Agatha & Poirot: Partners in Crime – ITV, Monday, 9pm
Hosted by Richard E. Grant and his ostentatious scarf, this tribute to Agatha Christie and her most enduring creation is an agreeable time-passer. A galloping galaxy of famous fans including Stephen Fry, Caroline Quentin and Zoe Wannamaker pitch up to explain what Christie’s work means to them, while Grant recounts the main beats of her life as well as her decades-long relationship with the fastidious Belgian sleuth. It unfolds in a strangely comforting world of genteel Torquay tea rooms, opulent steam trains and gallons of deadly poison. It easy to take Christie for granted, but she was obviously a genius. David Suchet is conspicuous by his absence, presumably because he’s said everything he has to say about Poirot.
Canal Boat Diaries – BBC Four, Monday to Thursday, 7pm
A mild-mannered man pootling around on a narrowboat, what’s not to like? In series two of this comforting diversion, Robbie Cummings – who looks like a happily retired member of Basement Jaxx – continues his existential escape from society via the heart of Britain’s canal network. Here we find him during lockdown, tending to the needs of his vessel while enjoying the serene vistas of this murky green and pleasant land. This is slow television in the most acceptable sense: a solitary traveller navigating waterways while providing little nuggets of history. I envy Robbie’s life. If I wasn’t tragically lumbered with a timid housecat and a total lack of practical ability, I’d be out there in a heartbeat.
Louis Theroux: Shooting Joe Exotic – BBC2, Monday, 9pm
Ten years ago, while making a documentary called America’s Most Dangerous Pets, Theroux spent time with the controversial zoo owner Joe Exotic. At that time, Exotic was just one of the many strange and dubious characters Theroux has encountered over the years. But in 2020 he attained global infamy as the, shall we say, eccentric star of the Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. He’s currently serving a 22-year prison sentence after being found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot and 17 charges of animal cruelty. In this programme, (unavailable for preview) Theroux meets with a team campaigning for Exotic’s release, interviews friends and family-members who haven’t spoken on camera before.
Snackmasters – Channel4, Tuesday, 9.20pm
TV’s resident maitre d’ Fred Sirieix is only too happy to be a living parody of himself – the first words out of his mouth as this series returns are “Ooh la la!” That’s not a ‘diss’, good luck to the man. He’s making hay. In Snackmasters, he presides over professional chefs as they attempt to unlock the secret recipes of cheap popular snack foods. The duellists on this occasion are a Prince Harry lookalike and “a no-nonsense Yorkshireman”. Their mission: to successfully recreate a KFC meal. If you can ignore the product placement and the innately condescending concept of Michelin-starred artisans lowering themselves into the deep fat fryer of high street snacks, then it’s quite good fun.
Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs – ITV, Wednesday, 8pm
The latest series of this irresistible wet-nosed sideshow begins with O’Grady returning to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home to see how everyone is getting on. He meets a pair of Maltese Terriers who staff suspect may have come from a puppy farm in Romania – they were sold to a British family, who can no longer look after them, for the extortionate sum of £4,000. O’Grady also meets a three-month-old Spaniel-cross who is crawling with mites. Alas, staff suspect that he may also be the result of puppy farming. Preview copies weren’t available, but as a fan of this show I can guarantee that, despite the fundamentally sad subject matter, it will be uplifting in the end.
Food Unwrapped – Channel 4, Friday, 8pm
This light-hearted factual series is basically an extended version of those little educational films they used to show on Play School. It trots around the globe with a view to exposing the (usually benign) truth about what we’re eating. This week, Helen Lawal visits a futuristic Nescafe factory and solves the mystery of how those crazy caffeinated cats put the froth in instant coffee. Their exact methods are a closely guarded secret, but it involves nitrogen gas. Meanwhile, Matt Tebbutt dons a Man from Del Monte fedora and travels to Mount Vesuvius to find out why so many of our tinned tomatoes are Italian, and Kate Quilton visits Genoa to explain how panettone has such a long shelf life.
Rosie’s Trip Hazard: My Great British Adventure – Channel 4, Friday, 8.30pm
Comedian Rosie Jones hosts this scenic round-Britain travelogue in which she tips a knowing wink to the clichéd conventions of the genre (narrator Olivia Colman almost overdoses on irony). The series begins in the Lake District, where Jones and her celebrity guest Scarlett Moffatt visit the home of William Wordsworth, ride a traction engine and take part in a Viking battle re-enactment. Jones, who is gay and has cerebral palsy, opens with a good gag. Her world-weary agent (played by an actor) says, “In a way, you tick a lot of boxes. Woman, disabled, gay, northern…” Her reply: “I don’t identify as northern.” It’s a slight vehicle, but Jones is funny. Her best work is presumably ahead of her.