Want to know what delights are in store on that magical box of colours that sits in the corner of your living room? We have all the best picks of unmissable TV for you to enjoy throughout the week.
Monday 14th March at pm on National Geographic (CH 266)
We’re off on a real-life treasure hunt, with world renowned “gem hunter” Guy Clutterbuck leading his team of intrepid experts on a quest to find ethically sourced precious stones.
Guy Clutterbuck is to gems what Indiana Jones is to ancient relics containing God's Nazi-melting wrath. By which we mean, he goes around the world, to the most rugged and life-threatening places, to dig up nuggets of treasure. For an action man, he does have an unexpectedly soft and soporific voice, though – somehow managing to sound like a placid geography teacher even while hurtling down a Sri Lankan road in search of buried sapphires.
This makes him a charming and rather refreshing alternative to the shouty, gung-ho types you usually get in programmes like this. He also has his heart in the right place, because in Mine Kings his aim is to find small, “artisan” mines which have minimal impact on the environment and don’t treat their workers as modern day slaves. All of which is worthy of applause, but ultimately this is all about the treasure itself, and Guy is determined to find wonderful things, from the glistening emeralds of Colombia to mystical Madagascan sapphires.
What’s the verdict?
Accompanied by bearded and tattooed accomplices equally dedicated to getting their hands dirty in the search for amazing gems, Guy has his work cut out for him in this series. But something tells us these “Mine Kings” won’t rest until they dig for victory.
Storage Wars: Miami
Tuesday 15th March at 9pm on History (CH 266)
Yes, it’s another show about a gaggle of auction addicts charging around lockers and bidding outrageous amounts on things they can’t actually see. And rest assured you won’t be able to get enough of it.
Programmes about storage lockers have become mysteriously successful of late. We say "mysteriously" because, well, they're about storage lockers, for goodness sake. And yet millions of us keep tuning into various spin-offs and rip-offs of the format, which sees groups of ridiculously competitive bargain hunters bidding for the contents of the aforementioned lockers. And by competitive we mean fistfights actually break out occasionally. David Dickinson certainly wouldn't approve.
It’s genuinely bizarre, how big the genre has become. Storage Hunters even has a UK spin-off which has featured proper celebs like Bob Mortimer. Why? Don’t even ask. The format is just inexplicably addictive, whether it’s because we genuinely have to find out whether the bidding was worth it, or whether we just want to see the bidders start slapping each other in sudden, badly choreographed fight scenes. It ain’t big and it certainly ain’t clever, but we’d happily spend the whole day watching it. So it’s just as well that we’ve got this brand new Florida-based variation, isn’t it?
What’s the verdict?
So this will be giving us yet another madcap dash from locker to locker, with all the bickering and brawling you could want. Some say it's all faked for the camera, but who cares when it's this entertaining? Rather like the items uncovered by the gang, we're sold.
Brendan O’Carroll: My Family at War
Wednesday 16th March at 9pm on BBC Two (CH 102)
Brendan O’Carroll puts aside the Mrs Brown makeup and tackles a rather more serious subject in this documentary about a moment that changed Irish history – and his own family – forever.
Here’s Brendan O’Carroll as you rarely see him – both in terms of his appearance (sans Mrs Brown clobber) and temperament (he’s looking sober and serious for once). Rather than amusing us with panto-style pratfalls, he’s taking us on a tour through time, to the Irish Easter Rising which took place 100 years ago and re-shaped the geopolitical landscape of Ireland. It was a dramatic skirmish, with Irish rebels literally taking control of parts of Dublin and defying the British forces – until the latter crushed the uprising.
Fascinatingly, two of Brendan’s own uncles were directly involved in the Easter Rising, and one of them was later jailed and sent to a prison camp in Wales where he apparently “radicalised” other inmates. Brendan O’Carroll probes this curious chapter of history, and draws direct comparisons with today’s anti-terror tactics which can so spectacularly backfire when the bad eggs are put into one basket...
What’s the verdict?
Tackling the big subjects – from Irish nationalism right through to Guantanamo Bay – this programme promises to seamlessly mingle the personal and the political, and it’ll be particularly interesting to hear Brendan O’Carroll’s emotional response to events which his own family was so bound up in. Expect some wry humour in there as well, because hey – it IS Brendan O’Carroll after all.
Jo Brand’s Hell of a Walk for Sport Relief
Thursday 17th March at 9pm on BBC One (CH 101)
Earlier this year, Jo Brand went for a walk. A rather long walk, as it happens, which took her 135 miles from the Humber Bridge to Liverpool. Prepare to feel very, very lazy by comparison.
In an unlikely TV development, we’ve become rather used to seeing comedians performing unfeasibly athletic feats for charity. Think of David Walliams swimming everywhere, and Eddie Izzard running everywhere, and John Bishop doing whatever it is he did. But Jo Brand? Really? Yes indeed, she has stepped up to the plate, saying “I wanted to show fat old women that they could walk.” Expect plenty of that sort of self-deprecating humour in this show charting her on-foot odyssey in support of Sport Relief.
It’s a seven day, 135-mile marathon, through awful weather, across endless swathes of Britain, with cameras gawping at every breathless and parched moment. It wasn’t easy, but as her trainer puts it, “She’s come the furthest of all the celebrities that have undertaken these challenges.” This programme follows the whole incredible journey, and also finds time to squeeze in gags from the likes of Alan Davies, Lee Mack, Bill Bailey and Davina McCall, who all met up with her and tried out this marathon lark on various days. And we thought all celebs did was lie around on comfy sofas having grapes fed to them.
What’s the verdict?
Jo Brand has long since made the transition from kooky mad-haired alternative comedian to a comfortingly mumsy national treasure, but we definitely didn’t expect her to go the next step to actual endurance athlete. Watch and see how it’s done.
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