Jazz 625 Live: For One Night Only

BBC Four, 9pm

Iron your polo neck, dust off your beret, prepare your head for some serious nodding, and give your jazz hands a good long rinse under the hot tap as BBC Four resurrects the fabled 1960s music show Jazz 625 for a one-off live comeback gig this week. Altogether now: “Niiiiiiiiiiiiiii-i-i-i-ice.”

Running between 1964-1966, Jazz 625 was on hand to capture some of the true giants of the form going about their art, including performances by Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Thelonius Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and many more. It was by no means the only BBC jazz show of the period to do this, but it remains the most iconic – in part, perhaps, because it remains the most available to see. Many 625 episodes are safely preserved in the archives, where other notable series of the era, like Jazz Goes To College, Jazz At The Maltings, and Jazz Scene At The Ronnie Scott Club, were lost almost entirely (and in most cases, entirely) during the barbarous period when the BBC decided to wipe the tapes, so they could use them again. Still, at least lessons were learned and we’ve got all those episodes of Noel’s House Party safe for tomorrow now.

(Given the Beeb seems so keen on these broadcasting nostalgiafest nights, maybe they could host an evening where some of the old bosses get back together to merrily reminisce about all the programmes they junked back then. “Ooh, I remember, there was one afternoon, I signed off on getting rid of most of Patrick Troughton’s run as Doctor Who, A For Andromeda AND Bob Dylan’s first British TV appearance. Good times. Good times.”)

In the mould of the recent, disastrous, one-off disinterment of The Old Grey Whistle Test, Friday night’s programme will offer a mix of archive selections and new material. Paying tribute to the show’s history, some original contributors, including Cleo Laine, will be on hand to recall shooting the 1960s programmes. Meanwhile, there will be live sets from this year’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival, and music from a house band led by pianist Robert Mitchell, with guests including Joshua Redman, Jean Toussaint, Shirley Tetteh, Jacqui Dankworth and Gregory Porter. Elsewhere, longterm jazz fan Charlie Watts will manage to escape for a night from the usual pub band he plays with, to hook up as part of a nifty quartet with the great saxophonist Scott Hamilton.

All good stuff, but you can’t help feeling something’s missing. For one thing, this Jazz 625 “evening” only lasts 90 minutes – it’s a true shame they haven’t take the opportunity to push the boat out with some extended repeats from the vaults. For another, there’s something a little too retro-reductive about the package.

Jazz 625 was originally commissioned as part of the bold new line-up of programmes designed to help launch BBC Two on its original mission of doing things in a slightly different, slightly more revolutionary way. Its very title was a sharp cry of modernism: the show was named after the groundbreaking 625-line UHF broadcasting system that was introduced along with the new channel, which, compared with the 405-line standard to other channels, was the high-definition of its day. Older sets couldn’t even pick it up: get hip or get left behind.

Whether a similar visionary, futurist spirit motivates this revival is debatable: the central gimmick is that all the new stuff is being shot in black-and-white. It’s kind of utterly meaningless. But someone must have figured it might look niiiiiiiiiiiiiii-i-i-i-ice.



Line Of Duty

9pm, BBC One

It’s the penultimate instalment and, despite the nagging feeling there’s something at the very core of this storyline that doesn’t make a single lick of sense, things are hotting up. Tonight’s episode is brought to you by the letter H, and the number 3 – as in AC-3, the anti-corruption squad from a parallel dimension sometimes called to investigate when things don’t seem rosy at AC-12 itself. Under increasing pressure from all sides, an incredibly reckless plan is launched to attempt to identify the mysterious “H.” Elsewhere, the ghosts of past cases are reappearing, and there are new faces looming, including DCS Patricia Carmichael (an excellent Anna Maxwell Martin). Meanwhile, get ready for the return of the show’s signature interview room scenes, with one of the best yet.


Storyville: The Spy Who Went into the Cold – Kim Philby, Soviet Super Spy

9pm, BBC Four

First shown in 2013, this is a fascinating documentary on the most notorious double agent of modern times. One night in 1963, Philby, a boozy, stuttering charmer with an eye for the ladies – and also one of MI6’s highest anti-Soviet agents - failed to turn up for a dinner party in Beirut as planned. Instead, he’d boarded a Russian freighter, defecting spectacularly to the USSR under the nose of British Intelligence, who had long suspected him of spying. Which he had been, for over 30 years, from the very heart of Britain’s security establishment. Filmed in London, Beirut and Moscow, and featuring interviews with several who knew Philby, director George Carey plunges into the murky depths of an extraordinary story, to discover there are still as many questions as answers about just what really happened back then.


In Sight Of Home: The Iolaire

9pm, BBC Four

This sad and excellent documentary was originally shown on New Year’s Day, marking the 100th anniversary of the tragedy it recounts, but the rush of festive programming saw it get a little lost in the mix. On Hogmanay 1918, the HMY Iolaire sailed out from the Kyle of Lochalsch bound for Stornoway, carrying over 250 naval men from the Isles of Lewis and Harris, finally returning home having survived service in the First World War. The weather quickly worsened and a few hours later, in the first hours of 1919, the ship sank, within yards of Lewis. Some 201 sailors drowned off the coast of their home. The film examines the reasons that may have led to the catastrophe and recalls stories of horror and courage as it unfolded. But more poignantly, it explores its deep and still lasting impact on the island communities.


Planet Child

9pm, STV

Parents and grandparents often bemoan the lack of freedom young children have today compared with when they were kids. But are we actually over-protecting our children to an extent that could wind up harming them? In this series, brotherly doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken explore how children in the UK experience life now, with a focus on areas like risk-taking and independence. They come armed with stark statistics: British kids now spend less time outdoors than prison inmates, and are under almost constant supervision. By contrast, they look at how children are faring abroad, including Michi, a six-year-old who crosses Tokyo alone every day to get to school, navigating the city’s busy transport system. The doctors see if a group of 4-7 year olds can similarly cross London on their own. For many, it’s the first time they’ve ever left their parents’ sides.


Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure

8pm, BBC One

As Line Of Duty’s Kate Fleming, the fabulous Vicky McLure hasn’t had much cause to smile recently. But, despite the seriousness of the subject matter, she beams and laughs her way through this affecting two-part documentary – although there are plenty of moments when tears come, too. Having cared for her late grandmother as her Alzheimer’s progressed, McClure has taken a role with the Alzheimer’s Society attempting to raise awareness around dementia. This wonderful film explores the incredible role music can play as a therapy, and in raising the quality of lives. To illustrate, McClure rolls her sleeves up and sets about building a choir of people with different types of dementia from a wide range of ages (the youngest is only 31). Meanwhile, doctors and scientists monitor the choir, and the sometimes staggering results making music can have on its members.


Bowie At The BBC

11pm, BBC Four

Point is, it’s Saturday, and, unless you count the snooker and football, there is absolutely nothing new on television anywhere tonight worth watching, and anyone who pretends otherwise does not have your interests in mind. But BBC Four is repeating this little hour-long collage of archive clips, offering a chronological overview of Bowie’s career. It’s not just performance footage: the compilation also includes interviews and news reports, kicking off with the most excellent 1964 encounter between reporter Cliff Michelmore and the 17-year-old David Jones, speaking in his capacity as spokesperson for The Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Men with Long Hair. Mostly, though, it’s the music, from the well-worn but deathless Ziggy-era encounters on Whistle Test and TOTPs, through to performances on Later and the celebrated 2000 Glastonbury set.