- Easter TV: will Fargo be the only show worth watching?
Where are the bunny ears? We pick 10 highlights from a slightly underwhelming schedule that includes food specials, the pope and a man with a beard (no, not that one) This Easter weekend, television has something for everyone. Or does it? The lack of effort on the part of the broadcasters this year is staggering. We're basically getting a normal weekend of telly, with a cursory amount of quasi-festive programming chucked in as an afterthought. Don't ignore your television completely though. Alongside the barrage of Don't Get Done, Get Dom , Flog It! and repeated Benny Hill retrospectives (and snooker; my God, there's a lot of snooker on this weekend), there are a few bright spots. I've scoured the schedules and found 10 shows that are either Easter-specific or decent enough to count as festive programming. Don't have time to watch them all? Luckily for you, I've ranked them in descending order of importance. Continue reading... Billy Bob Thornton in Fargo, which has an impeccable cast and good reviews from the US.Billy Bob Thornton in Fargo, which has an impeccable cast and good reviews from the US.
- Natural World: Honey Badgers; The Trip TV review
It's tough getting an hour of good TV out of one animal, but a cricket box-wearing BBC crew have a go with a bunch of badgers and make it home with all their cohones, if not their kit "If you push him into a corner then he will go for you," says a white Serf Ifrican farmer, about the subject and star of Honey Badgers (BBC2) . "He will go for your balls, and he will get all your balls out, one time, as quick as that." Quick erz dit. Jeez, how many balls do they have around here? Not as many nor as big as honey badgers which, according to Guinness World Records, is the world's most fearless animal. They'll take on porcupines, poisonous snakes, hyenas, lions even. Plus Afrikaner farmers and their dogs, no problem. Continue reading... Masters of mayhem honey badgers steal the show in BBC2's latest Natural World. Photograph: Robin Cox/BBC/Oxford Scientific Films/Robin CoxMasters of mayhem honey badgers steal the show in BBC2's latest Natural World. Photograph: Robin Cox/BBC/Oxford Scientific Films/Robin Cox
- TV catch-up guide: from True Detective to In The Flesh
True Detective | Rule Britannia! Music, Mischief And Morals In The 18th Century | Black Sails | Hunting Season | In The Flesh The most talked-about show of the year - well, at least until Game Of Thrones swaggered back into view - this Louisiana-set murder mystery also proved deeply unsettling, offering up a grim vision of a community in slow-motion decay. If that wasn't enough, True Detective also featured the A-list talents of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, as well as arguably the most ambitious single scene in TV history - an uninterrupted long take through a hellish housing project. The series is available to buy over on Blinkbox, while Sky viewers can catch the last trio of episodes via Sky Go. Continue reading... Harrennaughey? McConaurrelson? Neither work, really. True Detective.Harrennaughey? McConaurrelson? True Detective.
- A brooding bunch of Brit baddies: the new Jaguar advert
'Strong utilised the persuasive power of a red-hot poker in The Long Firm, before moving with the times by using a giant microwave in Kick-Ass' Reading this on mobile? Click here to view Crime doesn't pay. As Ernst Stavro Blofeld or Baron Greenback will attest, you can have all the hidden lairs, ruthless henchmen and tanks full of piranhas in the world, but you'll get your comeuppance in the end. Still, as Jaguar seems to be claiming, at least you can drive a shiny moll-magnet while working your nefarious schemes. As sales pitches go, having Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong and Tom Hiddleston sing the praises of British supervillains and their expensive motors makes a change from the usual mix of soft tops, soft rock and soft porn. But would you buy a flash car from these men? Strong utilised the persuasive power of a red-hot poker in The Long Firm, before moving with the times by using a giant microwave in Kick-Ass. Kingsley may gain karma points for his role as Gandhi but he also played the comically profane Brit gangster Don Logan in Sexy Beast. The ad's director has claimed it was Kingsley's Shakespearean roles that attracted him, though even in the most modern retellings, Othello is seldom seen behind the wheel of an F-type coupe. Meanwhile in the Avengers films, Hiddleston is more ambitious than these human baddies, being more your "mythological deity with designs on ruling the Earth" type. Anyway, all they get up to here is driving a Jag to a stately home to draw parallels between British actors ("More focused, more precise, an eye for detail") and "British" cars. Those with a similar eye for detail will notice the quotation marks, given that this great British marque is owned by Tata of India. Cue twirl of moustache and villainous laugh: Mwah-hah-hah-hah. Continue reading... Tom Hiddleston.
- Orange is the New Black: watch the new trailer for season two
The US prison drama returns to Netflix on 6 June and as this new footage shows, there'll be a new inmate at Litchfield women's prison Momentum is already building for the second season of Orange is the New Black , the US prison drama that debuted on Netflix last summer to rave reviews. This week the real-life Alex Vause, Catherine Cleary Wolters, gave an interview clarifying the true details of her relationship with Piper Kerman the author of the memoir upon which the TV show is based in prison (let's just say they didn't hook up in the way they did in the series). Continue reading... Taylor Schilling in a scene from the second series of Orange is the New Black. Photograph: Jojo Whilden for NetflixTaylor Schilling in a scene from the second series of Orange is the New Black. Photograph: Jojo Whilden for NetflixTaylor Schilling in season two of Orange is the New Black Photograph: JOJO WHILDENTaylor Schilling in season two of Orange is the New Black Photograph: JOJO WHILDEN
- Do Or Die: the survival show with danger on speed dial
It's about time telly taught us some real-life skills, like how to evade an oncoming tsunami. All you'll learn here is how to become a paranoid wreck Reading this on mobile? Click here to view Picture this: you're making dinner, your attention diverted as you gaze out of the window contemplating a gas bill, or the sorry state of your net curtains, or how many atoms are contained in a single cornflake. Suddenly, the breakfast bar collapses on top of you. You're trapped, the imitation granite crushing your ribcage much like the futility of life crushes your spirit. Hot spaghetti hoops are pouring from the pan into your mouth, which is agape in mute panic. Do you: a) burrow out by clawing at the floor beneath you; b) using Archimedes's law of the lever, pry the wreckage off with a spatula; or c) time it so that the resulting fire burns away enough of your kitchen to facilitate an escape? Decide NOW! Continue reading... A CGI reconstruction of calamate from Do Or Die. Photograph: Saber Fx/National Geographic Channels
- Have you been watching The Americans?
Two KGB agents infiltrate suburban Washington DC in the 1980s and Saturday nights on ITV. It's an occasionally brutal, satisfyingly twisty thriller but far less annoying than Homeland In the richly detailed but morally murky 1980s world of The Americans , two KGB agents pose as a US suburban couple. But take a step back and you notice another example of audacious international infiltration: how did this intense drama end up on Saturday night ITV? And will the channel stick with it for the just-announced third season ? I hope so. We're almost halfway through season two and though The Americans is juggling more plotlines than a nested Matryoshka doll, it barrels forward with a real sense of purpose. It's the Homeland you can watch without wanting to bang your head against a wall. Continue reading... The Americans: 'It barrels forward with a real sense of purpose.' Photograph: Craig BlankenhornThe Americans: 'It barrels forward with a real sense of purpose.' Photograph: Craig Blankenhorn
- Richard Broke obituary
Film and TV producer behind such politically controversial BBC dramas as The Monocled Mutineer and Tumbledown Richard Broke, who has died aged 70, not only produced and script-edited some of the most significant and politically controversial television dramas; he did so from a wheelchair, after being injured in a car crash in his 20s, and became a fierce campaigner for better access in public places, particularly in the theatre, one of his great loves. As a young assistant stage manager, before his accident, he helped Laurence Olivier launch the first Chichester Festival theatre season. The stellar cast included Olivier himself, Joan Plowright, Michael Redgrave, Sybil Thorndyke, André Morell, Lewis Casson, Joan Greenwood, John Neville and Keith Michell. One of his treasured possessions was the 1962 programme of Uncle Vanya, signed by them all. Continue reading... Rufus Sewell and Kate Beckinsale in Cold Comfort Farm (1996), one of around 50 films overseen by Richard Broke as executive producer of Screen One. Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex FeaturesTumbledown, a 1988 BBC drama about the Falklands war produced by Richard Broke, starred Colin Firth as Lt Robert Lawrence MCWinston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981), produced by Richard Broke, featured, from left, Edward Woodward as Sir Samuel Hoare, Peter Vaughan as Sir Thomas Inskip, Robert Hardy as Sir Winston Churchill, Eric Porter as Neville Chamberlain, Peter Barkworth as Stanley Baldwin. Photograph: Ronald Grant ArchiveThe Monocled Mutineer, 1986, starring Paul McGann as Percy Toplis, and produced by Richard Broke, became a flash point for a general attack on the BBC's perceived leftwing biasThe Monocled Mutineer, 1986, starring Paul McGann as Percy Toplis, and produced by Richard Broke, became a flash point for a general attack on the BBC's perceived leftwing bias
- Mad Men recap: season seven, episode one Time Zones
What's new? Miniskirts, crochet hats, and unorthodox sexual arrangements. The 70s have dawned on Madison Avenue Spoiler alert: This blog is for those who are watching season seven of Mad Men. Don't read on if you haven't seen episode one. A (very) quick beginner's guide to Mad Men Continue reading... Mad Men: season seven, episode one Time Zones. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss). Photograph: Jordin Althaus/AMCMad Men: season seven, episode one Time Zones. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss). Photograph: Jordin Althaus/AMC
- Orphan Black review: Tatiana Maslany is dazzlingly impressive to watch
This fascinating clone thriller mixes science with suspense and gives its lead actor a once-in-a-career opportunity to stun the viewers As unique selling points go, Orphan Black's is just that extra bit special. This Canadian-made show about a young woman who discovers she is one of a "family" of clones (hardly a massive spoiler, you can figure this out early in episode one) stands out because of the perfomance, or rather performances, of its lead Tatiana Maslany . Maslany plays half a dozen different clones over season one, with who knows how many more promised for the imminent second season. We start with the street-smart Sarah, but soon meet her test tube sisters: soccer mom Alison, microbiology student Cosima, assassin Helena and more. Delivering one creditable performance for a show is tough enough, but Maslany nails several here, often appearing in scenes as multiple versions interacting seamlessly. This is Olympic-level, endurance acting. It's like watching a long-distance runner do several races all at once. It's always clear which clone she's playing accent, attitude and body language, along with wardrobe and makeup conspire to create Maslany's collection of characters. Each new turn is full of surprises, such as with the aforementioned soccer mom Alison, who starts off strident and uptight, seeming to be no fun at all, then rapidly steals all the wittiest and most moving scenes. But the real fun comes from watching Maslany immersing herself in myriad layers of performance: such as the scene when Sarah has to adopt the personality of another clone. It's dizzying, impressive stuff to watch, let alone act. Continue reading... Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning in Orphan Black Photograph: BBC America/Sportsphoto Ltd/AllstarTatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning in Orphan Black Photograph: BBC America/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar
- LBC: from heartbreak to banter to political hot potatoes
Last month's live debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage was a coup for LBC, the one-time London talk-radio station that has just gone national. It sees itself as an antidote to an elitist BBC, with its presenters free to be as opinionated as they like. Is this why so many of us are tuning in? Nick Ferrari , the presenter of the LBC breakfast show, makes for a somewhat alarming prospect first thing in the morning, his hail-fellow-well-met manners and his pugilistic confidence coming at you like a triple espresso with too much sugar in it, whether you happen to be listening at home or in the station itself, as I am today. At home, however, you can only imagine what the king of the talk radio jungle must look like when he's in full flight. I'd pictured a red face and an air of deep must-do-my-best concentration, but observing him now from the other side of the glass that separates him from his producers, I'm struck by his studied macho nonchalance: hands behind his head, elbows flapping, belly out and proud. If he had a pint and a fag on the go, you'd hardly be surprised. It makes for an oddly old-fashioned sight given that, in radio circles, 53-year-old Ferrari is currently the man of the moment. Ferrari is on a high, still coming down from the first of the debates between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage , the leader of Ukip, which LBC staged on 26 March and he moderated. Opinions vary as to who exactly won this somewhat hammy altercation; it may be, the commentators insist, that Clegg is playing a long game and Farage's bloodying of his nose will work in the deputy prime minister's favour at some point in the future. But on one thing most are agreed: this was a win both for LBC, whose patriotic red, white and blue branding could be seen all over the 10 o'clock television news programmes, and for Ferrari, who acquitted himself brilliantly given that he has so much less television experience than David Dimbleby, the chair of the second debate. Today, moreover, Ferrari has been nominated for a whole clutch of Radio Academy (formerly Sony) awards. Call Nick Clegg , the half-hour phone-in he hosts with the deputy prime minister each Thursday, is on the shortlist for best speech programme and best news and current affairs programme, while he is on the shortlist in his own right for speech radio personality of the year and for presenting the breakfast show of the year. No wonder he's inclined to tell anyone who will listen that "apart from being a dad, this is the greatest bloody job in the world". Continue reading... Nick Clegg's phone-in show has been shortlisted for best speech programme and best news and current affairs programme at the Radio Academy awards. Photograph: Katherine RoseNick Clegg's phone-in show has been shortlisted for best speech programme and best news and current affairs programme at the Radio Academy awards. Photograph: Katherine Rose
- 24: Live Another Day what to expect from Jack Bauer's return
As Kiefer Sutherland's ruthless agent prepares for a new season after four years away, fans may want to refresh their memories After four years away from our screens, that relentlessly ridiculous action drama 2 4 is to return (Sky1, 7 May), this time set in London. There have been just under 200 episodes of the show since its launch in 2001, all of them centred on Kiefer Sutherland 's headstrong, murder-neutral federal agent, Jack Bauer. Missed a season or two? Forgotten the odd character trait? Here's a glimpse of Jack's extraordinary CV, to get you in the mood for his return. Bear in mind, if you've never watched 24 , spoilers follow. Continue reading... Murder-neutral: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in 24. Photograph: email@example.comMurder-neutral: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in 24. Photograph: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Caribbean Domino Club; Shopping With Mother; Tacita Dean: Save This Language review
Dominoes with Benjamin Zephaniah, retail bonding for mums and daughters and Tacita Dean's elegy for real film Caribbean Domino Club (Radio 4) | iPlayer Shopping With Mother (Radio 4) | iPlayer Continue reading... Jane Garvey presented Shopping With Mother. Photograph: Graham Turner for the GuardianTacita Dean: champion of old-fashioned film. Photograph: Tacita Dean/Frith Street GalleryBenjamin Zephaniah: had his 'ass whupped'. Photograph: Rex FeaturesBenjamin Zephaniah: had his 'ass whupped'. Photograph: Rex Features
- Mad Men; The Big Allotment Challenge; The Big Bang Theory review
Don Draper slides towards the 70s, BBC2 digs up another household format and The Big Bang Theory nerds get funnier and funnier Mad Men (Sky Atlantic) The Big Allotment Challenge (BBC2) | iPlayer The Big Bang Theory (E4) | 4oD Mad Men is edging cautiously, but in a good way, towards Sad Men. Everyone is, finally, reluctantly, growing up as this, which is to be the final series (although the latter half isn't to be broadcast until 2015) begins to draw a stylish and languorous curtain over events in Madison Avenue and Avenue of the Americas. The 60s are twitching to get into the 70s Don Draper even has one of these new-fangled remotes for the telly, which looks less complex, ie better, than anything produced since. Soon, someone, to my utter if vicarious chagrin, will stop smoking. Continue reading... BBC2's The Big Allotment Challenge. Photograph: Unknown/BBC/Silver RiverJim Parsons, right, as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. Photograph: Warner BrothersPeggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in Mad Men. Photograph: AMCPeggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in Mad Men. Photograph: AMC
- Next week's radio: from Bobbay Jazz to Incredible Women
David Hepworth hails the original pirate radio broadcasters, Indian jazz pioneers and famous Midlanders The year 1965 was, as all thinking people recognise, the annus mirabilis of the pop single. It was the year of Help!, Like A Rolling Stone, Help Me, Rhonda, Papa's Got A Brand New Bag and scores of other deathless 45s, which you would have had very little chance of hearing on the BBC at the time. Thanks to the officer class running the place and their cosy deals with the MU, the airwaves were dominated by dance bands. These groups all had featured singers who would attempt blush-making knock-offs of the often African-American originals. In this they were encouraged by a music industry slow to realise that it was no longer the song that mattered so much as the record. Out of this unhappy state of affairs, with its signature combination of commercial opportunism, woolly idealism and naked careerism, came the pirate stations. These were eventually driven off the air in 1967 by the Labour government with the eager connivance of the BBC, both of whom dislike being reminded of the role they played in switching on the lights at the party and suggesting it was time everyone got their coats. Continue reading... Tony Blackburn. Photograph: BBC/Richard CannonTony Blackburn. Photograph: BBC/Richard Cannon
- Mammon recap: season one, episode four
An intriguing suicide hints at a deeper story about the embezzlement, leading to justice minister Hjort's proclamation of innocence, and yet more biblical references Spoiler alert: Do not read this blog if you haven't seen episode four of Mammon on More4. Read Stuart Jeffries' episode three recap here. Continue reading... Mammon, episode four. Photograph: Nordic World AsMammon, episode four. Photograph: Nordic World As
- Martyn Auty on Richard Broke's 'impish humour and gossipy good fun'
During his time as head of Screen One at the BBC, in 1991 I pitched Richard Broke a project called A Foreign Field, with an ageing cast that included Alec Guinness , Leo McKern , Lauren Bacall and Jeanne Moreau. "I'd better commission that now" said Richard, "or they'll all croak before we shoot it." Throughout the production, in France and at Pinewood, Richard's impish humour and gossipy good fun sustained the whole cast and crew. Continue reading... Richard Broke: devout and devoted, with an incisive intelligenceRichard Broke: devout and devoted, with an incisive intelligence
- Jonathan Powell on Richard Broke: 'He did not seek controversy but, when it found him, he was not afraid to confront it'
Richard Broke belonged to that generation of producers who inherited the mantle of BBC Drama after the noise and bustle of Sydney Newman's innovatory regime. Richard was intensely loyal to the idea that the single play or film, as it later became known, should lie at the heart of the BBC's offering, representing the corporation at its best, and presenting the finest writing, acting and directing talent in a manner befitting the world's premier broadcaster. He did not set out to seek controversy but, when it found him, he was not afraid to confront it. Both Tumbledown and The Monocled Mutineer became flashpoints for a more general, concerted and, on occasion, virulent attack on the BBC's perceived leftwing bias and, by implication, its suitability to continue being sustained through public funds. The accuracy and credibility of the films were picked apart in public: their crime was to undermine the patriotism that had led to this country's victory in the Falklands war; and their endorsement of "the old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " was taken as proof that the BBC was indeed an inherently subversive organisation. Continue reading... Richard Broke, centre, with Richard Eyre and Charles Wood at the Bafta awards ceremony, 1989, where they were presented with the Single Drama award for Tumbledown. Photograph: Bafta/RexRichard Broke, centre, with Richard Eyre and Charles Wood at the Bafta awards ceremony, 1989, where they were presented with the Single Drama award for Tumbledown. Photograph: Bafta/Rex
- Parking Mad; Posh Pawn; Protecting Our Parents TV review
You can't help but get pee'd off with the parking politics of this documentary Mainly Ps today: parking, posh pawn and protecting our parents. Parking subject of Parking Mad (BBC1) , obviously is one of those things that properly gets the nation's collective goat. It's something to do with us seeing our cars as a part of us; we feel we have a basic human right to leave them where we choose and treat any attempt to tell us otherwise as a violation of that right, and of ourselves. Except it's not really, though, is it? A car is a car and parking is a service of sorts it happens on someone's land, so why shouldn't you pay for it? There have been restrictions and tariffs on traffic since Roman times, as Lincoln city council parking manager Rod Williamson points out. (By the way, Rod, if you're reading and you ever fancy a pint, I'm busy). And if you fail to pay, and get caught, why shouldn't you pay a fine? Continue reading... Rod Williamson and his merry band of parking pundits. Photograph: BBC/Century Films/Liz AllenRod Williamson and his merry band of parking pundits. Photograph: BBC/Century Films/Liz Allen
- TV highlights 18/04/2014
Rugby League: St Helens v Wigan Warriors | Doctor Who: A Farewell To Matt Smith | BBC Young Musician 2014 | Weekend Escapes With Warwick Davis | Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD | Natural World: Honey Badgers Masters Of Mayhem | Nurse Jackie Saints go into this derby with Wigan in fine fettle, performing well in the league and into the fifth round of the Challenge Cup. Wigan are also still in the cup but their league form has been inconsistent, with Shaun Wane's men struggling to replicate the form that helped them to win the double last season. They'll need to be at their best here against a team who've taken maximum points from their first seven games. The later game sees Warrington go up against surprise package Widnes. Lanre Bakare Continue reading... Dr Who: A Farewell To Matt Smith. Photograph: BBCDr Who: A Farewell To Matt Smith. Photograph: BBC
- Shopping With Mother review: small dramas and power struggles
This warm, intimate documentary followed mums and daughters to the shops, and revealed a few home truths between purchases Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely opened the show, and this listener couldn't help but brace herself for a 30-minute onslaught of sickly sweet commentary. Thankfully Shopping With Mother (BBC Radio 4) was not too sweet just really warm and lovely, actually. Following six mother-and-daughter combos across the country as they went about their consumerism, the programme focused on the small dramas and power struggles played out in shopping centres every day. In Basingstoke, eight-year-old Maddy was spending her birthday money with Charlie, her "stepmum, her stepmother, her stepmummy". The indecisiveness was superb foreshadowing. "Initially, there was no argument. She was just quite happy wearing pink dresses." But Maddy had changed as all girls do and was no longer above a bit of emotional blackmail. At the end of their trip, Charlie got a hug. "This is the only way I can get cuddles from her when I let her have her own way." Continue reading... 'Why don't you buy the red dress?' Photograph: Alamy'Why don't you buy the red dress?' Photograph: Alamy
- Revisiting the Waltons: long-form documentaries versus trash reality
Britain's famous sextuplets are back for a documentary marking their 30th birthdays but how will the increasingly camera-shy siblings fare with audiences now we're in the age of Towie? Television can be prone to panic when dealing with the past. Historical documentaries often resort to dramatic reconstructions to fill in the parts of the story for which no pictures exist. Dramas can insist on using flashbacks. And television interviewees who mention their childhoods are usually covered with cheesy montages from the family photo album. So how grateful documentary-makers are to subjects who took the precaution of being captured by the cameras from childhood. These include Michael Jackson, the Osmonds and the royal family, but also six girls born to one mother on Merseyside in November 1983: the Waltons . Tonight, we'll get the latest broadcast update on their progress in The Walton Sextuplets at 30 , an hour-long film charting the run-up to their milestone birthday. Continue reading... The Waltons' TV appearances are becoming somewhat forced, à la Towie. Photograph: ITVThe Waltons' TV appearances are becoming somewhat forced, à la Towie. Photograph: ITV