Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

PAUL WHITELAW: For your viewing pleasure – TV choices from art club to surviving Covid and real life hospital drama

Hospital on Monday, BBC Two, at 9pm
follows staff at Barnet Hospital in London.
Hospital on Monday, BBC Two, at 9pm follows staff at Barnet Hospital in London.

From behind the scenes in a hospital to Grayson Perry’s Art Club and Paul O’Grady’s Great British Escape,  take your pick for your viewing week.

Hospital – Monday, BBC Two, 9pm

Filmed just a couple of months ago, the latest episode of this urgent frontline documentary follows staff at Barnet Hospital in London as they treat elderly patients while dealing with a bed shortage exacerbated by the pandemic. The hospital, which is part of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, is situated in a borough with nearly one hundred care homes. The A&E department has been pushed to its limit. Winter, a time when older people are at their most vulnerable, is looming. Covid-19 is on the rise again. The point of this series couldn’t be clearer. No amount of well-meaning public applause and utensil-banging can compensate for the government’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic.

Paul O’Grady’s Great British Escape – Wednesday, STV, 8pm

This week, the nationally treasurable O’Grady reads some Chaucer to his pigs as a prologue to a sojourn in Canterbury. While there, he checks up on the major renovation of Canterbury Cathedral (“Good job I had a stent put in,” he quips while scaling its heights), pops into the cosy country pub where Ian Fleming wrote You Only Live Twice, takes a ride on a vintage steam train, and visits an endangered big cat sanctuary (they’re very keen on Calvin Klein-infused catnip, apparently). This is, quite simply, a nice series. It may not add up to much in the grand scheme of things, but God only knows we need some fleeting escape from the grand scheme of things sometimes.

Surviving Covid – Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm

I urge you to watch this devastating documentary about four Covid patients and their families. It’s a compassionate portrait, a narration-free mosaic, of human beings dealing with tragedy. They’re not mere statistics, they have lived and they are loved. Filming started in March, during the first Coronavirus surge. The patients are in comas. Their chances of survival are slim. Various wives, husbands and children talk candidly throughout, as do the staff at King’s College Hospital in London. This is important television. Its unflinching depiction of what Covid actually does to those who suffer from it should, in an ideal world, encourage every single viewer to wear a mask, to take care of themselves and each other.

New Elizabethans with Andrew Marr – Thursday, BBC Two, 9pm

Marr’s latest essay is a scattershot dud. His stated aim is to illustrate how British society has changed dramatically during Liz II’s lengthy time on the throne – the second Elizabethan age. To that end he’s chosen a handful of notable public figures who reflect that seismic transformation. A sound idea in theory, but Marr spends far too little time on each of his nominations. The result is a superficial overview, a smash and grab advert for his tie-in book. You cannot do justice to the fascinating likes of (deep breath) Graham Chapman, Diana Dors, Ruth Ellis, Tracey Emin, Darcus Howe, Roy Jenkins, Alan McGee, Nancy Mitford, Jan Morris and Mary Whitehouse in the space of an hour. It’s pointless.

Grayson’s Art Club: The Exhibition – Friday, Channel 4, 8pm

Earlier this year, the admirable Grayson Perry delivered some emergency lockdown cheer via his Channel 4 series in which he encouraged people to express their hopes and fears through the democratic medium of art. In this one-off special, Perry and his equally splendid wife, the psychotherapist Philippa Perry, host a socially distanced Manchester Art Gallery exhibition of the work they curated during that series. Preview copies weren’t available, the show is still being edited as I type these words, but I can pretty much guarantee that it will fleetingly restore your faith in human nature. The Perrys aren’t pretentious, they’re arty egalitarians. C4 have assured us that, once lockdown is lifted, Grayson’s Art Club will make a triumphant return.

Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis – Friday, BBC Two, 9pm

In this enlightening series, Chris Packham and biologist Ella Al-Shamahi examine the life-threatening impact of climate change on the African ecosystem. They’re on a protected wildlife preserve in Tanzania, where the BBC’s Natural History Unit have built a waterhole discreetly rigged with cameras. Their aim is to study the ways in which these vital sources of water manage to support so many competing species. Episode one is liberally stocked with buffalo, warthogs, elephants, leopards, lions and zebras, who eye each other suspiciously like rival gangs in a pub carpark. But peace is maintained by their overriding need to sup from the waterhole whenever the chance arises. Some of the footage, most of it filmed at night, is extraordinary.

The Sound of TV with Neil Brand – Friday, BBC Four, 9pm

The best television theme tunes are indelibly embedded within the national psyche. In particular, the ones we grew up with invoke a Proustian rush unlike any other. Neil Brand, that estimable composer and pop culture enthusiast, knows this only too well. His latest series is an embarrassment of riches in which he celebrates the enduring spell of television music. He offers eloquent insight into how and why the best theme tunes work, with highlights including a visit to Portmeirion, where he dissects el maestro Ron Grainer’s dynamic theme from The Prisoner, and a meeting with Dick Mills of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who analyses the great Delia Derbyshire’s ground-breaking electronic arrangement of Grainer’s Doctor Who theme. It’s all wonderful.


High Society – Thursday, BBC Four, 8pm

BBC Four’s spirit-lifting season of classic Hollywood musicals continues with this sprightly remake of The Philadelphia Story. It tells the everyday story of a successful composer (Bing Crosby) hell-bent on winning back his ex-wife (Grace Kelly). Unfortunately for him, she’s about to marry again. The presence of a cynical journalist (Frank Sinatra) further complicates matters. You can’t argue with that charismatic cast, their witty screenplay and show-stopping musical numbers such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Well, Did You Evah!, but there is no getting around the fact that it’s marred by a major bum note: jazz great Louis Armstrong is conspicuously wasted in a thankless supporting role. An imperfect piece of entertainment.