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Thursday’s best TV: Full Steam Ahead; The Refugee Camp: Our Desert Home

  • The Guardian - TV News
The Victorian Farm gang investigate the steam age; a visit to the Zaatari camp in Jordan. Plus: a biography of Peggy Guggenheim, and Mr Robot debuts on UK TV

If you enjoyed the steamier sections of Peter Snow’s Trainspotting Live on BBC4 last week, you’ll love this new slow-and-steady six-parter. The plucky Victorian Farm gang – historian Ruth Goodman, and archaeologists Peter Ginn and Alex Langlands – don period-appropriate overalls to investigate how the steam age changed the UK for ever, beginning in the slate mines of Snowdonia, where they meet a sturdy Welsh pony called Tickle. Graeme Virtue

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See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

24 Hours In The Past: minor celebrities shovelling muck, what’s not to like?

From the people who brought you Victorian Farm, the BBC’s new history reality show depicts the past’s dark side and how low famous faces are willing to go

In the sour depravity of historically recreated Victorian Britain, Alistair McGowan is being schooled on precisely which kind of animal poop is best for leather tanning. His teacher is expert Ruth Goodman who takes a hands-on approach to history. Walking through some ruins talking to camera isn’t enough for her. To really capture history you must live all the details you can reasonably get past a health-and-safety officer, and that means pulling on some crinoline, loading up on borax and investing a lot of emotion into the outcome of some nettle soup.

The best way to think about 24 Hours In The Past is as a streamlined reissue of Ruth’s previous TV history shows. Like Victorian, Edwardian and Wartime Farms,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

New BBC One drama, comedy series revealed

BBC One controller Charlotte Moore has revealed details of a number of new programmes heading to the channel.

Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Moore revealed that she had commissioned several shows to broaden BBC One's drama, factual and documentary offerings.

The first of these, The Living And The Dead, is a new six-part fantasy drama from the creators of Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes. It begins shooting next year and, according to Moore, is "steeped in real history and mythology that will scare the audience and awaken the dead".

Set in Somerset in 1888, the hour-long episodes will follow the story of Nathan Appleby, a farmer who has made it his mission to prove the existence of an afterlife. Described by the creators as a "complex and compelling man", Appleby will experience paranormal activity - encouraged by the Society for Psychical Research - until his obsession begins
See full article at Digital Spy - TV news »

The Wonder of Dogs; The Big C: Hereafter – TV review

I can take or leave Kate Humble – but I can't get enough of those dogs

'What are you watching?" a colleague asked. "The Wonder of Dogs (BBC2) with Kate Humble," I replied. "You're kidding," he groaned, "not more mums' TV." I could see where he was coming from. If I was asked to schedule something utterly middle-of-the-road that would be guaranteed not to upset anyone, it would be a programme with lots of slow-motion shots of dogs looking unbearably cute with their ears blowing back in the wind, presented by Kate Humble, the safest of safe wildlife hands, who can be upbeat about anything. Put her in Damascus and she'd be sure to file a report on how colonies of previously endangered rats were thriving among the bombed out ruins.

So I guess I must be a bit of a mum, because this was my kind of programme. Humble, along
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV highlights 18/12/2012

  • The Guardian - TV News
Murder Files: Killer on the Run | Wartime Farm Christmas | Imagine: A Beauty is Born – Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty | The Dark Ages: An Age of Light | Sing Date | Alphas

Murder Files: Killer on the Run

8pm, Channel 5

In 2006, British-born Neil Entwistle shot dead his wife and baby daughter in a small town in Massachusetts. He then took a plane to Britain, fleeing to his parents' house in Nottinghamshire, where police caught up with him. It was revealed that his life as a happy, successful married man was a sham, as he had lost his job and was living on credit, while he also had a fondness for escorts. The whole, terrible story is retold here, complete with flimsy reconstructions, melodramatic music and tawdry narration. Martin Skegg

Wartime Farm Christmas

9pm, BBC2

In 1944, the season to be merry was, in reality, grim for many Britons. As Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman discover,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV review: The Bletchley Circle; Wartime Farm

Postwar life was pretty dull for the Bletchley Park gang – until a serial killer turned up

It's been a busy old week for Anna Maxwell Martin. Just two days after standing in the dock as Tina the prison warden in Jimmy McGovern's Accused, she was back as Susan the suburban housewife in The Bletchley Circle (ITV1). Having almost singlehandedly shortened the duration of the second world war by a couple of years with her code-breaking skills, Susan was understandably finding life on civvy street in the early 1950s rather boring until a serial killer appeared near her neck of the woods in London to liven things up.

The idea of a group of former Bletchley Park code-breakers banding together as crime-fighters is more promising for a new crime drama than many, although it required a large suspension of disbelief. Initially, Susan decided to tackle the killer alone and, having
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV Od with Sarah Dempster: Wartime Farm

BBC2's latest living history series is simple, literal and stoic, but is all the more enjoyable for its lack of bells and whistles

"This is Abigail," says the farmer, pointing at a cow. "She's like a lovely soppy labrador. I used to pick her up and carry her around." Archaeologist Alex Langlands is impressed. "You've built up a real rapport," he says, peering at Abigail's matted cow hair and uncomprehending cow face. "Bless her. Wonderful. Yes. Ha, ha!" Wartime Farm (Thursday, 8pm, BBC2) is full of this sort of stuff. An eight-part tribute to the 1939-1945 pluck of our agricultural predecessors, it appears to have borrowed its Mo from Abigail; draping its lovely soppy labradoriness over our slippers and nuzzling into our lap with its damp-nosed facts and historical bonhomie, even though it's actually a cow and, as such, has ruined the carpet.

Wartime Farm follows in the hobnailed
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Edwardian Farm, how will we cope without you?

I'm sad to see Peter, Alex and Ruth leave Morwellham Quay after 12 blissful programmes unbesmirched by modern TV conventions

Twelve weeks after it welcomed us into its period-specific parlour, we have now bid bye-bye to the nicest series on TV. Oh, Edwardian Farm. How will we cope without your warm smile, your jaunty cotton neckerchief and your ability to remain straight-faced when an academic in a bowler is teaching you how to wassail an apple tree?

Having weathered the soil-based tribulations of Victorian Farm, archeologists Peter Ginn and Alex Langlands and historian Ruth Goodman returned as pretend early 20th century agriculturalists. Morwellham Quay – the former port in Devon that has been home to the series – has thrummed with industriousness. Against a backdrop thick with rolling hills and indifferent sheep, the trio have fossicked, scrubbed, sown and ploughed. They've pressed cider and oiled sows. They've mined for copper, constructed a fish
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV review: The Apprentice, Edwardian Farm and Some Dogs Bite

Dim narcissists flogging dodgy household cleaner: it's a welcome return to form for The Apprentice

Whisper it softly, but recent episodes of The Apprentice (BBC1) have been a wee bit rubbish. The teams have been completing their tasks with some proficiency and his lordship has been booting out the more obviously incompetent and psychotic. Somewhat late in the day – six years to be precise - it had started to look distressingly as if the show was trying to claw back some credibility by rebranding itself as a boot camp for would-be entrepreneurs, rather than sticking to the trusted format of reality show for delusional narcissists that has made it such a hit.

Thankfully, normal service was resumed last night, as the two teams were asked to create a new brand of household cleaner, and a radio and TV advert to help sell it. What followed was pure slapstick. It was
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Edwardian Farm has a hard-working act to follow

Can the new 12-parter possibly be as good as its fascinating, magical – and quietly thrilling – forebear, Victorian Farm?

Ah, living history programmes, how I love thee! Even the crap ones, like Turn Back Time: The High Street are enough to wrap you in a warm blanket of nostalgic glee.

Victorian Farm was, of course, my favourite. It was everyone's favourite. The six-part series detailing the year that the social historian Ruth Goodman and the archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn spent living as – yes – Victorians on the Acton estate's farm garnered nearly 4 million viewers an episode; the accompanying book went to No 1 on the Sunday Times bestseller list.

It was the degree of commitment wot done it. The purity of the endeavour – to live and work for a year exactly as our forebears would have done, without any intrusion from the modern world – was unspoiled by any of the besetting sins of reality TV.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV review: Mistresses and E Numbers: An Edible Adventure

Grief, guilt, tears, cupcakes and chardonnay – Mistresses, you've been great fun

Mistresses (BBC1) ended its three-series run last night not with a bang – because this has been Serious Mistresses, in Sexless Cardigans – but with a lot of whimpering. We had Richard's funeral, at which Wee Trudi McTinyscot discovered that her late husband had had a thing for Katie, although they had never actually Done It. Katie got no credit for having broken the habit of a lifetime (that is, exercising a spot of vaginal rectitude), so the four friendships disintegrated in a maelstrom of grief, accusations, guilt and tears, only to be mended again through the magic of ovarian cancer: in this case, Jessica's. They met, they cried, they bonded, they decided which of the licit and illicit partners they actually wanted to be with and – with the semi-divine intercession of Joanna Lumley as Katie's mother – they eventually forgave each
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV review: Victorian Pharmacy

If the Victorian pharmacists want to be authentic, they'll need to start doling out opium

Watch Victorian Pharmacy on iPlayer

First we had Victorian Farm, in which domestic historian Ruth Goodman recreated a bygone age on a Shropshire farm using Victorian equipment and methods. The series proved highly popular and now, for a follow-up, Goodman has turned urban for Victorian Pharmacy (BBC 2).

Last night's episode started promisingly enough, with Goodman and her new team – pharmacy professor Nick Barber, and history of medicine student Tom Quick – decking out their shop with carboys full of brightly coloured potions and stacking the shelves with a range of mysteriously named remedies. But it wasn't long before a very large fly appeared in the ointment. As Barber pointed out: "Anyone could be a chemist in those days and they killed people if they got things wrong." Understandably, this wasn't a chance the producers were prepared to take.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

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