Trawlermen (Monday-Friday 7pm, BBC1)
Masterchef may have gone, but the Trawlermen are back for more high drama in this excellent human-interest documentary series. Running throughout the week, we catch up with the crews of the Amity II and Ocean Venture as they head into choppy seas to bag a good haul of fish. It’s brilliant stuff, and one has to admire the calm manner of the crews as they work gruelling shifts in horrible, horrible conditions.
The Time of Your Life (Monday 9pm, ITV1)
A promising new drama from ITV, which could be a good sign of the direction the channel is going in this genre. Kate has been in a coma since she was 18, so when she wakes up at the age of 36, she has a lot of catching up to do! Her boyfriend’s moved on (or has he?), her parents aren’t speaking and her life has pretty much grown up without her. Comas are not particularly original, but here it’s used well as a device to bring us into Kate’s life as she has to adjust pretty damn sharpish. A well-rounded cast rises to the challenge of great material, with Genevieve O’Reilly particularly good in the difficult central role.
ER (Monday 11.05pm, C4)
Despite a terrible time slot, a season finale of ER is always worth tuning into as it kicks into the usual cliffhanging, high drama mode. As Luka leaves for Croatia to see his sick father, will the dishy doc ever return to be with his new wife? ER without Goran Visnjic scarcely warrants thinking about…
Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain (Tuesday 9pm, BBC2)
I shall miss my weekly appointment with Mr Marr, who has guided us through some of the most important moments of the 20th century with enthusiastic, knowledgeable aplomb. Considering that Tony is off next week, we come up to date with timely scheduling as Marr moves on through the twilight of John Major’s time at Downing Street and into the bright, brash Blair years. Hopefully this won’t be the last we’ve seen of Andrew Marr doing a Simon Schama.
Tycoon (Tuesday 9pm, ITV1)
I’m not sure what Peter Jones’s ITV vehicle is meant to offer that The Apprentice doesn’t, so imagine this will suffer in the wake of Sir Alan’s triumphant third series. The participants have ten weeks to prove that their money-making ideas have what it takes to make them oodles of cash and become the next Peter Jones. Out of all the Dragons from Dragon’s Den, Jones is the most charmless, and this would have fared better with Duncan Bannatyne at the helm.
Syed Ahmed – Hot Air? (Wednesday 9pm, Sky One)
Brilliant, it’s more Apprentice-styled nonsense! It was only a matter of time before Syed, who was doing a Tre on The Apprentice last year before Tre had even applied, got his own show. Bless him, he’s trying to market and sell a warm-air body dryer, and is singularly bad at it. It’s comforting to know that the more the world changes, some things stay the same.
Brothers and Sisters (Wednesday 8.30/10pm, C4)
A bit of a muted start for this US series that brings Calista Flockhart back to our screens. This double-bill also suffers from odd scheduling thanks to the Big Brother factor, with a half hour break between the episodes. This family saga looks like a bit of a slow burner, and once we get to know the characters, the quality cast and writing should start to shine.
Rome (Wednesday 9pm, BBC2)
Hurrah! Lots of British thesps get to toga it up again in one of the most hit and miss dramas ever put out by HBO. Mark Antony (James Purefoy) tries to save his own skin following the death of Caesar, proving his mettle in the political arena (as well as being bloody devious). It can all feel a bit OTT in places with much scenery chewing, but where else do we get this calibre of homegrown talent in such glossy material?
Cold Blood (Wednesday 9pm, ITV1)
Matthew Kelly returns as creepy killer Brian Wicklow along with Gemma Redgrave as DS Eve Granger and John Hannah as the enigmatic Jake. This third outing for Cold Blood is starting to stretch things a little now as there’s only so many ways you contrive to get Brian, Eve and Jake back together again. It’s like a low-rent Silence of the Lambs as Brian offers to help with a new investigation, but the performances (Kelly chief amongst them) just about carry this off. It’s worth watching for the sight of Russell Brand stretching his acting wings as a dodgy stalker.
Krapp’s Last tape (Thursday 9pm, BBC4)
Harold Pinter’s critically acclaimed return to acting in Samuel Beckett’s play comes to BBC4. There’s something awe-inspiring about watching one great master of the word speak the dialogue of an even greater master, and despite losing the immediacy of being in the theatre audience, this is very successful indeed.