Criminal Justice (Monday - Friday 9pm, BBC1)
Bill Patterson and Ben Whishaw star in this thoroughly compelling and highly watchable drama stripped nightly across the week, a device the BBC appears to be increasingly fond of. Whishaw is Ben Coulter, a young lad who sets off on a night out, only for it to end in tragedy when he commits a terrible crime - apparently. Apparently, because Ben can’t remember a damn thing about what happened. What unfolds is a depiction of the legal system from the inside out as Ben is put through the wringer from all angles. British TV drama at its best.
Coupling (Monday 11.10pm, Paramount Comedy)
Going slightly off piste and back in time for Square Eyes, this is a chance to see the very first episode of Steven Moffat’s Coupling. Aside from the fact that there isn’t great deal on worth watching tonight (save for Criminal Justice), this is a good opportunity to see some of Moffat’s earlier work as he prepares to take over the running of the good ship Doctor Who next year. It’s frothy and fun with some blistering one-liners, but there are no gasmasks in sight.
Emmerdale: Blood Ties (Tuesday 7pm, ITV1)
Not that I’m going out of my way to recommend the life of everyday of posh country folk, I just find it amusing that these hour long editions have odd subtitles beyond the simple Emmerdale moniker. Blood Ties! It all sounds very dramatic and scary, as if Lynda La Plante had suddenly taken up writing for the rural soap. Now that I would like to see, but sadly not as this turns out to be just another bog standard soap episode. What next? Emmerdale: Mucking Out?
Duncan Bannatyne Takes on Big Tobacco (Tuesday 9pm, BBC2)
There’s something incredibly likeable about Dragon’s Den’s Duncan Bannatyne. He might be filthy rich, but he’s clearly worked for it and is a massive benefactor to charities and other deserving causes around the UK. In this documentary he takes on almost hero status for me as he heads off to Africa to investigate the tobacco industry and why more young people are taking up the habit there. He discovers some shocking practices from the big tobacco peddling companies and this documentary stands as an insightful and revealing piece of work.
The Culture Show (Tuesday 10pm, BBC2)
On the 60th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell’s 1984, Germaine Greer, a reluctant graduate of the Celebrity Big Brother house, gathers together a group of ex-Big Brother contestants to discuss the merits of the great novel. Now I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something strangely perverse about that - kind of like eating a Pot Noodle at The Ivy.
Celebrity Masterchef (Wednesday 8pm, BBC1)
Saints be praised! There’s something decent to watch for the next couple of weeks and it just turns out to be the return of the celebrity-tinged version of Square Eyes favourite Masterchef. G’day John, wotcha Gregg, we’ve missed you guys! Of course, Celebrity Masterchef is not about somebody bagging themselves a career as a chef (although Claire off of Steps could probably do with the work), but will any of them be good enough to impress John and Gregg. Have I mentioned I ADORE this show?
Marco’s Great British Feast (Wednesday 9pm, ITV1)
As John and Gregg taste their way through the celeb-cooked food on BBC1, he enfant terrible of the food world, Marco Pierre White, gets an outing in a new show on ITV1. The roots of this hybrid format are clear if you look for them - White travels around the country looking for the best produce and ingredients for a totally British menu. It’s nothing new or startling, but White does provide a dangerously different presence to the usual TV chefs that populate the box.
Drama Trails (Wednesday 9pm, ITV3)
Clearly riffing on the BBC’s …Connections strand, Drama Trails has James Nesbitt narrating this fun little series that connects popular dramas to other shows, starting here with Coronation Street. To a TV trivia daftie like me this is manna from heaven.
Heroes (Thursday 9pm, BBC2)
Blah blah… season finale blah blah… shanti virus blah blah… Petrelli brothers reunited blah blah… Hiro out for revenge blah blah… not as good as the first season blah blah… will season three be better than this meandering nonsense? Blah blah… I really hope so…
The Graham Norton Show (Thursday 9.45pm, BBC2)
To ease the pain of the agonising wait until the final episode of Doctor Who on Saturday, Donna Noble herself, aka Catherine Tate, pops in for a chat with Graham. Expect lots of laughs and fun along the way.
Fallout (Thursday 10pm, C4)
Once again Channel 4 shows its mastery of the one-off drama in this stunning adaptation by Roy Williams of his stage play that delves into the increasingly worrying issue of teen violence on the streets of Britain. The effortlessly brilliant Lennie James plays Joe, a copper drafted in to help investigate the murder of a teenager on the estate where he grew up. It’s a thoughtful, intelligent piece that plays on how the stabbing of the teenager impales across the lives of those who live on the estate and how Joe’s eyes are opened up to some harsh realities.