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Television

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

Carrie's back: Clare Danes in Homeland

Hooray for Homeland - Carrie’s back blasting America’s enemies to pieces with drones

Television

One of the more welcome and surprising things about television at the moment is that Homeland (Channel 4, Sunday) is good again. As I’m not the only person to have pointed out, the first series was great. After that, though,… Read more

Mackenzie Crook's Detectorists

Fellow saddoes rejoice: BBC4 has made a comedy-drama about metal detecting

Television

Detectorists (BBC4) is a sad git’s niche comedy that would never have been commissioned if it hadn’t been written and directed by Mackenzie Crook (who sort of counts as a Hollywood star, now, because after making his name in The… Read more

Brian Cox's Human Universe

We're great and baboons are losers: this week's lesson from Brian Cox

Television

Anybody feeling a bit depressed about the shortcomings of humanity could do worse than watch Brian Cox’s new series Human Universe (BBC2, Tuesday) — which, judging from the first episode, is all about how great we are. Early on, Cox… Read more

KENYA-ATTACKS

Could the Kenyan mall atrocities happen here?

Television

So you’ve just popped down to the supermarket for the weekly shop, toddlers in tow, when the grenades start to fly, the air lights up with tracer bullets and you realise to your horror that unless you find a suitable… Read more

TV

Marriage and foreplay Sharia-style

Television

Needless to say, it’s not uncommon to hear single British women in their thirties and forties saying that all the good men are married. But in The Men with Many Wives (Channel 4, Wednesday) this came with a twist: it… Read more

Status Quo. Photo: BBC

I love that people assume I’m gay

Television

At a birthday dinner over the weekend I was introduced to this delightful party girl of a certain age whose diet for the evening consisted of chips and Grey Goose vodka on the rocks with lime. She launched straight into… Read more

Asking the questions: Victoria Coren Mitchell

Now for the really tricky question: can Only Connect survive BBC2?

Television

For some of us, the biggest TV question of recent weeks hasn’t been how Newsnight is doing without Jeremy Paxman, British drama’s fightback against American competition or even the treatment of Diana Beard by the editors of The Great British… Read more

Where are the Betjemans de nos jours?

We need more opinionated English eccentrics making documentaries like, ahem, me...

Television

Is it just me or are almost all TV documentaries completely unwatchable these days? I remember when I first started this job I’d review one almost every fortnight. Always there’d be something worth watching: on the horrors of the Pacific… Read more

Showing up to your prom in a tank is a bit 2013

BBC2’s Hotel India: slums? What slums?

Television

Viewers who like their TV journalism hard-hitting should probably avoid Hotel India, a new BBC2 series about the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. The tone of Wednesday’s episode was set immediately when the narrator introduced us to ‘one of the… Read more

Adeel Akhtar plays Wilson Wilson in Utopia

Eye-gouging within the first half-hour: the edgy new rules of TV drama

Television

Where is Jessica Hyde? If those words mean nothing to you then I have some excellent news. If not, then you’ll already be aware that I have failed you totally. And not for the first time, either. I was about… Read more

The new journalism: Vice leaves the rest of the West’s media standing

Scoops, snark and jihad – this is Vice News's war

Television

War can reshape the medium of television. The First Gulf War was a landmark moment in broadcasting: CNN had reporters in Baghdad when the first bombs fell, no one else did, America was riveted and the concept of 24-hour news… Read more

Gomorrah, Sky Atlantic

Gomorrah is gangsters without glamour – but it's still not as scary as Dance Moms

Television

Gomorrah (Sky Atlantic, Monday), the new, must-see Mafioso series, started promisingly. We met two hoods — one young, shaven-headed, good-looking; one weary, brow-beaten, middle-aged — filling up at a petrol station in Naples, an unfamiliar (to me anyway) setting that… Read more

The Terracotta Army Museum: the warriors were built to protect Quin Shi Huuang, China’s first emperor

Barbie dolls? This girl aims for the head

Television

Channel 4’s Kids and Guns (Thursday) began with an American TV advert in which a young boy’s eyes shone with gratitude when his parents gave him a large gun, proudly marketed as ‘My First Rifle’. And just in case that… Read more

Otherworld, Comedy Feeds

In which James Delingpole gets down with the kids, finds they’re sex-obsessed…

Television

If there’s one thing everyone knows about BBC comedy it’s that it’s going downhill. According to Danny Cohen, now Director of BBC Television, it’s too white and middle class; according to producer John ‘Blackadder’ Lloyd, it’s run by idiots like… Read more

A series of indisputable masterpieces: Nile Rodgers of Chic

The quest for the perfect guitar riff is a noble one – if not quite the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe

Television

A few weeks ago, my eight-year-old son, who’s taken up the guitar, announced that he’d learned something new. He then played a sequence of chords — approximately, Duh-duh-duuh, Duh-duh-da-duuh — that I’ve been hearing from all guitarists since I was… Read more

Photo: ITV/REX

Your starter for ten: why do we Brits so love University Challenge?

Television

‘Fingers on buzzers!’ says Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge. But technically this is inaccurate. Only one of the teams actually has buzzers. The other side has push-button bells, instead. I’ve been watching the programme religiously for God knows how many… Read more

A woman of substance: Maggie Gyllenhaal as the saintly Nessa

The Honourable Woman could have done with some help from an overpaid executive in a suit

Television

BBC2’s The Honourable Woman (Thursday) began with a rather portentous voice-over bringing us the unsurprising news that ‘We all have secrets. We all tell lies just to keep them from each other and …pause to indicate psychological profundity …from ourselves.’… Read more

Vikings, History Channel

Looking for a Game of Thrones substitute? Vikings is the closest you’ll get – but it ain't close

Television

Did you know that the 8th-century Kingdom of Northumbria was the epicentre of an international exotic reptile trade? I only discovered this myself from watching episode six of Vikings (History Channel, Tuesday) and being introduced to the snake-pit maintained by… Read more

The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins, BBC Photo: John Lily Estate

The girl who had sex with dolphins

Television

BBC4’s The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins (Tuesday) began with the overstated-sounding claim that it would be tackling ‘perhaps the most remarkable period in the history of animal science’. In fact, though, the longer the programme went on, the more… Read more

Alesha Dixon, David Walliams, Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden Photo: WireImage

We need something less evil than Britain's Got Talent. How about public executions?

Television

You know what the world needs most right now? What it needs is five good-looking-ish, talented-ish blokes dressed in a mélange of artfully deconstructed dove-grey suits singing one of the songs out of Les Misérables, like a boy band but… Read more

Gabriel Byrne as Quirke and Geraldine Somerville as Sarah, BBC

Is BBC1’s Quirke bravely unhurried – or too slow?

Television

The work of John Banville — Booker-winning novelist and impeccably high-minded literary critic — might seem an unlikely source for a primetime crime series. But since 2006, under the telling pseudonym of Benjamin Black, he’s also published a series of… Read more

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in 24 Photo: Fox/Getty

The rights and wrongs of box-set viewing

Television

Admit it. Say it! ‘My name is Blah and I am a boxaholic.’ Life on hold, marriage in bits, job swinging from a rusty nail, the box-set fanatic grabs every available minute to feed an addiction. I mean, you can’t… Read more

Paul Hollywood (Harry Enfield) with Mary Berry (Paul Whitehouse) in a spoof of ‘The Great British Bake Off’

Harry and Paul’s Story of the Twos is just too funny for its own good

Television

On Harry and Paul’s Story of the Twos (BBC 2, Sunday), there was a particularly cruel sketch in which Paul Whitehouse gave Harry Enfield a Paxman-style grilling as to whether he felt bitter that his comedy series had never won… Read more

Tom Hollander as Dylan Thomas Photo: BBC

So Dylan Thomas was a drunk: does this TV drama have anything else to say?

Television

According to its executive producer Griff Rhys Jones, A Poet in New York (BBC2, Sunday) sought to rescue Dylan Thomas from the ‘forces of sanctity and hagiography that now hover over his shade’. Instead, we’d be reminded that he was… Read more

Facing his greatest challenge yet: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

Thank God for the Game of Thrones imp – and the heaving breasts

Television

Which character are you in Game of Thrones? For me it’s got to be the imp, Tyrion Lannister. As Ed West suggested in his erudite Speccie article a few weeks ago, Tyrion is about the only character with a vaguely… Read more

Jack's back!

Jack Bauer hits, er, West Ealing

Television

Whatever worries Kiefer Sutherland may have had about reprising the role of Jack Bauer in 24: Live Another Day (Sky1, Wednesday), learning his lines for episode one won’t have been one of them. After a four-year break, the show returned… Read more

Generation War, BBC2

Generation War does something very un-German – bottles it

Television

I was so looking forward to Generation War (BBC2, Saturday) — a three-part drama series covering the second world war from the perspective of five young men and women on the German side. Any nation capable of producing the ME-109,… Read more