This week, Paul looks ahead to the return of two much loved shows to our screens. The Great British Bake Off is back for another season of sweet and savoury TV treats in a meltingly hot tent, while Nevermind the Buzzcocks has been resurrected by Sky Showcase with a new host…
Manhunt: The Night Stalker – Monday to Thursday, STV, 9pm
Two years ago, Martin Clunes starred in a hit true crime drama about the hunt for serial killer Levi Bellfield. This is the sequel. Based once again on the diaries of retired police officer Colin Sutton, it follows our unassuming yet dedicated hero as he attempts to solve the gruesome case of a serial burglar and rapist who remained at large for 17 years. The police had samples of his DNA, but that meant nothing as he wasn’t in their database. His identity remained a mystery until Sutton was eventually called in to make sense of what little evidence they had. Manhunt, like Sutton, is methodical. It takes its time, but gets results. Textbook stuff, really, but it doesn’t offend.
Disclosure: On a Cliff Edge – Monday, BBC One, 8:30pm
Statistics show that young disabled people are significantly less likely to be in work than people without a disability. In this BBC Scotland report, Ian Hamilton reveals that school-leavers aren’t receiving the additional support they need. “Leaving home is an important part of growing up,” he says, “but for young disabled people it’s rarely straightforward.” He meets a woman with muscular dystrophy who was told that she wouldn’t be able to cope with university, and a disabled man who was given zero careers advice. He also interviews Pam Duncan-Glancy, the first permanent wheelchair-user elected to the Scottish Parliament, who encapsulates the point of Hamilton’s investigation by calling for increased investment in social care, health and employment services.
The Great British Bake Off – Tuesday, Channel 4, 8pm
The latest series of this sugar-glazed powerhouse begins with – of all things – a pastiche of Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achy Breaky Heart, ‘performed’ by hosts Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding. An obvious attempt to get Twitter talking, it feels more suited to Lucas’ old Shooting Stars stomping ground. But once that’s out of the way, it’s Bake Off business as usual. In round one, the contestants are tasked with baking some mini roll sponges, a malt loaf and “an anti-gravity illusion cake”. The highlight, however, is Lucas singing the Flintstones theme in German to a baffled contestant from the Black Forest. Meanwhile, Fielding mooches around in a wacky jumper.
Never Mind the Buzzcocks – Tuesday, Sky Showcase, 9pm
Yes, it’s back. A prologue featuring new host Greg Davies plus members of Blue and B*Witched explains the thinking behind this revival: pop culture is so diffuse these days, the charts don’t really mean anything, so we need a weekly comedy music quiz to bring it all together again. Which is fine in theory, but episode one suggests that they needn’t have bothered. Davies is a funny man, but he doesn’t have much room to stamp his personality on proceedings. Returning team captain Noel Fielding – him again – goes, as always, through the zany motions, while his opponent, Daisy May Cooper from This Country, barely makes an impression. It’s all terribly forced and a bit desperate. A zombie resurrection.
The Hairy Bikers Go North – Thursday, BBC Two, 8pm
In which the affable duo of Si King and Dave Myers go motor bikin’ through the north of England, from the west coast to the east. Their culinary journey begins in Lancashire, which has so much more to offer than its clichéd diet of hot pots, black puddings and Eccles cakes. They visit an award-winning cask ale pub/brewery, a buffalo dairy farm and an Italian ice cream parlour renowned for its ancient secret recipe. The lads also cook up a traditional steak, mushroom and ale pie while learning a little bit about the Temperance Movement. You know what to expect from the Bikers by now: a picturesque and fragrant gravy boat of unpretentious charm. Simple pleasure viewing.
Roaming in the Wild – Thursday, BBC Scotland, 8pm
If you require some emergency respite, then please allow me to nudge you in the direction of this delightful series. It follows filmmaker Andrew O’Donnell and his pal Mark Taylor as they explore the hidden wilds of Scotland. Their first stop is the River Kelvin in Glasgow, a tributary they navigate via a second-hand dinghy. Gently powered by O’Donnell’s wry, lilting narration (“Oh, to be daft on a raft, it’s a wonderful craft.”), this is the calming TV equivalent of a little paper boat circling idly in a pond. It makes Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing look like Deliverance. All television is artifice, of course, but Roaming in the Wild lulls you into believing that it fell together accidentally.
Taskmaster – Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm
Greg Davies is far more at home here than he is on Buzzcocks. This entertaining comedy gameshow is his fiefdom. As the umpteenth series begins, he welcomes another batch of celebrity competitors, namely Only Connect host Victoria Coren Mitchell, comedians Alan Davies and Morgana Robinson, Guz Khan from Man Like Mobeen and American comic Desiree Burch. Their tasks this week include painting a flattering portrait of Davies while lying flat on their backs on those wheeled platforms mechanics use to get underneath cars, and bursting a tethered water balloon using a variety of missiles. I’m not ashamed to admit that I let out an involuntary cheer during Coren’s attempt, such is my investment in this genial nonsense.