ALISON ROWAT’S TV REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK AHEAD THE BEST FILMS ON TV
SOMETHING incredible happened on The Apprentice (BBC One, Wednesday, 9pm). Was it one of the hapless contestants turning out to be a genuinely gifted business operator? Did Karren stop looking at this year’s ratings-fodder like puppies who had just messed her white shag pile? No. Even more unbelievably, someone told Sugar Chops and Scary Brady to be quiet.
It wasn’t a Sweeney-style “SHUT IT!”, but in its own way it was magnificent. “I am trying to explain,” said Ross, when being carpeted for the failure of the task. “Not to be rude, but uninterrupted would be helpful.” Sugar Chops and Scary reeled as if he had taken a swing at them. This is the sort of breach in the cosmic order from which revolutions spring. How long can it be before the apprentices storm the boardroom and turn the table on their masters? On second thoughts, turning a table that size would be tricky, and I’m not sure this lot have it in them.
Ross, alas, deserved the rollicking, having overseen the redesign of a luxury hotel room that left it looking like a colour-blind teenager’s pit. “The only way you’d get that as a five-star room is on Crap Advisor,” said Sugar Chops. Crap Advisor, now there’s a winning business idea.
If the talent was hard to spot in The Apprentice, it was front and centre in Tunes for Tyrants (BBC Four, Monday, 9pm). Presenter Suzy Klein threw herself into the task of looking at the role music played in the hideously turbulent first half of the 20th century. She played piano, she sang, and at one point she took to the roof of a Moscow building to recreate Avraamov’s Symphony of Sirens. The material was sometimes distressingly bleak (after watching this
you will never listen to Mack the Knife in the same way again), but the light shone into some of the darkest corners of the Russian Revolution and the collapse of Weimar was steady and true.
If you could look past the tabloid title, An Hour to Catch a Killer (ITV,
Thursday, 9pm) was a sober and informative look at the 60 minutes following the discovery of a body, the so-called “golden hour” during which decisions made by police can make or break an investigation. That this was a real case we were watching only heightened the tension. Sir Trevor
McDonald’s interviews with the parents of the victim were a model of restraint, and when the programme’s hour was up it was their dignity, and the sense of a young life tragically cut short, that stayed in the mind.
A presenter knows they have made it in the documentary game when their name is in the title. Louis Theroux earned that stripe with his move away from the fluffier stuff of celebrity (the monstrous Savile excepted) to more considered looks at the lifestyles of the not so rich and famous. Louis Theroux: Dark States (BBC Two, Sunday, 9pm) found him in Huntington, West Virginia, dubbed “heroin town” for the number of residents who became hooked on prescription painkillers only to turn to the brown stuff after a government crackdown.
What a depressing letter from America this was, with Theroux looking on at the destruction wrought like some giant, infinitely saddened, kid. No matter the interviewee, be it an addict saying for the umpteenth time that they wanted to quit, or a distraught relative who blamed themselves, he was never less than respectful. His is the best sort of sincerity, the kind that cannot be faked, and his interviewees know it. If it was otherwise they would not open up to him as they do.
It’s a tough old life in the Army, but never too tough that it interferes with such essential tasks as eyebrow maintenance. That was the signal given off by Our Girl (BBC One, Tuesday, 9pm), where the female characters looked like they had just stepped out of the makeup chair and into combats.
Michelle Keegan, late of Coronation Street, played Army medic Lance Corporal Georgie Lane. Although operating in Syria and in an earthquake zone in Nepal, Georgie’s biggest problem was a gobby new-start called Maisie. Two women in a male world: of course they took an instant dislike to each other, it’s the law, innit?
Between the obviously low budget, the love interest sub-plots and the soap opera dialogue, Our Girl was like Hollyoaks in fatigues. Just to add a bit of bite, the characters exploded F-bombs throughout. “She is bleeping annoying,” said an officer about Maisie. “Bleeping annoying sums it up perfectly,” said Georgie.
Desperately unconvincing stuff, but as a star vehicle for Keegan, and her bleeping brows, it got the job done.
The task for Lord Sugar’s gang of apprentices this week was to makeover a luxury hotel room to give it added value, but one contestant left the suite looking like a colour-blind teenager’s pit