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The Bottom Line
Saturday, noon, Nine This hidden gem is now in its second season and should be scheduled at a better time. Never mind, hit the record button and go out to lunch instead. Alex Malley, chief executive of CPA Australia, explores the achievements of well known Australians through their actions, insights and experiences. Past guests include Michael Kirby, David Gonski, Christine Nixon and Bryce Courtenay, the last interview he gave before he died. Here Malley chats with Greg Rudd, brother of the PM, Kevin Rudd, about life and his bid to become the first independent Queensland senator. A former labourer, meat packer, playwright and chief of staff in the Hawke/ Keating governments, Rudd II has some advice for his brother: back off the dictatorial style. ‘‘ Hawkie had plenty of people that hated his guts, but he knew how to bring people with him . . . give ministers ownership of what they’re doing.’’
Recipes that Rock
Sunday, 1.45pm, 7TWO Yes, another foodie program but one with a fresh approach. British rock star (Blur) turned artisan cheesemaker Alex James and chef Matt Stone of Greenhouse take us on a journey of discovery around one of Australia’s premium gourmet regions, Western Australia’s Margaret River. They showcase the best of what the area has to offer in terms of wine, produce and restaurants and swap ideas with Rene Redzepi from Denmark, Alex Atala from Brazil and Australia’s own Tetsuya Wakuda who took part in WA’s Gourmet Escape festival last year.
Compass: Whatever Happened to the Hare Krishnas?
Sunday, 6.30pm, ABC1 No arguments, they used to run the best vegetarian restaurants in town and their saffron-coloured robes and merry tambourines added spice to city life. Back in the 1970s most people of a certain age knew someone who’d opted out of conventional life and joined an ashram in search of spiritual fulfilment. The Krishnas were founded in New York in 1966 by Bhaktivedanta Swami, who preached traditional Indian scriptures. Compass tracks down some of the children raised on the Krishna communal farm at Murwillumbah in northern NSW and finds one in particular has managed to straddle both worlds. Damodana Priya was captain of the local school, won a scholarship to Bond University and another to Cambridge Uni, where she graduated with honours in law. Her formative years spent chanting in an ashram obviously did no harm.
A Place to Call Home
Sunday, 8.30pm, Seven If you haven’t locked on to this series by now, wait until it’s released on Blu-ray and DVD next month. This wonderful Australian production, set on a Victorian property in the 1950s, has more twists and turns than a corkscrew. The truly horrible matriarch Elizabeth, played brilliantly by Noni Hazlehurst, rules the family — and what a
family. Her widowed son George falls in love with nurse Sarah, a Jew; his son James is bisexual and forced into marrying an unsuspecting English rose, Olivia, by Grandmama. George’s daughter Anna falls pregnant to Italian farmhand Gino. George’s sister-in-law, Regina, is determined to break up his relationship with ‘‘ the Jew’’. Still with me? Tonight is the penultimate episode; all of Elizabeth’s conniving appears a lost cause, but hang on, what will Regina find on her trip to Europe to uncover Sarah’s dark past? Monday, 9.30pm, Ten This finely tuned drama — American TV at its best — takes place when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev are in charge and the arms race is very much on. Leads Keri Russell ( Felicity) and Matthew Rhys ( Brothers & Sisters) play Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, Russian spies doubling as an American married couple living a suburban life with two children. As the story unfolds, their fondness for each other grows but the escalation of the Cold War and the network of informants they control are bothersome distractions. Passion on hold, tonight they must find an assassin hired by their Russian bosses to kill scientists working on the American anti-missile program. Problem is, the bosses have changed their mind but, yo, the system used to recall the assassin isn’t working.
Wednesday, 7.30pm, SBS Two Every night, journalist Andy Park presents these terrific 15-minute bites that capture snapshots of what’s going on behind the news. Most programs are turned around quickly, but Park had the luxury of extra time to pull together tonight’s effort — on Chinese fakery. No surprise that 70 per cent of counterfeit products sold around the world come from China. But did you know they include — wait for it — fake hymens for use by naughty brides on their wedding nights, cheap rice that’s really potato paste held together with melted plastic (three bowls equal one plastic bag) and fake drugs that have contributed to more than 700,000 deaths? Scary stuff.
Wednesday Night Fever
Wednesday, 9.30pm, ABC1 Rick Kalowski, creator of At Home with Julia, is the brains behind this new comedy that sums up the week’s political events with a healthy dose of satire. Host Sammy J is aided and abetted by impersonators Amanda Bishop and Paul McCarthy, heavy metal band Boner Contention (get it?) and a live studio audience. The jokes largely work, but those who remember The Gillies Report will long for a bit more sophistication. Given the talent on board, it will happen.
Wonders of Life
Thursday, 8.30pm, ABC1 You may remember Brian Cox as a panellist on Q I, but he’s better known for bringing science to the masses via his books and BBC programs. Not surprisingly, he’s also being hailed as the next David Attenborough. His talent for explaining the complicated and his love of nature shine in Wonders of Life. In this the fourth episode, Cox, 45, grins his way through a trip to Australia in search of the answer to why size matters. It starts innocuously with beautiful misty footage of a forest of mountain ash trees 80m tall and more than 300 years old. Six minutes in, it’s best to move back from the screen. That’s when, protected in a cage, he meets a great white shark. ‘‘ The last time I dived was at a marina in Brighton; I did see a fish,’’ he tells the camera just as the shark lunges. Even that doesn’t stop him grinning. ‘‘ Look at those teeth.’’ (Rather not.) ‘‘ So graceful, elegant,’’ he says as the thing circles for another go. Cox is fascinated by the speed of kangaroos, the smallest member of the animal kingdom — the trichogramma wasp — a parasite that saves macadamia trees from the nut bore, and giant robber crabs that can crack open a coconut. This is not, heaven help us, just another nature program; Cox does, after all, bring closure to a question that’s always baffled: why don’t melons bounce?
The Rise and Fall of Versailles
Friday, 8.30pm, SBS One Francophile or not, this is a must watch if only for the scenes filmed in the fabulous state rooms, bedrooms and gardens of one of the wonders of the world, the glorious Versailles palace (which apparently stank to high heaven back then, thanks to unwashed bodies and food scraps). The series examines the lives of France’s three most famous monarchs and their influence on society between 1643 and 1792. Using re-enactments with commentary by such experts as writer Antonia Fraser, Countdown to Revolution charts the final days of the Bourbon dynasty under the ill-fated Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Friday, 8.30pm, ABC1 Another superb British mystery series, this one, starring David Tennant of Doctor Who fame, is set around the cliffs near Bridport in Dorset. Danny Latimer, 11, has been found dead on the beach early one morning; naturally his parents are distraught but could Dad, shifty about why he was in the area about the time of Danny’s disappearance, be the bad guy, or is it Danny’s older sister, who also has something to hide? There are, apparently, clues in each of the six episodes, but at this stage it’s hard to guess whodunit. Even Tennant’s character, Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, has a murky past. He makes a great foil for his reluctant colleague Ellie (Olivia Colman, Black Books, The Office), who is troubled by his ascendancy in the force over her own. Slithery high-flying city reporter Karen gives new meaning to the word manipulative. Little wonder this beautifully shot series has won millions of fans.