Square Eyes starts with a public viewing warning today. Tittybangbang 2 (Monday 10.30pm, BBC3). Just say no.
Instead, take a look at Disappearing Britain (Monday 9pm, Five) for a thoroughly engaging three-part documentary series in the same vein as Who Do You Think You Are? and The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon. Sarah Lancashire takes a trip to Blackpool to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather who used to holiday in his week off from a job as a mill worker in Oldham. As somebody who regularly holidayed in Blackpool as a child, this brings back fond memories, but is also startling to see how much a way of life has eroded entirely over the course of the 20th century.
The Science Fiction Britannia season continues with a repeat of The Kneale Tapes (Monday 11.35pm, BBC4), a timely tribute to sci-fi legend Nigel Kneale, who died last month. Kneale is most famous for creating Professor Quatermass, seen in various incarnations on TV and played by such luminaries as Andre Morrell and John Mills. His approach to sci-fi was always economical and had a touch of reality about it, and he was quite famously sniffy about the likes of Star Trek and Doctor Who. He once described Who as the kind of idea he’d think up in the bath and then forget about. It’s a shame this is a repeat, and let’s hope that the good professor will return to TV screens one day as a better tribute to a great TV writer.
After last week’s storming opener, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (Tuesday 9pm, C4) comes back to home shores as Gordon heads off to Lancashire’s The Fenwick Arms. It’s a familiar story, but here the restaurant owner’s are quite happy to ignore much of Gordon’s always sensible, if merciless advice.
As a sharp contrast to Ramsay, TV docusoap pioneer Paul Watson (his experience stretches right back to the influential The Family in 1974) returns with Rain in My Heart (Tuesday 9pm, BBC2). This is heavy stuff, and should in no way be associated what we call Reality TV. The piece follows four subjects undergoing treatment at a hospital in Kent and how years of alcohol abuse has affected and continues to affect them.
If you want to know how Robert Powell became famous, look no further than The Cult of Doomwatch (Tuesday 8.30pm, BBC4), continuing this cute little series. Powell played scientist Toby Wren in the first season of this cult eco-thriller from the creators of the Cybermen, Kit Pedler and Gerry Davies. As you’ll see from the episode that precedes the documentary at 7pm, Doomwatch hasn’t worn particularly well, but it’s fun nonetheless. Powell with a plastic rat attached to his leg in a moment of jeopardy is a highlight…
In Coronation Street (Wednesday 7.30pm, ITV1) illicit lovers Jamie and Frankie Baldwin (she’s his stepmother, eww!) are found out when Danny Baldwin returns home early and finds them doing the Weatherfield tango. Oops! You can tell its nearly Christmas, can’t you?
James May goes off-piste from Top Gear and teams up with Oz Clarke in Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure (Wednesday 8pm, BBC2). It does what it says on the bottle, as Oz and James head out on a Sideways styled adventure and Clarke attempts to educate his beer-swilling mate in the subtleties of fine wine. Good fun, although I wish somebody would cut May’s hair and de-stripe his wardrobe.
And for sports fans, join me in an exercise of inevitable futility as England embark on getting well and truly thrashed as the battle for The Ashes commences (Tuesday 11pm, Sky Sports 1). Oh well…
Thursday of course means it’s appointment TV in the form of The State Within (9pm, BBC1). Like much of my favourite TV, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on as there are so many storylines whizzing around the dialogue blender, but that should never be an obstacle. It seems the ratings for this excellent thriller have gone off the boil a touch, which is a shame as this very stylish, very sexy series deserves to be seen, and the advent of an already commissioned second season might be on shaky ground.
And then to the Catherine Tate question – has she lost her sparkle, or is the flame-haired comedy goddess as good as she ever was? The perceived wisdom on The Catherine Tate Show (Thursday 9pm, BBC2) is that it has suffered the third series curse, but I disagree. Truth be told, the consistency was never there in the first place, but that’s always the pitfall of character based sketch comedy. You’re never going to have a 100 per cent hit rate. Last week’s episode had me chortling out loud more than previous weeks, and if there’s one area where Ms Tate always scores, it’s in characterisation. With any of her characters, you can never see the join, and that still makes her a joy to watch, even if the comedy has lost its shine.
Jam and Jerusalem (Friday 9.30pm, BBC1). Um… It’s a new Jennifer Saunders comedy. It has Dawn French in it. And Joanna Lumley. And it looks quite good. No, really. However much anybody loves Ab Fab, it was always a difficult relationship, but this looks like Saunders is heading into welcome new territory. Sue Johnston (always fantastic) stars as Sal, a local GP’s nurse who, following the death of her husband, finds herself relying on the support of the Women’s Guild. It’s populated by a cast of eccentrics, led by Maggie Steed’s Eileen. It certainly has great pedigree all round, and might just have the legs to solve your Friday night viewing woes until C4 sees fit to plug Ugly Betty into the schedules.