James Walton rss

Cake Bakers and Trouble Makers: Lucy Worsley’s 100 Years of the WI

Lucy Worsley reveals - yet again - that there’s more to the WI than jam and Jerusalem

25 July 2015

Some revelations, it seems, are capable of being endlessly repeated while still remaining revelations. Think of all the books, articles and TV programmes over the years which have ‘revealed’ that… Read more

All aboard Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian adventure

Joanna Lumley is ‘thrilled’ by everything, even being spanked by a Mongolian shaman, in her new Trans-Siberian Adventure

18 July 2015

For keen students of China, this week’s television provided yet more proof that Deng Xiaoping’s decision to open the country to the West has had consequences that he’s unlikely to… Read more

The Sex Pistols stole the introduction to ‘Pretty Vacant’ from Abba’s ‘SOS’ (Photo: Getty)

Copyright: the great rock’n’roll swindle

4 July 2015
It’s One for the Money: The Song Snatchers Who Carved Up a Century of Pop & Sparked a Musical Revolution Clinton Heylin

Constable, pp.461, £20, ISBN: 9781472111906

For a music fan, the quiz question, ‘Who wrote “This Land is Your Land”?’ might seem laughably easy. Yet if you answered ‘Woody Guthrie’, I’m afraid you only get half… Read more

Jeff Koons and Alan Yentob with Koons' Rabbit, 1986

As blatant rip-offs go, this one is shaping up nicely: Odyssey, BBC2, reviewed

4 July 2015

This week’s Imagine… Jeff Koons: Diary of a Seducer (BBC1, Tuesday) began with Koons telling a slightly puzzled-looking Alan Yentob that what spinach was to Popeye, so art is to… Read more

Channel 4’s new sci-fi series Humans

Heroically unoriginal: Channel 4’s Humans reviewed

20 June 2015

You’d think scientists might have realised by now that creating a race of super-robots is about as wise as opening a dinosaur park. Yet in Channel 4’s new sci-fi series… Read more

Freddie (Ian McKellen) and Stuart (Derek Jacobi) ©ITV

Imagine if Are You Being Served? had starred Laurence Olivier: ITV’s Vicious reviewed

6 June 2015

Monday saw the return of possibly the weirdest TV series in living memory. Imagine a parallel universe in which Are You Being Served? had starred Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and… Read more

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, BBC1

A bit silly: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell reviewed

23 May 2015

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.… 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’

9 May 2015

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,… 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

25 April 2015

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… Read more

Author Irvine Welsh Photo: Getty

Taxi ride to the dark side: a thrilling blast of full-strength Irvine Welsh

11 April 2015
A Decent Ride Irvine Welsh

Jonathan Cape, pp.482, £12.99, ISBN: 9780224102179

Irvine Welsh, I think it’s safe to say, is not a writer who’s mellowing with age. His latest book sees the return of ‘Juice’ Terry Lawson from the novel Glue… 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

11 April 2015

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… 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

28 March 2015

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… Read more

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

Poldark review: drama by committee

14 March 2015

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… Read more

Kazuo Ishiguro Photo: Getty

Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel, set in a mythical fifth-century Britain, may try the patience of even his most devoted fans

28 February 2015
The Buried Giant Kazuo Ishiguro

Faber, pp.352, £20, ISBN: 9780571315031

If you’d been asked at the beginning of the year whose new novel would feature ogres, pixies and a she-dragon called Querig, I suspect you might have taken a while… Read more

The cast of Critical

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

28 February 2015

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… 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

14 February 2015

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… Read more

Dark thoughts: Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell

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

31 January 2015

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,… 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

17 January 2015

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… Read more

Dustin Hoffman in Roald Dahl's Esio Trot

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

3 January 2015

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… Read more

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

BBC1s Remember Me: in search of Michael Palin

6 December 2014

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… Read more

Rush hour hell Photo: Getty

The darkest secret about commuting: some of us enjoy it

29 November 2014
Rush Hour: How 500 Million Commuters Survive the Daily Journey to Work Iain Gately

Head of Zeus, pp.378, £16.99, ISBN: 9781781854068

In the early days of Victorian railways, train journeys were (rightly) considered so dangerous that ticket offices sold life insurance as well as tickets. There were no onboard toilets until… Read more

Confessions of a Copper: Stephen Hayes

Jaw-dropping confessions of a very un-PC Plod

22 November 2014

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… Read more

Country music legend Dolly Parton

James Walton uncovers the sound of Nashville - money

8 November 2014

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’.… Read more

Carrie's back: Clare Danes in Homeland

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

25 October 2014

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… Read more

Chilean miner Jorge Galleguillos is brought to the surface following a 10 week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine Photo: Getty

From working-class heroes to Disney World mascots: the sad fate of the Chilean miners

18 October 2014
Deep Down Dark Héctor Tobar

Sphere, pp.309, £20, ISBN: 9781444755398

On 5 August 2010, 33 men entered the remote San José mine in Chile’s Atacama desert to begin their 12-hour shift. They came out again 69 days later, to be… Read more