Television

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, BBC1

A bit silly: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell reviewed

Television

BBC One’s 2015 choice of Sunday-night drama series is beginning to resemble the career of the kind of Hollywood actor who alternates between reliable crowd-pleasers and more eccentric personal projects. The year started with the return of the much-loved Last… Read more

Spirited, indomitable and proud: matriarch Julie Young

Benefits Street reviewed: if anyone’s being exploited, it’s the taxpayers, says James Delingpole

Television

My favourite scene in the first episode of the new series of Benefits Street (Mondays, Channel 4) — now relocated to a housing estate in the north-east, but otherwise pretty much unchanged — was the one where the street’s resident… Read more

Cop out: Paul Abbott's latest drama No Offence stars Joanna Scanlan, Alexandra Roach and Elaine Cassidy

Channel 4’s No Offence reviewed: ‘hugely entertaining and wildly unconvincing’

Television

With Clocking Off, Shameless and State of Play among his credits, Paul Abbott is undoubtedly one of the most respected TV writers in Britain. Not even his biggest fans, though, could argue that he’s one of the subtlest. On the… Read more

Keith Murdoch (Simon Harrison) appearing before the Dardanelles Commission (Photo: BBC)

Without Gallipoli, we’d have no Page 3

Television

Some years ago I paid a visit to the site of the Gallipoli landings because I was mildly obsessed with the Peter Weir movie and wanted to gauge for myself how horrible it must have been. En route I met… Read more

BBC's Head of Values, Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) and Will Humphries (Hugh Skinner) (Photo: BBC)

W1A reviewed: so pitch-perfect as to be profoundly depressing

Television

Ever since the days of Tony Hancock, many of the best British sitcoms — from Dad’s Army to Fawlty Towers, Rising Damp to The Royle Family — have featured a middle-aged man convinced that he’s the only sane person left… Read more

Free the nipple!

I wish Daenerys Targaryen would free the nipple: Game of Thrones series five reviewed

Television

Blimey, there has been so much good stuff to watch on telly of late: the Grand National, the Boat Race and the Masters; The Island with Bear Grylls; the final of University Challenge (bravura performance from Caius’s Loveday, though how… Read more

Dara Ó Briain and Ed Byrne travel along the Pan-American Highway

A review of three reassuringly unoriginal new travel programmes fronted by comedians

Television

Who says British television lacks imagination? You might have thought, for example, that every possible combination of comedian and travel programme had been exhausted long ago. After all, it’s now 26 years since Michael Palin set the trend by following… Read more

Pointless hosts Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman

Why James Delingpole is addicted to Pointless

Television

Ever since Boy got back from school my work schedule has fallen to pieces. Every few minutes, just when I’ve got my concentration back after the last interruption, Boy will burst into the office and say, ‘Dad, Dad. How good… Read more

David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)

Channel 4's The Coalition reviewed: heroically free of cynicism

Television

In a late schedule change, Channel 4’s Coalition was shifted from Thursday to Saturday to make room for Jeremy Paxman interviewing the party leaders. With most dramas, that would mean I’d have to issue the sternest of spoiler alerts for… Read more

Raised by Wolves, Channel 4

Raised by Wolves review: council-estate life but not as you know it

Television

Journalist, novelist, broadcaster and figurehead of British feminism Caitlin Moran, who writes most of the Times and even had her Twitter feed included on a list of A-Level set texts, is now bidding to break into the sitcom business. Can… Read more

Should he stay or should he go: Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark

Poldark review: drama by committee

Television

By my calculations, the remake of Poldark (BBC1, Sunday) is the first time BBC drama has returned to Cornwall since that famously mumbling Jamaica Inn — which may explain why even the lowliest yokel here tends to project from the… Read more

Great European Disaster, BBC4

The Great European Disaster on BBC4 reviewed: propaganda worthy of Leni Riefenstahl

Television

My favourite bit of The Great European Disaster (BBC4, Sunday) was the lingering shot that showed golden heads of corn stirring gently in the breeze. It was captioned ‘Europe’. I cannot even begin to describe what a powerful effect this… Read more

The cast of Critical

Critical on Sky1 reviewed: a new medical drama where everyone radiates an unusual degree of competence and concern

Television

Sky1’s new hospital drama Critical (Tuesday) can’t be accused of making a timid start. Within seconds, an urgent request had come over the loudspeaker system for ‘the trauma corps’ to head to the emergency department, causing the main members of… Read more

Priyanga Burford as Deepa Kaur in UKIP: The First 100 Days

UKIP: The First 100 Days, Channel 4, review: a sad, predictable, desperate hatchet job

Television

Just three months into Ukip’s shock victory as the party of government and already Nigel Farage’s mob are starting to show their true colours: morris dancing has been made compulsory for every able-bodied male between the age of 30 and… Read more

Law in action: Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman

Better Call Saul review: the box set equivalent of a (very) well-made play

Television

I lost count long ago of the number of dinner parties and pub conversations where I’ve had to utter the humiliating words, ‘Actually I haven’t seen Breaking Bad.’ The social isolation became even more shaming when my 81-year-old mother rang… Read more

Rambo wannabe, Matthew VanDyke: ‘Everybody wants cool stuff they can show their friends on Facebook’

Arabian Motorcycle Adventures review: enthralling and constantly surprising

Television

There were great numbers of young men who had never been in a war and were consequently far from unwilling to join in this one.(Thucydides, 5th century BC) I love that quote, inscribed on the walls of the Imperial War… Read more

Dark thoughts: Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell

Could it be that Wolf Hall is actually the teeniest bit dull?

Television

In January 1958, the British government began working on the significantly titled Operation Hope Not: its plans for what to do when Winston Churchill died. The plans, it turned out, wouldn’t be needed until January 1965 — but the intervening… Read more

David Tennant as D.I Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman as D.S Ellie Miller

Broadchurch, review: ‘unwatchable’

Television

Probably the two greatest advances in western culture in my lifetime have been the Sopranos-style epic serial drama and the advent of TV on demand and/or the DVD box set. I don’t think I’m saying anything weird or contentious —… Read more

Maisie Williams as Casey Jacobs in Cyberbully

Channel 4’s Cyberbully: an unashamedly old-fashioned drama in being both well made and moral

Television

Channel 4’s Cyberbully (Thursday), written by Ben Chanan and David Lobatto, turned out to be a brilliantly gripping drama, even if the average middle-aged viewer might have found the early scenes as baffling as Finnegans Wake. Teenage Casey Jacobs (Maisie… Read more

Mathew Baynton as Sam Pinkett alongside James Corden as Phil Bourne Photo: BBC

It's because Corden is such a dick that The Wrong Mans was so blindingly brilliant

Television

God, it must be awful to have been at school with James Corden. As he sat fatly at the back of the class farting and flicking bogies and distracting the teacher with his relentless smartarsery, you’ll have consoled yourself with… Read more

Dustin Hoffman in Roald Dahl's Esio Trot

BBC1’s Esio Trot: like Fawlty Towers played at quarter speed

Television

As a New Year’s Day treat for all the family, Esio Trot (BBC1) seemed to be taking no chances. It was based on a book by Roald Dahl, had a script by Richard Curtis and his Vicar of Dibley co-writer… Read more

Masterchef: The Professionals: Marcus Wareing, Gregg Wallace, Monica Galetti Photo: BBC

How to win MasterChef - and why salmon is the fish of the devil

Television

If ever my near-neighbour William Sitwell is killed in a bizarre shooting accident and I end up taking his place as one of the guest critics on MasterChef: the Professionals (not likely, I admit, but you never know), here are… Read more

Michael Palin stars in (the last four minutes of) BBC drama Remember Me

BBC1s Remember Me: in search of Michael Palin

Television

BBC1’s authentically spooky three-part ghost story Remember Me hasn’t yet revealed what’s really going on in that gloomy Yorkshire town. Nonetheless, the second episode did clear up one mystery. We now know how Michael Palin managed to find room in… Read more

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! Photo: ITV

Don’t sneer at I’m a Celebrity. The show is teaching us to become model citizens

Television

One of the great benefits of having teenage children is that they force you out of your fuddy-duddy comfort zone. There was no way, for example, that the Fawn and I were ever going voluntarily to watch I’m a Celebrity…… Read more

Confessions of a Copper: Stephen Hayes

Jaw-dropping confessions of a very un-PC Plod

Television

There can’t have been many people who watched Confessions of a Copper (Channel 4, Wednesday) with a growing sense of pride. Among those who did, though, will presumably have been the creators of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes… Read more

Joss Stone visits 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London  Photo: The Royal British Legion/Charlie Davies

We know that war is hell. But it doesn’t ever make us stop doing it

Television

There’s a plausible theory — recently rehearsed in the BBC’s excellent two-part documentary The Lion’s Last Roar? — that our war in Afghanistan was largely the creation of the Army, which sorely needed a renewed sense of military purpose after… Read more

Country music legend Dolly Parton

James Walton uncovers the sound of Nashville - money

Television

Twenty minutes into BBC4’s The Heart of Country (Friday), there was a clip of Chet Atkins, country music’s star producer of the 1960s, being asked to define ‘the Nashville sound’. Atkins reached into his pocket, pulled out some coins and… Read more

Grayson Perry almost makes you like Chris Huhne: some feat

James Delingpole falls in love with Grayson Perry - and almost comes round to Chris Huhne

Television

I love Grayson Perry. You might almost call him the anti-Russell Brand: a genuinely talented artist who also has some very interesting stuff to say — as he’s demonstrating yet again in his highly entertaining new series Who Are You?… Read more