James Walton

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…

tv

Line of Duty thinks – rightly – that there’s drama in the subsections of police acts

26 March 2016 9:00 am

Which is better, British TV drama or American? A couple of years ago, merely asking the question would have had…

The usual suspects: ‘Doctor Thorne’ brings us a reliable selection of frock-coated and corsetted British thesps

Doctor Thorne is pleasantly undemanding viewing

12 March 2016 9:00 am

Every now and then, a costume drama comes along that’s so daringly unconventional as to make us re-examine our whole…

Phil Lynott performs with Thin Lizzy (Photo: Getty)

Phil Lynott, from Dublin teenager to rock'n'roll burnout

27 February 2016 9:00 am

It’s often said that there are only seven basic plots in literature. When it comes to biographies of rock stars…

Tom Hiddlestone is The Night Manager

BBC1’s The Night Manager verges on parody

27 February 2016 9:00 am

The Night Manager (BBC1, Sunday) announced its intentions immediately, when the opening credits lovingly combined weapons and luxury items. ‘Blimey,’…

Vinyl, Sky Atlantic

Verging on the corny: Martin Scorsese’s Vinyl reviewed

20 February 2016 9:00 am

Vinyl (Sky Atlantic) — the much-anticipated series, co-produced by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, about the 1970s New York record…

Joan Bakewell, 1966 (Photo: Getty)

Joan Bakewell: on socks, fridge magnets, teddy bears and such stuff

13 February 2016 9:00 am

I don’t know if this counts as name-dropping, but I recently interviewed a boyhood friend of Elvis Presley’s in Tupelo,…

Psycho-in-chief: James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce in ‘Happy Valley’

Murder, rape, sheep abuse: you won't feel short-changed by BBC1's Happy Valley

13 February 2016 9:00 am

Judging from its website, Hebden Bridge’s tourist office considers the fact that BBC1’s Happy Valley is filmed in the town…

Back in Time for the Weekend, BBC2

Back in Time for the Weekend gives the 1950s its usual kicking

6 February 2016 9:00 am

When the time comes to make programmes looking back on the 2010s, I wonder which aspects of life today will…

Prime suspect: Steven Avery, whose case is the subject of the Netflix documentary ‘Making a Murderer’

Netflix's Making a Murderer is fascinating - but is it true?

30 January 2016 9:00 am

On the face of it, the Netflix documentary serial Making a Murderer should only take up ten hours of your…

Derren Brown's Pushed to the Edge

A morally dubious mix of Candid Camera and Fawlty Towers: Pushed to the Edge reviewed

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Never a man tortured by self-doubt, Derren Brown introduced his latest special Pushed to the Edge (Channel 4, Tuesday) as…

Cypress swamp alongside the river

Mississippi and the Delta are the high-tar, full strength Deep South

2 January 2016 9:00 am

Explore Mississippi and the Delta before they’re rebranded, says James Walton

Stanley Tucci as Captain Hook with the crew of the Jolly Roger

Dreams don’t have to make sense - but TV dramas do: Peter & Wendy reviewed

2 January 2016 9:00 am

On the face of it, ITV’s Peter & Wendy sounded like a perfect family offering for Boxing Day: an adaptation…

What a performance! Frank Skinner as Champagne Charlie

Victorian music-hall comedy wasn’t funny. Why pretend it was?

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Let’s start this week with a joke: ‘You know Mrs Kelly? Do you know Mrs Kelly? Her husband’s that little…

Dusty Springfield at the Royal Variety Performance in 1965 (Getty).

Everything you always wanted to know about Sixties pop —and more

28 November 2015 9:00 am

It might seem an odd choice, but after reading Jon Savage’s new book, I think if I had a time…

Dominic Sandbrook's 'Let us entertain you'

Why most four-year-olds deserve to be sectioned

7 November 2015 9:00 am

The first episode of Let Us Entertain You (BBC2, Wednesday) definitely couldn’t be accused of lacking a central thesis. Presenter…

Is The Last Kingdom UK's answer to Game of Thrones?

The Last Kingdom is BBC2’s solemnly cheesy answer to Game of Thrones

24 October 2015 9:00 am

The opening caption for The Last Kingdom (BBC2, Thursday) read ‘Kingdom of Northumbria, North of England, 866 AD’. In fact,…

Wayne Rooney with his wife Coleen (Photo: BBC)

Was BBC1’s Rooney show more scripted reality than documentary?

10 October 2015 9:00 am

Close to the Edge (BBC4, Tuesday) feels very much like an idea conceived during a particularly good night in the…

Middle-England Gothic: Anna Maxwell-Martin as Merrily Watkins in Midwinter of the Spirit

ITV’s Midwinter of the Spirit is a satisfying example of Middle-England Gothic

26 September 2015 8:00 am

For years, Ian Fleming was famously self-deprecating about the James Bond books. (‘I have a rule of not looking back,’…

Novel romance: Richard Madden as Mellors and Holliday Grainger as Constance Chatterley

Guns, tools and toffee apples - but no nudity: BBC1’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover reviewed

12 September 2015 9:00 am

It’s hard to know whether the actor James Norton was being naive or disingenuous when he claimed in publicity interviews…

Prince William of Gloucester

How many royal cliches can you fit into a single Channel 4 documentary?

29 August 2015 9:00 am

In 2011, the Daily Mail carried a long story about how the Queen’s cousin Prince William of Gloucester, who died…

Michael Mosley prepares for a cardiac scan (Photo: BBC)

Is medical screening bad for your health? Michael Mosley dons a pair of ‘dignity shorts’ to find out

15 August 2015 9:00 am

When the link between tobacco and lung cancer was first established in the early 1950s, one obvious question arose: should…

Life in Squares, BBC2

Bohemian conformity can be just as suffocating as any other type: BBC1’s Life in Squares reviewed

1 August 2015 9:00 am

On all those comic lists of the world’s shortest books (Great Italian War Heroes, My Hunt for the Real Killers,…