The Statue Wars: One Summer in Bristol – Thursday, BBC Two, 9pm
Last summer, a statue of the 18th century slave trader Edward Colston was torn down in Bristol and tossed into the harbour. That Black Lives Matter protest was a powerful symbolic gesture, but all some people could talk about was criminal damage and erasing history. Which is missing the point; a myopic simplification. This nuanced documentary follows Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees during the immediate aftermath. The first directly-elected black mayor of a European city, Rees had to delicately negotiate his way through a tense period when Bristol represented a microcosm of our harshly divided society. He received death threats. The programme dissects a complex issue encompassing racism, social inequality, poor housing and education. It addresses the bigger picture.
Inside No. 9 – Monday, BBC Two, 9:30pm
The penultimate episode of series six finds Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith at their most Tales of the Unexpected-esque. It’s an absorbing chiller, largely swathed in late night gloom, starring Derek Jacobi as a formidable old barrister with a reputation for never losing a case. But his glory days are far behind him. He’s on his death bed, wheezing and railing against the dying of the light. Shearsmith plays his sensitive, kindly nurse: a probable nod to the relationship between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jason Robards in Magnolia. Set over a single night – naturally, Jacobi’s luxury apartment is situated on the ninth floor – it has typically twisty fun with those age-old themes of guilt and forgiveness.
Hospital – Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm
As this exceptional series continues, the staff at University Hospital, Coventry are trying to get back to some form of normality. But as one senior doctor says, the aftershock of the pandemic will be felt for years. University Hospital is famous for being the first hospital in the world to administer the Covid vaccine following its clinical approval. Now – the series was filmed in the spring of this year – it’s dealing with a whole range of non-Covid-related emergencies. The staff are even busier than they were during lockdown, but the amount of available beds is smaller than it was before Covid. The episode also highlights the importance of treating patients with mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
999: What’s Your Emergency? – Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
One of Channel 4’s hardy perennials, this documentary series about Britain’s emergency services is generally quite sensitive, but occasionally its attempts to balance light and shade trigger some bizarre tonal shifts and errors of judgement. For instance, this week’s episode contains a sequence in which a woman comes home to find her husband in bed with two sex workers. Set against an incongruously cheerful soundtrack, the whole thing is played for knockabout laughs, when in reality it’s incredibly bleak. A very strange production choice, as this episode is, at heart, a serious report about a growing lack of faith in the criminal justice system and how people can be driven to violent forms of revenge caused by emotional distress.
Intelligence – Tuesday, Sky One, 10pm
A sitcom inspired by the espionage-fuelled likes of 24, Intelligence stars David Schwimmer as one Jerry Bernstein, a self-centred and buffoonish American National Security agent working in the UK’s distinctly unglamorous Government Communications Headquarters. His de facto sidekick is played by series creator Nick Mohammed. As series two begins, terrorists have hijacked a cyber-weapon with the intention of blowing up a nuclear power station. Bernstein worked on the device back in 2016, but he can’t remember the override password. Intelligence is pitched as an escalating farce, but it’s only mildly amusing at best. Still, Mohammed is a likeable presence and Schwimmer is a great comic actor, so it’s worth watching if only to witness him in action.
In the Footsteps of Killers – Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm
On Boxing Day 1996, Patrick Warren and David Spencer, two young boys from Birmingham, disappeared without trace. This cold case documentary, which is hosted by Silent Witness actor Emilia Fox and criminologist David Wilson, tries to find out what happened to them. Patrick and David were the first missing children to be pictured on milk cartons in the UK. And yet despite that effort, Wilson argues that, due to their working class background, Patrick and David were dismissed as unimportant in the eyes of the police. They didn’t fit a media-friendly profile. It’s deeply angering. Although the programme suffers from some of the usual contrived and borderline dubious trappings of this genre, it strikes me as fundamentally well-intentioned.
Billion Pound Bond Street – Thursday, STV, 9pm
Bond Street is London’s most exclusive shopping thoroughfare. According to this one-off documentary, it hawks more luxury brands than any other half-mile on Earth. We’re gravely informed that the bespoke businesses on Bond Street have struggled due to the pandemic, but they all seem to be doing just fine. As long as there are people who can afford to hoover up their wares, then it will continue to thrive. This is a blithe celebration of filthy riches and shallow flash. At one point, without a trace of irony, a Dior employee describes Bond Street as “one long Instagram location.” With so many people struggling at the moment, programmes such as this come across as utterly tone deaf.