BBC's new thriller Collateral is classy and on the pulse

The BBC’s new thriller Collateral is going head-to-head with ITV drama Trauma on Mondays. It’s last year’s Rellik versus Liar all over again, except the two don’t share the same writer. Instead, they both feature the same actor, John Simm. If you’re wondering which series to bother watching, Collateral wins my vote hands down. A star-studded cast is usually a good sign of a TV drama worth watching. Written by the acclaimed playwright David Hare, Collateral boasts Billie Piper, Carey Mulligan,

Horizon: Richard's War was a powerful story of human grit

Let’s face it, BBC’s long-running science series Horizon can be pretty dry. At times it has been bang on trend with internet-friendly hits such as The Secret Life of the Cat. But more often it is scientists talking in a studio. My Amazing Brain – Richard’s War, however, was something quite different: a powerful human story of a man overcoming a debilitating stroke. The word “battle” is often used insensitively when talking about illness. Headlines about people dying after a “battle with cancer”

Silent Witness is the Pizza Express of TV: enjoyable if quite average

Americans who like London’s new American embassy took centre stage in last night’s Silent Witness episode, the first of two parts, titled – you guessed it – “The Special Relationship”. Part one had lots of self-important American officials asking the forensics team if they had the right “security clearance” following the murder of a US diplomat. Diplomat Ryan Reed (Ako Mitchell) was watching the US ambassador on a late-night current affairs show, when he was shot by a biker. When the forensics

McMafia doesn’t quite live up to The Night Manager

Another year, another BBC1 drama series everyone will be talking about. And they don’t come much bigger than thriller McMafia. Starring James Norton as a young Russian billionaire, the plot moves between Knightsbridge, Tel Aviv and Mumbai. It doesn’t quite live up to The Night Manager, but it’s definitely trying hard to be the sexiest TV series this winter. The trouble is, it’s hard to find the world of finance that sexy – even with James “Phwoarton” as the hero. Norton plays Russian fund mana

The Real Marigold on Tour is more like The Miriam Margolyes show

After two hit series, The Real Marigold On Tour returns with a new format. Miriam Margolyes, Wayne Sleep, Rosemary Shrager and Bobby George reunite to explore four different countries to retire in, starting in China. The Real Marigold series has always claimed to be a social experiment to see whether well-known British faces would consider retiring in another country. But the programme is not really about the realities of retiring. It’s an excuse to throw together some old luvvies whose general

Stephen Kinnock's wife was the true star of BBC Labour doc

It is hard to believe it was only six months ago that Theresa May was destined to sweep to power with an increased majority and Labour MPs were awaiting Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation following an embarrassing election defeat. What a six months it has been. In the BBC documentary Labour – The Summer That Changed Everything, film-maker David Modell followed four largely Corbyn-sceptic Labour MPs as they gear up for the 2017 general election. Stephen Kinnock tells Modell that Corbyn will have to ta

The Boy with the Topknot: a beautiful, stand-out drama

There have been plenty of dramas about the challenges faced by second-generation British Asians, but The Boy with the Topknot is different. Yes, the lead character wants to marry his white British colleague and doesn’t know how to tell his traditional Sikh family back in Wolverhampton. But this is much more than a story about the cultural difficulties of an inter-racial relationship. At its heart, The Boy with the Topknot is about coming to terms with mental illness, shameful family secrets an

My Week as a Muslim was powerful and moving

Every so often a documentary about modern Britain comes along that knocks the wind out of you with its sobering portrayal of just how divided our country is. Channel 4’s My Week as a Muslim is one of those. Told with heart and humour, it is a reminder of both what an awful and amazing place Britain can be. The premise sees a white British woman transformed by a team of professional make-up artists into a Pakistani Muslim, where she lives among Manchester’s Muslim community in disguise for a we

Miranda Hart's mum is the Mary Berry replacement we all need right now

There will be a Mary Berry-shaped hole in our lives when The Great British Bake Off returns next week. But luckily Miranda Hart’s green-fingered mother, Dee Hart Dyke, is here to fill the adorable yet formidable void in new series All Gardens Great and Small. Dee is remarkably similar to Miranda’s on-screen mother Penny, played by Patricia Hodge in the sitcom, but without the make-up and pussy-bow blouses. A lifelong gardener and Royal Horticultural Society plant judge, the series sees Dee vi

ITV easyJet doc almost rebrands the 'sleazyjet' image

In the midst of summer travel trauma, easyJet has worked out how to spin some free PR. What better way to rid the airline of its “sleazyjet” status than create a wholesome documentary narrated by Stephen Fry? EasyJet: Inside The Cockpit follows the company’s youngest recruits as they try to fulfil their lifelong dreams of becoming a pilot. Fresh out of flying school, these eager trainees are determined to learn the ropes so that one day they can chart a whole plane of passengers safely. It’s e

Channel 4's Eden: A hellish year of self-inflicted torture

Twenty-three volunteers agree to be cast away in a remote corner of the Scottish Highlands for a year without food, shelter or contact with the outside world. Part social experiment, part reality TV, Eden: Paradise Lost charts the downfall of this newly formed community as it attempts to survive against the odds. If Eden sounds like a familiar addition to the TV schedule, that’s because it is. Filmed for a year from March 2016, only four episodes were aired last summer, leaving the as-yet-unans

Man in an Orange Shirt: A heartwrenching reminder of rigid conformity

This summer has been rather lacking in the period drama department so far. Enter Man in an Orange Shirt, a two-part drama commissioned for the BBC’s Gay Britannia series to mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. It has a stellar cast, including Vanessa Redgrave, Frances de La Tour and Laura Carmichael from Downton Abbey (playing a much naughtier character than goodie two-shoes Lady Edith). Written by novelist Patrick Gale, the drama is based on his family’s own secret past
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