Successful programmes often become bloated, and MasterChef (BBC1, Wednesday) is headed that way.
In the good old days, when Hackney still had a proper swimming pool, I used to do lengths every morning with an old boy called Bob.
Sky’s new channel, Atlantic, kicked off this week with two big shows: Boardwalk Empire, which is set in 1920 and is about gangsters, and Blue Bloods, which is set in the modern day and is about a family of New York law enforcers.
Just before Christmas, a TV production company asked whether I might be interested in appearing in a zappy new live and topical political series they were soon to launch on Channel 4.
Horizon (BBC2, Monday) asked, ‘What is reality?’ and didn’t really have an answer.
‘I want everyone to be as angry as I am,’ says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and I hope he succeeds for the thing that makes him so angry is one of the things that makes me most angry, too: the senseless eradication of the world’s fish stocks.
The Radio Times now lists 72 channels, and that’s not all of them.
Did you hear the one about Jordan’s disabled son? Unlikely, since you probably don’t watch Tramadol Nights (Channel 4), nor read the Mirror (‘Katie Price furious after Frankie Boyle joke about her disabled son’), nor the Guardian (‘Frankie Boyle’s Katie Price joke sparks Ofcom investigation’).
The most watched programme on British television this year was the special live edition of EastEnders, broadcast in February to mark the soap’s 25th anniversary.
Here in HMV on London’s Oxford Street, three comedians are signing autographs.
I love statistics.
It is the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street and there seems to be as much celebration and feasting as there was for the Queen’s own golden jubilee, in 2002.
It told the story of two best mates, Frankie and Peter, serving in an unidentified northern regiment in Afghanistan where Peter quickly discovers he can’t cope under fire — and as a punishment is made the unit’s ‘camp bitch’ by the sadistic Lance Corporal Buckley (Mackenzie Crook).
Courtroom dramas filled the schedules this week, with Jimmy McGovern writing a series for the BBC called Accused (BBC1, Monday).
Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story (Channel 4, Thursday) was unquestionably the most important programme that will appear on British television this year.
I’m writing this near Ludlow, a town which has miraculously kept its centre.
When my brother and I were teenagers growing up in the arse end of nowheresville — Bromsgrove to its friend — we were mainly looked after by Nanny VHS.
There have been the usual moans about the BBC spending £100,000 on coverage of the Chilean miners.
One of the few professional stand-up comics I’ve met who wasn’t bitter, twisted, malign, graceless, grumpy, chippy, egomaniacal and slightly to the left of Stalin is Mark Billingham.
The Song of Lunch (BBC2) was a rum old go. Christopher Reid’s poem, about a publisher half-hoping to rekindle a past love affair over an Italian meal, was read out by Alan Rickman, who acted the publisher and recreated the lines on film.
Him and Her (BBC 3) is the BBC’s notion of a really edgy sitcom.
Torn with grief, Melvyn Bragg has produced a condolence book for the South Bank Show (born 1978, died of neglect, 2010).
Just as Alec Guinness resented being seen as Obi-Wan Kenobi for the rest of his life, Ian Richardson might have resented Francis Urquhart, the Machiavelli of Michael Dobbs’ House of Cards trilogy, whose catchphrase gives this book its title.
Like virtually everyone middle-aged and middle-class in this country, I am a beneficiary of the cult of Civilisation — Kenneth Clark’s ‘personal view’, stretching in 13 episodes from the Vikings to Van Gogh, which was broadcast on BBC2 in 1969 and on BBC1 two years later, as well as appearing as a sumptuously illustrated, best-selling book.