fri 20/04/2018

TV reviews, news & interviews

True Horror, Channel 4 review - a Ronseal approach to ghost stories

Owen Richards

As if the real world wasn’t scary enough... Ghost stories are en vogue at the moment, and after the BBC’s hit-and-miss Requiem, Channel 4 brings True Horror to the small screen – a collection of "real" ghost stories, told by witness interviews and dramatised with a decent budget.

Occupied, series 2, Sky Atlantic review - political conflicts looking all too actual

Mark Sanderson

Eight months have passed since the Russians invaded Norway in the first season of Jo Nesbo’s neo-Cold War thriller. Real-life events have only made Occupied seem more relevant.

Stephen: The Murder That Changed A Nation, BBC...

Katherine Waters

When doctors told Doreen Lawrence her son had died she thought, "That’s not true." Spending time with his body in the hospital, aside from a cut on...

The Queen's Green Planet, ITV review - right...

Marina Vaizey

QCC isn’t the name of a new football club, nor some higher qualification for those toiling at the Bar, but stands for "Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy"....

Helaine Blumenfeld: Britain’s most successful...

Rupert Edwards

Sexy is an overused word in the arts but it’s an adjective you can’t help applying to some of Helaine Blumenfeld’s voluptuous marble sculptures as...

Lifeline, Channel 4 review - Spanish sci-fi drama on speed

Jasper Rees

'Walter Presents' what-if transplant drama from Madrid hits the accelerator pedal

Law and Order, BBC Four review - not a fair cop

Jasper Rees

GF Newman's 1978 series about police corruption still intrigues

Boy George and Culture Club: From Karma to Calamity, BBC Four

Barney Harsent

The return of Eighties pop giants would be a sure-fire hit, if only they could nail the harmony

Below the Surface, Series Finale, BBC Four review - tense and twisty to the bitter end

Adam Sweeting

Terrorist thriller ends in tragedy and true confessions

The City and the City, BBC Two review - detection in four dimensions

Adam Sweeting

David Morrissey manages to keep fantasy psy-cop show on the road

Civilisations: First Contact, BBC Two review - David Olusoga goes for gold

Jasper Rees

It's not all about colonialism as Europe establishes cultural contact with other continents

Deep State, Fox review - secrets, lies and spies

Adam Sweeting

Retired spy Max Easton is pulled back for one last mission, with sinister consequences

Ordeal by Innocence, BBC One, review - Agatha Christie goes nuclear

Jasper Rees

Delayed adaptation is a tangy brew of blood, bricks and bad mothers

Arena: Bob Dylan - Trouble No More, BBC Four review - up close and personal with Gospel Bob

Tim Cumming

You gotta have faith: powerful music, with sermons interleaved

In the Long Run, Sky 1 review - bright start for multiracial comedy

Adam Sweeting

Idris Elba revisits 1980s Hackney with a deft comic touch

Come Home, BBC One review - a drama of family disintegration, divided loyalties

Markie Robson-Scott

A mother leaves her children: Christopher Eccleston and Paula Malcomson star in Danny Brocklehurst's new creation

Mum, BBC Two, series 2 finale review - the perfect way to go

Jasper Rees

Lesley Manville and co should quit their unimprovable sitcom while they're ahead

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, BBC One review - emotional nomad with a fragile gift for joy

Jasper Rees

Imagine's intimate portrait of a Hollywood diva fills in the darkest shadows

The Good Fight, Series 2, More4 review - the longer they do it, the better it gets

Adam Sweeting

Public perils and private passions as the scintillating legal saga returns

Big Cats About the House, BBC Two review - irresistible feline-human bonding

Marina Vaizey

When a jaguar comes to stay... Wildlife television goes domestic

The Durrells, Series 3, ITV review - a winter warmer from Corfu

Adam Sweeting

Take a load off with some Mediterranean escapism

13 Commandments, Channel 4 review - murder most Flemish

Jasper Rees

Belgian crime drama from Walter Presents borrows the plot of 'Seven'

Annihilation, Netflix review - not quite a sci-fi masterpiece

Adam Sweeting

Girl-power cast can't send Alex Garland's Earth-in-peril saga into orbit

Being Blacker, BBC Two review - absorbing film about family, culture and society

Jasper Rees

Molly Dineen documentary puts race identity in Brixton under the microscope

Below the Surface, BBC Four review - terror in Copenhagen

Adam Sweeting

Dogged Danes versus ruthless subterranean hostage-takers

Civilisations, episode 2, BBC Two review - Mary Beard on the cultural offensive

Tom Birchenough

Images of the human form investigated, from classical Europe to Mexico, China

Collateral, series finale, BBC Two - Carey Mulligan hares to the finish

Jasper Rees

David Hare's state-of-the-nation procedural totters under the weight of its own ambition

Tones, Drones and Arpeggios: The Magic of Minimalism, BBC Four - brilliant appraisal

Matthew Wright

Overdue survey of a subversive musical idea gone defiantly mainstream

Civilisations, BBC Two review - no shocks from Schama

Marina Vaizey

The much-heralded successor to Kenneth Clark's series reveals little new so far

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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