James Walton

James Walton is The Spectator’s TV critic

Riveting and heart-wrenching: BBC1’s Time reviewed

‘Only with women’ is a phrase used by more cynical TV types for a show that takes something that’s been done before with men, but by changing the gender of the characters can pose as ground-breaking. It sprang to mind this week when both of BBC1’s big new dramas unblushingly took the only-with-women approach; the

Shocking: Channel 4’s Partygate reviewed

If there were special awards for Most Subtlety in a Television Drama, Tuesday’s Partygate would be unlikely to win one. You could also argue that, in contrast to most of its characters, it didn’t really bring much to the party. And yet, in a rare challenge to the law of diminishing returns, the more it

A Picasso doc that – amazingly – focuses on how great he was

Earlier this year, the Guardian took a break from arguing that ‘cancel culture’ is a right-wing myth to ask the question, ‘Should we cancel Picasso?’ He is, after all, ‘the ultimate example of problematic white guys clogging up the artistic canon’. Given the programme’s title – and the BBC’s increasing loss of nerve – you

Time to take your meds, Kanye

No one does agonising quite like Mobeen Azhar. In several BBC documentaries now, he’s set his face to pensive, gone off on an earnest quest to investigate a touchy subject and reached his conclusions only after the most extravagant of brow-furrowing. There is, however, a perhaps unexpected twist: the resulting programmes are rather good, creating

Watch some liars claim that youth and beauty don’t go together

Back in 1990, Grandpa from The Simpsons wrote a letter of protest to TV-makers. ‘I am disgusted with the way old people are depicted on television,’ he told them. ‘We are not all vibrant, fun-loving sex maniacs. Many of us are bitter, resentful individuals who remember the good old days.’ Thirty-three years on, it’s a

Riveting and titillating: BBC2’s Parole reviewed

There’s a distinct and rather cunning whiff of cakeism about the new documentary series Parole. On the one hand, it can convincingly pass itself off as a sombre BBC2 exploration of the British justice system. On the other, it offers us an undeniably enjoyable, reality TV-style opportunity to compare our opinions with those of the