Life In Squares Tuesday, 8.30pm, BBC First (117)
Dorothy Parker once quipped that the Bloomsbury Group “lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”. (They sometimes talked in circles, too, if the dialogue here is accurate.) This new drama, written by BAFTAwinner Amanda Coe ( Room at the Top), follows the group of friends and lovers who pioneered artistic and sexual freedom in London in the early 1900s. Sisters Virginia Woolf (Lydia Leonard) and Vanessa Bell (Phoebe Fox) even have a tuttutting Aunt Mary (Eleanor Bron), whom they uninvite from their parlour before the Bacchanalia begins. Makes you wonder; Downton
Abbey might have been more like the Playboy Mansion had they managed to sideline the Countess Dowager (Maggie Smith).
The Great Australian Bake Off
Tuesday, 8.30pm, LifeStyle Food (127)
I have a question: who is eating all these cakes they make on this show? I can assure you, they are not couriering them to the TV critics. Around 10 remaining contestants going two to three rounds an episode; that’s a lot of biscuits, cannolis and, this week, choux pastry, Paris-Brest or Gateau St Honore. I expect they go to a food charity. But if I find out they are throwing them over that farm fence, I will never recover.
Tuesday, 8.30pm, History (611)
This new series screening on the History channel examines the claim that Adolf Hitler may have survived World War II and fled to Argentina. Modern technology and newly released FBI files are used to investigate the ultimate cold case. From a mysterious Nazi lair deep in the Argentinian jungle or evidence of a missing U-boat that could have shuttled Hitler to South America, you might not be convinced but you might be amazed.
Tony Bennett’s New York
Tuesday, 8.30pm, Bio (133)
Fans of Tony Bennett should not miss this twohour program, which features the legendary vocalist talking about his life and 50-year career. It features archival footage, interviews and tributes from his fans, plus a special performance from the man himself.
Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites
Wednesday, 8.30pm, LifeStyle Food (127)
I have just discovered Mary Berry. Given that she is a veritable British institution, with 60 years of cooking and baking experience, the author of 70 books, and a judge on The Great British Bake Off, it would suggests my interest in food shows is intermittent. But this series is a pleasure. Recent episodes have seen Berry fly-fishing, pulling prawns out of the ocean with a net and hunting for mushrooms in the forest before turning the produce into very tempting meals and desserts. Here, the final two episodes, Berry travels to the Tangmere allotment in East Sussex, and cooks a ginger orange poussin with freshly dug new potatoes and a classic chutney. And in the series finale, Berry welcomes three generations of her family into the kitchen to prepare a feast of Malay fried rice; a chicken pasta bake; harissaspiced lamb casserole; biscuits; and lemon meringue pie.
Wednesday, 8.30pm, Showcase (115)
Try counting the number of TV shows that feature a drug taking doctor or nurse … I came up with House, Nurse Jackie, A Young Doctor’s Notebook (a favourite) and, of course, The Knick. (Some cursory research also reminded that Noah Wyle’s John Carter had an addiction to painkillers in the sixth season of ER.) So the concept of sick physician has been done before, but never with the vision and artisty of Steven Soderbergh, who has directed and shot every episode of The Knick, which stars Clive Owen as Dr John “Thack” Thackery. Several prominent critics in the US were turned around after the show’s shaky start; now, in season two, it’s well worth checking out.
Thursday, 8.30pm, SoHo (114)
Season four of Chicago Fire — from venerable executive producer Dick Wolf ( Law & Order) — premieres this week. It stars Australian actor Jesse Spencer ( Neighbours) and already has a spin-off, Chicago PD (which has screened here on Universal). Fire has had crossover episodes with PD, as well as crossover episodes with Law &
Order: Special Victims Unit, plus an unholy threeway crossover episode. Season three ended with several cliffhangers, including a pregnancy, a missing person and a murder. This season promises to shed light on all of them.
Frontline: Solitary Nation
Friday, 8.30pm, CI Network (613)
In a case of life imitating art, an episode of Law
and Order SVU a few years ago featured Detective Stabler (Christopher Meloni) voluntarily going into solitary confinement (known in various dramas as “the hole” in HBO’s Oz or SHU, Security Housing Unit, in Orange is the
New Black) to better understand a criminal who had spent most of his sentence there. He experienced anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, disordered thinking and compulsive pacing. On release, he yelled at the guard for keeping him in for longer than the agreed three days — but the guard told him no mistake was made; it was a trick of the mind. Last year, Colorado’s prison director Rick Raemisch spent 20 hours in a cell, before introduced reforms that cut the state’s solitary prison population by 50 per cent. There are an estimated 80,000 Americans in solitary confinement, some there for years, some for decades. But the weight of psychological research and legal opinion is starting to turn on this practice. This documentary offers a rare view of solitary confinement at the maximum security Maine State Prison.