Best of streaming
Part travelogue, part comedy, Karl Pilkington ( An Idiot Abroad) travels the world exploring ethereal topics such as art, time, the body, waste and how to live your life. In Identity, the first episode, he visits Atlanta, Georgia, where he takes a DNA test to check his genetic identity. Turns out he’s only 50 per cent British. Bald since he was 22, Pilkington, 42, visits a hair clinic where he tries on a $US3500 ($4882) human hair wig. “Garnish for the head,” he calls it. “I’m annoyed that I like it.” In Las Vegas he dresses as Elton John but — surprise, surprise — no one takes any notice. His dry, self-deprecating wit is a bit of fun. Based on John Braine’s classic 1957 novel, this two-part series follows ambitious but angry young accountant Joe Lampton (Matthew McNulty) who leaves working-class Duffton for the affluent mill town of Warley in Yorkshire. It’s the late 1940s and Lampton’s ruthless determination to climb the socioeconomic ladder causes a bit of a stir. He’s to wed little rich girl Susan (Jenna Coleman), but his feelings for an older, unhappily married woman, Alice (the wonderful Maxine Peake from Silk) lead to complications. After a holiday he must decide between her and Susan. The Wheelchair President Tuesday, 8.30pm, History (611) Who else but Franklin D. Roosevelt? In the days when television coverage of the presidency was limited, he managed to hide the true extent of his crippling polio from the public. With the help of painful steel leg braces, he tried to learn to walk again but never did. Yet he was elected president of the US for an unprecedented four terms (1932, 1936, 1940, 1944), and was the architect of the New Deal during the Depression and America’s involvement in World War II. In this fine documentary, David Reynolds describes a brilliant life marred by paraplegia and a difficult marriage. ( Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley is the best book I’ve read on this fascinating couple.) Freddie Flintoff: Road to Nowhere Tuesday, 9.30pm, BBC Knowledge (612) Self-confessed environmental sceptic and former cricketer Freddie Flintoff and extreme cyclist and tree hugger Rob Penn pair up to cycle along 1200km of the unpaved Trans-Amazonian Highway. Starting in Itaituba it takes them 25 days in blistering heat to reach Labrea. Built by the Brazilian military dictatorship in the early 1970s, the highway opened up the southern Amazon Basin for colonisation and economic exploitation. As Flintoff points out, it’s easy to sit at home thinking the destruction of the jungle is a travesty, but as they pedal through villages and meet goldminers, cattle ranchers, legal and illegal loggers, sawmill owners, rodeo-bull riders, shopkeepers and schoolkids, they see another side of the story … the forests are almost the only source of income. Magnificent scenery. Inside: Area 51’s Secrets Wednesday, 5.30, Nat Geo (610) Codenamed Dreamland, Area 51 is a military installation located about 145km north of Las Vegas, Nevada. Before it was declassified in 2013 the rumours about what went on there blossomed. The 60 or so documents released from the archives, covering the 1960s and 70s, King George V started the Christmas tradition in 1932 with the words spoken from a small office at Sandringham: “I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all.” Since then, every British monarch has delivered a message to the people of the Commonwealth in what has become, for many, an essential part of Christmas Day. The Queen’s first message, in 1953, was recorded at Government House in Auckland, New Zealand, where she and Prince Philip were on tour. Her first televised broadcast was in 1957. Fifty Shades of Grey Presto Critics panned the literary style of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first volume in a trilogy by EL James. But who cares? Since being published in 2012 the erotic romance novel has sold more than 125 million copies in 52 countries. The film, starring Jamie Dornan ( The Fall) as billionaire businessman Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as college student Anastasia Steele, was released this year. Not surprisingly, it was popular at the box office.