George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces
Monday, 8.30pm, LifeStyle Are you tired of shows such as Grand Designs in which well-off people knock up their precious multi-million-dollar dream homes? Do you feel alienated whenever executives get together to talk about salaries? Well, meet George Clarke. He is all about inspiring people on the smallest of budgets. His series shows how anyone can achieve a small piece of design heaven and how, even with tiny uninspiring spaces and minimal experience, we can all still have big dreams. Gee thanks, George. With enough hard work and imagination even a public toilet can become a home. And it’s not even damp and musty.
Dynamo: Magician Impossible
Monday, 8.30pm, Nat Geo Adventure It still makes me laugh that world-renowned magician Steven Frayne shares his stage name with a well known laundry detergent. OK, so I’m infantile — blame it on too much TV. This is Dynamo’s second season, and it reminds me of an old Herman’s Hermits lyric: ‘‘ Second verse, same as the first’’. In this season Frayne urges us to follow him from deep inside the favelas in Rio to the Las Vegas strip, as he brings a little magic into people’s lives. If there is any great change from the first season it is that the genuine surprise and wonder on the faces of those for whom Dynamo performs on the street is better captured. Otherwise it’s pretty much astonishment as usual.
Monday, 8.30pm, Universal You have to love today’s B-grade sci-fi miniseries. Where else would you see the Pentagon hurrying along the biggest and potentially most dangerous weapon ever conceived because it is over-budget and out of time. So, as the POTUS and staff gather to watch, Dr Whitlow, the scientist in charge, sighs. ‘‘ Great,’’ she huffs, sotto voce. ‘‘ We have an untested system and we’re giving a personal demonstration to the President.’’ Yeah, right. And then, in the first indication that anybody gives a fig about any level of danger, the vice-president asks: ‘‘ How safe is this Dr Whitlow?’’ ‘‘ Very,’’ she answers. Lying minx. The demonstration works like a charm and everyone, including the President, is on their feet cheering as a decommissioned US satellite is blown to kingdom come. The cheering has barely died down when it becomes apparent, right on cue, that something is wrong. This goes on for more than three hours. If you have a tremendous capacity to suspend disbelief, you may just enjoy it.
Clash of Worlds
Monday, 9.30pm, History According to this documentary series, the perpetrators of acts of violence against the West — such as the 9/11 terrorist attack — believe they are righting the wrongs of history, fuelled in many cases by the actions of Britain’s imperial past. This explores how the centuries old conflict between the West and Islam can help us understand the violence of recent events through three great clashes between old foes — in Palestine, Sudan and India. Did you know that by 1700, Islam had dominated half the world for more than 1000 years? Offers a terrific historical perspective on recent horrific events, including those that were foiled.
Lily Cole’s Art Matters
Tuesday, 9.30pm, Studio Lily Cole is a supermodel, actress and a Cambridge University arts graduate. Bully for her, you may think. However, being wellknown has its advantages when it comes to opening doors. In this program, which is a bit like an English version of our own Artscape, Cole gains access, one episode at a time, to the art, minds and homes of five internationally recognised artists. She hangs with ‘‘ wrap’’ artist Christo, meets Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, models nude for Fiona Banner, has a drawing lesson with sculptor Antony Gormley and paints with Tacita Dean. This debut episodelooks at the striking placement around Brazil’s Sao Paulo of 31 statues by Gormley. They stand on ledges and balconies, interrupting and puncturing the city horizon. Similarly, these naked strangers mark their territory on the streets, to the general bemusement of passers by.
Tech Toys 360
Wednesday, 7.30pm, Discovery Science Sit down, strap in and prepare to experience the latest in tech toys. First we are off to Italy to check out the latest in super-car technology. Of course it’s an eeny weeny Lamborghini. Then, a revolutionary water toy — a stunning hybrid of jet ski and snowboard that will leave participants in snow sports and surfing drooling together. This is followed by a pool table with a $45,000 makeover (more money than sense?) and, finally, a motorcycle that looks like an old-style racer but is as modern as tomorrow underneath. Terrific TV for those who love their boy toys fast and furious.
Wednesday, 8pm, Studio Lucky pay-TV subscribers get another crack at Lilyhammer, which debuted on SBS One in March. It is really a fish-out-of-water tale that takes place when tough New York crime boss Frank ‘‘ The Fixer’’ Tagliano (Steven Van Zandt) takes a new identity and relocates to the snowy town of Lillehammer, Norway. Things are rapidly coming unstuck for him and he rolls over to the NYPD, which grants him asylum in the tiny town, a place he fell in love with while watching the 1994 Winter Olympics. Van Zandt is the 62-year-old guitarist who has been with Bruce Springsteen since before the E Street Band. He makes a terrific mafioso, full of menace, with the long, tragic face you might see on Robert De Niro or Al Pacino. Lillehammer turns out to be beautiful but with a cast of Norwegian characters wackier than those mad Alaskans in Northern Exposure. Dry, brilliantly funny and gorgeously understated. And the title spelling? It’s for Frank’s dead dog, Lily.
Ghost Town Gold
Wednesday, 8.30pm, National Geographic Honestly, I have begun to lose count of the programs about gold mining. Thankfully, in this show the gold of the title is metaphorical rather than elemental. So join good-looking dudes Brit Eaton and Scott Glaves as they explore the last frontier — ghost towns that rose up during the gold rush and were abandoned just as quickly, and their adjacent mining camps, the industrial graveyards of the Wild West. Their hunting grounds also include run-down ranches, old storehouses and treacherous abandoned mines. Their prize? Why, ghost town gold, of course, to be wrested from traders at a bargain and sold at a profit further down the track. If Eaton and Glaves were science fiction characters they’d definitely be Ferengi from Star Trek.
River Cottage Australia
Thursday, 8.30pm, LifeStyle I’m sure you’ll remember Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall, if not for his environmentally sustainable cooking and produce practices, then for that double-barrelled mouthful of a surname. Surely a man with a name like that should be running a Tory press office or an accounting firm in London’s Soho. But, like appearances, names can be deceiving. Old Hugh is about as down to earth as it gets. After an incredible 15 years at the helm of the River Cottage series of programs, he is over here to mentor and pass the baton to chef and produce manager Paul West. In last week’s debut we saw Hugh’s first experience of our country and witnessed his meeting with the new guy, former Tasmanian chef and food producer West. Now that Hugh is back in the Old Dart, can Paul hold the reins on his own? Helping in him his quest is adorable new border collie pup Digger.
Cycling’s Greatest Fraud
Thursday, 9.30pm, National Geographic Champion or cheat? Legend or liar? This is the story of Lance Armstrong and the greatest scandal ever to hit the sport of cycling. The drugs, the deception and the damage done are called in a fairly objective manner. After years of deception, Armstrong finally admitted that none of his seven Tour de France victories was raced cleanly. It is an astonishing tale of determination to win at all costs and it opens eyes about all kinds of cheating, including doping with your own (harvested and stored) blood, which is virtually undetectable. Fascinating if not exactly uplifting television.
America’s Cutest Dog
Friday, 8.30pm, Animal Planet Are you the sort of person who sends pictures of puppies to your lover? Do you love social media because it is bursting at the seams with pictures and videos of cats and dogs doing the darndest things? If the opera singing mutts that occasionally appear on The Graham Norton Show ring your bell you will love this roll call of the cutest ever doggie clips found on the net. So which pooch will be crowned America’s Cutest Dog? An up-to-date on-screen electronic program guide is available to pay-TV subscribers. A full 14-day guide is also available at www.foxtel.com.au.au.