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Paul Whitelaw: Caribbean Britain with Lenny Henry, and real life tales of Scottish boxer Josh Taylor and Perthshire ‘lumberjill’ Sarah Yeaman

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Lenny Henry’s Caribbean Britain – Wednesday, BBC Two, 9pm

The British Caribbean community has enriched our collective culture in so many ways. In this comprehensive two-part series, Sir Len celebrates its achievements. He also reflects upon the complex nature of integration: “Does it mean that we as Caribbean people have to sacrifice our culture? How much of my culture has Britain absorbed?” A fascinating piece of black history, it pays tribute to a wide variety of pioneering artists, writers, actors, musicians and broadcasters, all of whom played a significant role in representing their culture to a dominant and (to put it mildly) often hostile society. Told with warmth and humour, this insightful essay is a clarion call of joyful defiance in the face of systemic adversity.

Back in Time for Birmingham – Monday, BBC Two, 8pm

Back in Time for Birmingham, Akash, Manisha, Alisha head back to experience life in the 1950s.

As this long-running, time-travelling series returns, we’re introduced to the Sharma family from Birmingham, which is one of Britain’s most ethnically diverse cities. They’re our conduit to finding out what life was like for South Asian families who settled in Britain from the 1950s onwards. As always, the experiment involves them living in an authentic period simulacrum. It highlights the ongoing struggles of immigrants trying to make a better life for themselves in a strange and unfamiliar land. Highlights include the family improvising delicious South Asian meals using dreary 1950s British ingredients, and a detour into the independent cinemas/community hubs which imported Indian films to a grateful audience. An enlightening programme, rich in research.

Style Fixers – Monday, BBC Scotland, 10pm

Alannah Carson and Jamie Grandison are the Style Fixers.

Alannah Carson and Jamie Grandison are make-up artists who source and style costumes for live drag shows. They’re also the hosts of this upcycled fashion makeover extravaganza, which is back for a second series. It’s a straightforward format: every week, two new clients approach our likeable duo, who each have £30 to spend in second-hand shops. Accessorising unfolds. One of their latest clients suffers from multiple chronic illnesses, which influences the way she dresses. Comfort is paramount, but she’d like to look more stylish at times. Carson and Grandison are on the case. They also provide some easy-to-learn budget fashion lessons. You don’t have to be a sewing or cosmetics whizz, it’s all very accessible.

The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN – Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm

Martina Brostrom, who spent 14 years with the UN.

This sounds like an important piece of television. Preview copies weren’t available, but here’s the rub: employees from several United Nations agencies go public with allegations of sexual abuse and corruption. The UN is, ideally, a bastion of integrity. An institution devoted to upholding human rights and promoting global peace. This programme promises to uphold the traumatic experiences of those who sought to challenge a hierarchal culture of silence. That principled stand had severe repercussions with regards to their private lives. I obviously can’t make any kind of judgement on a programme I haven’t seen, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that – at 90 minutes – we’re in for a thorough report. I’ll be watching too.

Ellie & Natasia – Tuesday, BBC Three, 10pm

Natasia Demetriou as Gluten and Ellie White as Flute in the new sketch show Ellie & Natasha.

Here’s fun, a new sketch show written by and starring Ellie White and Natasia ‘Tash’ Demetriou. You may recognise the latter from Stath Lets Flats and What We Do In the Shadows. White plays Princess Beatrice in The Windsors. Put ‘em together and you get this commendably unpredictable confection, which revels in absurdity and (partially improvised?) silliness. Characters in episode one include a disconcerting dentist’s assistant, a smug wild swimmer, and two jegging-clad Prosecco mums providing some handy household tips for the benefit of no one. Best of all, though, is their utterly nonsensical daytime television spoof. Reader, I laughed. It doesn’t all work, but that’s sketch shows for you. The overall attitude papers over the weak spots.

Josh Taylor: Portrait of a Fighter – Tuesday, BBC Scotland, 10pm

Josh Taylor’s Portrait of a Fighter focusses on his preparations for a title fight.

Josh Taylor is currently the undisputed light-welterweight world champion. He’s widely regarded as one of the greatest living pound for pound boxers. This intimate documentary follows the champ as he prepares to defend his title. Brought up on a Prestonpans council estate, Taylor comes across as an unpretentious lad who is sincerely grateful for the sacrifices his parents made to support his boxing career. Famous fan Irvine Welsh provides some socio-political context, citing Taylor as a rare example of a working-class Scot who has managed to transcend the barriers placed in front of them from birth. Famous friend Martin Compston skirts around the ‘outspokenness’ that has landed Taylor in trouble. Hopefully he’s learned from his mistakes.

Our Lives: Sarah the Lumberjill – Friday, BBC One, 7:30pm

Sarah Yeaman and her dog Biscuit.                                                                                                           Tern TV/ BBC Scotland

The latest in this series of half-hour documentaries is devoted to one Sarah Yeaman, who fells trees in the forests of Perthshire alongside her father, brother and wee dog, Biscuit. She’s part of the fourth generation of her family to choose this sometimes gruelling vocation, or “take up the saw” as she puts it. Narrated by Sarah herself, the programme grants insight into the everyday challenges of being a chainsaw-wielding artisan. Sarah is a single mum of two boys. Her busy working day starts at 7:30am. Dad Ralph is in poor health, he’s accepted that he’ll have to retire soon, but he’s quietly proud and delighted at the prospect of Sarah taking over the traditional family business.

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