MI High (Monday 5pm, BBC1)
A return of the silly but well-made children’s drama from Kudos. It’s Spooks Jnr in all but name, and very entertaining.
Masterchef Goes Large (Monday-Friday, 8.30pm, BBC2)
A new prime time slot, but it should still be business as usual in a new series of perhaps the best show on the box. Gregg will still like his puddings and shout a lot, John will state the bleedin’ obvious with alarming regularity, and the amateur cooks will fall to pieces when their roux goes lumpy. It will be utterly addictive, so set the Sky Plus on series link immediately! If Gregg doesn’t exclaim: “This competition. Just. Gets. Tougher!” at the beginning of every episode, then I want my money back.
Wire in the Blood (Monday 9pm, ITV1)
It’s been a while since we’ve had one of those TV detective abroad stories. Morse went Down Under for a case, and Fitz headed to Hong Kong in Cracker. Now Dr Tony Hill gets to try out his southern drawl on the population of Texas – of course, he still sounds like he’s in Newcastle. It’s an odd show, Wire in the Blood, and one I can never quite get to grips with. The stories are harder to follow than an episode of Waking the Dead and the characters are always routine thumbnail caricatures, but, but… There’s something in Robson Green’s twitchy turn as Hill that is endearingly watchable, despite the subject matter. The Texan location makes absolutely no difference to the story, so not entirely sure why they bothered.
Hugh’s Chicken Run (Monday 9pm, C4)
One of my food heroes, Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall, embarks on a quest to convince the town of Axminster to go free range, thus kicking off the highly commendable Big Food Fight season. The thinking woman’s foodie crumpet, Fearnley-Whittingstall is a huge advocate of organic and free range food production and here he opens an intensive chicken rearing operation and compares and contrasts with a free range unit next door. It’s brilliantly done, and some of the scenes are quite distressing, not least of all Hugh’s reaction to what he’s doing to these poor chickens.
Mistresses (Tuesday 9pm, BBC1)
Mistresses has guilty pleasure written all over it, and thank God for that. Four friends, all involved (or not) with a string of disparate lovers, married or otherwise, routinely get together to talk about their various conquests over a cheeky round of cocktails. Sound like a Sex and the British City? Well, that sells it short, because the performances here from a group of talented actresses, led by the always-watchable Sarah Parish, are a hell of a lot better than Carrie and Co. The whole women behaving badly shtick can be overplayed at times, but the truth is, women do behave badly as much as men, so why shouldn’t they have some fun. Hugely enjoyable.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Tuesday 9pm, Five)
The show that pretty much saved Five is back for a new series. Oh come on, if it wasn’t for Five’s canny acquiring of a show that still had an uncertain future early in the day, the beleaguered channel would have had a much more difficult time of it. Sara is still stuck out in the desert, stranded by the “Miniature Killer”, and it’s up to Grissom and the team to find her. Same old, same old, but still fabulous entertainment.
Shameless (Tuesday 10pm, C4)
Oh. Is Shameless still going? I find it quite sad that I don’t really care. Still, it will always have a lot going for it – sharp writing, good performances, but I find the absence of previous favourite characters to be a real obstacle in enjoying Shameless any more.
Honest (Wednesday 9pm, ITV1)
I’m not sure about Honest, to be erm… honest. Amanda Redman (always fantastic) plays the matriarch of a dodgy family who has to keep things together when her hubby is sent down. Her solution to the problem is to get the family to go straight and take honest jobs for a change. It has a good cast – Sean Pertwee plays the family’s copper nemesis – but whether this can spin out to six episodes remains to be seen.
Barry Humphries: the Man Inside Dame Edna (Wednesday 10pm, C4)
Nice little documentary that follows Barry Humphries on his 2007 Australian tour. He revisits the touchstones of his childhood and wonders how much Edna and his other creations have been influenced by his experiences and vice versa. If that makes sense…
Fairy Tales (Thursday 9pm, BBC1)
After Chaucer and Shakespeare, the Beeb now turns its attention to putting a modern spin on some well-known fairy tales, starting with Rapunzel. I’m not sure what it is about Rapunzel that suggests setting it in the world of tennis, but here, Lee Ingleby stars as rubbish tennis player Jimmy Stojkovic, who resorts to masquerading as a woman to stay in the game. So far, so Carry On. Over the course of some silly slapstick comedy, Jimmy falls in love with star player Billy-Jane Brooke, known as Rapunzel thanks to her long hair, and so the comedy just keeps on coming. I simply can’t see the point of updating these stories, only to make them completely unrecognisable from the source material. It’s fun, but ultimately pointless.
Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach (Thursday 9pm/9.30pm, ITV1)
Finally, the great experiment reaches our screens, and I can’t help but wonder what the core ITV audience will make of this. Rarely do shows set behind the scenes on TV shows make the grade – they are more often than not too knowing and full of in-jokes that alienate a non-media audience. The exceptions that spring to mind are Larry Sanders and 30 Rock, but there the writing is absolutely top-notch (although I’ll gamely defend Studio 60). In Moving Wallpaper, Ben Miller is the executive in charge of a soap, Echo Beach, and it’s vaguely funny in a dull kind of way. Following directly on is Echo Beach itself, set around a Cornish community and starring Jason Donovan and Martine McCutcheon. Erm… And that’s about all you can say. There are elements that cross over from Moving Wallpaper into Echo Beach, but it’s all a bit lacking in substance and isn’t as clever as it thinks it is. High commendation for trying something new, but I’m not sure if this will take with the audience.