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.
Made In Chelsea
Monday 11th at 9pm on E4 (CH 144)
Toff, Binky, JP and various other people whose very names reek of insane wealth are all returning to our screens for the 11th series of E4's guiltiest pleasure (and for E4, that's saying something).
The posh, pampered alternative to TOWIE is back, so prepare to once again slip into a strange mirror world where the recession never happened and everyone has gleaming, flowing hair and scarily shiny teeth. And, as the revolution still hasn't come, the good people of Chelsea are continuing their important work of drinking cocktails, reclining on white sofas and giving each other evils for the latest round of reality show shenanigans.
There's a few new Sloane rangers in town this time round, including one Olivia Bentley, a photographer of artful nudes. Her surname is significant because she happens to be the great-great-great-granddaughter of the founder of the Bentley car company, which presumably means she’s even more Chelsea than most of the regulars. We’ll also meet Jessica Molly Dixon, a “lingerie entrepreneur” who spends a lot of time in Monaco, while regulars like Tiff and Sam will carry on bickering/gossiping/grinning at each other for our viewing pleasure.
What’s the verdict?
Sure, they're so searingly rich and honkingly privileged that watching their antics would make even the Queen start itching for a soul-cleansingly compensatory tin of Special Brew, but therein lies the pleasure of Made in Chelsea. And it cannot be denied. Watch, writhe, repeat.
Tuesday 12th at 9pm on National Geographic (CH 266)
Even if religion isn’t your thing, this docudrama about the rise of Pope Francis promises to be a fascinating look at one of the most charismatic characters on the world stage today.
Not to be disrespectful or anything, but Popes are a bit like Doctor Who. They all embody the same general values, and have the same mission. But each one is very different to the next, bringing their own unique slant to a unique role. Think of the last few we’ve had. Pope John Paul II was an iconic and flamboyant figure of the 80s, 90s and Noughties, a globe-trotting action man of a pontiff who survived an assassination attempt to boot. After him came the more aloof and controversial Pope Benedict XVI, whose passing resemblance to the Emperor from Star Wars didn’t do him any favours among non-believers.
But now we’ve got the cool Pope. The, dare we say it, hipster Pope that is Pope Francis. More left-leaning than his archly conservative predecessor, Pope Francis is known for his more humble, wry approach, more magnanimous embrace of other faiths, and for once saying he’d punch anyone who insulted his mum. Which makes him awesome in our book. This is his story, following the man who was once known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio as he rises from humble beginnings (and a job as a nightclub bouncer) to become the first Latin American Pope.
What’s the verdict?
This is no stately tale of a worthier-than-thou bore. This is a story that could have sprung from a Hollywood writer’s pen, and will have you seeing Pope Francis, and the machinery of the Catholic Church, in a whole new light.
Scott & Bailey
Wednesday 13th at 9pm on ITV (CH 103)
We’re going to go right ahead and say it: Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones are the best cop double-act on TV. So we’re rather chuffed to have them back, even if things are about to get very grim indeed…
Scott & Bailey has gone from upstart detective show to an ITV staple – it's now hard to imagine the listings without it. Which is very much a good thing, because it's a refreshingly detailed look at detective work, with the emphasis on character development and personality clashes rather than blood and guts and flamboyant serial killers rampaging around like comic book villains. Not to mention the fact that the two leads are strong, complex women with irresistible chemistry together.
But we should warn you now – according to Suranne Jones herself, this may well be the most challenging series yet, involving a “very dark and sinister case opening up a disturbing and terrifying world hidden online”. While we probably WON’T be straying into outright Luther territory, it still sounds rather hair-raising. Plenty for Rachel to deal with in her new role as acting DI, then. Well, she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, right?
What’s the verdict?
What could so easily have been just another disposable ITV crime drama has turned out to be something a bit special – mainly thanks to Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones, who are both brilliant, but also because of the reliably rich scripts, heavy on the intricacies of police work. Arresting viewing indeed.
Heaven’s Gate: Cult Suicide
Thursday 14th at 10.15pm on PBS America (CH 276)
What led a group of seemingly ordinary people to gather in a house and casually commit suicide while dressed up like extras from a Star Trek film? This piercing documentary promises to tell the whole sorry story.
Think 70s New Age mysticism and you’ll likely imagine shaggy-faced hippy types, humming gurus, and people holding hands in circles in between eating bowls of mung beans. Harmless stuff, all told. But it was from this era of wide-eyed credulous togetherness that a fatal cult was to evolve. Led by Marshall Applewhite, a man with equal interests in UFO-ology and Christian ideology, the Heaven’s Gate group would commit mass suicide in 1997, shocking the world.
This is their story, which is sure to be sad, touching and horrifying in equal measure. Their philosophies were so out-there that they’d be hilarious if we weren’t aware of the tragic outcome. They believed that a spaceship was flying close to the Earth, and that they could board it by casting aside their physical bodies. The group which committed suicide even dubbed themselves the Away Team, just like in Star Trek. And in a grisly bit of irony, one of them was actually the brother of Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura in the original Star Trek series…
What’s the verdict?
Brimming with insights, film footage and revelations, this is a reminder of the power of group thinking and the perverse appeal of outlandish theories. You may never watch Star Trek the same way again.
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