I Am Victoria – Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
Series two of this female-led anthology from writer/director Dominic Savage begins with an emotionally raw drama about the importance of seeking help when you need it most. Savage, much like Mike Leigh, favours a creative process whereby he collaborates closely with his actors; these characters and narratives are borne of carefully controlled improvisation. The star and co-creator of episode one is the brilliant Suranne Jones. She plays Victoria, a successful businesswoman with a supportive husband (Ashley Walters) and two beautiful children. But underneath that seemingly – and as it transpires, desperately – perfect façade, Victoria is struggling with her mental health. I Am Victoria is intense, riveting, sad yet hopeful. And Jones is quite extraordinary.
How Healthy is Your Gut? – Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
Bloating, flatulence, heartburn, diarrhoea: it is reported that over half of the UK’s population suffers from digestive problems. If you can – and I really am so sorry about this – stomach it, this frank documentary actually provides some useful advice about what we should do to boost our gut health and general quality of life. Your friendly host is Sabrina Grant, who enlists the help of six volunteers tasked with trying out various popular diets and treatments – including colonic hydrotherapy – to see if they have any significant effect. Perhaps inevitably, gastrointestinal cameras are involved. But the programme, to its credit, avoids the cheap and childish ‘tee-hee’ route. Digestive problems can be very embarrassing and, in some cases, seriously debilitating.
Country Life for Half the Price with Kate Humble – Tuesday, Channel 5, 8pm
According to this series, more and more people are fleeing the pressures of urban life for a different set of pressures in the countryside. This week, Humble meets a couple who have prepared for their move to South West Wales by rearing ducks and micro-pigs in their back garden in suburban Reading. They want to live somewhere with fewer people and with more space for themselves and their two young boys. Humble follows them – from a safe distance – as they begin their rural adventure during a year of lockdown. All those plans for opening a petting zoo and a crafts workshop have to be put on hold. But they do at least learn how to forage for stuff.
Our Family Farm Rescue with Adam Henson – Tuesday, Channel 5, 9pm
What is it with Channel 5 and farms? They’re obsessed. But if it stops them from making more malicious programmes about travellers and ‘benefit scroungers’, then I for one support their slide into bucolic monomania. In the latest episode of this vehicle for Countryfile alumnus Adam Henson, he meets more fellow farmers who have had to change the way they operate in order to survive. On the edge of Snowdonia National Park (see Epic Wales for its second starring role in this week’s schedules), a couple who run a traditional sheep and cattle farm are in serious financial trouble. So they’ve hatched a plan to branch out into the luxury glamping game. Cue the construction of a large geo-dome.
Write Around the World with Richard E. Grant – Tuesday, BBC Four, 9pm
In which that most actorly of actors dons a metaphorical panama hat while travelling around sunny mainland Europe in the footsteps of several notable authors. He wants to examine the ways in which they were inspired by various ancient cities of note. The series was presumably filmed two years ago, hence why Grant wanders around the busy streets of Naples without a care in the world. The man is positively rammed to the gills with joi de vivre. He goes off the beaten tourist track and marvels at the local culture in time-honoured travelogue style, but the programme does concede a few serious points about poverty and corruption. Authors under review include Charles Dickens, Elena Farrante and Elizabeth Gilbert.
Right Here: The Black Veil – Tuesday, BBC Scotland, 10:30pm
A new series of documentaries from emerging filmmakers, Right Here celebrates the diversity of life in modern Scotland. It begins with a sweet and tender profile of Bradley, a gender non-binary person preparing for their wedding to partner Emma. This will be the first time that some of their friends and family members will have seen Bradley presenting in female clothing. Bradley is also a member of The Order of Perpetual Indulgence, an LGBTQ+ protest group dedicated to “banishing stigma and spreading universal joy”. The film’s title refers to the highest ranking within the order, into which Bradley is about to be initiated. A thoughtful and articulate person, all Bradley wants is to be accepted for who they are.
Epic Wales: Valleys, Mountains & Coasts – Friday, Channel 4, 8pm
I’ve barely set foot outside my flat during the last eighteen months, and yet thanks to my dogged pursuit of writing about television, I feel like I’ve seen more of scenic Britain via travelogues than I ever did when life was relatively free and easy. That’s not right. This one features suitably awestruck narration from Cerys Matthews, who introduces us to “farmers and fishermen, artists and adventurers, nature savers and stargazers” based in Wales’ three National Parks. It’s a standard TV format, you know exactly what to expect, but it works. Programmes such as this depict Britain as a beauteous wonderland populated by nice, interesting people keeping simple traditions alive. They’re a much-needed source of fantasy respite.