TV preview How to succeed, or not, when succession is at stake
capital of the world, and the only place in China that it is legal to gamble.
It’s the usual drill: the duo interview the staff, management and architects, and try their hands at various jobs, with Galetti at home in the kitchen and Coren not so at home with flower arranging. While the hotels in this show always live up to their billing in the title, often the most fascinating part is seeing behind the scenes. Such is the size of the MGM, staff have access to what is more or less a small town underground, complete with a McDonald’s.
But then everything about this place is vast, from a lobby that is the size of a football pitch to the penthouse suites (£340 a night, a relative bargain) set over two floors. See for yourself whether you would feel at home there. I’m still dreaming of Arran.
Paul O’Grady is at once the best and worst host of any show involving dogs. In almost every episode of
he swings like a trapeze artist between high and low, crying and laughing in equal measure.
Many viewers do the same, though I have also been known to come out with some shocking language if a tale of cruelty and abandonment is told.
Subtitled “back in business” this hour-long episode revisits Battersea Dogs & Cats Home when it was all hands and paws on deck. Coronavirus has struck, the lockdown is coming, and homes have to be found pronto. Will O’Grady selflessly put his icy disdain for dogs aside and take a little someone home himself? If you have watched him being caught with canine contraband every week you will know that’s a joke. Who will be the lucky dog, though?
comes to the end of its first run. A comedy about about the two families of one man, neither of whom knew about the other till the day he died, has been one of the sleeper hits of a strange summer – funny, surprising, and really rather moving, as the best comedy should be.
The premise may not have been all that original, but the writing by Holly Walsh and Pippa Brown has been top drawer, and the performances from the mainly female cast have been more than a match. Early in the year as it is, let’s ask Santa for a second series.
The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty (BBC2, Tuesday, 9pm); Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby
(BBC2, Tuesday, 8pm); Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs (STV, Wednesday, 8pm); The Other One (BBC1, Friday, 9pm)
Amadeus (National Theatre Live/YouTube, from Thu)
If there has been a positive about lockdown, it’s the fact many theatre-lovers who don’t get a chance to visit London can enjoy some of its greatest dramatic productions online. For more than 40 years, Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus has wowed millions, not least in that Oscar-winning movie version with Tom Hulce. Now there’s a chance to see the 2016 National Theatre production. For newcomers it follows rowdy young musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Adam Gillen). Amazed by Mozart’s genius, Court Composer Antonio Salieri (Lucian Msamati) has the Cowell-like power to promote his talent or destroy it. Consumed by jealousy, he begins a war with Mozart, with music and, ultimately, with God.
Doom Patrol (StarzPlay, from Thu)
Some of DC’s big screen output may have been hit and miss lately, but they’ve certainly given Marvel a run for their money, with excellent small screen offerings like Pennnyworth and sublime animated saga Harley Quinn. Given the fact Doom Patrol have been around in comic form since 1963, it’s about time they got their chance to shine in the media spotlight. And season one certainly did that. Following the defeat of Mr Nobody at the end of that run, the members of Doom Patrol now find themselves mini-sized and stranded on Cliff’s toy race car track. There, they will deal with their full-sized feelings of betrayal by Niles Caulder (the ever wonderful Timothy Dalton). Series newcomer Dorothy Spinner (Abigail Shapiro) helps inject new life into this slice of escapism.
Secret Society of Second Born Royals (Disney+, from Fri)
Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Skylar Astin and Home and Away veteran Olivia Deeble star in this slick offering from the house of Mouse. It follows
Sam, a rebellious teenage royal who develops superpowers from a genetic trait attributed only to second-borns of royal lineage. (Not a thing; we checked). Second-in-line to the throne of the kingdom of Illyria, Sam continually questions what it means to be royal and wants to create her own legacy. Yes, it all sounds rather like The (Super) Princess Diaries, which is no bad thing given how fun those films were. Teen lead Peyton Lee has already spent five years appearing in shows like Scandal and Shameless, so little wonder she seems so at home on screen.
Unraveling Athena (Amazon Prime Video, from Mon)
Director Francis Amat spent four years working on this project which explores the lives and experiences of some of the world’s most extraordinary female athletes. An array of number one ranked tennis players, such as Billie Jean King, Martina Hingis, Tracy Austin, Evonne Goolagong, Kim Clijsters, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, share their experiences. Theres is an uplifting story of determination, trials and tribulations and incredible achievements, with memories of starting at an age when they were barely big enough to pick up a racket; Chris Evert, at five years old, felt “very resentful” of her sudden vocation. “I hated losing, so winning was the only option,” adds former number one Kim Clijsters.
BARRY DIDCOCK’S FAVOURITE PODCAST
What’s it called?
The Evidence Locker
What’s it about?
It’s a true crime podcast but with a difference, that difference being that where most podcasts of the type look at single events (see Serial) or focus narrowly on one country – there’s a preponderance of American examples – this one scours the globe for stories. What it doesn’t do is independently investigate the cases: everything presented comes from publicly available and archive material so it’s more of an expert re-telling than a forensic examination.
Who’s in it?
The narrator and host is Noel Vinson (also a rapper) and the show is produced by creator Sonya Lowe, who has a background in American television.
What’s so good about it?
Its global reach. There are several British cases, among them the ‘doorstep murder’ of Alistair Wilson in Nairn in 2004 and the death of Swedish national Annie Borjesson, who lived in Edinburgh and whose body was found washed up on Prestwick Beach in 2005. The official verdict there was suicide but her family suspect foul play and the Swedish government has declared that files relating to her death are secret and that revealing them would be against the national interest. Beyond the UK there are episodes dealing with murders from all over the world, with Russia, Ukraine and South America providing some of the weirdest and most gruesome.
Where can I find it?
It’s available to download for free on iTunes, or from the podcast’s dedicated website.
For fans of …
Serial, S-Town, Teacher’s Pet
Monday Film 4, 11.10pm
IT may not be the most shocking or visceral of Shakespeare’s tragedies but Macbeth is probably the most martial, and while Roman Polanski’s celebrated 1971 version favours the psychological aspects over the bloodthirstiness this 2015 adaptation by Australian director Justin Kurzel glories in the possibilities for gore and warfare that the play offers. From the super slowmotion opening scenes of a battle – think Game Of Thronesmeets-Gladiator – to its extended aftermath as Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) and Banquo (Paddy Considine) bury their dead and encounter the double-dealing witches on a wintry hillside, this is a film that unspools with its sword drawn and its teeth bared. Or, as Shakespeare would have it, with harness on its back. It’s also defiantly outdoorsy and elemental, with significant events taking place in windwhipped tents and glorified barns rather than indoors within battlemented castle walls. Duncan’s murder, for instance, occurs not in a chamber but in a canvas pavilion set up in a muddy yard.
The casting is precise and all the more interesting for it. Fassbender, as handsome and borderline psychotic as always, plays Macbeth as a schemer who doesn’t spend too long anguishing over a course of action which will see him murder his way to the throne. David Thewlis gives King Duncan an imposing physical presence and a snarky twist: this is a man who rules by fear and violence, you sense, and through carefully judged displays of favour. He’s a Mafia don in a rough wool robe, and far from the saintly figure presented in some productions of ‘the Scottish play’.
In a more curious piece of casting the role of Lady Macbeth is handed to Marion Cotillard. She has clearly decided that spouting Shakespeare and
Adam Gillen as Amadeus
Above: Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth and Michael Fassbender as Macbeth in Macbeth; Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma in Emma