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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,
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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”
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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
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Michael Portillo's new train series is more style than substance

Michael “Choo Choo” Portillo is back on his trains again. For the third series of Great American Railroad Journeys, he begins the first leg of his trip from Massachusetts to Toronto in Boston. With its old-school heritage stretching back to European settlers, there is perhaps no better US city for a former Tory MP to begin his venture. Leafy Boston was once a hub of revolution – namely, revolution against its then captor, Great Britain. No visit to Boston is complete without a tour of the Bost
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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Nadiya's British Food Adventure is seriously comforting telly

After last summer’s The Chronicles of Nadiya, the 2015 Great British Bake Off winner is back with another TV series, Nadiya’s British Food Adventure. Think of it as an extended version of the historical segment in Bake Off, but with a regional angle. For eight episodes, Nadiya Hussain travels up and down the country to discover the food that has come to define us, using various regional dishes as inspiration for her own traditional British recipes with a twist. The series has the same gentle p
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Coach Trip: Road to Zante could fill the Love Island hole in your life

And so, the sorry end to Love Island is upon us. After six weeks of addictive reality TV, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the early days of Big Brother, the ITV2 summer smash hit is about to finish. Fans bereft at the gaping 9pm hole in their lives can at least look forward to 40 episodes of Coach Trip: Road to Zante, a revamped version of the student TV staple on E4. In this series of Coach Trip, the tourist bus has become a party bus. Wave goodbye to Uncle Joe from Coventry wanti
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The Catching of a Killer: A rare reminder murderers can also be humane

It is hard to conceive that murderers might be human. But even those who stab their victims to death 30 times have a loving family. Channel 4’s Catching A Killer: The Wind In The Willows Murder, a day-by-day account of the police’s attempt to find and prosecute a murderer, offered a rare personal insight into the private life of a killer. The forensic examination into the inner workings of Thames Valley Police as they attempted to track down a killer followed the murder of Adrian Greenwood, an
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The Betrayed Girls: Political correctness let these teenagers down

The BBC drama Three Girls, about the grooming of white teenage girls by Pakistani men in Rochdale, won critical acclaim earlier this year. Now a blistering feature-length documentary, The Betrayed Girls tells the story behind the headlines, exploring why the police turned a blind eye to systematic sexual grooming for decades. The film raised uncomfortable questions about multicultural Britain and the failure of the establishment to protect society’s most vulnerable. At its heart lay the conclus
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Lady Lucan: The star of a very sinister Jilly Cooper novel

Theories surrounding Lord Lucan’s whereabouts have circled for years, but in Lord Lucan: My Husband, The Truth, Lady Lucan sought to set the record straight in her first interview for 30 years. Speaking to camera for most of the hour, she gave her candid version of events of the night her husband murdered their nanny and tried to kill her. Even before Lord Lucan acted so wildly out of turn, their marriage was crumbling. A heady mixture of gambling, debts, mental health problems and a bitter c
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Little Boy Blue delivers final emotional blow - I watched in tears

It’s not often that a drama knocks the wind out of you by sheer emotional force. ITV’s Little Boy Blue has delivered some blistering blows throughout, right up to the final few minutes of the finale. Based on the true story of the murder of 11-year-old schoolboy Rhys Jones in Liverpool, a burning sense of injustice has underpinned the series from start to finish. Right and wrong has played out in black and white, brought to the fore in the final episode with the trial of Sean Mercer, James Yat
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Loaded is a bit like Fresh Meat, but not as funny

Four lads create a gaming app and sell it for £246m. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a bit, it turns out, which is the basis for Channel 4’s new comedy series, Loaded. It’s a fun premise and has lots of potential, but isn’t laugh out loud – yet. The founders of the game Cat Factory, a sort of Candy Crush that “mums play on the loo”, are an unlikely foursome. Yet, despite doubts from would-be investors, the entrepreneurs cash in their app game to an American buyer at an eye-watering price.
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