THIS week’s guests include Gaby Roslin, whom most of us won’t have seen since her glory days on The Big Breakfast, plus Jack Dee, Tinchy Stryder and Romesh Ranganathan.

Did Romesh lock one of his former pupils in a cupboard when his lesson on the concept of probability went terribly wrong? He says he “needed someone to pretend to be an alien” and so picked on one of the pupils who then got locked behind the door.

And would you suspect that the cool Tinchy Stryder goes around breaking things in his house as a way of luring repairmen inside so he can them challenge them to a game of ping pong? Has anyone ever gone to such lengths just to play ping pong? He’s questioned on his relationships with his friends and neighbours: are they so poor that he can only get people round to his house by pretending things are broken? Ah, the poor soul.

Then Jack Dee has to convince us he came home one day to find his builder eating doughnuts in his bath. Did it have jam in the middle, asks Gaby Roslin. “What the doughnuts or the bath?” he asks, with his usual dead-pan expression, which is invaluable in a game like this.


THE new series of Mount Pleasant starts tonight and, although it’s new, it’ll give you a weird sense of deja vu. You’ll constantly be thinking you’ve seen it before, and asking where the nagging sense of familiarity comes from. It’s probably because all of the cast have appeared in other soaps. There’s Sally Lindsay, also known as Shelley from Coronation Street. There’s Samantha Womack who played Ronnie in EastEnders and also her old co-star Nigel Harman, who was Dennis Rickman, plus Paula Wilcox from Emmerdale and several other recognisable faces.

Perhaps Mount Pleasant is where the soap actors go whenever work dries up. Being in its fifth series it certainly sounds like a nice, steady source of employment for them.

The show is set in a quiet Manchester cul-de-sac and describes itself as “dramedy”, which isn’t a camel but a melding of drama and comedy.

In this episode, the main characters, Lisa and Dan, are having marriage problems, which are exacerbated by the arrival of some new neighbours.



RICK STEIN’S latest stop on his culinary journey begins with a discussion about fish guts, so it’s a testament to his cookery skills that even such a grisly topic can still leave us salivating.

He’s in Crete fishing for red mullet in the “wine-dark sea”, a fish that he declares to be the best in the Mediterranean, and he says the Greeks cut out the guts before serving, but the French prefer to leave them in. Which is more delectable? I’ve never had to ponder whether I prefer my red mullet with or without guts as I usually obtain my fish from the local chip shop where it’s so thickly coated in batter that there may not even be fish inside, let alone little innards.

He also speaks to Greek people about the importance of cookery and good food. One woman passionately says home-cooked food is essential and she will always make time to prepare it. Rick agrees, and says that attitude is sadly absent in Britain where so many of us rely on junk and fast foods. Perhaps this accounts for our reduced life expectancy and the relatively long lives that the Greeks enjoy.


DAVID HAYMAN presents this programme celebrating the fine old ships built on the Clyde that went on to long, sea-going careers and played a role in building links between the Commonwealth countries.

This week we look at the CS Mackay Bennett, which was built by the famous Glasgow shipbuilders, John Elder and Co. One of the first ships to be made from steel, it was built as a cable repair ship and this required an extremely careful design that would allow enough space to accommodate lengths of heavy cable while also making sure the ship remained buoyant. This careful balancing act was done to perfection by the experts on the Clyde and soon the CS Mackay Bennett (known as Macky Bennett to her sailors) was out in the Atlantic on her most famous mission: she was the first ship contracted by the White Star Line for the recovery of the bodies of the Titanic victims who were still lost out at sea.

The ship was sunk by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, though it was later refloated, and finally scrapped in the 1960s. So much dramatic history is encapsulated in the story of this ship.

BECK, BBC4, 9pm

BBC4 brings us another foreign crime drama, this one in Swedish with English subtitles. This is a new series but each episode is feature length and requires your concentration, so switch your mobile off and be prepared to be immersed in Swedishness.

Also prepare to be immersed in dirt and soil because the storyline concerns being buried alive. A box is found buried in a playground in Stockholm and, yes, a body is discovered inside. It’s that of a famous city prosecutor and it soon becomes clear to the police that it was a live burial.

Beck is the lead detective on the case and he suspects the leader of a tough biker gang, recently released from prison. However, the biker dude is soon found dead in similar circumstances, then other wooden boxes are discovered around the city, all of which contain victims who have suffered the same hideous fate.

It seems a serial killer is on the loose, except he doesn’t kill his victims: he just condemns them to a coffin and lets the soil and the slow deprivation of oxygen do the job for him, and as Beck races to catch the killer he soon learns that he is one of the targets.


CHANNEL 4 is certainly all about nostalgia this weekend, with Matt Lucas narrating this new show and then with the new series of This Is England on Sunday, immediately followed by The 90s: Ten Years That Changed The World.

What does all this nostalgia blurting signify? Maybe it shows that with our current age of austerity and bleakness, we can’t help but cast our minds back to other times when things were better or, at least, when things were different. Or maybe it just means the TV execs are short on ideas and a nostalgia clip show will always plug a few gaps in the schedule. Whatever the reason, these clip shows will never surpass The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years, the best nostalgia TV ever made.

This new series presents strange clips from 80s TV that apparently capture the zeitgeist of that garish, greedy decade, and we see reactions from people who weren’t there to watch them the first time around so we get their fresh, often horrified, perspective.


RATINGS are down for The X Factor but this can be no surprise. The new series is anaemic and dull, with spiky comments from the judges gone to be replaced with dreamy nonsense about hopes and souls and emotions. The most appalling auditions have been cut, and instead we have a steady stream of mediocre singers who think they’re the new Whitney Houston.

Finally, the initial stage has been moved from the claustrophobic little meeting room, where the contestants stood directly in front of the judges, and now takes place in a huge, echoing arena where all sense of anxiety is dispelled.

So the X Factor has removed the things that made it enjoyable: humiliation, freaks and tension. And yet seven million of us are still tuning in each week, despite its weaknesses and heedless to the fact that the winner vanishes without trace within a few weeks of their “victory”.

So why do we watch it? Is it now simply a habit or a tradition for those of us at home on a Saturday night? Or do we still harbour a ridiculous, vain hope, as the contestants must do, that the show will uncover a star and astonish us all?

I’m not really looking for a star, I just want to be entertained, but for that to happen the show needs to start slumming it again.



THIS is a one-off TV adaptation of the famous play by JB Priestley, starring Ken Stott and Miranda Richardson.

It’s 1912, and a mysterious Inspector calls on a wealthy family to question them about a local woman’s suicide.

Everything is rosy for the rich Birling family who represent the bloated wealth and arrogance of the ruling classes in Edwardian Britain. They are gathered in their comfortable home to celebrate the engagement of their daughter, Sheila, but the party is interrupted by the Inspector who brings grim talk of death into their drawing room. Eva Smith has hanged herself, says the Inspector, and she left a diary which implicates the family in her death. One by one, the Inspector prompts the family to say what their connections were with the unfortunate Eva and how their greed and complacency may have led to her downfall.

Priestley, a left-wing writer, shows that everyone is connected in society, and that the Birling’s wealth cannot cocoon or elevate them above others: every action has a consequence, even when you’re rich and complacent.

THIS IS ENGLAND ‘90, C4, 9pm

SHANE Meadows’s original film, This Is England, was released in 2006 and portrayed Thatcher’s gutted and depressed Northern England in 1983, and a gang of young skinheads finding community and identity in their subculture, although the group was soon broken by white nationalist extremists.

In this new four-part drama, the action has moved forward to 1990 and the stories of the group resume.

Lol is working as a dinner lady and, in the opening scenes, her main concern is that they have run out of custard but have plenty of Coffee Whip instead. The rest of the old gang are lounging at the back door of the school kitchen waiting to be fed on Lol’s school dinners. “It’s about the nostalgia,” explains the hungry Gadget. “That’s why we come here.”

The opening credits then start to roll and make it clear this series will indeed be about nostalgia, showing us scenes of the Happy Mondays and the Poll Tax marches, but then moving on to the Strangeways Prison riot, mad cow disease, and the first Gulf War. This is not going to be soft and misty nostalgia, but a clear-eyed look back at England in the 1990s.


IT’S a strict rule that actors playing criminal Cockney geezers must portray them as hard men with a heart of gold, especially when the actor in question is Ray Winstone for whom the part of Jimmy Rose is ideal.

Jimmy, released from prison after a long sentence for armed robbery, promised to go straight but was very quickly lured back into the world of crime although it was for a good reason: protecting his granddaughter, Ellie. He has a heart of gold, see?

With the daft Ellie involved in drugs, big gold-hearted Jimmy steps up. “I’m done with bein’ a good boy” he tells the drug dealer, saying he’ll pay off her drug debts by working for him. Although he’s doing it for seemingly selfless reasons it’s clear Jimmy relishes being back in amongst the bad guys, although he specifies he won’t use guns or deliver any drugs. That heart of gold again….but he’s told very bluntly, “This ain’t Parcelforce, Jimmy!”

So will his good intentions pay off in this, the final episode?