wed 20/06/2018

tv

Imagine: Placido Domingo - The Time of My Life, BBC One

David Nice

How old Placido Domingo? Old Placido Domingo in not bad vocal health, to paraphrase Cary Grant's celebrated telegram reply. The other answer depends on your source of reference. Domingo is 68 in the eyes of last night's rather lazy, over-reverent Imagine, but 75 according to my not so New Everyman Dictionary of Music. Where did that come from?

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Out of My Depth, ITV1

Adam Sweeting Celebrity talent-spotter Amanda Holden tries her hand at midwifery

It’s what any woman dreams of. You’re in the throes of childbirth, contorted by spasms of medieval-style agony, when in bounces chirpy Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden to assist with the delivery. It remains to be seen how accurate this show’s title is (this was the pilot episode), since the list of celebs willing to expose their inadequacies when confronted with the kind of jobs normal people do is likely to be short.

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Lolita?, BBC Four

Jasper Rees

A penny for the author’s thoughts. An opening montage makes it quite clear that Vladimir Nabokov had no truck with witless modernity. Yet here nonetheless is a documentary on his infamous bestseller, and they've gone and named after a TV talent show about the hunt for an actress to play a singing nun in a West End musical. Why? Was the idea to interest Sound of Music fans in Lolita?

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I Dreamed A Dream: The Susan Boyle Story, ITV1

Adam Sweeting

"They all laughed at Rockefeller Centre, now they’re fighting to get in,” as the Gershwins put it.

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Mister Eleven, ITV1

Jasper Rees The infernal triangle: Michelle Ryan and other eye candy

You can just picture the meeting. Someone stands up and pitches. “We’ve got this girl, see. And she’s good at numbers, OK? You know, maths and stuff. But here’s the thing: she knows that statistically her best chance of a successful marriage is if she gets hitched to her 11th sexual partner when she’s 28. With me so far, guys? Trouble is, she discovers on her wedding day that Mister Eleven is really Mister Ten. Yeah? And then all hell breaks loose. What you reckon? Eh? Think it’s a goer?”...

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The Art of Russia, BBC Four

Josh Spero

If Andrew Graham-Dixon's arts career ever goes belly-up, there is surely a microphone with his name on it at Radio 4, so warm and confident and trustworthy is his voice. Judging, however, by his new three-part programme on BBC Four, The Art of Russia, there is no chance of this happening soon.

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Games Britannia, BBC Four

Jasper Rees Benjamin Woolley contemplates his next move in an intriguing history of board games

A bit like the British constitution, it’s never been written down. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist: the edict, issued from a leather-bound desk somewhere within the innermost enclave of the citadel that is Television Centre, that an audience’s intelligence must never in any circumstances ever be taken as a given. No horses were frightened in the making of this programme.

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Small Island, BBC One

Adam Sweeting Queenie (Ruth Wilson) and Michael (Ashley Walters), about to feel the earth move

Luckily, the budget for this two-part adaptation of Andrea Levy's prizewinning novel stretched to some location shooting in Jamaica. The contrast between the Caribbean's luminous skies and brilliant colours and crushed, monochrome, half-dead 1940s London is almost too painful to watch. It's the perfect visual metaphor for a story about Technicolor dreams crashing to earth.

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Storyville: Simon Mann's African Coup, BBC Four

Jasper Rees

It always used to be said that boarding school prepares you for every hardship. Whether that includes prison in one of the most impenitent dictatorships in Africa is not a question that was put to Simon Mann in last night’s edition of Storyville. Mann, still incarcerated when the BBC caught up with him, was awaiting a pardon from President Teodoro Obiang, the very potentate he had attempted to topple five years earlier.

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Paradox, BBC One

Adam Sweeting Tamzin Outhwaite as DI Rebecca Flint takes a drive with antisocial boffin Dr Christian King (Emun Elliott)

The best thing in Paradox so far has been the enormous explosion that provided the climax to episode one, as a train stranded on a railway bridge was incinerated by an erupting chemical tanker. A dramatic aerial shot captured an angry pillar of smoke and flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air, against a backdrop of lush Lancashire countryside.

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