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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Bury­ing the Past

Satur­day, 12.10pm, BBC World News

It must be dev­as­tat­ing to have a rel­a­tive or friend killed in a war, worse not to know what hap­pened or have a body to mourn. Imag­ine four mil­lion sol­diers miss­ing in ac­tion, ly­ing some­where far from home. This doc­u­men­tary fol­lows Rus­sian vol­un­teers who’ve taken on the un­be­liev­able task of find­ing those sol­diers killed in World War II and re­turn­ing them to their fam­i­lies for proper burial. It’s a de­mand­ing, heart­break­ing task. The vol­un­teers search in their own time and at their own ex­pense — four died when they dis­turbed live grenades lurk­ing un­der 60 years of de­tri­tus. So far, they’ve found tens of thou­sands of bod­ies, and vow they won’t stop un­til they’ve found them all.

Spain’s Worst Rail Dis­as­ter

Satur­day, 8.30pm, Dis­cov­ery

On July 25 last year, a train trav­el­ling from Madrid to the Gali­cia re­gion failed to take a bend and hit a con­crete wall at 179km/h. Sev­enty-nine pas­sen­gers died and 130 were in­jured. The driver, Fran­cisco Gar­zon, 52, is charged with man­slaugh­ter caused by reck­less­ness. It was Spain’s worst train ac­ci­dent in 70 years. Us­ing wit­ness ac­counts and foren­sic anal­y­sis, this story pieces to­gether how the dis­as­ter hap­pened.

Monty Don’s Ital­ian Gar­den

Satur­day, 9.40pm, BBC Knowl­edge

If you missed this four-part se­ries on the ABC, here’s your chance to in­dulge in some of the most ex­trav­a­gant and flam­boy­ant gar­dens cre­ated. Monty Don is a charm­ing, knowl­edge­able guide whose en­thu­si­asm is in­fec­tious. As he trav­els the length and breadth of Italy, he in­tro­duces us to the

‘‘ as­ton­ish­ing gran­deur’’ of gar­dens owned by the rich and fa­mous and the ‘‘ bal­ance, or­der and har­mony’’ that dis­tin­guishes the Ital­ian gar­den. In episode one, he checks out the Re­nais­sance gar­dens in Rome.

Yes, Prime Min­is­ter

Sun­day, 8pm, Fox Clas­sics

This show dates back to the 1980s but it’s as funny and rel­e­vant now as it was then. Mar­garet Thatcher, Bri­tish prime min­is­ter from 1979 to 1990, loved it. Made in 1986, this episode — The Min­is­te­rial Broad­cast — sees Prime Min­is­ter Jim Hacker (Paul Ed­ding­ton) suf­fer­ing jet lag af­ter a visit to the US. His per­ma­nent sec­re­tary, Sir Humphrey Ap­pleby (Nigel Hawthorne), tries to get him to con­cen­trate on an up­com­ing tele­vi­sion broad­cast but, when the PM fi­nally fo­cuses, Sir Humphrey is dis­tressed to dis­cover their ideas about con­tent dif­fer.

Sell­ing New York

Sun­day, 8.30pm, Life­Style Home

Sell­ing — or buy­ing — real es­tate in New York is like nowhere else. This se­ries, which has cre­ated spin-offs across the world, shows how a de­mand­ing buyer can make hell (and a lot of money) for the agent, in this case bro­kers from three Man­hat­tan real es­tate com­pa­nies. Bear in mind both th­ese back-to-back episodes were shot in 2012. In House of Lords, the three Kleier sib­lings search for a wealthy prince’s dream week­ender on Long Is­land and a ri­val agent hosts a hip Har­lem party for a unique church con­ver­sion. Next, in Old List­ings, New Life, the poor agent has to per­suade the own­ers of an apart­ment with ghastly decor to drop the price.

The Crazy Ones

Mon­day, 7.30pm, Fox 8

Robin Wil­liams is hi­lar­i­ous in this mad show about a Chicago ad agency. He plays Si­mon Roberts, an ec­cen­tric ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive, ‘‘ a guy who can sell any­thing. He could sell frap­puc­ci­nos to Star­bucks,’’ as Wil­liams says. Sarah Michelle Gel­lar plays his daugh­ter Syd­ney. The di­a­logue is fast, funny and clever. In The Face of a Win­ner, when Si­mon mud­dles up the as­sign­ments, Syd­ney lands an ac­count for a video game and be­comes ad­dicted to win­ning.

A Day in the Life of a Dic­ta­tor

Tues­day, 8.30pm, His­tory

Joseph Stalin: cold, me­thod­i­cal, cal­cu­lat­ing leader of the Soviet Union from about 1928 to 1953. Idi Amin: su­per­sti­tious, im­pul­sive, cruel pres­i­dent of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Muam­mar Gaddafi: bil­lion­aire mega­lo­ma­niac and de­praved tyrant who ruled Libya from 1969 to 2011. Their power was ab­so­lute; they could bend a na­tion whichever way they wanted and with a nod they de­cided the fate of mil­lions of peo­ple. What was their daily rou­tine? What drove their am­bi­tion? This show seeks to re-cre­ate their daily lives— in their fortresses, bunkers, homes and even their bed­rooms — us­ing so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy and wit­ness state­ments.

UFOs In Europe: The Un­told Sto­ries

Tues­day, 8.30pm, Nat Geo

Maybe you’re a be­liever, maybe not. Then there are those of us who keep an open mind, just in case. It would be fas­ci­nat­ing to find there is life be­yond Earth, as long as it’s friendly. Here are peo­ple who, hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced the un­ex­plained, are con­vinced we’re not alone. Episode one of this seven-part se­ries has what’s said to be video footage of sight­ings, radar ev­i­dence and wit­ness ac­counts in­clud­ing from a pi­lot who says he saw a fly­ing saucer. It fol­lows a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an al­leged UFO as­sault in Eng­land and shows film of UFOs in Nor­way.

Vera

Thurs­day, 8.30pm, 13th Street

You’ve got to love De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Vera Stan­hope (Brenda Blethyn). In the po­lice drama genre she’s a stand­out in her hat, long skirt and an­kle boots as she drives around Northum­bria in a bat­tered es­tate car. Mid­dle-aged and frump­ish (think fe­male Columbo), Vera takes no lip from any­one, is ob­ses­sive about work and has a clipped sense of hu­mour. Here, in Cas­tles in the Air, she in­ves­ti­gates the mur­der of a young phys­io­ther­a­pist gunned down at a lux­ury coun­try re­treat.

River Cot­tage Aus­tralia

Thurs­day, 9.30pm, Life­Style

Back-to-ba­sics farmer and chef Hugh Fearn­leyWhit­tingstall launched the first of his River Cot­tage TV se­ries from his farm in Dorset in 1997. This year, for the first time, he has fran­chised the ti­tle out­side Eng­land. River Cot­tage Aus­tralia is filmed in the lush coun­try­side around his­toric Tilba on the NSW far south coast. In this first of eight episodes, Fearn­ley-Whit­tingstall is on hand to help lo­cal host Paul West get started from a 1930s weath­er­board house on a for­mer dairy farm. Like his men­tor, West plans to live off pro­duce he has grown sup­ple­mented by lo­cal meat, fish and veg­eta­bles.

The Ship­ping News

Fri­day, 8.30pm, M Master­piece

Re­leased in 2001, this film is based on An­nie Proulx’s Pulitzer prize-win­ning novel. The Ship­ping News fol­lows Quoyle (Kevin Spacey) who, en­cour­aged by Aunt Ag­nis (Judi Dench) moves with his daugh­ter from New York to his an­ces­tral home in a small New­found­land fish­ing vil­lage af­ter his wife, Petal (Cate Blanchett), dies. He gets a job as a reporter on the lo­cal pa­per and falls in love with Wavey Prowse (Ju­lianne Moore), who has her own prob­lems. The scenery is mag­nif­i­cent, the story full of macabre twists, self­dis­cov­ery and sec­ond chances. Proulx’s short story Broke­back Moun­tain also was made into a movie (star­ring Heath Ledger) in 2005.

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