thu 23/05/2019

tv

Storyville: Simon Mann's African Coup, BBC Four

Jasper Rees

It always used to be said that boarding school prepares you for every hardship. Whether that includes prison in one of the most impenitent dictatorships in Africa is not a question that was put to Simon Mann in last night’s edition of Storyville. Mann, still incarcerated when the BBC caught up with him, was awaiting a pardon from President Teodoro Obiang, the very potentate he had attempted to topple five years earlier.

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Paradox, BBC One

Adam Sweeting Tamzin Outhwaite as DI Rebecca Flint takes a drive with antisocial boffin Dr Christian King (Emun Elliott)

The best thing in Paradox so far has been the enormous explosion that provided the climax to episode one, as a train stranded on a railway bridge was incinerated by an erupting chemical tanker. A dramatic aerial shot captured an angry pillar of smoke and flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air, against a backdrop of lush Lancashire countryside.

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Margot, BBC Four

ismene Brown

If Margot Fonteyn and Rudy Nureyev were the most massively important people who ever existed in ballet, then the most massively important question that ever existed in ballet was, did they sleep together? Last night Margot got this over pleasingly quickly. There was the quivery BBC anno at the start that there would be scenes “of a sexual nature”, and hop-skip-jump the couple were at it like rabbits straight after their first performance together.

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Why Beauty Matters/ Ugly Beauty, BBC Two

Josh Spero

The battleground: beauty. What’s at stake: our souls. At least on these two things philosophy don Roger Scruton (presenter of Why Beauty Matters) and art critic Waldemar Januszczak (presenter of Ugly Beauty) were agreed in the Modern Beauty season. For despite very different ideas of beauty, they both reached the same conclusion: it is there to nourish the soul.

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We Are Family, BBC Two

Gerard Gilbert Five of the Minchew siblings: from left to right - David, Stewart, Beryl, Dennis and Noel

That queen of solipsism, Katie Price, hasn’t been the only person on TV this week seeking “closure” (loved the short but savage Graham Norton spoof of Price on Monday night's show, by the way), and a new documentary series, We Are Family, is offering four collections of relatives the chance to settle their differences on camera. And no need to dine on wichetty grubs either. In fact the opening clan, the Minchews, was put up in a country-house hotel as its members patched up their feuds...

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Gavin and Stacey, BBC One

Jasper Rees

When is enough? The template usually cited as the perfectly proportioned lifetime for sitcom is Fawlty Towers. It ran for two series, 12 episodes - in and out, no mucking about. The Office deliberately kept the same hours, give or take the odd Christmas special and an entire American remake.

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Imagine: Dame Shirley Bassey, BBC One

Jasper Rees

The mechanism for securing a publicity still from the BBC is as follows. Go to the relevant website, log in, look for the photographs that illustrate the programme, then take your pick. For Dame Shirley Bassey: The Girl from Tiger Bay there wasn’t much of a selection. Only one image, in fact, at least that I could see. It finds Alan Yentob perching like a prize-winning schoolboy on the edge of the sofa, while the prize leans intimately on his shoulder.

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School of Saatchi, BBC Two/ Gracie!, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

Thanks to the shenanigans of Brit-art superstars like Messrs Emin and Hirst, Art has become a lucrative appendage of pop culture, so it’s only logical that it should be given its own version of X Factor, with a bit of Apprentice-style authoritarianism bolted on for good measure. In School of Saatchi, a panel of judges sifts...

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Confessions of a Traffic Warden, C4

Gerard Gilbert Confessions of a Traffic Warden: Durga from Nepal prepares to pounce

Who’d be a traffic warden, eh? The answer, it would seem, is any number of immigrants willing to be paid £7 an hour to be verbally abused, physically attacked and generally despised by the great British public. And Olly Lambert, writer-director of Channel 4’s well-made and informative Cutting Edge documentary, Confessions of a Traffic Warden, says that although his original intention was to find out about the people beneath the uniforms, what he actually discovered was the...

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Hi Society: The Wonderful World of Nicky Haslam, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting Nicky Haslam, social butterfly and interior designer to the impossibly wealthy

This odyssey of party-goer and interior designer Nicky Haslam frequently resembled a Private Eye diary by Craig Brown, who’s always at his best when lacerating narcissistic name-dropping diarists from earlier generations. We watched Haslam swapping anecdotes about Picasso with the painter’s biographer John Richardson, reminiscing about how Mae West used to sleep with two monkeys on her bed, and pointing out where...

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