fri 22/09/2017

TV reviews, news & interviews

Bad Move, ITV review - Jack Dee resettles in the middle of the road

Jasper Rees

That the countryside is a dump where all good things come to a dead end is hardly a new punchline. There are plenty of novels and memoirs, and indeed newspaper columns, about trading the toxic metropolis for the green and unpleasant pastures of the rural life. The joke is it’s mainly horrible for a narrow spectrum of predictable reasons. It’s muddy, petrol costs a bomb, bored kids are forever after lifts, and as for the people…

Cinema Through the Eye of Magnum, BBC Four review - moving pictures

Marina Vaizey

Magnum was founded just after the war in 1947 as a co-operative that ensured both the quality of its members, and their clout in dealing with the media world. Its longevity is testimony to its success. The original founders were war-hardened photo journalists and included Robert Capa and David “Chim” Seymour; the first woman member was Eve Arnold, who joined in 1951.

Black Lake, BBC Four review – Nordic blanc falls...

Adam Sweeting

What would Saturday nights be without BBC Four’s regular subtitle-fests? Black Lake, their new Swedish import, has nothing in the way of originality...

The best TV to watch this week


Don't want to go outside? Take refuge on the box. We sift the schedules for youSaturday 16 SeptemberBlack Lake, BBC Four – Swedish supernatural...

100 Year Old Driving School, ITV review – a...

Barney Harsent

While Horizon, on BBC2, was telling us that the first person to walk on Mars could well be walking among us now, ITV's 100 Year Old Driving...

Rellik, BBC One review - tricksy procedural messes with time

Jasper Rees

How long have you got to watch Richard Dormer's disfigured cop hunt down a psychopath?

Liar, ITV - who, if anybody, is telling the truth?

Adam Sweeting

Secrets and evasions in the Williams brothers' rape-allegation drama

Tin Star, Sky Atlantic - broken characters stalked by remorseless fate

Adam Sweeting

Tim Roth battles booze and bad guys in the Alberta wilderness

Cold Feet, series 7, ITV review - more comedy than drama

Barney Harsent

After last year's comeback, it's a fresh start for Mike Bullen's friends

Safe House, series 2, ITV review - the abduction and captivity show returns

Mark Sanderson

Now played by Stephen Moyer, Tom Brook is back as the ex-cop who won’t stop

Doctor Foster, Series 2, BBC One review - belief suspended for a pacy and tense return

Barney Harsent

The revenge drama stretched credulity, but quickened the pulse

Imagine... Alma Deutscher: Finding Cinderella, BBC One review - beguiling profile of a musical prodigy

Graham Rickson

When your first full-length opera is premiering in Vienna - and you are only 11

Top of the Lake: China Girl, BBC Two, series finale review - torpor not trauma

Mark Sanderson

Top of the lake? More like bottom of the barrel...

Educating Greater Manchester, Channel 4 review - a study of hope, humanity and heart

Barney Harsent

Friendship rather than fighting defined Channel 4's new term

The Great British Bake Off, Channel 4 review – a cake with adverts is still a cake

Barney Harsent

Despite a nation's furious concern, Channel 4 haven't burnt the pudding

Trust Me, BBC One, series finale review - drama about fake doctor was also pretending

Jasper Rees

Jodie Whittaker star vehicle fails to answer its own questions about medical morality

Strike: The Cuckoo's Calling, BBC One review - JK Rowling's debut in crime bows most promisingly

Tom Birchenough

The death of a supermodel, a sardonic detective, and London in its grungy glory

Wasting Away, Channel 4 review - we can't fix people while the NHS is broken

Barney Harsent

A powerful study of mental health that pulled no punches

The State, Channel 4 review - dishonest portrait of British jihadis

Jasper Rees

Peter Kosminsky's drama about British recruits to IS means well but doesn't ring true

theartsdesk Q&A: Director Peter Kosminsky, Part 2

Jasper Rees

The director of C4's new drama The State has always taken the pulse of modern Britain. Here he talks about his Blair trilogy

No More Boys and Girls, BBC Two – baby steps lead to great leaps for children

Barney Harsent

A classroom becomes the first battleground for one doctor's war on gender bias

theartsdesk Q&A: Director Peter Kosminsky, Part 1

Jasper Rees

The State, his new drama about Britons joining ISIS, begins on Sunday. But who is the campaigning film-maker?

I Know Who You Are, series finale, BBC Four review - gripping, but no one to root for

Jasper Rees

The mystery of Juan Elías and Ana Saura is resolved, but there's plenty more to sort out. Contains spoilers

DVD/Blu-ray: American Gods

Nick Hasted

Divine immigration epic from Neil Gaiman

Citizen Jane review - portrait of a New York toughie

Markie Robson-Scott

BBC Four documentary on the remarkable Jane Jacobs, scourge of New York town planners

Trust Me, BBC One review - Jodie Whittaker's tense medical check-up

Jasper Rees

Dan Sefton's hospital drama imagines a nurse pretending to be a doctor

Utopia: In Search of the Dream, BBC Four review - the best of all possible documentaries?

Marina Vaizey

Documentary explores ideal societies and the dystopian alternatives

Fargo, Series 3 Finale, Channel 4 review - the best drama of the year?

Mark Sanderson

Noah Hawley's brilliantly twisted creation scales new heights

Man in an Orange Shirt, BBC Two review - soft-focus view of 1940s gay love affair

Mark Sanderson

Patrick Gale's debut TV screenplay flirts with Mills & Boon

Footnote: a brief history of British TV

You could almost chart the history of British TV by following the career of ITV's Coronation Street, as it has ridden 50 years of social change, seen off would-be rivals, survived accusations of racism and learned to live alongside the BBC's EastEnders. But no single programme, or even strand of programmes, can encompass the astonishing diversity and creativity of TV-UK since BBC TV was officially born in 1932.

Nostalgists lament the demise of single plays like Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home or Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, but drama series like The Jewel in the Crown, Edge of Darkness, Our Friends in the North, State of Play, the original Upstairs Downstairs or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will surely loom larger in history's rear-view mirror, while perhaps Julian Fellowes' surprise hit, Downton Abbey, heralds a new wave of the classic British costume drama. For that matter, indestructible comic creations like George Cole's Arthur Daley in Minder, Nigel Hawthorne's Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister, the Steptoes, Arthur Lowe and co in Dad's Army, John Cleese's Fawlty Towers or Only Fools and Horses insinuate themselves between the cracks of British life far more persuasively than the most earnest television documentary (at which Britain has become world-renowned).

British sci-fi will never out-gloss Hollywood monoliths like Battlestar Galactica, but Nigel Kneale's Quatermass stories are still influential 60 years later, and the reborn Doctor Who has been a creative coup for the BBC. British series from the Sixties like The Avengers, Patrick McGoohan's bizarre brainchild The Prisoner or The Saint (with the young Roger Moore) have bounced back as major influences on today's Hollywood, and re-echo through the BBC's enduringly successful Spooks.

Meanwhile, though British comedy depends more on maverick inspiration than the sleek industrialisation deployed by US television, that didn't stop Monty Python from becoming a global legend, or prevent Ricky Gervais being adopted as an American mascot. True, you might blame British TV (and Simon Cowell) for such monstrosities as The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent, but the entire planet has lapped them up. And we can console ourselves that Britain also gave the world Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man, David Attenborough's epic nature series Life on Earth and The Blue Planet, as well as Kenneth Clark's Civilisation. The Arts Desk brings you overnight reviews and news of the best (and worst) of TV in Britain. Our writers include Adam Sweeting, Jasper Rees, Veronica Lee, Alexandra Coghlan, Fisun Güner, Josh Spero and Gerard Gilbert.

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