wed 24/10/2018

TV reviews, news & interviews

There She Goes, BBC Four review - mining disability for family comedy?

Saskia Baron

What do you do after playing Doctor Who, the dream dad of the nation, quirky and compassionate, the adult who every child knows will be fun?  Does it seem like a good idea to play the beleaguered father of a child with special needs? It must do, because David Tennant has now followed Christopher Ecclestone, who played the grandfather of an autistic boy in The A Word.

Informer, BBC One review - keeping tabs on terror

Adam Sweeting

Thanks heavens not all police officers spend their time trying to find “hate crime” on Twitter, or not going to the assistance of colleagues in peril. Take Gabe Waters, for instance, the central character in BBC One’s new undercover-policier.

Barneys, Books and Bust Ups, BBC Four review -...

Marina Vaizey

You had to keep your eyes skinned. Was that Iris Murdoch or AS Byatt, Kingsley Amis or John Banville, Margaret Atwood or Val McDermid – maybe, even,...

Press, BBC One, series finale review - scarcely...

Jasper Rees

It’s difficult to tell whether Press (BBC One) came to praise newspapers or to bury them. The slugfest between preachy liberal do-goodery and mucky...

The Bisexual, Channel 4 review - joyless comedy...

Veronica Lee

Write about what you know, every nascent novelist is told. So you can't fault writer/director/actor Desiree Akhavan, Iranian-American creator of...

Wanderlust, BBC One, series finale review - you can't have your cake and eat it

Jasper Rees

Nick Payne's marital examination asks questions to the very end

Doctor Who, The Woman Who Fell to Earth, BBC One review - a captivating debut from Jodie Whittaker

Lisa-Marie Ferla

The 13th official incarnation of everybody's favourite time-travelling alien

The Cry, BBC One review - every parent's nightmare

Adam Sweeting

How do you cope with the unthinkable?

Queen of the World, ITV review - born to run and run

Marina Vaizey

A year in the life of the Queen and her Commonwealth

Bodyguard, BBC One, series finale review - gripping entertainment of the highest calibre

Jasper Rees

Was it the police, the government or MI5 who murdered Julia Montague? And was she really dead? CONTAINS SPOILERS

A Discovery of Witches, episode 2, Sky 1 review - when the sorceress met the vampire

Adam Sweeting

Supernatural chills and thrills in TV version of the 'All Souls Trilogy'

James Graham: 'the country of Shakespeare no longer recognises arts as a core subject'

James Graham

Full transcript of the playwright's passionate speech about the importance of the arts at the Hospital Club's h100 Awards

Strangers, episode 2, ITV review - conspiracy theories multiply

Adam Sweeting

Hong Kong locations may be the real stars of this tortuous thriller

Killing Eve, BBC One review - the dying game

Adam Sweeting

Sisters are doing it for themselves in semi-comic spy caper

Classic Albums: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black, BBC Four review - suffering turned into song

Mark Kidel

How the singer's second album made musical gold out of the blues

Black Earth Rising, BBC Two review - Blick's new blockbuster

Adam Sweeting

Politics, genocide, race and the law collide in ambitious thriller

Wanderlust, BBC One review - an unflinching look at stale sex

Owen Richards

A strong cast and well-crafted script offer a new take on marital infidelity

Vanity Fair, ITV review - seductions of social climbing

Mark Sanderson

Much fun at Thackeray's fair: Gwyneth Hughes rolls out an accomplished romantic romp

Keeping Faith, BBC One, series finale review - we need to talk about Evan

Jasper Rees

Triumphant Welsh drama starring Eve Myles ends on a question. Contains spoilers

Bodyguard, BBC One, episode 2 review - a wild ride to who knows where

Jasper Rees

What's love got to do with it? Jed Mercurio's counterterrorism thriller starring Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes continues

Grayson Perry: Rites of Passage, Channnel 4 review - making meaning in death

Marina Vaizey

Home and away: the artist observes rituals in Sulawesi, then creates them in Hounslow

Disenchantment, Netflix review - Matt Groening show has promise after poor start

Owen Richards

Fantasy animation from the creator of The Simpsons lacks the quality of his best work

On the Edge, Channel 4, review - fast and furious new dramas

Jasper Rees

4Stories initiative to promote young writers and directors bears fruit

h 100 Awards: Broadcast - TV's national treasures

Adam Sweeting

Rising stars, veterans venerated and the Welsh go global

Murder in Soho: Who Killed Freddie Mills?, BBC Four review - cold case solved?

Jasper Rees

Feature-length enquiry attempts to clear up an infamous mystery

Age Before Beauty, BBC One review - mid-life makeover madness

Adam Sweeting

Debbie Horsfield's big, brassy, blowsy beauty salon drama

Hidden, Series Finale, BBC Four review - a whydunnit, not a whodunnit

Adam Sweeting

Welsh thriller is far more than a copycat procedural

The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, ITV review - the ludicrous in search of the preposterous

Adam Sweeting

History repeats itself as farce

Who Is America?, Channel 4 review - sudden return of Sacha Baron Cohen

Adam Sweeting

Satirical mayhem in post-Trump USA

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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