wed 26/09/2018

TV reviews, news & interviews

Queen of the World, ITV review - born to run and run

Marina Vaizey

Awesome numbers: over a million miles, the equivalent of 42 times around the globe, have been traversed by Her Majesty the Queen, enabling visits over the past seven decades or so to 117 different countries. No one has reigned longer nor travelled further.

Bodyguard, BBC One, series finale review - gripping entertainment of the highest calibre

Jasper Rees

And breathe. Bodyguard – not, as even some careless BBC broadcasters keep calling it, "The Bodyguard" – careered to a conclusion as if hurtling around a booby-trapped assault course.

A Discovery of Witches, episode 2, Sky 1 review...

Adam Sweeting

Witches, vampires and magicke of all descriptions continue to be big box office, so Sky 1’s new dramatisation of the first book of Deborah Harkness’s...

James Graham: 'the country of Shakespeare no...

James Graham

Thank you. It’s an honour to have been asked to speak here today. Although looking at the h100 List this year, I’ve no idea why I’m presumptuously...

Strangers, episode 2, ITV review - conspiracy...

Adam Sweeting

You might consider it odd that a man whose wife spends half the year in Hong Kong without him hasn’t managed to get around to catching a plane from...

Killing Eve, BBC One review - the dying game

Adam Sweeting

Sisters are doing it for themselves in semi-comic spy caper

Classic Albums: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black, BBC Four review - suffering turned into song

Mark Kidel

How the singer's second album made musical gold out of the blues

Black Earth Rising, BBC Two review - Blick's new blockbuster

Adam Sweeting

Politics, genocide, race and the law collide in ambitious thriller

Wanderlust, BBC One review - an unflinching look at stale sex

Owen Richards

A strong cast and well-crafted script offer a new take on marital infidelity

Vanity Fair, ITV review - seductions of social climbing

Mark Sanderson

Much fun at Thackeray's fair: Gwyneth Hughes rolls out an accomplished romantic romp

Keeping Faith, BBC One, series finale review - we need to talk about Evan

Jasper Rees

Triumphant Welsh drama starring Eve Myles ends on a question. Contains spoilers

Bodyguard, BBC One, episode 2 review - a wild ride to who knows where

Jasper Rees

What's love got to do with it? Jed Mercurio's counterterrorism thriller starring Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes continues

Grayson Perry: Rites of Passage, Channnel 4 review - making meaning in death

Marina Vaizey

Home and away: the artist observes rituals in Sulawesi, then creates them in Hounslow

Disenchantment, Netflix review - Matt Groening show has promise after poor start

Owen Richards

Fantasy animation from the creator of The Simpsons lacks the quality of his best work

On the Edge, Channel 4, review - fast and furious new dramas

Jasper Rees

4Stories initiative to promote young writers and directors bears fruit

h 100 Awards: Broadcast - TV's national treasures

Adam Sweeting

Rising stars, veterans venerated and the Welsh go global

Murder in Soho: Who Killed Freddie Mills?, BBC Four review - cold case solved?

Jasper Rees

Feature-length enquiry attempts to clear up an infamous mystery

Age Before Beauty, BBC One review - mid-life makeover madness

Adam Sweeting

Debbie Horsfield's big, brassy, blowsy beauty salon drama

Hidden, Series Finale, BBC Four review - a whydunnit, not a whodunnit

Adam Sweeting

Welsh thriller is far more than a copycat procedural

The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, ITV review - the ludicrous in search of the preposterous

Adam Sweeting

History repeats itself as farce

Who Is America?, Channel 4 review - sudden return of Sacha Baron Cohen

Adam Sweeting

Satirical mayhem in post-Trump USA

Unforgotten, Series 3, ITV review - death on the M1

Adam Sweeting

Detectives Stuart and Khan are back to tackle another long-buried mystery

Keeping Faith, BBC One review - this summer's watercooler drama

Owen Richards

New BBC Wales drama promises to grip from opening episode

Picnic at Hanging Rock, BBC One review - camp girls' school gothic

Jasper Rees

Natalie Dormer leads a rebooted adaptation of the contemporary Australian classic

Sharp Objects, Sky Atlantic review - Amy Adams battles her demons

Adam Sweeting

Gillian Flynn adaptation is a dark and deadly Southern Gothic drama

Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars, BBC Two review - blues, booze and dues

Adam Sweeting

The longer it lasts, the less it says about the inner Eric

Duran Duran: There's Something You Should Know / A Night In, BBC Four, review - chaps on film

Jasper Rees

The highs, the lows, and the cultural influences of the old-time New Romantics

Reporting Trump's First Year: the Fourth Estate, BBC Two review - all hands on deck at the Gray Lady

Adam Sweeting

The President vs 'the enemy of the people' at the New York Times

Natural World: The Super Squirrels, BBC Two review - silliness and facts

Katherine Waters

Gleeful take on overlooked rodent family

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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