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Tonight's terrestrial TV tips

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 27/10/2009 - 09:54

Hands up if you built Lego houses or Airfix planes as a kid! Most of us over a certain age almost certainly did - it was a given before the arrival of games consoles that your hobbies included model-making. It's a shame today's kids don't see the appeal, but thank goodness for James May, a man who is almost single-handedly reintroducing the delights of kit toys. There's been lots of pre-publicity for James May's Toy Stories (BBC2, 8pm), such as the plasticine garden at the Chelsea Flower Show and the full-scale inhabitable Lego home, complete with a flushable toilet. The series kicks off with an ambitious project - May is going to build a Spitfire jet from a giant Airfix kit. The mind boggles but you have to admire the spirit of a man with such a fabulous and childish (in the true sense) imagination.

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Tonight's terrestrial TV tips

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 26/10/2009 - 10:09

Last week's Murderland was intriguing yet slightly unsatisfying, perhaps because I'm starting to think Robbie Coltrane has turned into a two-trick pony - either Hagrid or troubled 'tec. Coltrane delivered a polished performance, as always, but I couldn't help feeling he was just going through the motions. Maybe he'll pull something fresh out of his sporran tonight - episode 2 (ITV, 9pm) sees the 15-year-old murder enquiry told through his eyes and it's a vastly different perspective to that of young Carrie, who witnessed her mother's killer. Incidentally, someone should nominate Bel Powley for a BAFTA for her portrayal of the teenaged Carol.

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Tonight's terrestrial telly tips

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 25/10/2009 - 08:20

A steady stream of worthy programmes, tonight, from early to late, starting with the continuation of the Sir David Attenborough-narrated Life (BBC1, 6pm). It’s the sort of programme, thanks to Attenborough, that is wonderful to watch and perfect for Sunday tea time even if you have no interest in wildlife. I mean, not everybody’s boat is floated by the story of a toad escaping from a tarantula, but you can bet that story will sound darned compelling when narrated by Sir David – described brilliantly by Caitlin Moran as “rumbling, majestic and reliable, like God on the first-ever Sunday” – as though that toad represents the Israelites and the tarantula the Egyptian Pharoah. It’s going to be epic.

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Competitions galore!

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 24/10/2009 - 13:03

It's competition time at Screenjabber, and do we have some goodies to give away. Just click on the links below to check out all the competitions we have running at the moment!

WIN a Fantastic Mr Fox Goody Bag

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Tonight's terrestrial telly tips

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 24/10/2009 - 09:15

I’m eschewing all other programmes tonight in order to focus on one, single televisual treat: the new series of multi award-winning political satire The Thick of It. The first series made a huge impact in 2005 – on TV and on Westminster itself – and there’ve been two hour-long specials and a spin-off film, In The Loop , in the meantime. And we’re back for more.

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Tonight's terrestrial telly tips

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 23/10/2009 - 08:34

Hot on the heels of Nick Griffin's laughable performance on the BBC's Question Time, here's a programme that shows the issue of race is never clear cut and causes headaches for both racists and their victims. Skin Deep (More4, 11.45pm) tells the tale of Sandra Laing, who was born in apartheid South Africa to white parents. So far, so what? Except that Sandra looked black, so was classified by the regime as non-white. And thus her life was ruined by decades of repeated reclassification - as white, non-white, black, mixed race and so on. This is a touching portrait of a woman who overcame the absurdities of racialist policies. And proof that the BNP's own views on race are equally absurd.

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Trimpin:The sound of invention - London Film Festival review

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Thu, 22/10/2009 - 10:56

Peter Esmonde’s account of artist known simply as Trimpin is warm, insightful and amusing. Esmonde, who filmed over a two year period, draws us into the colourfully polyphonic world of Trimpin, a world of child-like fascination for all of nature’s sounds.

The German born artist is impossible to pigeon-hole: He is a sonic experimenter, a technician, a scientist, an inventor and a composer who builds installations such as a mountain of self tuning, automatic electric guitars and a perpetual motion glass ball, which he calls his ‘silent instrument.’ This particular instrument is, perhaps, symbolic of the unending motion of his endeavours.

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Don't worry: Nick Griffin isn't Derren Brown.

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Thu, 22/10/2009 - 10:48

I think it is excellent that Nick Griffin has been invited onto Question Time this evening. It is far better for his extraordinarily racist views to be aired in a context where they will undoubtedly be argued with and dramatically shown up as unacceptable, than for those views to skulk about and gradually seep into our society under the radar.

Some people are going to support the BNP. That cannot be stopped. They would support the party were they speaking on Question Time or not. People who are opposed to everything the BNP stand for are not suddenly going to be swayed by Griffin's arguments just because he's sitting on a BBC-endorsed panel show. They will feel even more strongly opposed, because Griffin's face and voice are going to fabulously stoke the fire.

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Tonight's terrestrial telly tips

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Thu, 22/10/2009 - 08:39

Tonight's the night and even if you choose not to watch, you can't avoid it. I'm talking about Question Time, of course, and the highly controversial appearance of a certain far-right politician. It's bound to turn into a bit of bun-fight at the very least, including among the audience (especially now the BBC has confirmed it will be allowing some members of that far-right party into the studio). It's just a question of degree. And also,importantly, how well the rest of the panel each conducts themselves. It all kicks off (possibly literally) on BBC1 at 10.35pm.

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Tonight's terrestrial telly tips

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Wed, 21/10/2009 - 08:03

After Jamie, here comes Jimmy! There's been a welcome glut of food programmes in the last few years that have both encouraged and pushed us to eat better and improve our health. Oliver's groundbreaking exposés of the awfulness of school dinners and how poverty forces people to eat junk were eye-openers for many people. Farmer Jimmy Doherty takes us to the next level in Jimmy's Food Factory (BBC1, 7.30pm), a new series in which he's going to show us exactly what goes into processed food. This is a glorious mix of Jamie-style crusading and a Boy's Own homemade science experiment, for Doherty turns his barn into a food factory to demonstrate exactly how cheese is turned into "slices" and why bread and re-formed ham are both square. This is all done with nothing fancier than a tumble dryer and a some tools you could buy in any DIY store. And if it doesn't have you racing to the nearest farmers' market, nothing will.

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