The Best of the Week



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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