THE TRUMP SHOW
Thursday, BBC Two, 9pm
In episode two of this damning account of Trump’s presidency, we reach his second year in office. He’s facing 18 allegations of sexual assault. The CIA has proof of his electoral collusion with Russia. They want him gone, he’s a liability mired in corruption. But Trump is untouchable, impervious. When under attack, he doubles down, invents his own ‘alternative facts’ and attempts to smear anyone who dares oppose him. All Trump cares about is how he can get away with things and cling on to power. This is a man without a shred of integrity, he cannot be shamed. Contributors include Stormy Daniels, the porn star who was paid hush money during the election, and despicable Trump enabler Rudy Giuliani.
IN THE FACE OF TERROR
Monday, BBC Two, 9pm
Far right groups are the world’s fastest growing terror threat. In the final episode of this resonant series about ordinary people directly affected by acts of terror, we visit Christchurch, New Zealand, where in March 2019, a far right terrorist carried out a mass shooting in two mosques. His attack was streamed live on Facebook. The programme features brief clips from the livestream, but please don’t be alarmed: no one is shown being hurt or killed, we only see him approaching the mosques in his car. This isn’t an exploitative series, it’s a moving tribute to the victims and their families. It also seeks to understand how confused and vulnerable people can become radicalised by extremist groups. A thoughtful piece.
THE MILLION POUND CUBE
Monday to Friday, STV, 9pm
There are few things I enjoy more in life than growling “THE CUBE” to myself while pottering around the house. That’s because I’m easily amused and have nothing better to do. So you can imagine my almost tear-sodden delight upon discovering that The Cube (“THE CUBE”), that Schofield-fronted quiz o’ utter nonsense, has returned after a gap of five long years. This triumphant week-long comeback involves celebs trying their best to raise £1,000,000 for charity. If you haven’t seen it before, imagine The Crystal Maze crossed with a light-entertainment Black Mirror. A terrifying dystopian game show with meerkat ad-breaks. Philip Schofield hosting The Running Man via RoboCop. I’ll buy that for a dollar.
Tuesday, BBC One, 9pm
In episode four of the only British drama worth following this year, things go from bad to worse (then worse again). I’ve praised the brittle, queasy performances of Peter Davison and Alison Steadman in previous columns, but this week it’s Victoria Hamilton who steals every moment she’s given. Belle (formerly known as Anna from Doctor Foster) is one of Life’s most sympathetic characters. A functioning alcoholic who detests her boring, lonely life, she puts up a front of cynical self-awareness. Until she has a drink or six. And then it all comes crashing down. Writer Mike Bartlett has hit upon something special here: a – yes – relatable drama about people suffering in their hermetic pods of anguish and pain.
Wednesday, BBC Two, 10pm
This cheap filler makes me feel old. I was 25 when the new millennium flipped its calendar. That feels like only yesterday. As The Noughties makes abundantly clear, it wasn’t only yesterday. It’s a mildly diverting time capsule in which Angela Scanlon and her guests – comedians Geoff Norcott and Ellie Taylor in episode one – gather in a socially distanced living room for a natter about the not so distant past. They begin, naturally enough, in the year 2000. Subjects under review include the weird anti-climax of the Y2K bug and the relatively innocent debut of Big Brother. We’re also reminded of Parkinson’s appallingly insensitive interview with Victoria Beckham. His opening salvo: does David wear your knickers and are you anorexic?
COUNT BASIE: THROUGH HIS OWN EYES
Friday, BBC Four, 9pm
Basie was a swinging big band pioneer. He was also very private. This home movie-assisted documentary sheds some light on the man. It’s partially told via the notes Basie wrote for his memoirs during train journeys. He spent most of his adult life on the road; he worked hard for a family which included his disabled daughter. During an era when children with cerebral palsy were often hidden, Basie and his wife doted on her. There is so much to chew on here. Basie was a hugely talented African-American who refused to let racism grind him down. He didn’t ignore it, of course, but in the early 1970s the Black Panther movement regarded him as a bourgeoisie sell-out.
BETWEEN THE COVERS
Friday, BBC Two, 7:30pm
I don’t actually mind the fact that, due to COVID, most television now consists of people chatting in small studios. It reminds me of television when I was a child. Appealingly dull, a minor source of low-budget comfort. Between the Covers is a weekly book group in which the likeable Sara Cox tasks various celebrities with… well you know what a book group is. This week, they begin with A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Guest Bill Bailey cites it as his favourite novel. Book of the week is Fifty-Fifty, a crime thriller by Steve Cavanagh. Not my sort of thing – I’m a voracious reader of non-fiction only – but you might find their recommendations useful.