Preview – The First World War

December 5, 2016 by  
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British and French troops march 1918

The last months of the Great War were as destructive as the years of entrenched stalemate had been. Germany’s spring offensive, the grand plan to defeat the British army and force the French to sue for peace had been repulsed and a half a million men (allied and German) lay dead.

With social unrest in Germany and Austria/Hungary on the brink of collapse, the political appetite for peace increased. However, though armistice meant a cessation of war, the Allies were determined to extract on paper, at least, Germany’s unconditional surrender.

The Treaty of Versailles included a clause on ‘War Guilt’ and Germany was made to shoulder the blame for the conflict and dealt crippling penalties: the Allies were forced to disarm, surrender territory, and pay reparations to countries that had formed the Triple Entente.

Illustrating the power of nationalism and political spin, the Great War was, at the time, seen in positive terms – for defence against aggression and for glory. Only in later years would the loss of 20 million lives be seen for the senseless waste it was.

And while the end of the conflict curbed militarism, for a while, the conditions of Versailles ensured the Great War was not the war to end all wars.

The final part of this 10-part series is based on the book by Hew Strachan, Professor of the History of War at Oxford.

The First World War – Monday 11.00pm on BBC 4, and is available now on the BBC iPlayer.

Preview – Titanic’s Tragic Twin: The Britannic Disaster

December 5, 2016 by  
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This documentary originally aired just on BBC One Northern Ireland, but is now being given a wider screening on BBC Two.

While almost everyone is aware of the sinking of the Titanic, the sinking of the Britannic a few years later is less well known. The Britannic was the Titanic’s sister ship, and after Titanic sank the Britannic was strengthened was re-engineered to be stronger. But on 21 November 1916, the Britannic sank three times faster than its sister, after it hit a mine in the Aegean Sea.

In this programme, Kate Humble and Andy Torbet try to look into how the ship managed to sink in just 55 minutes. This includes diving into the wreck, and interviewing descendants of the survivors.

Titanic’s Tragic Twin: The Britannic Disaster is on BBC Two at 21.00, and is available now on the BBC iPlayer.

Preview – Fawlty Towers

December 2, 2016 by  
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Fawlty Towers

As a tribute to the late, great Andrew Sachs, BBC One is showing the classic Fawlty Towers episode ‘Communication Problems’.

This is 30-minutes of comedy gold in which Sachs, as the hapless Spanish waiter Manuel, tries his best to stay on the right side of Basil (John Cleese) after secretly placing a bet on a horse for him expressly against the wishes of Fawlty’s sharp-tongued wife Cybil (Prunella Scales).

A misunderstanding with the short-sighted, half-deaf, ageing battleaxe Mrs Richards over some misplaced money leads to the usual descent into farce. And even though Basil’s horse comes in, you know he is not going to come out of this a winner! 30-odd years old and absolutely brilliant, still.

Fawlty Towers Friday 7.30pm, BBC One.

Preview – Walliams and Friend

December 2, 2016 by  
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Harry Enfield and David Walliams

The David Walliams comedy vehicle continues apace this week dragging Harry Enfield along for the ride. It’s been a while since Enfield’s 80s/90s heyday when he made Smashy and Nicey, Tim Nice but Dim, Stavros and Loadsamoney household names, but together with Walliams, he shows he still as sharp as ever and delivers a masterclass in comedy.

Kicking off tonight’s hilariously cruel sketches and parodies Enfield dons his finest fuschia pink dress as the Queen in a skit the Beebs genealogy series Who Does One Think One Is?

Other targets include Masterchef duo John Torode and a rather fussy Gregg Wallace, portray a hilarious pair of ageing lotharios and take a look back at some of Harry’s comedy characters that never saw the light of day, until a certain David Walliams got his hands on them.

Walliams & Friend on Friday at 9.30pm, BBC One


Preview – Storyville: Forever Pure – Football and Racism in Jerusalem

December 2, 2016 by  
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Last week documentary Whites v Blacks: How Football Changed a Nation looked at racism in British football. This week we see how racism in the sport is a problem elsewhere in the world.

Forever Pure focuses on Israel’s most popular club, Beitar Jerusalem. They are also infamous for being the only Israeli football club never to have signed an Arab player – until 2013 when their Russian-Israel oligarch owner Arcadi Gaydamak signed up two Muslim players from Chechnya in a secret deal. The result of this was racist campaign to get the new players out of the team.

This documentary shows that in we’ve still got a long way to go in order of showing racism the red card.

Forever Pure – Football and Racism in Jerusalem is on Sunday at 22.00 on BBC Four.

Preview – 60 Days in Jail

December 1, 2016 by  
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60 Days in Jail is a sobering look at a county-level penal institution in the US from the perspective of seven volunteers who will live incognito alongside the prison’s inmates.

Each has been fully briefed and counselled and should be aware of what they are letting themselves in for. However, four episodes in, this clearly is not the case and two, in particular, are way, way out of their depth; a stay-at-home mum who resents prisoners who she believes receive more benefits and liberty than her soldier husband, and a teacher, Robert, who stated before the gates slammed shut behind him, that prison was going to be like a country club environment and he was going to make a whole lot of new friends.

As a documentary series, it is difficult to see what its message is. Its content could be seen as having deterrent value, or it could be used more malevolently as a dog whistle against the perceived easy life criminals enjoy behind bars.

Sheriff Jamey Noel of Clark County, Indiana, who devised the scheme claims it will help to root out crime and corruption in his jail. A worthy claim if true, but this feels more like Big Brother on steroids!

The unique perspective he hopes to gain about how prisoners conceal contraband and smuggle drugs into the jail is dependent on the wide-eyed participants exposing themselves to wrongdoing, intimidation and explosive violence … all the while maintaining their cover. It does the show a disservice to use crass phrases like ‘snitches get stitches’, but one word out of place for the volunteers and thats what they’ll get.

60 Days in Jail Thursday 10pm, Channel 4

Preview – MasterChef: The Professionals

December 1, 2016 by  
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MasterChef: The Professionals

The Heats are over and the best chefs are set to cook again in the last stage of the quarter-finals. So far the ‘professionals’ have faced pressure tests from Marcus and Monica, some more challenging than others – a glass of banoffee cheesecake, really?

After nine series, things are starting to mix up with a new, rather challenging, challenge. The chefs need to reinvent and remake a British classic – the fruit crumble – whilst still capturing the true spirit of a British favourite. With only four places in the next task, the pressure is on for the contestants to produce a knockout dish.

Cranking up the competition now, the remaining chefs must execute an exceptional two-course meal in just 75 minutes, presenting their food to restaurant critics, Grace Dent, Jay Rayner and Tracey MacLeod. Marcus and Monica, keeping a close eye on the dishes served, will then send one final chef home, resulting in just three cooks securing a place in the semi-finals.

MasterChef: The Professionals – tonight at 9pm, BBC Two. Previous episodes are available on catch up.

Preview – Snooker: UK Championships

December 1, 2016 by  
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Snooker is certainly one of the more interesting sports around – in the sense that it is one of the few sports that the BBC still have most of the TV rights to.

The UK Championships in York have been going on for a while now, and we are currently in the fourth round. So far three Englishmen – Ronnie O’Sullivan, Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby, as well as Hong Kong’s Marco Fu have qualified for the quarter finals. At the start of today we see will a whole UK mix, with Scotland’s John Higgins taking on Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen, while Wales’s Jamie Jones faces England’s David Gilbert.

In the evening session England’s Liam Highfield takes on Mark Williams of Wales, while Scotland’s Stephen Maguire is up against the Belgian Luca Brecel.

The UK Championships are on BBC Two at 13.00, 19.00 and on the BBC’s Red Button. Highlights are on BBC Two at 23.45.

Preview – The Missing

November 30, 2016 by  
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For loyal followers of this engrossing psychological thriller The Missing, the truth behind the events leading to Alice Webster’s return to Eckhausen in 2014, is finally revealed.

Tcheky Karyo’s ailing detective Julien Baptiste has led us through a bleak and complex mystery spanning two decades but is close on the heels of his quarry as the finale shifts to the mountains of Switzerland and the cabin where the manipulative rapist and murderer Adam Gettrick (Derek Riddell) has held his young captives Sophie, Lucy and Alice.

While the scene seems set for a straightforward conclusion, there are still known unknowns in the plot line, such as Gettrick’s post-Iraq relationship with Brigadier Stone (Roger Allam), and unknown unknowns – such as the girls’ relationship with their captor and the true identity of the girl who perished in the burning shed. And if the past eight weeks have taught us anything; it is that nothing, and no one, is quite what they seem and as sure as night follows day there will be a few shocks before the credits role.

The Missing Wednesday 9pm, BBC1

Preview – 24 Hours in A&E

November 30, 2016 by  
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Frances - 24 Hours in A&E

Twelve series later and the award-winning Channel 4 documentary series, 24 hours in A&E, still manages to captivate its audience with heartwarming stories of love, family and bravery.

With a fly-on-the-wall approach to filming, the cameras capture the highs and lows of life and loss on the busy A&E ward of St George’s Hospital in south west London – through all the pain it’s the touching stories of love that make the show such a moving documentary.

It tonight’s episode we follow the story of 80-year-old Frances who, still fiercely independent, has fallen three metres into her empty swimming pool whilst gardening and has been brought to St George’s with a series, and potentially life-changing, head injury. We also meet Ruth who, before departing on a cruise, has arrived in A&E with a heart rate three times what it should be.

24 Hours in A&E continues tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm – previous episodes are available on catch up.

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