Category Archives: ‘The Great British Bake Off’

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 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


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.


This Week in TV – 14th – 20th December

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV. And as X Factor ends for another year, the Christmas specials begin to come out in force…

Saturday 14th December

The X Factor

ITV, 8:00pm

Tonight, the final three acts perform at Wembley Arena in the hope of being crowned X Factor  winner 2013.'The X Factor' - ITV, 8:00pm

At the time of writing, the acts remaining are Rough Copy, Nicholas McDonald, Luke Friend and Sam Bailey. Personally, I would love to see Sam take the title – and I think she has a very good chance of doing so. She’s been consistently brilliant and, unlike the others, shines no matter what kind of music she’s performing.

Or I’d like to see Nicholas win. Because I fancy him a little bit.

One act will be eliminated tonight, leaving the remaining two to battle it out tomorrow. While The Killers and Tom Odell will be taking to the stage tonight, Katy Perry, One Direction, Sir Elton John and X Factor judge Gary Barlow will be performing tomorrow.

Also today: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (ITV, 2:30pm); the Strictly semi-final (BBC1, 6:40pm); Micky Flanagan, Helen Skelton, Arlene Phillips and Diarmuid Gavin are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); Psychopath Night begins on Channel 4 (9:00pm); to coincide with the release of the sequel on Wednesday, Anchorman is on BBC3 at 10:00pm; the film’s star, Will Ferrell joins David Beckham on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10:05pm); and BBC2 repeats The Wrong Mans, beginning with a triple bill tonight (10:55pm).

Sunday 15th December

Sports Personality of the Year 2013

BBC1, 7:40pm

Tonight Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan will reveal which sportsperson will follow in'Sports Personality of the Year' - BBC1, 7:40pm the footsteps of 2012 Sports Personality of the Year, Bradley Wiggins.

The contenders this year include: sailing champion, Ben Ainslie; cricketer, Ian Bell; athlete, Hannah Cockroft; runner, Mo Farah; cyclist, Chris Froome; rugby union player, Leigh Halfpenny; jockey and former SPOY winner, AP McCoy; athlete, Christine Ohuruogu; golfer, Justin Rose; and tennis player, Andy Murray.

So, some brilliant contenders this year* but who will be the sixtieth recipient? I have to be honest, I think Andy Murray will take some beating but we’ll find out exactly who wins the award tonight.

*I have no idea if these are ‘brilliant contenders’. I’m as familiar with sport as Katie Hopkins is with tact.

Also today: Let’s Do Christmas With Gino & Mel returns (ITV, 12:30pm), with Cheryl Fergison the first to join in the festive chat and cooking; Ski Sunday is back (BBC2, 5:55pm); Harry Judd, Gareth Gates and Chris Bisson are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 6:30pm); find out who’s going through to the Strictly final at 7:00pm; the X Factor winner is announced (ITV, 7:30pm); Britain’s Killer Storms (Channel 4, 7:30pm) looks at the worst weather of 2012; and, as is tradition, Channel 5 counts down Britain’s Favourite Christmas Songs (9:30pm).

Christmas specials include: The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC2, 7:40pm) and Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:30pm).

Monday 16th December

A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards

ITV, 9:00pm

Now in its sixth year, The Millies celebrates the exceptional work and bravery of the British military.'A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards' - ITV, 9:00pm

As always, the intrepid recipients have been selected by a panel of judges, this year comprising of Andy McNab, Lorraine Kelly, Holly Willoughby, Jeremy Clarkson and former military chiefs Admiral Lord West, Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire and General Sir Mike Jackson.

So, join hosts Philip Schofield and Amanda Holden, along with an audience of celebrities and politicians, for a night of rare celebration of the brilliance of our Forces.

Also today: The first instalment of World’s Strongest Man 2013 (Channel 5, 7:00pm); Kirsty’s Crafty Christmas (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Tom Kerridge Cooks Christmas (BBC2, 8:30pm); and the last-ever Ripper Street (BBC1, 9:00pm).

Christmas specials include: Don’t Tell the Bride (BBC3, 9:00pm) and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, hosted by Johnny Vegas (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 17th December

The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special 

BBC2, 8:00pm

In this one-off festive masterclass, Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry show viewers'The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special' - BBC2, 8:00pm  how to create some top Christmas treats.

Stollen, Mincemeat Streusel and a Gingerbread House (pictured) are on the menu tonight, as well as Paul’s own Boxing Day pie.

If you’re struggling for a unique, homemade treat to top of your Christmas celebrations, this may just be ideal!

Also today: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (ITV, 7:30pm); Pothole Britain: Drivers Beware! (Channel 5, 8:00pm); and documentary The Lockerbie Bombing (ITV, 11:00pm).

Christmas specials include: The Call Centre (BBC3, 9:00pm); Bad Education (BBC3, 10:00pm); and The Matt Lucas Awards (BBC1, 10:35pm), with Alan Davies, Jo Brand and Rhod Gilbert.

Wednesday 18th December

The Great Train Robbery 

BBC1, 8:00pm

Last year ITV brought us the fantastic Mrs Biggs, and now Auntie have this two-part drama based on'The Great Train Robbery' - BBC1, 8:00pm the 1963 heist.

Written by Broadchurch scribe Chris Chibnall, the series begins with ‘A Robber’s Tale’, the story of the heist, told from the perspective of the perpetrators. We see the gang plan, rehearse and finally execute the theft, including the many humorous slip-ups they made and obstacles they faced along the way.

Starring Luke Evans, Neil Maskell and Martin Compston, this opening episode tells of the group’s extraordinary luck, and how that luck would change their lives forever.

Also today: Excessive Compulsive Collectors (Channel 5, 8:00pm); the conclusion of Lucan (ITV, 9:00pm); Britain’s Craziest Christmas Lights (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and the credits roll on Gogglebox for the final time this year (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Christmas specials include: Food & Drink (BBC2, 8:00pm); Surprise, Surprise (ITV, 8:00pm); and Backchat, with Lee Mack (BBC3, 10:00pm). There are also repeats of last year’s Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Sarah Millican Television Programme specials (BBC1, 9:30pm and BBC2, 10:00pm).

Thursday 19th December

Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 

ITV, 8:00pm

Chris Tarrant presents what may be the final-ever Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? celebrity special.'Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' - ITV, 8:00pm  Or indeed the final-ever Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

Among the celebrity pairs tonight are Sir Alex Ferguson and Eamonn Holmes, who are of course pals owing to their Manchester United link.

Now, with Chris Tarrant having left the show (as he made plain during his cringeworthy Jonathan Ross Show interview), it’s possible that this will be the last time that we’ll see contestants taking to the hot seat.

Still, I’m sure we’ll get over it.

Also today: Hairy Bikers’ Christmas Party (BBC2, 7:00pm); The Great Train Robbery concludes (BBC1, 8:00pm); Alex Polizzi’s Perfect Christmas (BBC2, 8:00pm); George Clarke’s Amazing Christmas Spaces (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Giles Coren and Alexander Armstrong host The 12 Drinks of Christmas (BBC2, 9:00pm); Phil Taggart presents Christmas on Benefits (BBC3, 9:00pm); the last-ever episode of Him & Her (BBC3, 10:00pm); highlights of Celebrity Juice in Parallel Juicyverse (ITV2, 10:00pm); and one-off documentary Utopia (ITV, 10:35pm).

Christmas specials include: Educating Yorkshire (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and last year’s Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Royle Family (BBC1, 9:30pm and 10:35pm) – the first of which was disappointing, the latter just plain abysmal. Sorry, Caroline and Craig, but you’ll have to do better than that!

Friday 20th December

Text Santa 

ITV, 8:00pm

It’s slowly becoming as much a fixture as Comic Relief and Children in Need – and, now in its third'Text Santa' - ITV, 8:00pm year, ITV’s Text Santa appeal is back.

Although the big telethon actually begins at eight o’clock, there are programmes in aid of Text Santa throughout the day on ITV. Dickinson’s Real Deal, from Birmingham, is on at 3:00pm and The Chase is at 5:00pm. If The Chase special is anything like last year’s, which saw all of the Chasers dressed as pantomime characters, it should be brilliant.

Back to the show itself, though, and hosts Ant & Dec, Philip Schofield, Holly Willoughby, Paddy McGuinness and Christine Bleakley will be bringing three hours of festive entertainment, including Corrie, Emmerdale and Take Me Out specials and a performance of this year’s single, ‘I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday’, by the Big Reunion cast.

The six charities benefiting this year are: Age UK, Barnardo’s, BeatBullying, British Heart Foundation, CLIC Sargent and Help the Hospices. To find out more about these causes, and how to donate to the appeal, click here.

There will also be a highlights package at 11:45pm.

Also today: Gordon Ramsay’s Festive Home Cooking (Channel 4, 8:00pm); The Xtra Factor: Judges All-Time Best and Worst (ITV2, 8:00pm); 2013: Moments in Time (BBC2) and Have I Got 2013 For You (BBC1) look back at the events of the year at 9:00pm; Jack Whitehall hosts Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); Alan Carr welcomes Katy Perry onto his show (Channel 4, 10:00pm) and Julie Walters, Tinie Tempah, Idris Elba and Miranda Hart are on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Christmas specials today include: University Challenge (BBC2, 7:30pm); Citizen Khan (BBC1, 8:30pm); and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings (Channel 4, 9:00pm).

This Christmas in TV (for 21st December 2013 – 3rd January 2014) will be published at the earlier time of midnight on Monday (9th December).

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

Image credits: The X Factor – Thanks to ITV and Tom Dymond, ©Thames TV; Sports Personality of the Year – Thanks to BBC, Ray Burmiston and Joel Anderson, ©BBC; A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards – Thanks to ITV and TwoFour Productions, ©The Sun; The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special – Thanks to BBC and Love Productions, ©Love Productions; The Great Train Robbery – Thanks to BBC, World Productions and Robert Viglasky, ©World Productions; Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – Thanks to ITV and Victory Television, ©Victory Television; Text Santa – ©ITV.

This Week in TV – 19th – 25th October

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with frozen pizzas, scrumptious cupcakes and a bit of toast, too. Oh, and there’s some Japanese sex as well, if that’s your bag… 

Saturday 19th October

David Frost Night

BBC2, 8:20pm

Following his untimely death in August, BBC2 are dedicating a whole night to legendary broadcaster'Sir David Frost: That Was the Life That Was' - BBC2, 8:20pm Sir David Frost. 

The night begins with Sir David Frost: That Was the Life That Was, which tells the story of his life both on- and off-screen: from the satire of shows such as TW3 and The Frost Report to Through the Keyhole and, of course, the groundbreaking journalism of The Nixon Tapes. Narrated by Stephen Fry, the one-off documentary will also feature contributions from stars such as Ronnie Corbett, Barry Cryer and Michaels Caine, Palin and Parkinson.

That Was the Life That Was is followed by a repeat of Sir David’s 2010 BBC4 documentary, Frost on Satire, at 9:20, and then later at 11:00 is Frost/Nixon, the 2008 dramatisation of the aforementioned Nixon interviews.

Also today: Kim Woodburn no doubt gives Xander and Richard a piece of her mind on Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:40pm); Strictly Come Dancing is at 6:30pm (BBC1); Kim Woodburn has her brains picked for the second time tonight in The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); it’s Love & Heartbreak week on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); there’s coverage of the MOBOs on BBC3 at 9:00pm; and Harry Redknapp, Gordon Ramsay, Julie Walters and Frankie Lampard pull up a pew for The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10:05pm).

Sunday 20th October

Toast of London

Channel 4, 10:40pm

This sitcom (co-written by Matt Berry and Arthur Mathews) was piloted last year during Channel 4’s ‘Funny Fortnight’ (very few of the shows broadcast during which managed to live up to that title). It'Toast of London' - Channel 4, 10:40pm follows Steven Toast (Matt Berry), a struggling thespian with life problems and a shady past.  However, he’s trying to get his acting career back on track – alas often to no avail.

I have to say that I was rather unimpressed with the pilot episode. Matt Berry seemed simply to be playing a darker version of his IT Crowd alter-ego, Douglas Reynholm, and the storylines and characters were largely disengaging. I thought it was just a bit of a disappointing mess.

I am prepared to give it another go, though. Channel 4 committed themselves to a full series, after all, so there must be some magic in it which I missed first time around. In this episode, Steven struggles with attention from the ladies and the fact that his housemate Ed has invited an old friend to stay at the flat who has recently had some rather disastrous cosmetic surgery. However, there is some good news for him: he has just won a Best Actor award!

Also today: Animated film Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs premieres on Channel 5 (4:20pm); one-off documentary Royal Babies looks at…you guessed it, royal babies (Channel 5, 6:10pm); there’s a performance from Keane on Strictly Come Dancing: The Results (BBC1, 7:15pm); The Paradise returns (BBC1, 8:00pm); Jules Hudson presents Dive WWII: Our Secret History (BBC2, 8:00pm); another act has to leave The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); Bryan Sykes and Mark Evans host the first of three-part documentary series, Bigfoot Files (Channel 4, 8:00pm); and Karl Pilkington: The Moaning of Life (Sky1, 9:00pm) sees the perpetually miserable broadcaster answer some of life’s most challenging questions.

Monday 21st October

Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet 

BBC2, 9:00pm

Just look at that title. It’s almost as if they had to come up with a name for this series at 4:58 on a Friday afternoon, and then when someone said, ‘Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet?’ a chorus of approval began and they all filed down to the pub for an end-of-week drink.

This new three-part series shows what life is like inside Iceland'Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet' - BBC2, 9:00pm supermarkets, which once topped the Sunday Times list of the best big companies to work for. The series leaves no stone (-baked frozen pizza, I thank you) unturned as it offers a candid insight into the goings-on in one of the biggest retail giants, which regularly feeds over four million families a week.

One of the stand-out stars is Iceland CEO Malcolm Walker (pictured, right): a somewhat eccentric man who even often offers £10,000 in cash to the best-performing employee. (I’m starting to wish I’d tried harder at my interview at the Sunderland branch in July!). 2013 is not a great year for Malcolm: the recession is beginning to take its toll on Iceland, and what with the revelations about horsemeat allegedly being found in some of the company’s products, sales are threatening to plummet. Will he be able to prevent it from getting too bad?

Also today: After a few postponements, A Question of Sport finally returns for a new series (BBC1, 8:30pm); it’s the last in the series of Doc Martin (ITV, 9:00pm); Channel 5 truly scrapes the bottom of the barrel with Shoplifters & Proud (9:00pm); Cherry Healey: Old Before My Time (BBC3, 9:00pm) sees the broadcaster investigate a variety of health risks; Impact! A Horizon Guide to Car Crashes (BBC4, 9:00pm) takes a look at the journey (see what I did there?) of road collisions through the decades; Flight of the Conchords star Kristen Schaal hosts Never Mind the Buzzcocks (BBC2, 10:00pm); and Channel 4’s Campaign for Real Sex season continues with Date My Porn Star (10:00pm).

Tuesday 22nd October

The Great British Bake Off 

BBC2, 7:00pm

This is the fourth year now that I have been out of the Bake Off loop. Don’t get me wrong, I started with good intentions: I watched the first couple of weeks, and really enjoyed salivating over Paul Hollywood. Erm, I mean salivating over the cakes. The trouble is, though, I then got a bit behind'The Great British Bake Off' - BBC2, 7:00pm with Bake Off, and because it was taking too much room up on my Sky+ planner I just had to let it go.

For some reason I felt compelled to give that explanation, as it seems unacceptable now not to watch the show. After all, it is undoubtedly growing in popularity, with the Beeb last week announcing that in 2014, for its fifth series, The Great British Bake Off will move to BBC1. Whether it will be at home there I don’t know. Perhaps it will be a little bit like QI and people will realise that it isn’t suited to the flagship channel, and move it back to its home of BBC2.

Enough about next year, though: the final of the fourth series is tonight! Yes, there will be no more soggy bottoms and big baps for quite a while as Mel, Sue, Mary and Paul all leave the tent to try and shift some of the weight they have gained as a result of sampling cakes every day.

The night of Bake Off action kicks off at 7:00 with The Great British Bake Off 2012 Winner’s Story, in which we catch up with some of last year’s contestants, including, of course, winner John Whaite. Then, at 8:00, it’s the big one: The Great British Bake Off Final. Will it be Ruby, Frances or Kimberley who is crowned Bake Off champion 2013?

Also today: While football dominates ITV, there are some pretty average guests on The Sarah Millican Television Programme (BBC2, 9:30pm) and one-off documentary Fox Wars (BBC1, 10:35pm), which does exactly what it says on the tin.

Wednesday 23rd October


BBC2, 9:00pm

Comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb play a British ambassador and his assistant in this new comedy drama from James Wood (Rev.) and newcomer Rupert Walters.'Ambassadors' - BBC2, 9:00pm

Keith Davis (Mitchell) is the newly-appointed British ambassador for the fictional country of Tazbekistan and is not-so-ably assisted by Neil Tilly (Webb). Along with the rest of the Embassy team – who are either in love or fighting with each other – they try to make a little into a lot by working with their minimal budget to boost British prosperity and values.

As you can expect, however, they hit a fair few obstacles along the way…

Also today: Patricia Hodge guests in a new Poirot mystery (ITV, 8:00pm); Saving Britain’s 70-Stone Man (doesn’t it make you feel proud?) is on Channel 5 at 9:00pm; new sitcom You, Me & Them begins (Gold, 9:00pm) – read my review here, and see if you like it (because there are quite a few who apparently don’t…); and Misfits begins its final series (E4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 24th October

This World 

BBC2, 9:00pm

Japan is in something of a crisis at the moment – in terms of both its struggling economy and'This World' - BBC2, 9:00pm quickly-dwindling population.

In this special documentary, entitled ‘No Sex Please, We’re Japanese’, Anita Rani sets out to discover why the Japanese aren’t having enough sex. To do this, she investigates the effect of the otaku culture, which sees Japanese men being far too obsessed with computer games to actually go out and get girlfriends. Anita meets some of the followers of this culture, one of whom tells her that he has reservations about going out with ‘a 3D woman’, as his virtual love interests are for more exciting.

Anita will also speak to some pensioners, as Japan currently has the oldest population in the world, with 50,000 inhabitants being over one hundred years old.

Also today: Trust Me I’m a Doctor concludes (BBC2, 8:00pm); property series George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces (Channel 4) and documentary Benidorm ER return at 8:00pm; Educating Yorkshire draws to a close (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Arena: The National Theatre (BBC4, 9:00pm) explores the iconic London venue; a minicab office is the focus of this week’s Up All Night (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Dan Poole presents Muse of Fire: A Shakespearean Road Movie (BBC4, 10:00pm).

Friday 25th October

The Graham Norton Show 

BBC1, 10:35pm

Now, the fact that Jonathan Ross and Alan Carr are fantastic chat show hosts is not open to  dispute. However, the king of chat at the moment has to be'The Graham Norton Show' - BBC1, 10:35pm Graham Norton.

Unlike his talk show counterparts, he manages to pull in the big audiences and big names week after week. We are now only into the third episode of this series of his show, and he has already welcomed to that red sofa of his Benedict Cumberbatch, Harrison Ford, Sir Paul McCartney and Katy Perry, to name just a few. This week is thankfully no different as joining him will be: Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, who discuss their new film, The Family; the absolutely fabulous Jennifer Saunders, who will be chatting about her autobiography, Bonkers; and Cher, who will also be performing her new song, ‘I Hope You Find It’.

Also today: Jo Brand hosts Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); Pete Waterman gets a grilling on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); TV’s 50 Greatest Magic Tricks gets a repeat (Channel 5, 9:00pm); The Who: The Story of Tommy is on BBC4 at 9:00pm; Greg Davies’s Man Down continues (Channel 4, 9:30pm); Isy Suttie, Bill Bailey and Tim Minchin are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); Amanda Holden, Karl Pilkington, Jared Leto and Icona Pop have a drink and a natter on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); Basic Instinct is on ITV (10:35pm); and sketch show pilot The Cariad Show 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: Sir David Frost: That Was the Life That Was – ©BBC; Toast of London – Thanks to Channel 4, Objective Pictures and Kuba Wieczorek; Iceland Foods – Life in the Freezer Cabinet – Thanks to BBC, Films of Record and Phil Fisk, ©Films of Record; The Great British Bake Off – Thanks to BBC, Love Productions and Des Willie, ©Love Productions; Ambassadors – Thanks to BBC, Big Talk and Colin Hutton, ©Big Talk; This World – Thanks to BBC and Elizabeth Mullen, ©BBC; The Graham Norton Show – Thanks to BBC, So TV and Christopher Baines, ©So TV.

Soggy Bottoms at the Ready: ‘Bake Off’ is Back!

Yes! Not long now – just one week until Mel, Sue, Paul and Mary are back for another ten weeks of tense whisking, crimping and piping as the tent is re-opened for the fourth series of The Great British 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!

So, who are this year’s participants? Well, we have:

And you can find out more about this year’s bakers here.


As always, the participants won’t be eased in gently: Mel and Sue are eager to throw them in at the deep end as the first Signature Bake sees them create a simple sandwich cake. Well there’s very little to go wrong with there. But of course the bakers have to decide whether they will go with the traditional option or put their own twist on the classic. However, will Paul and Mary appreciate the rather unorthodox versions?

Next, Ms. Berry sets Angel Food Cake for the first Technical Bake – but this proves to be a hellish task for some as they try their best to follow the recipe to the letter, with varying degrees of success.

Finally, there is of course the Showstopper, which celebrates all things chocolaty and is the bakers’ last chance to wow the judges with their skills. Sadly, though, one will fail to rise to the challenge and therefore be the first on their way home.

With over 16,000 amateur bakers having applied to take part in this series, the final thirteen are expected to be the cream of the crop. But, as always, I’m sure there’ll be a few disasters in the tent. And soggy bottoms all round.

It’s certainly going to be an exciting series – or should that be egg-citing?

Get it? ‘Egg-citing’…Oh please yourself!

The fourth series of The Great British Bake Off starts on Tuesday 20th August at 8:00pm on BBC2

Images courtesy of BBC, Love Productions and Des Willie – ©Love Productions