The Best of the Week
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 3
Nigel Slater’s Middle East (Choice TV, 4.30pm). In this first of a three-part series, the British chef and food writer visits Lebanon, a country whose geographical position – wedged between Israel and Syria – determines daily life. Almost everyone he meets has had a life somehow touched by war. But, at the same time, the country’s cuisine is still vibrant, even where it has had to adapt (the presence of unexploded cluster munitions in some parts of the Levant meant a move to farm oregano, rather than simply wandering and picking it wild). It’s not exactly Parts Unknown, but it is affectionate and sincere. The next two programmes focus on Iran and Turkey respectively.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 4
The Cry (TVNZ 1, 8.30pm).
Based on Helen Fitzgerald’s best-selling book of the same name, this psychological thriller stars Jenna Coleman ( Doctor Who) and Ewen Leslie as new parents Joanna and Alistair. A visit from Scotland to Australia to show off their baby takes a tragic turn when the little boy is abducted and their marriage and their lives begin to crumble. Coleman has been widely praised for her performance, but a word of warning: the interweaving of before-and-after timelines may prove confusing.
This Week at the Comedy Cellar (Comedy Central, Sky 011, 9.00pm). A topical new standup show – it airs here only a week after its US premiere – in which comedians take to the stage at New York’s Comedy Cellar and try to make sense of the news (good luck with that, by the way). There’s also a cut-away to the “comics’ table”, where they discuss how what’s going on could possibly be made funny. MTV European Music Awards (MTV, Sky 015, 9.00am). Hey, it’s a music show on MTV! What’ll they think of next? The ceremony, in which nearly every award is a People’s Choice, is hosted by actress-singer Hailee Steinfeld
( True Grit) and will see Janet Jackson receive this year’s Global Icon accolade and perform a medley of her hits. Of note: there’s a New Zealand artists’ category. It’s unclear whether that will feature on screen, but the nominees are Stan Walker, Kimbra,
Mitch James, Robinson and Thomston. Red-carpet coverage from the Bilbao Exhibition Centre starts at 8.00am, with the main event an hour later.
Hold the Sunset (UKTV, Sky 007, 9.30pm). A senior sitcom whose story sees Edith, played by Alison Steadman ( Miss Marple, Gavin & Stacy) finally agree to marry her long-time suitor Phil (John Cleese). But their dreams of late-life bliss on some faraway beach are thrown into chaos by the arrival of her freshly divorced 50-year-old son Roger (Jason Watkins), who wants mothering. Phil is furious, Roger is just hopeless – and the dream is on hold. Reviews have been mixed – perhaps because expectations were raised in advance by Cleese’s return to the screen – but it is what it is. Gypsy Kids: Our Secret World (Vibe, Sky 006, 9.40pm). Britain’s traveller communities have long been shunned and socially invisible, but this documentary series broke through the indifference and made tabloid media figures of several of the children it follows. The gypsy kids revel in the freedom of a traveller childhood, but also face prejudice, rejection and even violence for simply being who they are.
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 7
Grand Designs New Zealand
(Three, 7.30pm). The current season of Grand Designs turns again to Christchurch and its post-earthquake rebuild and recovery. Photographers Johannes and Jo moved overseas after their Lyttelton home was destroyed by the 2011 quake, but they returned and the programme follows their bid to make one of the central city’s oldest and most architecturally significant buildings – the wooden “Red House” on Armagh St, by Cranmer Square – into a new family home.
A Discovery of Witches (SoHo 2, Sky 210, 8.30pm) Sky’s new SoHo 2 channel (which launches today at 6.00pm) kicks off with this moody British adaptation of Deborah Harkness’ best-selling All
Souls trilogy of novels. Historian – and reluctant witch – Diana Bishop (Theresa Palmer) unexpectedly calls up an ancient, enchanted manuscript, which was thought by witches, vampires and daemons to be lost, that could answer the secrets of their existence. This leads her to meet and fall in love with vampire Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), crossing the line that forbids inter-species relationships. Produced in Cardiff, the new home of UK screen fantasy, Discovery stays faithful to Harkness’ books, which will
please fans. Other upcoming shows include comedies Camping (starring Jennifer Garner, Juliette Lewis and David Tennant); The Bisexual (Desiree Akhaven, Maxine Peake and Brian Gleeson); and Just Another Immigrant (from stand-up comedian Romesh Ranganathan). Plus, there’s Ryan Murphy’s new project, Pose, which boasts the largest number of transgender actors ever in a series.
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 8
The Jonathan Ross Show (UKTV, Sky 007, 9.30pm). Back for a 13th season, Ross’ chat show this week features comedians Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Rob Beckett, among others. Next week, Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, Ray Winstone, Paul Whitehouse, Joanna Lumley and John Legend ramp up the star power quite a bit.
The Royal World (MTV, Sky 015, 9.30pm). Apparently dedicated to making concrete the belief that modern royalty is a reality show, this new MTV series is produced by the same company that brought Big Brother to Britain – and the play on the name of MTV’s signature reality series The
Real World is no accident. This version also focuses on young adults getting to grips with their world – it just happens to be a very different one. Young toffs are profiled at home and brought together to interact at a British country mansion. It does appear that in at least one case, the definition of aristocracy is fairly elastic – the only cast member announced at press time is Meghan Markle’s half-brother, Thomas Markle
Jr, who admits to not even watching her royal wedding.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 9
Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest (Disney XD,
Sky 103, 6.00pm). Marvel’s comic universe doesn’t only expand into big-budget liveaction movies; the company is also conquering television animation. The overall story of this latest season of the Avengers Assemble series is that Black Panther must decide his loyalties – is he an Avenger first or King of Wakanda?
The season opens with Black Panther introducing his sister, Shuri, to his fellow Avengers. From there, there are mysteries, monsters and many battles to be fought.
The Cry, Sunday.
MTV European Music Awards, Monday.
Hold the Sunset, Monday.
A Discovery of Witches, Wednesday.
Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest, Friday.