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.
Bake Off: Crème de la Crème
Tuesday 29th March at 8pm on BBC Two (CH 102)
Bake Off without Hollywood and Berry? Unthinkable! Luckily, this spin-off is a very different beast entirely, with its own format, some top judges, and the affable Tom Kerridge as the master of ceremonies.
Usually, the act of creating a TV spin-off series doesn’t require too much bravery or daring on the part of TV execs. You’ve got a built in fan base after all, and you just need to make a few tweaks to get a new show on the road and lap up the ratings. But the thing about the Great British Bake Off is that it’s SUCH an institution, and it’s SO dependent on the world it inhabits: that pastel-coloured, bunting-strewn, retro-English wonderland presided over by the beloved judges and quirkily amusing Mel and Sue.
To do a new Bake Off, with none of the above, and with proper pastry chefs rather than plucky amateurs… well, you risk alienating pretty much your entire audience. But then again, we do have some big guns here, including the Michelin-starred superchef Tom Kerridge, as well as top patisserie maestros including Benoit Blin and Claire Clark (they’re big deals, OK?). Plus, they’ve wisely changed the format of the competition, so the contestants are in teams. And if you’re still feeling cynical and homesick for original Bake Off, just wait till you see some of the confections crafted by this talented lot…
What’s the verdict?
While it’ll probably lack the whimsical charm of the original, this version of Bake Off should be a thrilling demonstration of just how awesome great pastry chefs can be. The Wonka-like displays of edible glory will be worth the price of admission alone. Get stuck in.
Girl With Half A Face
Wednesday 30th March at 10pm on TLC (CH 167)
Have the hankies ready for the heartbreaking but ultimately inspirational story of Sarah Atwell, a girl whose decision to stay determined in the face of ignorance made her a star.
Everyone who’s ever moaned about anything, watch this show. Because it’ll immediately make you shut up and look at your petty woes in a new light. Sarah Atwell’s been through a lot more than most of us ever will, and she’s kept optimistic in the face of near-impossible odds. Consider the fact that she had a tumour growing on the side of her face since she was an infant. A tumour so disfiguring that she became a pariah in her school, mercilessly bullied by idiots to the point where even her classroom photos were ripped off the walls.
Hurt and exhausted by it all, she took to social media to declare her determination to stay strong despite it all. And then the miracle happened: the very next day she got a call from a TV company, and pretty soon she was propelled into the limelight. This is her whole story, with emotional interviews with Sarah and those who know her, and an exploration of what it means to be “different” in a culture which worships shiny conformity.
What’s the verdict?
The word “inspirational” gets thrown around a lot, but this programme should make even the most jaded, slumped sofa dweller suddenly sit upright and take stock of all that life can offer. Here’s to Sarah and her ongoing and, yes, “inspirational” journey.
Killer Sharks: The Attacks Of Black December
Thursday 31st March at 9pm on Animal Planet (CH 256)
A spate of fatal shark attacks in one of the world’s great holiday destinations? This isn’t the stuff of Hollywood nightmares – this really happened and we’re about to get the gory details.
There is a tiresome tendency to invoke Jaws whenever the subject of great white sharks comes up. But in this case, the comparison is entirely and horrifyingly apt. Consider the details: in 1957 and 1958, in a holiday hotspot in South Africa, sharks began attacking and maiming and killing surfers, swimmers and other unwary humans. It shocked the nation, and had everyone wondering just what on earth was causing the sharks to come in so close to the coast and pick off people one at a time.
This docudrama tells the whole blood-splattered story. And yes, there will be reconstructions of the various attacks, which will consciously channel all the things that made Jaws so terrifying. There’ll also be a fair amount of science stuff amid the bobbing limbs, as the documentary tries to decipher the various reasons that led to the perfect storm situation for repeated shark attacks. Warning: you may well want to put off that next surfing holiday after seeing this.
What’s the verdict?
While we all know that humans are a much, much greater threat to sharks than sharks are to humans, this programme is unabashedly about great whites doing what we like to assume they like to do: namely, tearing into people’s bodies like teeth-crammed meat missiles. Have the sofa cushion handy to hide behind.
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