Hi folks. How are we doing? And with the formalities out of the way let’s get into another week of TV goodness.
First up is Five Days. People may remember the first series of Five Days which was broadcast back in 2007. That featured a five part story running over two weeks featuring five different days after a woman and her children had gone missing. Since then programmes like Criminal Justice and Collision have tried to push five episodes over one week. So when Five Days returns with the same premise but with a completely different cast and storyline, it also broadcast from Monday to Friday. This time the story follows two separate events a person wearing a burka jumps off a railway bridge into the path of a moving train while a baby is left in a hospital toilet. This starts off a chain of events in which a police officer who was on the train tries to connect the two events while at the same time trying to look after her mother. Over the five nights there are twists and turns as the police try to connect the death and the birth, the train driver struggles to come to terms with his past and the ticket taker and his Muslim wife try to adopt the baby. There’s no denying the acting in Five Days was top notch, Suranne Jones did a brilliant job of holding everything together as the copper with family issues while she excellently bounced of David Morrissey (who seemed to be in his swimming trunks a lot of the time) as her reluctant partner from the travel police. The supporting cast was also brilliant from top to bottom Anne Reid as Jones’ mum who suffered from senility, Bernard Hill as her potential beau, Steve Evetts as the train driver and Hugo Speer as the head of the investigation in particular shone through but all those involved in the stories did their best. The main problem with the concept was that the idea was stretched a little too thinly and it became over-complicated as the week went on. It also seemed to be focusing too much on the issues – senility, terrorism, mixed marriages in the Muslim faith, adoption procedures, prostitution, delinquent children and alcoholism were all touched on throughout the week. And instead of providing us with some really large conclusion the story just ended where it had begun, the revelations themselves were also quite confusing and a little more explanation would probably have been needed. Overall though I think we shouldn’t knock home-grown drama, it’s something the BBC (and the other terrestrial channels) should be trying to do more of the time. There’s no knocking the acting or the first couple of episodes, I just think the script should have been boiled down and maybe shouldn’t have tried to be as adventurous as it was but it was an admirable effort nonetheless.
Next up its Saturday night on ITV1, so it must be Ant and Dec. The Geordie pair have been absent from our sets for too long, not seen since thier average Christmas special, they’re back for a new game show ahead of, I’m guessing, a new run of Britain’s Got Talent. Push the Button kind of combines elements of The Generation Game, Family Fortunes and the Down Your Doorstep segments from The Big Breakfast as well as about half a dozen other game shows from the 1970s and 1980s. The show itself sees two teams of five family members up against each other in a series of five challenges to see who walks away with the prize money at the end of it. The programme starts however, with Messrs MacPartlin and Donnelly turning up on their doorsteps and gradually freaking out every one of the family members who turns up. What makes this programme incredibly modern is that families are now made up of people in their second marriages and children from both marriages, something that would have been frowned upon in the golden age of the game show. Each of the games sees the families try and complete challenges in order to retain as much of an original £100,000 prize as possible. Some games see the amount tick down and others see the winning family able to dock £5,000 from the other family. In the pre-recession days we would have seen money added onto totals but now the producers obviously hope that the families lose as much as possible so they don’t have to pay a massive prize. The games are incredibly simple but under pressure they are made harder such as trying to fit wrapped parcels into the right holes, simple maths games or the finale which saw the two families trying to stack several tiers of a wedding cake. Like on most of these game shows the success lies on the format and the enthusiasm of the hosts. With Ant and Dec on board the show is give some added charm and the format is simple enough to follow, this is classic Saturday night entertainment but I still miss Paddy McGuiness’ Take Me Out.
Sport Relief is in a couple of weeks and we have seen Let’s Dance for Comic Relief start but now a documentary about Eddie Izzard’s mammoth journey as he ran the equivalent of 43 marathons in only 51 days. The start of the programme sees Eddie’s very brief training sessions and fitness tests as his eligibility to do this run is tested. Surprisingly for someone who hardly does any physical exercise Eddie is seen as being very fit. In the first episode he aims to run to his mother’s old house in Wales which sees him having to run from London to Cardiff. A very nice touch is that Izzard carries a flag of every country he jogs in – so England, Scotland or Wales. There are some roadblocks along the way as Eddie injures part of his leg and is encouraged to quit but his spirit wills him on and he continues his journey. In Liverpool he is accompanied by several young boys who are not trying to steal anything from him but instead cycle alongside Izzard again showing what makes Britain so great. As well as about Sport Relief this programme also explores Izzard’s past why he became a transvestite and his home life including how much his mother’s death affected him and his brother as he meets up with his auntie and his allowed a look round his old house. After watching this I think Izzard is both crazy and a complete hero. He his a captivating presence and a really courageous guy, although I’ve never really been a fan of his stand-up, I think he is a brilliant human being and now finding out more about his past I appreciate his spirit even more. Everyone should’ve watched this just to find out about what the man had to go through to raise money for Sports Relief.
We end with a Cutting Edge documentary, this time about True Life magazines, you know the ones that have stories about people who dressed up as a nun for members of the royal family, or turned into a goat, or kissed a duck or as the title suggests My Daughter Grew A New Head and Other True Stories. The documentary took two strands – one was meeting some of the people who had sold their stories and the other was the people who printed those stories. The latter strand followed a woman who ran a business from her home that people who had a shocking true story could ring her up for and try and get some money. While we also saw a freelance journalist whose job revolved around meeting these people and trying to get them to sell her their story and then it turn she would write the story and sell it to one of those magazines. A case in point was when she met a man who’d had his second buttock transplant and after writing up his story had found out that he’d already sold it. We also met the man who had decided to become an agent to these ordinary people with shocking stories, and we met the man whose young wife had been offered a million pounds to sleep with another man in a real life indecent proposal. That the man himself was no looker and the wife was very young spoke volumes about what the wife was like in the process. In the end his story wasn’t sold as he felt the magazine had twisted it too much. The programme also explored the motivation that these people had for selling their stories in the first place especially the shocking stories like the woman who accidentally killed her husband. Reliving traumatic experiences just to get a couple of grand may seem a bit morbid but in some cases the money is really needed. Although the programme didn’t seem to have one focus it was still compelling, funny in some places and tragic in others. As someone who previously worked in a newsagent I know how much people love to read these kind of magazines so it’s interesting to see how they get in there in the first place.
Next Time: A Band for Britain and Wonders of the Solar System