This week, Paul Whitelaw previews a heavyweight drama about a notorious real-life heist and a major new profile of Margaret Thatcher.
NEXT WEEK’S TV
Monday to Thursday, STV, 9pm
Despite taking place just four years ago, the notorious burglary of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company has inspired three films. The most recent, King of Thieves starring Michael Caine and Ray Winstone, was released only last year. You would, therefore, be forgiven for presuming that this four-part dramatisation of the biggest burglary in English legal history is surplus to requirements. Fortunately, it isn’t. Co-written by esteemed factual dramatist Jeff Pope (Philomena; Cilla; Stan & Ollie), it’s a typically well-researched affair boasting more depth and detail than its predecessors. A strong cast including Timothy Spall, Kenneth Cranham and David Hayman flesh out Pope’s compelling account of how an unlikely gang of elderly crooks (almost) got away with it.
THATCHER: A VERY BRITISH REVOLUTION
Monday, BBC Two, 9pm
29 years after her turbulent reign was vanquished, Margaret Thatcher is still one of the most divisive figures in British politics. You don’t have to be a fan to enjoy this exhaustive five-part documentary charting her rise and fall, it’s fascinating. It begins, aptly enough, with her early 1970s emergence as a prominent political figure and milk snatcher. Only the second woman to hold a position in a Conservative cabinet, Thatcher was a tirelessly driven workaholic. She was also, in the words of Ken Clarke, “a bizarre character, one of the most unlikely human beings I ever met.” He’s joined by other notables such as Shirley Williams and Norman Tebbit. It also boasts a wealth of rare archive footage.
ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: DEPRESSION AND ME
Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm
Much like Thatcher, infamous Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell could hardly be described as a sympathetic political figure. However, to his credit, he’s had a long history of talking publically about his mental health issues: Campbell has struggled with depression for most of his life. In this candid documentary, part of a short series of programmes tied in with Mental Health Awareness Week, he explains and explores the various ways in which he’s learned how to live with his condition, in the hope of getting a better understanding of it. He talks to psychiatrists, doctors and members of his own family. The nuanced and sometimes drily funny results are the most valuable thing he’s ever contributed to public life.
Wednesday, BBC Four, 9pm
The rapid change of Britain in the 1890s made Dylan’s decision to go electric in 1965 look like a big fuss about nothing. In this lively new series, mathematician Hannah Fry, psychotherapist Philippa Perry and – not to be outdone – actor Paul McGann traverse a decade in which the electrified modern world sparked into life. Our host in episode one is the engaging Fry, who provides a wry account of the dawn of this brave new electric age. She describes it as “an unregulated free-for-all where enthusiasm still exceeds understanding.” Britain was experiencing progress on an unprecedented scale, hence the sheer number of weird and wonderful developments it went through. You can’t beat a bit of eccentric Victoriana.
FILM OF THE WEEK
Friday, Film4, 7:15pm
Brought to you by the team behind Airplane! and The Naked Gun, this spy/WWII/Elvis Presley movie spoof is still unfairly overlooked. As that precis suggests, the film is all over the place but that’s part of its absurd charm. Val Kilmer plays a rock star who unwittingly sets out to foil a world-threatening Nazi plot. Silly sight gags abound, it’s great fun.
LAST WEEK’S TV
ONE DAY IN GAZA
Monday 13th, BBC Two
This urgent and disturbing film was a moment-by-moment document of the horrific events in Gaza on 14th May 2018. Tens of thousands of Palestinians had gathered along the border to peacefully protest the opening of a new US embassy in Jerusalem, a controversial step ordered by Donald Trump. By the end of that day 62 were dead and over 2,000 lay injured. Another Trump tragedy.
STORYVILLE: A GERMAN LIFE
Monday 13th, BBC Four
Brunhilde Pomsel was the secretary to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. In this intensely uncomfortable documentary, she was interviewed at length about her time spent working for an evil regime. She came across as selfish and self-pitying, a sobering illustration of how superficial, foolish people can be swept up by fascism. Educate yourself. Think, have courage. This must never, ever happen again.
NADIYA: ANXIETY AND ME
Wednesday 15th, BBC One
I’ve lived with anxiety for most of my adult life. Chances are, you have too. Thankfully, we now live in a society where discussion of such issues is no longer taboo. The BBC’s season of celeb-fronted documentaries about mental health (see Alastair Campbell: Depression and Me and David Harewood: Psychosis and Me) continued with this insightful, helpful essay from Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussein.