I love 1973

TA85grabI apologise for the late running of the plug for this week’s Telly Addict. I’ve been busy. At any rate, it’s been up all day, and within it, you will see my nice new haircut, a shirt I haven’t worn very often and some considered, erudite, witty reviews of – plus some controversially throwaway remarks about – the adorable 1973 John Betjeman documentary Metro-land, shown again last week on BBC4; the similarly locomotive Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo on BBC2; the perhaps unfairly maligned Mr Selfridge on ITV1; the quite horrible World Without End on C4; and the return of Silent Witness to BBC1 for its 16th series! I’ve already found myself in a titanic struggle with a persistent man over at the Guardian website, should you have more time on your hands than sense. You’re more than welcome to discuss these shows here, in a friendlier environment. I always reply.


Twenty Twelve: TV

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Well, I’ve certainly put the hours in this year in terms of TV. My first full calendar year of writing and recording Telly Addict every week: that’s a lot of percentage in the Sky+ tank. Because I am now duty-bound to review all the exciting new stuff – and that means stuff I wouldn’t normally watch, like Red Or Black, TOWIE and The Apprentice – I find myself watching and analysing the first episode of everything, but not always bothering to watch the second episode. There are only so many hours in the day etc.

This, if you run a finger down my final list, accounts for the fact that Secret State, which I wasn’t sure about to start with, makes the list, and The Town, which I was sure about, doesn’t. I saw the former through to the bitter end, which means something, and I found myself unable to summon up the enthusiasm to see how The Town turned out, which also means something. My enthusiasm for The Great British Bake Off was entirely sincere: I couldn’t wait for the next episode. This is how I feel about the re-runs of Friday Night Lights: can’t wait. (Although the Guardian erroneously claimed that I judged The Bake Off to be “the best TV show of 2012”, when, in fact, it was simply my favourite.)

It seems obsessive and random to put these fantastic shows in any kind of qualitative order, so I’ll leave them in the order that they occurred to me. I’m not sure whether or not I ought to apologise for the proliferation of shows on Sky Atlantic. The channel has a deal with HBO; ergo, it’s where all the best imports turn up. Sorry (There, I apologised.) Oh, and by the way, I enjoyed some of the Olympics on the BBC, and Euro 2012, on the BBC and ITV, but found Gary Lineker a bit irksome on both.

The Great British Bake Off, BBC2
Line Of Duty, BBC2
Game of Thrones, Season 2, Sky Atlantic
Boardwalk Empire, Season 3, Sky Atlantic
Hunderby, Sky Atlantic
The Fear, C4
Homefront, ITV1
Fresh Meat, Series 2, C4
Friday Night Dinner, Series 2, C4
Michael Portillo’s Great Continental Railway Journeys, BBC2
Sherlock, Series 2, BBC1
Borgen, BBC4
The Bridge, BBC4
Homeland, Seasons 1-2, c4
Twenty Twelve, Series 2, BBC2
Chatsworth, BBC2
Inside Claridge’s, BBC2
The Thick Of It, Series 4, BBC4
Eastbound and Down, Season 3, FX
The Walking Dead, Season 3, FX
American Horror Story: Asylum, FX
Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, E4
Friday Night Lights, Seasons 1-3, Sky Atlantic
Girls, Sky Atlantic
Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partidge, Sky Atlantic
The Newsroom, Sky Atlantic
Veep, Sky Atlantic
Secret State, C4
Top of the Pops, 1977, BBC4
Man About The House, Series 3-5, ITV3
Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss, BBC4
Loving Miss Hatto, BBC1
Downton Abbey, Series 3/Christmas Special, ITV1
Mrs Biggs, ITV1
Celebrity MasterChef, BBC2
Modern Family, Season 4, Sky1
Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, ITV1
The Bletchley Circle, ITV1

Feel free to nominate shows you loved. I fell out with Downton during Series 2, but was surprised to find myself back onboard with Series 3. I also thought that Gates, on Sky Living, came out very well, but since I was one of its writers, I am unable to trust my own judgement. We must try Sky Living’s judgement, though, and it won’t be returning for a second series.

For each a road

TA82grabAfter the unusual step last week of trailing something – The Fear on C4 – you’ll be glad to know that I actually review this week. (We record this on a Monday afternoon and the first of four episodes aired on Monday night, running to four consecutive nights thereafter.) In the event, I’m rather surprised to say that Telly Addict seems to be going out on a limb here in praising The Fear to the rafters, as it was rubbished in many quarters. I was also a fan of the first episode of ITV1’s The Town, by playwright Mike Bartlett, also less so of A Young Doctor’s Notebook on Sky Arts 1, albeit mainly due to a disconnect between me and Russian humour, as it’s based on the semi-autobiographical short stories of Mikhail Bulgakov. Oh, and further mention of ITV3’s re-runs of Man About The House, which are an ongoing pleasure.

There’s her jumper

I’m sorry, I have a cold. Hopefully it won’t hamper your enjoyment of this week’s Telly Addict, which takes a keen interest in … Sarah Lund’s knitwear in The Killing III on Scandinavia’s BBC4, the portrayal of a fantasy BBC you could really trust in the 1957-set The Hour on BBC2; the tragic trajectory of Nadine Dorries MP on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! on ITV1; and a bit of prime Gyp Rosetti on Sky Altantic’s Boardwalk Empire, but don’t worry if you’re a spoiler-shy Sky refusenik and are waiting for the box set, it’s a stand-alone clip that has no bearing on the plot, other than Gyp Rosetti is in it.

A delegate situation

This week, I’m at the Media Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival, or MGEITF as all the cool delegates know it. The bearing this has on Telly Addict is that, as you can see, I was filmed in the pop-up Guardian “pod” in the noisy lobby of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, which was a novelty. (I’m up in Edinburgh to facilitate/host the preview screening/Q&A season at the city’s lovely Film House cinema, which is just far enough round the corner from where the bulk of the TV Fest action is, none of the exceptional work we have been doing there has been officially photographed, or reported upon in the newspapers, even though, for instance, Simon Bird confirmed that a second Inbetweeners movie has not been confirmed, in a Q&A about Friday Night Dinner – scoop!

Anyway, in Telly Addict (see if you can hear TV people slurping free YouTube smoothies in the background), I’m reviewing The Great British Bake Off on BBC2, The Last Weekend on ITV1 and Red Or Black? on ITV1. It’s here.

Game Of Throw-Ins

Come on! Even if you don’t watch Telly Addict, you have to admit, that is pun of the year. My exec producer at the Guardian asked me to step outside my “comfort zone” and review Euro 2012, but the joke’s on him, as it’s widely known that I am a two-yearly football fan and that the Euros are well in my comfort zone! So, for your consideration this week: MOTD: Euro 2012 on BBC1; Euro 2012 on ITV1; and All In The Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry on C4. Got a bit carried away with the football, I admit, so I promise to review Punk Britannia on BBC4 next week, when it reaches its conclusion. Game Of Throw-Ins? I’m taking half a day off.


Hey, at last, the new Telly Addict, which took its time going up today, don’t know why. In it, we will be told what to think about Phil Spencer: Secret Agent on C4; nearly the end of The Bridge on BBC4; 56 Up on ITV1; Episodes on BBC2; and, less pressingly you might think, Dad’s Army on BBC2 (which is, to be fair, a repeat from 1970, but you have to see this clip, you really do). Have a look. Comment. Etc.

Spoiler Alert!

I mean it. This week on Telly Addict, I’m trying something new: reviewing not the fanfare-and-fireworks-display beginning of programmes, as is traditional, but the end. So, it’s the conclusion of ITV1’s Titanic; the conclusion of BBC2’s White Heat; and a catch-up with C4’s Homeland at about two thirds of the way through. It’s an experiment, but, I hope, a useful one (especially as the first two turned out better than I’d expected, and you can’t always say that about a series). Either way, if you’ve yet to see any of them up to – respectively – episode 4, episode 6 or episode 9, I warn you now, there will be things about how they end. Insert joke about the Titanic sinking here. I know I did.