Category Archives: ‘Stephen Fry’s Key to the City’

‘Stephen Fry’s Key to the City’ (ITV) Review

He may be QI‘s resident brainbox but when Stephen Fry was awarded Freedom of the City, he had to admit that he wasn’t sure what it meant. However, in one-off documentary, Key to the City, Stephen made full use of the privilege to explore London and uncover its hidden treasures.

Despite living just a few miles away from the City of London, Stephen claimed that it felt like an alien place to him. Over the course of the programme, though, the actor gained access to the places that most of the City’s 8,000 residents could only dream of visiting – from the heart of the Bank of England to the depths of the Old Bailey.


Like many people, I adore and am in awe of Stephen Fry – so was very much looking forward to Key to the City. And I did quite enjoy it. It was informative, it was quirky…well it was a bit like QI in a  way. It was clear that Stephen felt incredibly fortunate and humbled to have been given this ‘access-all-areas’ pass to the City of London, and he introduced us to some breathtaking sights – none more so than the vault which he visited at the Bank of England. In this vault, he wandered and spoke lengthily – but exquisitely, naturally – while drinking in his surroundings: those being around £20billion in cash. It certainly wasn’t an everyday sight, so for not only Stephen to have experienced it but for us at home to have, too, was brilliant.

Aside from the excellent, rare locations which we saw, however, I did have a problem with Key to the City: it felt very clunky. There was no smooth transition between each person or place that Stephen visited – we were just moved very swiftly on to the next stop on his tour, without much conclusion to the previous. I mean, in the fourth part of the programme, Stephen was one minute having a conversation with a beekeeper atop the Lord Mayor’s residence, the next he was speaking with former Lord Mayor, Lord Levene about finance! There appeared to be a complete lack of cohesion between the visits, we just lurched into the next as suddenly as one had finished. It did spoil the programme more than a little.


So, I liked Stephen Fry’s Key to the City – I just would have done so more if we’d spent longer on certain parts of the presenter’s trip (his visit to lovely octogenarian and fellow Freedom of the City holder, Doris, for example) and there’d been an easier transition from one to another. Overall, however, it was a quite interesting documentary which not only increased my love of Stephen but also proved that even a ‘mega-mind’ like himself doesn’t know everything.

What did you think of Stephen Fry’s Key to the City? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.


This Week in TV – 3rd – 9th August

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with time-travelling Doctors, life-saving doctors and age-fighting ones, too!

Saturday 3rd August

I Love My Country

BBC1, 7:30pm

I Love My Country will see host Gabby Logan be joined by team captains Micky Flanagan and Frank Skinner, panel show favourite Jamelia (how did that happen?!) and a long line of celebrity guests to 'I Love My Country' - BBC1, 7:30pmtest  their knowledge of all things British.

It appears that the show will be a little bit of Saturday night fun, light-heartedly celebrating all that is great about Britain. For example, in the first episode, the teams have to use a Yorkshire pudding to locate Peterborough on a map – and I’m looking forward to it! It’s not been without its fair share of criticism, though: for some ridiculous reason Frank Skinner recently had to defend I Love My Country and make it plain that it is not an advert for UKIP.

There are also hints that it might not be the fun-fest it purports, and I expected it, to be. David Walliams was the original host of the show – not Gabby Logan – but quit after recording the pilot to focus on his new sitcom, Big School (which begins 16th August). In addition to this, the Independent’s Adam Sherwin has rebuked it, claiming, ‘[I Love My Country] is so thoroughly, idiotically inane, it could well be the worst entertainment offering that the corporation has yet dredged up for the edification of Saturday night viewers.’ Not exactly a glowing review.

I really hope it works and people like it, though: after Epic Win and The Mad Bad Ad Show, Micky Flanagan can’t afford to have partaken in a hat-trick of game show turkeys.

Also today: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (ITV, 3:25pm); Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (BBC1, 5:35pm); the Your Face Sounds Familiar final (ITV, 7:30pm); X-Men (Channel 4, 8:00pm); More4 dedicates a night to composer and pianist, Frédéric Chopin from 8:00pm; Coronation Street stars Charlie Condou and Paula Lane compete on All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 8:45pm); the premiere of 2010 hit, Kick-Ass (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and BBC2 remembers the late Mel Smith with a tribute show at 10:10pm, followed by Not Again: Not the Nine O’Clock News (10:45pm), telling the story of the hit 80s sketch series.

Sunday 4th August

Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor

BBC1, 7:00pm

Accompanied by the TARDIS, Daleks and a live studio audience, Zoe Ball will tonight announce who will replace Matt Smith and become the twelfth Doctor, with an exclusive first interview with the lucky actor – or actress.

Of course, every journalist and critic writing about this programme has no idea who the next person to play the Time Lord will be, so everything is purely speculation. At the time of writing, Paddy Power have evens odds on Daniel Rigby (off of the BT ads and Eric & Ernie) succeeding Matt Smith. I think that sounds likely! He’s not too obscure an actor for people not to recognise him, yet he also is not so well known that he is an obvious choice. Plus he’s a fantastic performer – both in comedies and dramas.

Some of the other actors being talked about are Peter Capaldi (5/2), Idris Elba (7/2) and Rory Kinnear (9/1), all of whom I think would also do well in the role – especially Idris, as he would of course be the first black Doctor. But then, it may also be a woman: Olivia Colman (22/1), Billie Piper (40/1), Jenna Louise Coleman (40/1) and Miranda Hart (66/1) are the hottest names at the moment but I think they’re just too well known – both in and out of Who circles – to be picked. And imagine Miranda in her WICTARDIS (What I Call Time and Relative…oh, you know the rest).

I’m sure whoever is chosen will attract a lot of criticism but, when the Whovians (or Wholigans, which I think is a far more apt name) get used to them, they’ll make the role their own. However, I’m sure it won’t be any of the following unlikely, but talked-about, names:

Chris Addison (16/1)

David Tennant (40/1) – surely that would just be an anti-climax?

Alan Davies (40/1)

James Corden (50/1) – ‘Doctor-laaa!’?

David Walliams (66/1)

Blake Harrison (80/1)

and my favourite unlikely contender: Scott Mills (250/1) – imagine Innuendo Bingo in the TARDIS!

Also today: Jim Carey stars in Liar Liar (ITV, 5:00pm); This Morning’s Mr & Mrs Holmes – Eamonn and Ruth – and Brian Dowling go up against each other in Tipping Point: Lucky Stars (ITV, 7:00pm); Ray Quinn, John Stapleton and Carrie and David Grant are on All Star Mr & Mrs (ITV, 8:00pm); one-off documentary, Das Auto: The Germans, Their Cars and Us (BBC2, 9:00pm); Rory Kinnear stars in new drama, Southcliffe (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and film favourite, Forrest Gump is on Channel 4 at 10:00pm.

Monday 5th August

Long Live Britain

BBC1, 9:00pm & 10:35pm

Does the title sound familiar? Well, Long Live Britain was originally scheduled to be broadcast on 22nd July, but the arrival of a baby – God knows whose! – meant that it has been postponed until now.

Dr Phil Hammond, Julia Bradbury and Phil Tufnell (pictured) are out'Long Live Britain' - BBC1, 9:00pm & 10:35pm to tackle and raise awareness for the three biggest killers: type two diabetes and liver and heart disease. These conditions affect around 1 in 8 people in the UK, but many are unaware that they have them. That’s why on 25th May this year, 50 nurses, a team of doctors and three of the UK’s leading health charities congregated in Manchester to carry out the largest-ever combined health screening.

Long Live Britain will reveal the results of this event, and also follow actors Ricky Grover, Crissy Rock and Jodie Prenger as they learn about the outcomes of their tests.

Also today: There’ll be lots of hesitation, repetition and deviation as last year’s televised series of Radio 4 hit Just a Minute comes to Gold (6:00pm); The Billion Dollar Wreck Hunt (Channel 5, 8:00pm) follows the work at Odyssey Marine Exploration; Victoria Coren Mitchell chairs the final of Only Connect (BBC4, 8:30pm); one-off documentary Rick Stein’s German Bite (BBC2, 9:00pm); Petrol Bombs & Peace: Welcome to Belfast (BBC3, 9:00pm) (I can’t imagine that catching on as the city slogan); thriller The Bourne Identity (ITV2, 9:00pm); Lucy Worsley explores the Royals’ bedrooms in Tales from the Royal Bedchamber (BBC4, 9:00pm); and horror film, Paranormal Activity (ITV2, 11:20pm).

Tuesday 6th August

Stephen Fry’s Key to the City

ITV, 9:00pm

He may be QI‘s resident brainbox but when Stephen Fry was awarded Freedom of the City, he had to admit that he wasn’t sure what it meant. However, in this documentary Stephen makes full use of  the privilege to explore London and uncover its hidden treasures.

Despite living just a few miles away from the City of London, Stephen claims that it feels like an alien place to him. Over the course of this hour-long documentary, though, the actor will gain access to the places that most of the City’s 8,000 residents could only dream of visiting. The opportunities awaiting Stephen include standing on the roof of Mansion House, sitting amongst billions of pounds in the heart of the Bank of England, walking down Dead Man’s Walk (the path previously trodden by the likes of Casanova and Dick Turpin) at the Old Bailey and even raising the Tower Bridge.

Stephen will meet octogenarian Doris, too. Having lived in the City of London all her life, she has now also been granted Freedom of the City, and when the pair realise that their status means they are allowed to drive sheep across the Tower Bridge, they begin to make plans – but will they actually do it?

Also today: Robert Pugh narrates A Summer in Wales (BBC2, 7:00pm); journalist Justin Rowlatt and his wife Bee move their family to Nuremberg in Make Me a German (BBC2, 9:00pm); Steve Coogan: Stand-Up Down Under (Sky Atlantic, 9:00pm) includes footage of the comedian’s 2009 tour of New Zealand and Australia; and thriller sequel Hannibal is on ITV3 at 10:00pm.

Wednesday 7th August

How Not to Get Old

Channel 4, 8:00pm

In this six-part series, WAG Louise Redknapp and The Sex Education Show’s Anna Richardson 'How Not to Get Old' - Channel 4, 8:00pminvestigate aging, from how and why it happens to what we can do to prevent it.

With so many anti-aging treatments out there, it’s difficult to know what works and what doesn’t. Fortunately, the How Not to Get Old team are here, showcasing the latest top surgical procedures and non-invasive products to help viewers fight those dreaded wrinkles.

In each episode, contributors will unite over their shared hatred of a particular body part and quest to improve it. However, one of them will opt to have surgery while the other will go for a non-invasive method of treatment – but which will be the most beneficial?

Also today: Matt and Alex present The One Show summer special from Weston-super-Mare (BBC1, 7:00pm); the brilliant You Saw Them Here First (ITV, 8:00pm) concludes; documentary series Nurses begins (Channel 5, 8:00pm); BBC3’s It’s a Mad World season continues with Inside My Mind (8:00pm); Minnie Driver is the focus of this week’s Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); and BBC3’s The Call Centre gets a repeat run on BBC1 at 10:35pm.

Thursday 8th August

The Field of Blood

BBC1, 9:00pm

David Morrissey returns for the second series of The Field of Blood – adapted from Denise Mina’s'Field of Blood' - BBC1, 9:00pm  novel of the same name.

In tonight’s episode – the first of a two-part story – we see that Paddy (Jayd Johnson) has landed her dream job, but this may all be about to change when Maloney, the new editor in chief, arrives. Paddy’s work also meets further complication when she is called to a posh area of Glasgow, following a disturbance, and ends up exposing a brutal murder.

Concludes tomorrow night.

Also today: Jacques Peretti investigates the diet industry in The Men Who Made Us Thin (BBC2, 9:00pm); Fraud Squad (ITV, 9:00pm) follows detectives from the City of London police force; Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience (10:00pm) travels up the M4 and arrives on BBC2; Legally High (Channel 4, 10:00pm) looks at the popularity of legal drugs in Britain; documentary Chopin Changed My Life (Channel 4, 11:10pm); and film adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird (ITV3, 12:10am).

Friday 9th August

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown

Channel 4, 9:00pm

Who’d have thought that this fusion of two of Channel 4’s most popular shows would have worked so'8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown' - Channel 4, 9:00pm well? To think it just started off as part of the channel’s Mash-Up last year!

Playing the letters and numbers game tonight are, alongside Cats regulars Sean Lock and Jon Richardson, comedians Humphrey Ker and Sarah Millican. Meanwhile, Rich Hall helps Susie Dent out in Dictionary Corner and Joe Wilkinson once again gives Rachel a hand with the letters – in his own very unique way.

Also today: Mastermind returns (BBC2, 8:00pm); Sarah Millican: Chatterbox Live gets a welcome repeat (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and, ahead of the release of his new rom-com, About Time, at the end of the summer, Richard Curtis’s smash film adaptation, Bridget Jones’s Diary is on ITV at 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: I Love My Country – Thanks to BBC, ©Avalon; Long Live Britain – Thanks to BBC and Maverick TV, ©Rachel Joseph; How Not to Get Old – Thanks to Channel 4 and Twenty Twenty; The Field of Blood – Thanks to Mark Mainz, ©BBC Scotland; 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown – Thanks to Channel 4, ITV Studios and Zeppotron.