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.
I Want My Wife Back
Monday 18th at 9.30pm on BBC One (CH 101)
Ben Miller puts his angsty face on – well, he does it SO well – for this brand new sitcom about one man’s attempts to… get his wife back.
If there’s anyone who can do “awkward straightlaced English chap struggling to make sense of the chaos and cruelty of life”, it’s Ben Miller. He has the strained manner and streamlined appearance of a man of out of time: you can more imagine him in a 70s TV show than a contemporary sitcom. He’d have been great as a new Reggie Perrin if Martin Clunes hadn’t been horribly miscast in the reboot several years ago. But here’s a programme ideally suited to Ben Miller’s fumbling, irritable, anxious persona.
He plays Murray, an ordinary bloke leading an ordinary life, who suddenly finds everything upended when his wife decides to ditch him out of the blue on her 40th birthday. And just when he had organised a big surprise birthday bash as well. Now he’s determined to win her back – the only question is, how? That’s the gist of this sitcom, which will follow Murray as he evaluates his life, seeks advice from friends and family, and generally blunders and pratfalls his way to some kind of happy reunion. We won’t be holding our breaths, though.
What’s the verdict?
While BBC One hasn’t exactly had a great track record when it comes to genuinely great comedies, at least in recent years, this does seem to have all the right ingredients. And seeing Ben Miller get all flustered is a reliably entertaining prospect. Give this one a whirl.
Tuesday 19th at 9pm on Channel 5 (CH 105)
It’s hard enough to get teenagers off the sofa to do the washing up, but this programme is sending them to fend for themselves in a giant rainforest. Grab the popcorn – this is going to be fun.
Teenagers, eh? Bunch of useless layabouts aren’t they? Inhabiting a virtual world of Instagram updates, Twitter arguments and – if they’re old enough – Tinder swipes, and only roused from the sofa if you literally threaten to set fire to them. Not that you’d do that, because that would be unkind and legally actionable. But even so: teenagers. They deserve a kick up the backside. Or perhaps a trip to a jungle where they can be forced to excavate their own initiative.
And that is precisely what this show is all about. Spoilt brats from Britain are sent amid isolated tribes across the world, to learn about surviving without the benefits of smartphones, clean clothes and ready-made meals. First up we have unmotivated Ethan and the perpetually pampered Alex – aged 18 and 16 respectively – who are being flown to the Ashaninka tribe in the Peruvian rainforest. Forget air conditioned hotel rooms and cocktails on verandas – here they’ll be foraging for food, dealing with sauna-like heat, and trying to sleep in uncomfortable nooks while the tribe presumably try not to laugh. And they won’t even be able to put any of it on Instagram.
What’s the verdict?
Making a bunch of foolish teens find their inner Bear Grylls is an ingenious idea for a show, particularly if you’re a fully grown adult who takes sadistic joy in seeing young folk come up against harsh reality for the very first time. Marvellous.
Wednesday 20th at 10pm on E4 (CH 144)
The Winchester brothers are back for the eleventh – yes, the ELEVENTH – season of the show about angels, demons, unthinkable monsters and really hot people with great cheekbones.
Supernatural should in no way be as good as it is. With its generically handsome leads and seen-it-all-before monsters (demons, vampires, yadda yadda), it probably looks to the passing viewer like just another Buffy knock-off. Not to mention the fact that it's now into its eleventh season and even the Devil himself has come and gone – a sure sign the shark was jumped a LONG time ago.
And yet… Those of us in the know are still hooked on its bonkers shenanigans. Partly because it somehow keeps discovering new ways to up the ante, even when the ante is already high enough to escape Earth’s gravity. Take the last season cliffhanger, which saw the arrival of a new big bad: a big bad so big and bad that even God tried to shut it away, and it’s known only as “the Darkness”. Now it’s here, and it means business. As if that wasn’t enough, the gang also have to deal with a plague that turns people into crazed killers, and angel Castiel is in some trouble too. Yep, the ante is definitely upped.
What’s the verdict?
As long as we can stop thinking about the comedy hair-metal band everytime anyone uses the phrase “the Darkness” then we’re good to go with this latest season of Supernatural. Let the bad times roll…
Aliens: The Big Think
Thursday 21st at 9pm on BBC Four (CH 107)
Who better to narrate a show about the search for aliens than Peter Capaldi? His soothing tones will take us through the fascinating facts in a documentary that’s sure to be out of this world.
There are more TV programmes about “real life” aliens than you can shake a ray gun at. The only thing is, they tend to be pretty bonkers, featuring mad-haired “experts” (ie, fast-talking oddballs who’ve self-published books about how extra-terrestrials built the pyramids) and cheesy dramatized sequences about farmers in the Deep South being visited by glowing spaceships. Fun, yes, but about as nutritious for the mind as chicken nuggets are for the body.
This is a very different kettle of fish. Our resident expert isn’t some talk radio conspiracy monger, but the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees. He’s devoted his life to serious science and the history of the cosmos, from the Big Bang to black holes, and is now paying serious attention to the question of life on other worlds. Expect to be served up mind-blowing facts, spectacular theories, and to be introduced to the concept of inorganic lifeforms. In other words, “woah”.
What’s the verdict?
You may start off a sceptic about aliens, but Martin Rees may well win you around with his penetrating insights about life, the universe and everything. And if not, you get to listen to Peter Capaldi talking softly about amazing things. Which is always nice.
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