James Walton

The Missing

Would BBC1’s The Missing blow it in the concluding episode – like so many thrillers before it

3 December 2016 9:00 am

BBC1’s The Missing has been one of the undoubted TV highlights of 2016. Yet, even thrillers as overwhelmingly thrilling as…

True Detective's Alexandra Daddario (Photo: Getty)

Our love-hate relationship with television

26 November 2016 9:00 am

While I’ve read plenty of books worse than Television: A Biography, I can’t immediately think of any that were more…

Priceless sheet of the Penny Black (Photo: Getty)

Stanley Gibbons – the womanising stamp-collector

19 November 2016 9:00 am

If I tell you that on Monday there was an hour-long documentary about the history of stamp-collecting, then you probably…

Humans Series 2

Is Channel 4’s Humans in danger of losing its heart?

5 November 2016 9:00 am

In 2015, the first series of Humans (Sunday) was apparently Channel 4’s most watched home grown drama since The Camomile…

Max Irons as Carter in Tutankhamun

Distinctly corny: ITV's Tutankhamun reviewed

22 October 2016 9:00 am

The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb may well be one of the 20th century’s great stories — but naturally that doesn’t…

Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry’s sensitivity to anguished humanity is too self-regarding

15 October 2016 9:00 am

The McNulty family in the novels of Sebastian Barry have a definite claim to be one of the unluckiest in…

Halldóra and Sally Phillips in BBC2's A World Without Down's Syndrome? (Photo: BBC/Dragonfly)

Why do doctors think Down’s children are a disaster to be avoided at all costs?

8 October 2016 9:00 am

At my wife’s first 12-week scan, I was expecting — and duly got — that much-documented sense of thrilled wonder…

National Treasure: Robbie Coltrane (Photo: Getty)

Clearly intended as an Important Piece of TV – but is it?: C4’s National Treasure reviewed

24 September 2016 9:00 am

The closing credits of National Treasure (Channel 4, Tuesday) contain the usual disclaimer that any resemblance between its characters and…

Natural high: John Sebastian’s acoustic set at Woodstock, 1969

A great retro shop with a dreary message: V&A’s You Say You Want a Revolution? reviewed

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Back in the high optimism of the 2008 presidential campaign, one of Barack Obama’s more extravagant hopes was that ‘the…

Vogue's Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Shulman

BBC2’s heroic attempt to poke an unwanted nose into the world of British Vogue

10 September 2016 9:00 am

With documentary-makers these days, it can be hard to tell the difference between faux-naivety and the real thing. (Personally, I…

Sacred ground: Elvis at Graceland, 1957

Memphis is a dream destination for music lovers – but how long will this last?

3 September 2016 9:00 am

The bad news for old rock’n’rollers is that there’s not much time left to stay at Heartbreak Hotel — these…

The 80s with Dominic Sandbrook

The true queen of the Eighties wasn't Thatcher – it was Delia, according to the Beeb

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Proof that someone has really made it as a TV historian comes, I would suggest, when they join the likes…

Carol White as Cathy and Ray Brooks as Reg star in Cathy Come Home by Jeremy Sandford 'The Wednesday Play', 1966

Was 1966 really as grim as this BBC4 documentary suggests?

30 July 2016 9:00 am

In the song ‘All the Young Dudes’, David Bowie gamely tried to reassure the youth of the Seventies that, despite…

Child genius, Mog

Prodigies and pushy parents: Child Genius reviewed

16 July 2016 9:00 am

On Tuesday night on Channel 4, a stern male figure peered over his glasses (as equipped with one of those…

Lord George-Brown collapses outside the Palace of Westminster in 1976 after announcing his resignation from the Labour party. His fall was widely assumed to be the result of his heavy drinking

How drunk do we want our MPs?

9 July 2016 9:00 am

In 1964, a newly elected Labour MP was put in charge of the House of Commons kitchen committee. (An unpromising…

Colin Morgan as dashing Nathan Appleby

Poldark meets The Exorcist: BBC1’s The Living and the Dead reviewed

2 July 2016 9:00 am

It’s sadly possible to imagine that The Living and the Dead was sold to BBC1’s commissioning editors as ‘Poldark meets…

The New Gypsy Kings (Photo: BBC)

A Gypsy documentary that alternated between the eye-opening and the hair-raising

18 June 2016 9:00 am

In his latest documentary for the This World series, the Romanian film-maker Liviu Tipurita could have been forgiven for treading…

Radiohead's Thom Yorke performs at The Roundhouse (Photo: Getty)

We want them not to give us what we want: Radiohead at the Roundhouse reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Radiohead have been at the top of the musical tree for so long now that it’s easy to forget what…

Matt Lucas in A Midsummer Night's Dream

BBC1’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream seems deliberately designed to flush out purists

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Spoiler alerts aren’t normally required for reviews of Shakespeare — but perhaps I’d better issue one before saying that in…

Lord Rosebery at Goodwood Racecourse, 1964 (Photo: Getty)

Ferdinand Mount picks out the plums nicely

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Book reviews, John Updike once wrote, ‘perform a clear and desired social service: they excuse us from reading the books…

Sir David Attenborough on  the quest of the Komodo Dragon,1956 (Photo: BBC)

David Attenborough used to steal the animals he found in the jungle and take them home

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Let me start this week with an admittedly hard quiz question: in 1954, how did the sudden illness of Jack…

Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby

Even the sternest Leavisite critic would find it hard to resist BBC2's Peaky Blinders

7 May 2016 9:00 am

The big returning show of the week began with servants laying out the silverware at a large country house in…

Inside the Portland Hospital

Downton Abbey with epidurals: BBC2's Five Star Babies reviewed

23 April 2016 9:00 am

Five Star Babies: Inside the Portland Hospital won’t, I suspect, have been a hard sell to BBC2’s commissioning editors. Childbirth…

Bob Geldof enjoys WB Yeats (Photo: BBC/Fergal O'Reilly)

BBC4’s Bob Geldof on WB Yeats was one of the best literary documentaries I’ve seen

9 April 2016 9:00 am

In recent years there’s been a fashion for arts documentaries presented by celebs rather than boring old experts — presumably…

George Harrison and Eric Clapton perform at the Concert for Bangladesh, 1971 (Photo: Getty)

Was 1971 really the best ever year for music?

2 April 2016 9:00 am

According to David Hepworth, the year he turned 21 was also the year when ‘a huge proportion of the most…