Return to… Airport (Monday 7.30pm, BBC2)
Like last week’s retrospective on Vets in Practice, this exercise in nostalgia continues apace throughout the week and revisits the ratings busting mammoth of the fly on the wall genre that was Airport. This fly on the wall series was a huge success at the time, and is arguably responsible for the phenomenon of the reality TV star. Everybody remembers Jeremy Spake, a supervisor working for Aeroflot who launched himself, thanks to Airport, into a reasonably successful TV career. This side effect aside, Airport was inexplicably compelling and this is an enjoyable look back at a slice of TV history.
New Tricks (Monday 9pm, BBC1)
An interesting episode of this hugely enjoyable drama, penned as it is by actor Chris Coghill, best known for his roles in Shameless, amongst others. It guest-stars Dexter Fletcher in a tale that sees the death of an actor being looked into when the thesp’s daughter releases a biography of her father that suggests his death may not have been from natural causes… As always, it’s slightly off the wall with some lovely bits of comedy in amongst the drama.
Liz Smith Night (Monday from 9pm, BBC4)
Oh how joyous, a strand of programming devoted to everybody’s favourite pensioner, indefatigable Liz Smith, better known as The Royle Family’s Nana. The evening kicks off with the last visit to The Royle Family, The Queen of Sheba, in which Smith delivers a heartbreaking final performance as Nana. There are also showings of other Smith turns, including Mike Leigh’s 1973 Play For Today, Hard Labour. The centrepiece of the evening is Mark Lawson Talks to Liz Smith, in which the always charming and self-effacing actress talks in detail about a life that started in near poverty and took her to being a national treasure.
Bonekickers (Tuesday 9pm, BBC1)
My new favourite thing continues in fine, over-cooked form as our team of dialogue-chewing archaeologists uncover human remains in the mud of the Bristol Channel. Could there be links back to Bristol’s place in the slave trade of the 18th century? What a shame they couldn’t uncover a better draft of the script in the mud. It’s all fun in a way it clearly wasn’t meant to be, and it’s almost heartbreaking to watch Julie Graham, a fine, fine actress, wrestle further with the character of Dr Gillian Magwilde, a role she should never have been cast in. Considering it’s from the minds behind Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, you desperately hope Gene Hunt is going to arrive and arrest them all.
Jimmy Doherty’s Farming Heroes (Tuesday 9pm, BBC2)
I am getting a little bored of food shows that see a chef of choice setting off around the country to ooh and aah over great food - Rick Stein has been doing it well enough for so many years, do we really need more? Still, as Marco Pierre White galumphs around the country looking for the best of British food, Jimmy Doherty off of Jimmy’s Farm takes a different tack here and turns his attention to farming. And it works - as issues of food wastage and supply become our nation’s preoccupation, this is an eye opening foray into a world that few of us see when we look at the chicken on our plate. And Doherty is a genial guide, being as passionate about produce as supply and the farmers he encounters on his trip.
Private Practice (Tuesday 10pm, Living)
The Grey’s Anatomy spin-off receives its UK premiere on Living, and sees Kate Walsh take the character of Dr Addison Montgomery to a private surgery in Santa Monica. This doesn’t have the bite of Grey’s, but Walsh is a likeable enough actress to make the change in tone work, although the overt leaning towards light, dippy humour could become wearing as the series progresses.
Celebrity Masterchef (Wednesday 8pm, BBC1)
It’s semi-final time for the Celebrity Masterchef hopefuls, and now the pressure is on - as Gregg would have it, this competition JUST, GETS. TOUGHER!!!!!. And with having to cook for 600 beefy construction workers en masse, Gregg, for once, might not be letting hyperbole get the better of him.
The Thirties in Colour (Wednesday 9pm, BBC4)
Fascinating opener of a four part documentary series that examines the changes in photographic techniques that exploded in the 1930s to allow film to be shot in colour for the very first time. This first instalment focuses on the sequences shot by the socialite Rosie Newman, who caught the very young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret playing together in their back garden - Newman was the future King’s next door neighbour at the time!
Harley Street (Thursday 9pm, ITV1)
ITV is still seeking a saviour in the drama stakes, following plucky entries from the likes of He Kills Coppers and The Fixer. Unfortunately for the share price, Harley Street is not going to be it, making The Palace look as if it was written by Marcel Proust. Paul Nicholls is Dr Robert Fielding, a good medic with a big heart, NHS lackey by night, swish Harley Street doc by day. Considering the hours he keeps, it’s amazing Fielding has the time to squeeze in as much sex as he does, let alone the energy - but he does. And that’s the thing with Harley Street, it’s all white coat and no knickers - and as we know from Hotel Babylon, that can work. Harley Street doesn’t because most of the characters are so unlikable that it is rendered bereft of charm. And like Julie Graham in Bonekickers, the usually likeable Suranne Jones is so miscast as Fielding’s plum-in-gob oppo in the Harley Street practice, it hurts. But with torturous dialogue like: “Can we make this quick, I have half an embassy to inoculate this morning.”, Harley Street might just find a place in my affections for some undemanding, slightly laughable fare for a Thursday night.
The Unseen Alistair Cook (Thursday 9pm, BBC4)
An enjoyable profile of the legendary broadcaster whose Letter From America kept us enthralled for decades.