TV critic Paul Whitelaw looks forward to a look back at the story of notorious Glasgow serial killer Bible John, an examination of the complicated relationship between the royals and the media and comedy-drama The Outlaws.
The Hunt for Bible John – Monday, BBC Scotland, 9pm
The notorious serial killer known as Bible John murdered at least three women in Glasgow in the late 1960s. To this day his identity remains a mystery. It’s a horrifying case, but this two-part series doesn’t wallow in the grisly details. On the contrary, it’s a sensitive and responsible piece of work; a serious endeavour that places the murders in vivid sociohistorical context. It takes place in a dismal post-war environment blighted by extreme poverty and violence, a place where working-class kids lived for the freedom of dancing at the weekend. Teeming dancehalls such as the Barrowlands were where Bible John found his victims. The series also provides fascinating insight into the methods of 1960s crime reporters.
The Princes and the Press – Monday, BBC Two, 9pm
Princes William and Harry have, to say the least, weathered a difficult relationship with the media. Whatever your opinion of the Royal family, I think most reasonable people agree – on an instinctively empathetic level – that they’ve been treated unfairly at times. It’s all relative, but you know what I mean. In this two-part series, the BBC’s Media Editor Amol Rajan apparently highlights some of the illegal activities used by certain portions of the press during their ongoing race to present exclusives. I haven’t seen the programme, it wasn’t available at the time of writing, and I have very mixed feelings about this particular subject. But I’m flagging it up because it sounds quite interesting.
Along for the Ride with David O’Doherty – Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
The whimsical Irish comedian David O’Doherty is a keen cyclist. This new – if you will – vehicle follows him as he enjoys a series of scenic bicycle rides with various celebrity chums. His first guest is comedian Richard Ayoade, a naturally funny man with, as it turns out, a pair of surprisingly sturdy thighs. He and O’Doherty cycle through an area of rural Sussex while shooting the gentle breeze. Occasionally they park their bikes to visit tearooms or toast marshmallows around the fire. You get the pretty picture. It’s blatantly indebted to the likes of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Mortimer & Whitehouse Gone Fishing, but that’s fine. It’s a genial time-passer.
The Outlaws ‐ Monday, BBC One, 10:35pm
In the penultimate episode of this enjoyable comedy-drama, troubled influencer Lady Gabby (Eleanor Tomlinson) takes lawyer Greg (writer/director Stephen Merchant) to meet her formidable aristocratic father, who’s played by special guest star Richard E. Grant on reliably ice-veined form. Meanwhile, we learn a little bit more about endearingly desperate and officious community service supervisor Diana (Jessica Gunning, an excellent yet underrated comic actor). It’s a pleasure spending time with these characters, all of whom are rather lost and looking for acceptance. Merchant clearly likes them, he’s not in the business of belittling people. You can watch all six episodes on iPlayer. And it’ll be back next year for another series. See, sometimes good things can happen.
Dolly: The Sheep That Changed the World – Tuesday, BBC Scotland, 10pm
In 1997, scientists in Scotland created the first ever clone of an adult animal. This major breakthrough made headline news around the world and sparked an incendiary debate. Told via contributions from the pioneering lab-dwellers themselves, this documentary traces their process while investigating the aftermath. The genetically-engineered birth of Dolly proved controversial; critics rang alarm bells about its potentially terrifying repercussions. Needless to say, the boffins weren’t mad scientists hell-bent on creating a master race. Their work was geared towards helping people with genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Parkinson’s. My only criticism of this otherwise revealing programme is its chortling treatment of animal rights activists, which comes across as cheap and unnecessary.
Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs – Wednesday, Channel 4, 8pm
One gets the impression that O’Grady – officially TV’s kindest human – would gladly host this long-running series exclusively for the rest of his professional life. No wonder, it’s a dream job. During this week’s visit to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, O’Grady meets a Shih Tzu puppy called Daisy who is in urgent need of delicate liver surgery. The other stars of the show are Marley and Maisy, an unusually timid pair of tiny Chihuahuas who are going through the gradual process of being socialised, and the lovably large and boisterous Lizzie; in many ways the ultimate dog. As always, there’s no need to worry: nothing bad ever happens in O’Grady’s canine wonderland. Happy tail-wagging endings abound.
Lindisfarne’s Geordie Genius: The Alan Hull Story – Friday, BBC Four, 9pm
We’ve all heard of 1970s folk-rockers Lindisfarne, but what do we know of the man who shaped their earthy sound? Alan Hull died in 1995 at the tragically young age of 50. This illuminating documentary gives him his due. Hull comes across as quick-witted, charismatic and exceptionally talented; a working-class poet with dedicated socialist principles. Fellow Geordie Sting describes him as “our Bob Dylan”, which is apt enough, but he strikes me as more of a Tyneside Ray Davies. The programme doesn’t shy away from the fact that he was a mercurial heavy-drinker, but he was clearly an endearing character. I guarantee that this labour of love will encourage you to dig deeper into his work.