It’s a week for some distracting, feel-good telly and Paul Whitelaw has just the thing. The Witchfinder finds (unlikely) humour in the witch trails of the 17th century, while Stacey Dooley strikes up a natural rapport with the sisters from St Hilda’s Priory in Inside the Convent.
The Witchfinder – Tuesday, BBC Two, 10pm
This promising new sitcom is written and directed by Neil and Rob Gibbons, a sibling duo who, since 2010, have been responsible for some of the greatest ever Alan Partridge material. Set in mid-17th century England against a tumultuous backdrop of civil war, plague and deranged religious zealotry, it stars Tim Key (aka Sidekick Simon) as a hapless witchfinder, Jessica Hynes as his long-suffering assistant, and Daisy May Cooper from This Country as a sardonic woman accused of witchery. Python and Blackadder are the obvious touchstones, and there’s no denying that Key’s character – a pompous fool who desperately craves recognition – is in the Partridge mould. But The Witchfinder is still funny on its own farcical terms.
Katie Price: What Harvey Did Next – Monday, BBC One, 9pm
Last year, as you may recall, Katie Price and her teenage son Harvey participated in a tender documentary about their personal circumstances. This is the follow-up. Harvey has a complex variety of rare medical and behavioural conditions, which can make life difficult for him. The programme follows Harvey as he embarks upon a major rite of passage: leaving home for college, where he’ll stay for the next three years. Katie and Harvey are understandably anxious, but the brilliant support staff – a credit to their profession – ensure that this transition runs as smoothly as possible. It’s a touching portrait of a young man with learning difficulties gradually gaining independence, while a doting mother deals with her own mental health.
Our House – Monday to Thursday, STV, 9pm
Martin Compston and Tuppence Middleton star in this psychological thriller about a divorced couple who make a fragile living arrangement for the sake of their children. And then, of course, it all goes horribly wrong. Based on a critically acclaimed bestseller by Louise Candlish, Our House is blighted by stilted dialogue and a faulty narrative structure. The flashbacks are supposed to invite intrigue, but the overall effect is enervating. I only had access to episode one, so for all I know it might reveal tremendous hidden depths by the end. But I doubt it. It’s just another instalment in ITV’s never-ending cavalcade of generic kitchen island thrillers. Compston and Middleton do their best, but the material is beyond salvation.
Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr – Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm
A textbook piece of competitive lifestyle television, this returning series pits ten aspiring interior designers against each other. Each week they have to magically transform various commercial spaces while impressing a formidable panel of design gurus including Michelle Ogundehin and Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen. The grand prize is a locked-contract with a luxury Cornwall hotel. Meanwhile, host Alan Carr picks up an easy paycheque. “I would class myself as a creative genius” boasts a designer who looks like Alan Rickman auditioning for a spaniel-only remake of Easy Rider. The contestants all say things like that, but we know how TV works in this post-Big Brother/Apprentice age. The producers cajole them into sounding as silly as possible.
Michael Mosley: Who Made Britain Fat? – Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm
As you’ve no doubt surmised from the baldly descriptive title, Britain’s obesity problem is the subject of this new two-part series hosted by genial medical expert Michael Mosley. I haven’t seen the programme, previews weren’t available, but this sounds like a searching critique of successive governmental failures to effectively tackle the issue, no matter how many supposedly helpful policies they launch. Mosley, an unassuming man with a quietly authoritative grasp of well-researched facts, puts forward his own theories with regards to how the crisis can be solved without adding further harm to an already sorely tested NHS. He’s always worth listening to. In episode one, Mosley’s interviewees include celebrity chef and patently sincere child health campaigner Jamie Oliver.
Stacey Dooley: Inside the Convent – Wednesday, BBC One, 10:35pm
Dooley isn’t religious, but for the purposes of her latest investigative report she’s decided to reconsider her belief system while spending ten days in a small convent with some delightful Anglican nuns. They observe three key vows: poverty, obedience and celibacy. It’s a strictly-scheduled and repetitive existence, but they all seem happy enough. And it’s not as if they aren’t aware of the sacrifice they’ve made. Some of them admit to having wavered at times, but their faith in God is unstinting. Dooley, as always, strikes up a natural rapport with her interviewees. She returns, gently and without judgement, to a central question: how can you have devout faith in a world so beleaguered with cruelty and injustice?
Grantchester – Friday, STV, 9pm
This ecclesiastical detective drama obviously hasn’t been the same since original star James Norton (TV critic cliché alert) hung up his dog collar, but it’s still a fairly enjoyable clue-sniffing distraction. It whiles away an hour in an entirely inoffensive way. Last of the Summer Crime, if you will. All Murders Great and Small. The latest series begins with the discovery of a corpse in the grounds of a struggling ancestral estate. But never mind that, it looks like our intrepid vicar hero could be smitten with a mysterious woman he meets in one of those new-fangled late 1950s jazz clubs. Meanwhile, Geordie (the ever-reliable Robson Greene) tries to get back together with his estranged wife.