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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

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.

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