Balance your week’s viewing by indulging in some smutty wit Miriam- Margolyes-style before delving into some dark tales of children who were shipped to Australia from post-war Britain.
Imagine… Miriam Margolyes: Up for Grabs – Monday, BBC One, 11:40pm
The latest episode of this long-running arts strand focuses on an eccentric National Treasure ™. In the tolerable company of Alan Yentob, Miriam Margolyes reflects upon her fascinating life and career. The opening scene is quite telling. Margolyes has an effusive review framed in her hallway. She rolls her eyes and shrugs while pointing out that it’s from the Daily Mail. The irony isn’t lost on her. She’s gay, left-wing and progressive. Which makes it all the more remarkable that she’s so warmly embraced by just about everybody. Such is the force of her charmingly smutty, witty personality. Eloquent and self-deprecating, Margolyes is a good egg. The programme also reminds us of her impressive versatility.
Long Lost Family Special: Shipped to Australia – Monday, STV, 9pm
This is terribly sad and angering. After World War Two and right up until the early 1970s, thousands of British children were shipped off to Australia with the promise of a better life. Many of them ended up in horrific institutions mired in physical and sexual abuse. Long Lost Family mainstays Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall highlight a scandal that should be common knowledge. It revolves around a lovely man who lost all contact with his brothers when he was sent to Tasmania. For decades his British relatives assumed that he was living the dream. He’d forgotten all about them. Nothing could be further from the truth. When he finally reunites with his family in England, well, you can imagine.
Inside No. 9 – Wednesday, BBC Two, 10pm
Our latest setting is a Welsh village primary school. A newly hired teacher (Reece Shearsmith) has big shoes to fill, as the pupils and staff (Steve Pemberton plays the headmaster) are still in thrall to his much-loved predecessor. But he tries his best to inspire the kids with his heartfelt lessons about environmental issues. This being Inside No. 9, things take a cruel and unusual turn. Inappropriate comments and vegetable-based misunderstandings ensue (trust me, that makes sense in context). It isn’t one of the strongest episodes, but the denouement, while not entirely surprising, is quite good fun. And I will never tire of Pemberton and Shearsmith’s unabashed fondness for Carry On style humour. They have no shame.
Luxury Food for Less – Thursday, Channel 4, 8pm
Plump up a cushion and get out your notebooks as lifestyle experts – nice work if you can get it – Michelle Ackerley and Sophie Morgan explain to we mere mortals how it’s apparently quite possible to stock your larder with great food while on a budget. Yep, it’s one of those programmes. They meet with various supermarket insiders and the culinary brains responsible for some of Britain’s most popular healthy ready meals. I haven’t seen the show, but it sounds well-meaning. I’m recommending it only because I can practically guarantee that it will contain at least one or two nuggets of useful information. Which, if you’re anything like me, you’ll immediately forget while devouring a packet of crisps.
Julia Bradbury: Breast Cancer and Me – Thursday, STV, 9pm
The popular television personality Julia Bradbury was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021. During this candid, tender and sensitive programme, she talks us through her arduous emotional and physical ordeal. We also spend time with her sister and their octogenarian mother. Bradbury doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her. She’s fully aware that her story is of no more importance than anyone else’s. All lives are important. She’s also aware that her celebrity status can be exploited as a force for good: one hopes that other breast cancer patients will gain some succour from her honest and open account. There is anguish. There is hope. Hats off to all concerned for this valuable and admirably unsentimental essay.
Unreported World – Friday, Channel 4, 7:30pm
Channel 4’s stalwart investigative journalism series visits St Louis this week. It’s a city in the harrowing grip of a drug addiction crisis. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that, according to research, has claimed more African American lives in recent years than Covid. When Krishnan Guru-Murthy meets with local residents, he discovers that many of those addicted to Fentanyl exist, barely, within the ignored margins of society. Some of them are homeless. Some of them are sex workers. He also interviews a local pastor who explains how drug use has become a source of self-medication for these tragically neglected people. Same as it ever was, but it’s an important point that’s always worth repeating.
Here We Go – Friday, BBC One, 8:30pm
Here’s a new pre-watershed family sitcom for which I can only provide some faint yet vaguely hopeful praise. It’s amusing, likeable, and I can’t fault its cast of excellent comic actors. Jim Howick (Horrible Histories; Ghosts) plays the unemployed patriarch of an extended middle-class family. He’s a textbook harmless ‘dad joke’ buffoon. His wife is played by Katherine Parkinson. Alison Steadman and Tom Basden (who also wrote the series) crop up as his in-laws. The whole thing is filmed from the perspective of the teenage son, who’s working on a documentary for his Media Studies course. Your obvious reference points are Peep Show and Outnumbered. I’ll reserve judgement on this one, but it does show some promise.