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Thursday, 30 December 2010

The TV WEEK: Saturday 8th - Friday 14th January 2011

6.00pm Total Wipeout BBC1 - Return of the endurance course hosted by Richard Hammond.
8.00pm Shooting the Hollywood Stars BBC2 - Rankin, the UK's leading fashion photographer, reveals the rich history of Hollywood photography and how its most influential and enduring images were created. From Hollywood's golden age, epitomised by gorgeous images of screen goddesses Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich to brooding shots of Marlon Brando.
9.00pm Derren Brown: Behind the Mischief Channel 4 - A night of programming dedicated to Derren Brown starting with a behind the scenes documentary meeting his family, friends and closest collaborators. Celebrity fans, including Stephen Merchant, Matt Lucas, Simon Pegg, Bill Bailey, Simon Callow and Jo Whiley give their insights, and some of the participants featured in Derren's best-known television feats share their thoughts about him.
Continuing today: Primeval - ITV1 - 7.00pm
                             Take Me Out ITV1 - 8.00pm

6.30pm Dancing on Ice ITV - Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby present a new series of the celebrity ice dance competition. his year's contenders are Kerry Katona, Hollyoaks actress Jennifer Metcalfe, Denise Welch, Dominic Cork, TV presenter and model Chloe Madeley, Vanilla Ice, Nadia Sawalha, Elen Rivas, ex-EastEnders actor Sam Attwater, Angela Rippon, Craig McLachlan, Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, ex-Corrie actor Steven Arnold, Jeff Brazier, Radio One DJ 'Comedy Dave' Vitty and children's TV presenter Laura Hamilton. Eight couples perform on today's show, but only six will go through to the main competition. Continues at 9.30pm
8.00pm Lark Rise to Candleford BBC1 - The costume drama returns for a fourth series.
8.30pm Wild At Heart ITV1 - The family drama set on a African game reserve returns for a new series. Starring Stepehn Tompkinson.and Dawn Steele.
10.15pm That Sunday Show ITV1 - New series in which Adrian Chiles presents an essential round-up of the big events from the past seven days and a look at the week ahead. Today's guests include Happy Mondays frontman and I'm a Celebrity survivor Shaun Ryder and award-winning actress, writer and comic Catherine Tate.
Continuing today: Zen BBC1 - 9.00pm
                            Artic with Bruce Parry BBC2 9.00pm

8.30pm Baking Made Easy BBC2 - Lorraine Pascale is a brand new talent in the kitchen and she's shaking up baking in this first episode of her new series. The show kicks off with a feat of baking engineering, parmesan and poppy seed lollipops that are actually one of the simplest and fastest things you can bake. Then it's time for some insider know how, as Lorraine goes through her baker's dozen of essential kit.
9.00pm Horizon: What is One Degree BBC2 - omedian Ben Miller returns to his roots as a physicist to try to answer a deceptively simple question: what is one degree of temperature? His quest takes him to the frontiers of current science as he meets researchers working on the hottest and coldest temperatures in the universe, and to a lab where he experiences some of the strangest effects of quantum physics - a place where super-cooled liquids simply pass through solid glass.
9.00pm The Biggest Loser ITV1 - Davina McCall presents a new series of the weight loss show originally from the US inwhich 14 overweight people embark on a life-changing journey, during which they will face relentless training and exercise, tough tests and the all-important weekly weigh-in. The hopefuls' first challenge is to cycle a marathon, which leaves two contestants needing medical assistance and one team facing automatic elimination.
9.00pm One Born Every Minute Channel 4 - Second series of the fly on the wall documentary series set in the Maternity ward at Southampton's Princess Anne Maternity Hospital.
9.00pm Is Oral Sex Safe? BBC3
9.00pm Hell's Kitchen USA ITV2 - The American cookery series fronted by Gordon Ramsay returns.
9.00pm Glee E4 - Second series of the American musical comedy/drama.
10.00pm Episodes BBC2 - Comedy starring Tamsin Greig and Stepehn Mangan as the happily married couple Sean and Beverly Lincoln. The pair are creators of a hit British TV show, who are persuaded to move to Los Angeles to remake it for American TV, with disastrous results when they forced to cast friends star Matt Le Blanc in the lead role.
10.00pm Shameless Channel 4 - Shameless returns for its eighth series with an extended run of 22 new episodes, beginning with a run of five episodes across five nights. Everyone is talking about Libby and Frank's forthcoming wedding, but the nuptial plans are thrown into chaos at Frank's stag do - all dignity is lost and so is Frank when a close encounter sees him abducted! Meanwhile, months after Mimi unexpectedly gave birth, everyone wants to know who's the daddy? Continues all week.
Continuing today: Silent Witness BBC1 - 9.00pm

7.30pm Grimefighters ITV1
8.00pm The Secret Millionaire Changed My Life Channel 4
8.00pm Snog, Marry, Avoid BBC3 - Jenny Frost presents the makeunder show which sees straight-talking computer PO.D - Personal Overhaul Device - transform OTT girls and boys into natural beauties. In a royal special, POD meets a council estate princess, a king of fakery, and genuine blue blood Lady Victoria Hervey.
8.55pm Jamie's Fish Supper Channel 4 - A series of five minute programmes Jamie Oliver has come up with delicious and easy new recipes to inspire fish lovers to try different, more plentiful types of fish and seafood - including mackerel and coley - so that we won't just be reaching for the old favourites during the weekly shop.
9.00pm Taggart ITV1 - Revamped new series of the Scottish Crime drama.
9.00pm Hugh's Big Fish Fight Channel 4 - 3-part series airing over consecutive nights that sees Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall leave the comfort of River Cottage to find out what is going on at the industrial end of our fisheries.
9.00pm CSI Five - 11th series of the US crime series.
Continuing today: Secret Mediterranean with Trevor McDonald ITV1 - 8.00pm
                             Shameless Chanel 4 - 10.00pm
                         Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents BBC3 - 9.00pm

8.00pm Michel Roux's Service BBC2 - In this new series, Michel is on a personal mission to train eight young people as front-of-house superstars, none of whom have previously considered this as a career. But this isn't just about transforming these young people into great waiters. Good service involves discipline, care for others and self confidence so, for Michel, learning to serve others will mean developing essential life skills. In the first episode, Michel's trainees experience the brilliance of Michelin starred service before cutting their teeth in the busy world of the High Street restaurant. Serving over 100 customers on Saturday night, Michel gets to see just what his new recruits are made of. Continues tomorrow
8.00pm Arthur's Hell on High Water Channel 4 - Chef and eco-friendly restaurateur Arthur Potts Dawson is passionate about the environment and sustainable food, and thus not a fan of trawler fishing where boats fish with huge nets and catch vast numbers of fish; the majority of which end up dead back in the ocean because they cannot be sold. In a bid to understand the realities faced by the trawler men who are trying to make ends meet, Arthur takes to the seas for one week, living and working alongside life-long fishermen on a commercial trawler and testing his ethics as he sees first hand the struggles faced by commercial fisherman.
9.00pm The Modern Age of Coach Travel BBC4 - Documentary which brings the story of the coach up to date, as it explores the most recent phase of Britain's love affair with group travel on four wheels - from school trips and football awaydays to touring with bands and overland treks to India.
Continuing today: Hugh's Big Fish Fight Channel 4 - 9.00pm 
ameless Chanel 4 - 10.00pm
8.00pm Human Planet BBC1 - Brand new series into the blue reveals astonishing tales of ingenuity and bravery. Daredevil Galician barnacle-collectors defy death on the rocks for a catch worth 200 pounds per kilo.
8.00pm Relocation, Relocation Channel 4 - Return of the property series.
8.00pm Ripped from the Cockpit: BA flight of Terror Five - Documentary exploring the remarkable story of a British Airways passenger jet that narrowly avoided disaster following an incident at 17,000 feet. When one of the cockpit windows blew out thanks to a technical error, the plane's captain was sucked out into the freezing air.
9.00pm Kidnap & Ransom ITV1 - First episode in a 3-part drama series starring Trevor Eve as hostage negotiator Dominic King who comes to the rescue of a buisnesswoman who has been kidnapped in South Africa. Also stars Helen Baxendale and John Hannah.
10.00pm The Great Outdoors BBC2 - Three-part comedy about a group of walkers first shown on BBC4 last summer starring Mark Heap and Ruth Jones.
Continuing today: Michel Roux's Service BBC2 - 8.00pm
8.55pm Jamie's Fish Supper
Come Fly With Me BBC1 - 9.00pm
9.00pm Hugh's Big Fish Fight
Not Going Out BBC1 - 9.30pm
8.00pm Relocation: Phil Down Under Channel 4 - Second series that sees Relocation's Phil Spencer help families find a house in Australia.
8.00pm The BRITs Launch 2011 ITV2 - Fearne Cotton presents this special launch show which reveals the nominations for this year's awards. The programme comes from indigO2, inside London's O2 Arena, and will be a celebration of the very best music from the last twelve months.
9.00pm Can't Take It With You BBC2 - Sir Gerry Robinson helps two families torn over what to write in their wills. Lesley wants to leave half the family home to charity, but husband David wants all of it to be left to his two sons by a previous marriage. Meanwhile, army major Tom is bound for Baghdad, and urgently needs to make a will that includes his two stepdaughters. But his new wife Kiera is against the principle of inheritance and would rather leave everything they jointly own to charity.
9.00pm Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford ITV1 - Jason will be joined by Micky Flanagan, Jim Jefferies, Lee Nelson and the award-winning Russell Kane. This week's house band is the chart topping Irish group The Script.
9.00pm Heston's Fishy Feast Channel 4 - In this special episode of Feast. He is on a mission to unlock our oceans' alternative larder and create the ultimate sustainable fishy feast that will completely change the way we think about seafood. Heston dives straight in at the deep end as he creates an amazing sustainable seafood menu. He takes a trip to the fjords of Iceland to catch a dangerous fish the Vikings loved, goes diving for sea cucumbers in Scotland, and turns trout and crab into a delicious dessert. For his starter Heston conjures up a Fishy Afternoon Tea complete with a side of Laughing Gas.
10.00pm Fast & Loose BBC2 - Hugh Dennis presents a fast moving new series of improvised games and sketches with guests Greg Davies, Justin Edwards, Pippa Evans, Humphrey Ker, Marek Larwood and Laura Solon.
Continuing today: QI BBC1 - 8.30pm
Hustle BBC1 - 9.00pm
Shameless Channel 4 - 10.00pm
The Graham Norton Show BBC1 - 10.35pm

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas Comedy

You might not believe it but Britain is unique. In countries like Australia and America networks don’t believe there’s an audience plonked in front of their TV’s over the festive period so the schedules don’t ever change over Christmas. So as you flipped through your Christmas telly magazines over Christmas tutting at all the repeats or lack of innovative programming think again. Of course this year’s unbelievable weather made us all more of a captive audience than normal.

For me, it was the comedy that made Christmas this year. It’s likely you missed the first ever Christmassy special of Channel 4’s Peep Show as the rating figures showed there was a surprising lack of interest. The first half of this seventh series has been below par and disappointing for any true Peep Show fan but the most recent fifth episode which saw Jermey and Mark spend Christmas with Mark’s family for me redeemed the entire series. The episode’s only flaw was that it finished too soon and I longed to stay and see what happened after Mark’s father had left to cook some “traditional Christmas cauliflower”. The episode was so wonderfully awkard and uncomfortable which we don’t see enough on the box at Christmas. Channel 4 have recently ordered two more series so I hope for more Christmas lunches with Jez and Mark in the future.

Thanks to the sheer silliness of its last two Christmas outings I had lowered my expectations considerably for the latest episode of The Royle Family. What was once an all to real down to earth comedy about a normal family slomped in front of their TV had more recently become a caricature of its former self with characters sharing baths with frozen turkeys in 2008’s The New Sofa and an all too vivid image of Jim Royle on a cramped toilet in a caravan in last year’s Golden Eggcup. The series had seemed to have lost the realism and down to earth humour that I’d come to expect from the Royles so when the newest special began on Christmas night was more than cautious about what might happen next. However right from the first scene with Jim’s swollen toe perched carefully on a tin of Cadbury’s Roses I could tell this episode was different. The programme had returned to its roots. The Royles were back where they belong at home in front of the TV! Perhaps the low expectations helped but I can honestly say I was thoroughly immersed in the episodes and loved virtually every second. Just like Peep Show this festive romp made up for 2 specials that let me down as a long time fan and just like Peep Show I didn’t want it to end.

It had seemed like writers Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash and Phil Mealey had struggled to remember who the characters were and had lost the essence of what made the original series so unmissable in the previous specials but here everyone was present and correct. It was simple, uncomplicated humour reminding me of the series in its hayday and like Peep Show the show has once again proved how brilliant it can be. The scene where the ashes of next-door neighbour Mary ended up in Barbara’s new Dyson was wonderful and it made me laugh out loud consistently. Of course a comedy should make you laugh out loud but its becoming more and more rare these days that you actually get passed raising a smile at a comedy. The BBC have yet to announce whether they will order another festive visit to the Royles but I for one can’t wait if they can keep up that standard I’d be happy to wait 365 days for my next installment.

Check in Girls at work.

This could be sacrilege but I never really got into Little Britain. I could see the appeal but never really raised anymore than a titter. It was full of catchphrases and the audience always knew what to expect. It was one of those TV phenomenon’s that refused to sweep me up. That being said I have great respect for Matt Lucas and David Walliams and what they’ve managed to achieve so I was interested in and slightly looking forward to their new spoof series Come Fly With Me. The start was promising every ingredient you’d expect from a spoof airport series where there by which I mean the narrator, people forgetting (and finding) their passports and people being unnecessarily patted down by a security worker who happily cupped the testicles of unsuspecting and surprisingly unbothered passengers. The Thing was though that I couldn’t help but think this was an outdated idea. Its been nearly six years since Airport finished on the Beeb and perhaps if this had been on there I’d find have found it funnier. Sadly though I felt I’d seen it before. The spoof documentary format has been done to death but if its done well like in The Office or the underrated BBC2 series “People Like Us” then it work brilliantly but in the case of Come Fly with Me nothing was innovative or interesting and although it won’t be a chore to stick with the series for the remaining episodes I’m not expecting big things. I must however stick up for Lucas and Walliams who have had some stick in the press about the series being racist. What! That is ridiculous its not even close to the possible offeenisve level of Little Britain so get off your high horses folks and stuff your face with another turkey sandwich!

The most unlikely of moving specials.
There were some Christmas comedies that passed me by such as Ronnie Corbett’s first solo special and despite hearing great things about the first ever misfits Christmas special I’ve yet to see that either. The last Christmas special I did was set in a very sunny place. ITV’s only real comedy Benidorm returned this Christmas and although the series is nearly always slated by the critics I’ve always found it quite enjoyable. Its no classic but its funny and I like it so there! The premise was a really stretched this time (I never really believed that our familiar faces would return to the holiday destnaition for the festive season but hey ho) but a dark cloud loomed over this special before the opening titles rolled. Earlier this year the cast lost veteran actor Geoffrey Hutchings who was a huge part of series 3 so how was Derren Litten going to work this lost into the story? As it turned out it managed to be the one thing you’d never expect or even imagine about the series.. It managed to be surprisingly moving. Mel was taken ill whilst on a business trip and died away from his family so when the phone call came alongside a surprise appearance from Roy Wood I was surprisingly upset. The story before that wasn’t exactly comedy gold but by that time of the evening on Boxing Day I was so full of turkey, stuffing and copious amounts of After eights and chocolate coins I would’ve struggled to laugh anyway. The guest appearance from Su Pollard was entertaining enough but the appearance from Christmas elf Louis Spence was completely unnecessary and served only to annoy me.

It was a good Christmas for comedy so much so that I’ve already pre-ordered the latest Royle episode on DVD and it does show that comedy can still be funny. I’ll stick with Come Fly with me though I’m not expecting much and I’ll perhaps have to see whether the One Ronnie can make me laugh but on the whole I had a Merry comedy Christmas.

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