fri 18/08/2017

TV reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk Q&A: Director Peter Kosminsky, Part 2

Jasper Rees

It was only at the dawn of the Blair age that Peter Kosminsky truly emerged as a basilisk-eyed observer of the nation’s moral health. By the time New Labour came to power in 1997, Kosminsky had been working for several years on a film which was eventually broadcast in 1999. Warriors, an award-winning account of the traumatic fallout of peacekeeping in Bosnia, served as a prequel to a trilogy of films in which he tracked the ethical degradation of the Blair decade.

No More Boys and Girls, BBC Two – baby steps lead to great leaps for children

Barney Harsent

Whether it’s the £400,000 that separates Mishal Husain from John Humphrys, or the 74 million miles between the metaphorical markers of Venus and Mars, there is a gulf between the genders. Despite legislation to enforce equality, the reality is that, right from the start, boys and girls are treated differently. Boys like trains, right?

theartsdesk Q&A: Director Peter Kosminsky,...

Jasper Rees

The name will never trip off the public tongue. Millions watch his work - most recently his superb realisation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. But...

I Know Who You Are, series finale, BBC Four...

Jasper Rees

The first thing to say is that this wasn’t the actual end. BBC Four scheduled I Know Who You Are to run two episodes a night over five Saturdays. The...

DVD/Blu-ray: American Gods

Nick Hasted

Neil Gaiman understood the country where he’d landed as an immigrant in the Nineties by writing American Gods. His first substantial novel after his...

The best TV to watch this week


What to watch and where to find it

Citizen Jane review - portrait of a New York toughie

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BBC Four documentary on the remarkable Jane Jacobs, scourge of New York town planners

Trust Me, BBC One review - Jodie Whittaker's tense medical check-up

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Dan Sefton's hospital drama imagines a nurse pretending to be a doctor

Utopia: In Search of the Dream, BBC Four review - the best of all possible documentaries?

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Documentary explores ideal societies and the dystopian alternatives

Fargo, Series 3 Finale, Channel 4 review - the best drama of the year?

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Noah Hawley's brilliantly twisted creation scales new heights

Man in an Orange Shirt, BBC Two review - soft-focus view of 1940s gay love affair

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Patrick Gale's debut TV screenplay flirts with Mills & Boon

The Handmaid's Tale, Series 1 finale, Channel 4 review - exquisite to look at but glacially slow

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Not so much an ending, more a set-up for series 2

Queer as Art, BBC Two review - showbusiness and the gay revolution

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How attitudes were transformed by 50 years of art and pop culture

Top of the Lake: China Girl, BBC Two review - thrillingly murky

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Elisabeth Moss is joined by Nicole Kidman in the return of Jane Campion's Down Under detective show

Against the Law, BBC Two review - uplifting and deeply moving

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Daniel Mays is a revelation in factual drama about Peter Wildeblood's imprisonment for homosexuality

Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, ITV review – intimate revelations from William and Harry

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The Princess's death still casts a painful shadow 20 years later

Olivia Williams interview: 'Are you on drugs?' 'No I've just spent the day acting'

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The actress summoned to Hollywood who lived to tell the tale, wittily

It's So Easy and Other Lies, Sky Arts review - uneven rock bio outstays its welcome

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Duff McKagan's excellent memoir is poorly rendered for TV

Fearless, Series Finale, ITV review - big build-up to an anticlimax

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Fearless human rights lawyer battles increasingly improbable conspiracy

Game of Thrones, Series 7, Sky Atlantic review – slow, but it's just the beginning

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The fate of the Seven Kingdoms is hanging in the balance

I Know Who You Are, BBC Four review - preposterous but hypnotic

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Involving Spanish legal drama flouts the concept of conflict of interest

'I were crap at school': Jodie Whittaker, the new Doctor Who

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She made her debut opposite Peter O'Toole, faced down aliens in Peckham, and has Yorkshire vowels as flat as caps

Enter theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the Year Award


In association with The Hospital Club's h.Club 100 Awards, we're launching a new competition to find a brilliant young critic

Orange Is the New Black, Season 5, Netflix review - counterpoint in a three-day prison riot

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Jenji Kohan's drama narrows the time span but enriches its characters and storylines

GLOW, Netflix review - not quite comedy or drama

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Wrestling show fakes OITNB's moves

In the Dark, BBC One review - missing girls mystery promises hidden depths

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Very bad things in rain-sodden Derbyshire

Grandad, Dementia and Me, BBC One review - no easy solutions to terrifying mental condition

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Sensitive account of one man's personality-changing decline

Broken, BBC One series finale review - Seán Bean's quiet immensity

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Jimmy McGovern's portrait of the Catholic church in crisis ends in moving redemption

50 Shades of Gay, Channel 4 review - no better place in the world to be gay?

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Sparkly snapshot of Britain 50 years after homosexuality was decriminalised

Footnote: a brief history of British TV

You could almost chart the history of British TV by following the career of ITV's Coronation Street, as it has ridden 50 years of social change, seen off would-be rivals, survived accusations of racism and learned to live alongside the BBC's EastEnders. But no single programme, or even strand of programmes, can encompass the astonishing diversity and creativity of TV-UK since BBC TV was officially born in 1932.

Nostalgists lament the demise of single plays like Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home or Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, but drama series like The Jewel in the Crown, Edge of Darkness, Our Friends in the North, State of Play, the original Upstairs Downstairs or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will surely loom larger in history's rear-view mirror, while perhaps Julian Fellowes' surprise hit, Downton Abbey, heralds a new wave of the classic British costume drama. For that matter, indestructible comic creations like George Cole's Arthur Daley in Minder, Nigel Hawthorne's Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister, the Steptoes, Arthur Lowe and co in Dad's Army, John Cleese's Fawlty Towers or Only Fools and Horses insinuate themselves between the cracks of British life far more persuasively than the most earnest television documentary (at which Britain has become world-renowned).

British sci-fi will never out-gloss Hollywood monoliths like Battlestar Galactica, but Nigel Kneale's Quatermass stories are still influential 60 years later, and the reborn Doctor Who has been a creative coup for the BBC. British series from the Sixties like The Avengers, Patrick McGoohan's bizarre brainchild The Prisoner or The Saint (with the young Roger Moore) have bounced back as major influences on today's Hollywood, and re-echo through the BBC's enduringly successful Spooks.

Meanwhile, though British comedy depends more on maverick inspiration than the sleek industrialisation deployed by US television, that didn't stop Monty Python from becoming a global legend, or prevent Ricky Gervais being adopted as an American mascot. True, you might blame British TV (and Simon Cowell) for such monstrosities as The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent, but the entire planet has lapped them up. And we can console ourselves that Britain also gave the world Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man, David Attenborough's epic nature series Life on Earth and The Blue Planet, as well as Kenneth Clark's Civilisation. The Arts Desk brings you overnight reviews and news of the best (and worst) of TV in Britain. Our writers include Adam Sweeting, Jasper Rees, Veronica Lee, Alexandra Coghlan, Fisun Güner, Josh Spero and Gerard Gilbert.

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