes he has written, but I’m guessing not much. It’s just not as good as it was any more. I’m sorry but that’s how I feel.

After all, Hooper created these characters: she knows them inside-out, so why hand them over to someone else to write about? I don’t believe it would have been that much of a struggle for her to write the entire series herself, and it may have resulted in her chances of being recommissioned for a third series increasing.

Whereas there was a good, healthy balance of comedy and drama in the first series, the second seems to be 90% drama and 10% comedy – if that! Admittedly, when the show is funny, it’s funny but there simply isn’t enough of it – the laughs are few and far between, something which I am quite sure I would never have said of the first run. The weaker storylines are being exposed and dragged-out, whereas the potentially bigger ones are being shunned. For example, Dan and Shelley’s jealousy about Lisa’s relationship with her new friend Kim isn’t very strong but is being focused on a lot. Denise’s baby, on the other hand, is absolutely brimming with potential! All we seem to see of Denise is her sitting in her seat at work, being shocked when Fergus walks in, and then at the end of the show putting the baby down for the night. Is she struggling as a mother? How does she really feel about Fergus? We don’t know and we should! Denise is such a great character: she’s dizzy and fragile, yet quite strong-minded so to really see her apply these characteristics to motherhood would be very entertaining! Mark Brotherhood has omitted to include this in his scripts, however.

NO BLESSING IN DISGUISE

Perhaps it was a bit of an omen that Sky decided to move the show from the flagship Sky1 to its more female-focused channel of Sky Living, which I think it would be fair to say doesn’t have quite as large an audience. Basically, it’s a bit of a demotion disguised as a promotion. ‘Yeah, we’re moving Mount Pleasant to Sky Living because the show’s popular with women. It’s its right home.’ Clever, Sky! Clever.

 

If I’m being completely honest, if I wasn’t such a fan of the first series – or didn’t watch it – I don’t think I’d still be sticking with the second. I mean, it’s still a good enough show (I’d take Mount Pleasant over a lot of other “comedies” on TV nowadays) but it certainly hasn’t lived up to the first series.

 

Twitter – @UKTVReviewer

Also, keep up-to-date with the latest TV news, reviews and interviews at www.thecustardtv.com, where some of my articles will also appear.

‘Ronna and Beverly’ – Episode 1.1

Ronna and Beverly: two excitable American chat show hosts (played by Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, respectively) exploded onto our screens on Monday on Sky Atlantic. What was shown in the trailers was the promise of a brilliantly funny take on the talk show format: one which will see the guests being grilled with ridiculous questions and being made to feel uncomfortable by equally ridiculous hosts. What came across on-screen was far from this, unfortunately.

RONNA & RUBY?

As soon as Ronna and Beverly (who for some reason reminds me of Ruby Wax) bounced onto the set, the former positioning herself on the stage looking quite serious and professional, and the latter doing something akin to a lap dance for the front row of the audience, you could tell that this was going to be a colourful, camp and quite-over-the-top hour of chat. And it was. However, you may notice that I deliberately didn’t use the word ‘funny’. That’s because the entrance was entertaining, but the subsequent fifty-nine minutes just wasn’t.

HAVE THE JOKES DONE A RONNA?

Admittedly, I did laugh at Beverly asking Game of Thrones star Charles Dance if, because he’s an OBE, he has ever had sex with the Queen. I realise that to some, this will be offensive – perhaps those who have been contacting Ofcom about the supposedly racist and Islamophobic content in Citizen Khan will have heard Beverly ask this and choked on their Horlicks but, hey!, I thought it was funny.

I also raised a smile at Ronna saying that the one thing she’d put in Room 101 is Argos. However, I only smiled at this because I in fact work at Argos. If I didn’t, I doubt I’d even remember her saying it.

Apart from these quips, though, it was just a bit tedious and wholly disappointing. Even guest Frank Skinner looked disheartened and regretful about having agreed to have appeared on the show.

Beverly’s constant fidgeting, swaying and repetition of “Yep” was infuriating! It worked well the first couple of times, I suppose, but it very quickly became irritating.

A CONUNDRUM

You might expect me to suggest that, because I didn’t really enjoy Beverly’s contribution, it would be better if it was hosted by Ronna alone, but there lies the problem: Ronna is the ‘straight’ character, against her outrageous co-host so, get rid of that co-host, and you only have the ‘straight’ one. Therefore, you’re left with a normal chat show, i.e. not a comedy one. Forgive me for this ludicrous comparison but it would be like Morecambe without Wise.

I understand that the humour in Ronna & Beverly pretty much revolves around the two hosts bouncing off of each other and you can’t have Ronna without Beverly or vice versa. However, for them ‘bouncing off of each other” to work, at least one (or ideally both) of the characters must be funny. But they’re not.

‘DRAGGED OUT’

Another problem seems to be the running time: the show seems dragged out. I began watching it thinking it would only be on for half-an-hour, but no: a full hour is the amount of time I had to sit and watch. It was just too long for Chaffin and Danbo to maintain any fast pace and I couldn’t help thinking that my time could be better spent watching something else.

 

Fingers crossed it improves and this episode was focused on familiarising us with the characters, as opposed to making us laugh. If I’m not convinced by thirty minutes into Monday’s edition, however, I don’t think I’ll bother returning.

 

Twitter – @UKTVReviewer

Also, keep up-to-date with the latest TV news, reviews and interviews at www.thecustardtv.com, where some of my articles will also appear.