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.

TV PREVIEW: It’s a Sin is utterly devastating yet outstanding

It's a Sin (Copyright Channel 4)
It's a Sin (Copyright Channel 4)

This week, Paul lavishes more praise on Russell T. Davies powerful AIDS drama…


It’s a Sin – Friday, Channel 4, 9pm

We’ve known from the start that at least one of the characters in Russell T. Davies’ outstanding drama would eventually die from AIDS. But no matter how much you may have steeled yourself for that tragic development, this episode is utterly devastating. Davies doesn’t flinch, because to do so would fatally undermine his modus operandi. He wants us to confront the terrifying cruelty of this disease and the appalling stigma that surrounded it in the 1980s. He’s made us care about these characters, we’re fully invested in them. Now it’s time to cry and get angry. And yet, as always, Davies balances the horror with humour. He’s a remarkable writer: this could be the best thing he’s ever done.

Craftivism: Making a Difference – Monday, BBC Four, 10pm

Craftivism: Making a Difference (Copyright BBC)

Comedian Jenny Éclair has been on her fair share of protest marches over the years. In this revealing programme, she examines the direct crossover between grass-roots activism and creativity, specifically with regards to knitting, cross-stitching, banners and Fuzzy Felt graffiti. That may sound rather twee and whimsical, but Éclair makes a strong case for the effectiveness of craftivism. It grabs people’s attention, it makes them stop and think: humour and art as political statements. It can also be a source of mental wellbeing. Éclair meets various nimble-figured campaigners, all of them devoted to raising awareness of various important causes via non-aggressive means. They’re doing what they can in a benign yet sometimes provocative way.

999: What’s Your Emergency? – Monday, Channel 4, 9pm

Preview copies weren’t available, so I’m recommending this based on having watched earlier episodes. 999: What’s Your Emergency? is, by its very nature, a vaguely frightening series, but it does always leave you with a scrap of hope: these people are there to help us. This week, according to the press blurb, we’re whisked back to that moment when the Coronavirus first impacted upon our lives. The police are inundated with panicked calls, but they don’t know what to do. The government guidelines are so vague and contradictory. “You just felt you were as clueless as the people who were ringing up,” says one call handler. They receive reports of domestic violence and substance abuse: vulnerable people in dire need of rescue.

Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr – Tuesday, BBC Two, 8pm

Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr (Copyright BBC)

Deep in the bowels of Broadcasting House, there is a large semi-sentient computer responsible for churning out formulaic competitive lifestyle formats. Its latest computation is this, a slickly upholstered vehicle featuring ten creative contestants hoping to break into the professional world of interior design. The grand prize is a contract with a luxury hotel in The Lake District. Each week they’re tasked with transforming a commercial space using the spellbinding power of their imaginations. Host Alan Carr does what’s required of him (very little), while design guru Michelle Ogundehin scrutinises their efforts. It is profoundly boring, the very definition of moving wallpaper. No drama, no tension, no fun. We don’t need this right now. Or ever.

Joanna Lumley’s Home Sweet Home: Travels in My Own Land – Tuesday, STV, 8pm

Joanna Lumley’s Home Sweet Home: Travels in My Own Land (Copyright ITV)

La Lumley rises above that unwieldy title to present this undemanding series in which she travels around Britain. You know the drill: nice scenery and a smattering of history, all wrapped up in Lumley’s soothing caramel tones. There’s no theme, no focus, just a random patchwork of vignettes. On the banks of Lake Windermere she visits the picturesque home of Beatrix Potter. In Whitby, the coastal town that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, she hangs out with some Goths. Meanwhile, in Manchester, she visits Coronation Street HQ to wax nostalgically with William Roache (she once played Ken Barlow’s girlfriend for four weeks in 1973). Lumley is undeniably good at this sort of thing, she’s naturally charming, friendly and inquisitive.

Your Garden Made Perfect – Thursday, BBC Two, 8pm

Here we go again, yet another ‘aspirational’ series designed to make us feel like failures. You don’t have a massive garden and a mound of disposable income? Well that’s your fault. In episode one we meet two couples with a combined budget of £40,000. They want to transform their back gardens into magical wonderlands, so they enlist a team of design experts. Detailed computer-generated simulations afford them the luxury of choosing the results. This conceit is presented as a mind-blowing hook. The only affluent lifestyle show I can stomach is Grand Designs, because that tacitly mocks the participants. Pure schadenfreude. This is a bland celebration of oblivious middle-class orthodoxy. I’m a million laughs in real life, honestly.

The Chasers Road Trip: Trains, Brains and Automobiles – Thursday, STV, 9pm

In the final episode of this knowledge-hungry travelogue, Anne, Mark and Shaun from TV’s The Chase arrive in Japan, which has one of the highest robot to human ratios in the world. Their journey into the world of Artificial Intelligence is ostensibly light-hearted, but the programme carries a sinister undertow. Advanced facial recognition technology could pose a serious threat to our civil liberties, and do we really want to live in a world populated by realistic androids? We’ve all seen Humans and The Terminator. Shaun is particularly worried about this dystopian sci-fi nightmare, whereas pragmatic Anne believes that the human brainbox will always be the dominant force on Earth. Bradley Walsh was unavailable for comment.


Jaws – Thursday, ITV4, 9pm

Jaws (Copyright Universal Pictures)

Quite simply the greatest film ever made. Face facts, Citizen Kane. Steven Spielberg was only 27 when he co-wrote and directed this intensely entertaining thriller about a monstrous Great White shark terrorising an affluent New England island community. Suspense, horror and humour are effortlessly combined. He makes you care about the humans and their various foibles, hence why the final shark-hunting act is so effective. One of those rare films where everything fell perfectly into place: the direction, the screenplay, the editing, acting and score, they’re all faultless. And the mechanical shark only looks conspicuously fake when it leaps onto the boat. But it doesn’t matter, you’re fully hooked and invested by that point. A masterpiece.


Incredible Journeys with Simon Reeve – January 24, BBC Two

Incredible Journeys with Simon Reeve (Copyright BBC)

Last year, seasoned BBC travellers Michael Palin and Louis Theroux hosted emergency lockdown compilations of highlights from their previous adventures. Now it’s Simon Reeve’s turn. An affable explorer with a committed social conscience, Reeve is a people person. He’s not one to merely bask in the foreign climes he encounters, he’s more interested in making a meaningful street-level connection with different cultures. This wasn’t the best way to appreciate his work: Best Of’s never are. But it was a touching reminder of how, in his unassuming way, he exposes injustice. War, poverty, inequality, prejudice, these are the abiding themes of his programmes. His anger bubbles just below the surface. His compassion is palpable. A decent human being.

Hip Hop: Songs That Shook America – January 29, BBC Four

Each episode in this new series focuses on a game-changing hip hop track. It began with Kanye West’s Jesus Walks from 2004. A powerful redemption song, this innovative fusion of social commentary and gospel put Kanye on the map. Which is all well and good, but the story behind the making of Jesus Walks isn’t particularly interesting. Yes, the programme placed the song in its socio-political context while tracing the evolution of Kanye’s life and career up until that point, but it all felt rather perfunctory. To make up for Kanye’s absence, series producers Questlove and Black Thought from The Roots spoke to some of his collaborators. The rest of the series will hopefully be more substantial.