free to air Carlotta Saturday, 9.30pm, ABC
Carol Spencer, also known as “Carlotta” — born Richard Lawrence Byron in 1943 in the workingclass Sydney suburb of Balmain — became known as the Queen of Kings Cross. She was one of the original performers in the all-male revue Les Girls, which opened in 1963 and was hugely popular. Visiting international stars could often be seen arriving at the nightclub built by colourful Sydney identity Abe Saffron. When she underwent a sexchange operation — something unheard of in the 1970s — Carlotta‘s fame lifted the veil on a taboo subject. Her TV career included No 96 and Beauty
and the Beast, and she was an inspiration for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Sunday, 8.30pm, Seven
If you enjoyed Scandal (I did) and How to Get Away With Murder (I didn’t), you’ll like this new series about seven FBI graduates fresh out of the training academy in Quantico, Virginia. Alex Parrish (Bollywood superstar and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra) only just survives a terrorist attack on Grand Central Terminal in New York. But the FBI thinks she masterminded the catastrophe and, yes, she has been framed. While on the run she tries to work out which of her colleagues is the real terrorist. Could it be Ryan Booth (ex-military), Shelby Wyatt (an orphaned southern belle), Eric Packer (a Mormon with a troubled past), Simon Asher (the first openly gay FBI recruit), Nimah Amin (an observant Muslim with a double life) or Caleb Haas (who was born to join the FBI)? Take your pick.
Sunday Best: The Queen of Versailles
Sunday, 8.30pm, ABC Two
Only in America. Timeshare billionaire David Siegel, 77, and his surgically enhanced third wife Jackie, 46, plus 10 children were living the dream in Florida. Money is no object (but it doesn’t buy taste). They set out to build what they reckon at more than 8000sq m is the biggest house in the US, modelled (sort of) on the palace of Versailles outside Paris. But the global financial crisis hits and life goes to hell in a hand cart, not least of all for the poor pets. Jackie, who has an engineering degree, remains cheerful; David retreats to his man cave. Filmmaker Lauren Greenfield started charting their opulent lifestyle before the GFC hit hard and ended up with a very different documentary.
FIA Formula One World Championships Sunday, 9.40pm, Ten (QLD, WA, 11.10pm; SA, 11.40pm)
Russia is hosting the F1 Grand Prix for the first time. The Sochi Autodrom, in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, is the third longest route on the F1 calendar at 5.8km. A seat in the platinum lounge to watch round 15 costs more than $5000. This live coverage will see whether Lewis Hamilton, winner of 41 Grand Prix and two world titles, can duplicate his win in Tokyo last month. The championship’s final race will be held in Abu Dhabi on November 29.
Monday, 8pm, ABC
In Raise Your Voice, Jenny Morris talks about the rare health problem that has meant her singing days are over. After touring with INXS, Morris’s solo career took off but about 10 years ago she noticed something was wrong. She’s happy to talk about it now so people understand how life has become a struggle. “I have no idea whether I will sing again,” she says. “At this point, I can’t see that I would want to charge people to hear me.”
Rise of the Machines
Monday, 9.30pm, SBS
Australian authorities should pay close attention to episode one in this fascinating series on mega machines. While we can’t manage a fast train between Sydney and Canberra or Melbourne, Italy has 25 super trains, each costing $US35 million ($49m), that travel up to 300km/h between 14 cities. The bright red trains move about 12 million people a year, often through mountainous terrain. The 400-tonne sprinter is loaded with hi-tech safety equipment and has the power of 16 Formula One cars. It makes our rail system look like something from a past century.
Wednesday, 8.30pm, SBS
Directed by Kriv Stenders ( Red Dog), this excellent four-part series is set in Boxdale Boys High in the western suburbs of Sydney. It’s not the sort of school you’d be keen to enrol your son in given its vandalism, violence and racial tension. The new headmaster, Matt Bashir (Alex Dimitriades), not only has to deal with rampant testosterone in the classrooms and schoolyard, but a deputy, Ursula Bright (Di Adams), who is furious she didn’t get the top job, and an education department that wants to close the school. Undaunted, Bashir introduces a program of reform not generally supported by staff. Here, in the third episode, a student is rushed to hospital after consuming drugs.
Angry, White and Proud
Wednesday, 9.20pm, ABC Two
They say it’s good to hear the both sides of an argument, but sometimes it can be extremely disturbing. Director Jamie Roberts spent a year with members of a splinter group of the far Right that is on the rise across Britain. They’re violent and racist with a particular loathing for Muslims — “I hate ‘em with a f..king passion,” says Colin who objects to all the “foreign food, foreign clothes, foreign people” at his local street market but whose mother is an Italian immigrant.
Shane Delia’s Moorish Spice Journey
Thursday, 8pm, SBS
There are so many excellent foodie programs on SBS — think Lyndey Milan, Yotam Ottolenghi and Rachel Khoo — that the network is to launch a dedicated channel next month. SBS Three will schedule programs from across the food category including cooking competitions, culinary adventures and home entertaining. Meanwhile, this 10-part series hosted by Shane Delia explores the exotic and complex flavours of Morocco and Spain. Delia discovers the Moorish influence everywhere, starting in Fez and travelling ancient routes along the edge of the Sahara Desert and across the Atlas Mountains. He finds plenty of inspiration for new dishes for his Melbourne restaurant, Maha.
The Graham Norton Show
Friday, 8.30pm, Ten
There are chat shows and there are chat shows, but this is still the best given the line-up of top notch guests. Norton’s wicked humour helps. He has clocked up 18 seasons, making him one of the most durable comedic hosts. Here, in episode three, Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan talk about their roles as Emmeline Pankhurst and Maud Watts in Suffragette, a film about the British women’s suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Joining them on the red couch is our very own Nicole Kidman to discuss her return to the West End after an absence of 17 years. Her performance as pioneering scientist Rosalind Franklin in Photograph 51 has won standing ovations.
Saturday, 8.30pm, BBC First (117)
World War II is looming and the good women of a rural village in Cheshire are gearing up to do their bit. The ensemble cast includes Francesca Annis ( The Little House), Samantha Bond ( Downton
Abbey), Ruth Gemmell ( Midsomer Murders) and Claire Rushbrook ( Whitechapel). Not a bad line-up. Tonight, in the first of six episodes, the women get together to work out how they can keep the home fires burning while their menfolk are away. First conundrum is whether or not to disband the Women’s Institute. President Joyce Cameron (Annis) resigns and takes most of the membership with her while Frances Barden (Bond) sets out to recruit new members.
Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles
Sunday, 7.30pm, Arena (105)
New York, San Francisco and now Los Angeles — this series follows another set of high-octane real-estate agents as they compete against each other to sell the city’s most expensive homes. It’s worth watching just to see their bizarre antics, meet the clients and peek behind the doors of some outrageous properties. The country that loves huge food portions also loves huge houses. And the more bling the better. Here agents Josh Altman, Josh Flagg, James Harris, and David Parnes are faced with prices spiralling out of control, but not much inventory. Thank heavens for foreign buyers with big pockets.
True Stories: Apollo 13
Sunday, 8.40pm, BBC Knowledge (612)
This series looks at the accuracy of blockbuster movies based on real events. Apollo 13, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, was a runaway success, grossing US$62 million. The story of America’s ill-fated third mission to the moon in 1970, it was nominated for nine Academy Awards. This documentary discovers the movie’s version of what caused the malfunction was not a damaged coil in one of the oxygen tanks. Rather, it was a spectacular blunder, a mistake that no one at NASA caught. It shows how one of the cheapest and simplest components on the spacecraft almost caused the death of the crew. Apollo 13 may have been wide of the mark but it was a gripping movie.
The Walking Dead
Monday, 1.30pm and 8.30pm, FX (119)
There are 16 episodes divided into two parts (the second airing next year) in the sixth season of this American horror drama. Episode one, First Time Again, runs 90 minutes and is full of action — and surprises, according to Andrew Lincoln, who plays former sheriff Rick Grimes who leads a group of survivors of a zombie apocalypse on a search for safety. Despite the danger posed by “the walkers”, the people now bunkered down in Alexandria are divided about Grimes’s plans.
The Man Who Saved the World
Tuesday, 8.30pm, History (611)
We know about the main players in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, during which John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev engaged in an intense 13-day stand-off over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles in Cuba. But who’s ever heard of Vasili Arkhipov, apparently the man who saved the world from nuclear war? He was second in command on a Russian B-59 sub travelling to Cuba when US destroyers began dropping depth charges. The Americans told Moscow they were only practice rounds but the message could not be transmitted to the sub, whose crew thought them real. While colleagues wanted to launch the B-59’s nuclear torpedo, Arkhipov — whose hero status was unmatched — refused to give permission. Nuclear war was averted. Don’t confuse this documentary with the film of the same name, which is about another Russian hero, Stanislav Petrov, and stars Robert De Niro, Matt Damon and Kevin Costner.
Wednesday, 8.30pm, Fox8 (108)
Kirsten Clark (Emma Ishta) has a rare, to say the least, psychological condition which a covert government agency is keen to harness. In When Darkness Falls, the first episode in this sci-fi crime drama, Clark is stitched into the minds of dead criminals to see if she can unlock the secrets of their crimes and thereby solve them. Yes, a rare talent indeed. The team helping her includes leader Maggie (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), Cameron (Kyle Harris), a brilliant neuroscientist, and Linus (Ritesh Rajan), a socially immature bioelectrical engineer.
Loving Miss Hatto
Wednesday, 8.30pm, BBC First (117)
Joyce Hila Hatto (1928-2006) was an aboveaverage concert pianist whose stage fright cut her career short. In 1953, wannabe impresario William Barrington-Coupe attended a performance and decided Hatto was a star, but those nerves got the better of her. They married in 1956 and lived quietly for 50 years until Hatto was stricken by cancer. Barrie hit on the idea of releasing about 100 recordings of other artists under Hatto’s name. She was hailed as a lost genius. The fraud was not revealed until after her death. Meticulously researched over three years by comedian Victoria Wood, who read Hatto’s story in The New Yorker, this compelling film stars Maimie McCoy and Francesca Annis as the younger and older Hatto, and Rory Kinnear and Alfred Molina as Barrie.
The Vatican Museums
Wednesday, 10.30pm, Arts (132)
A feast for the eyes. The makers of this documentary are the first to be given permission to film inside the stunning Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel. The collections date back more than 500 years and include classical statues, frescoes, important Renaissance artworks and ancient Etruscan and Egyptian pieces. Founded by pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the 54 galleries are the fifth most visited in the world.
Friday, 8.30pm, BBC First (117)
Interesting to see Michael Palin in something other than a travelogue (or Monty Python). In this three-part ghost story, written by Gwyneth Hughes, Palin plays Tom Parfitt, a “vulnerable adult”, aged 80-ish, who lives on his own and appears to be falling apart. Actually, he falls down the stairs — or does he? Things may not be as they seem. He’s taken to a nursing home, Millthorpe Lodge, where he’s the only one to see an old woman fall out a fourth-floor window. Other mysterious things begin to happen. A young carer, Hannah (Jodie Comer), and a somewhat gormless detective, Rob Fairholme (Mark Addy), start piecing together Parfitt’s past, only to find a dark secret. This first episode gets off to a slow, complicated start and Yorkshire looks positively depressing, but Palin is terrific.