Small-Screen Jabber 10-16 February


trauma john simm

There’s a double bill of Life on Mars actor John Simm on Monday. In Trauma (Mon-Wed, ITV, 9pm), he plays Dan Bowker, a factory manager whose life unravels when his 15-year-old son Alex is stabbed to death. Consultant Jon Allerton (Adrian Lester) tried in vain to save Alex in his operating theatre, but Dan blames Allerton for his son’s death when he discovers the surgeon may have been drinking earlier. Written by Mike Bartlett, creator of Doctor Foster, this tense thriller plays out over three consecutive evenings and explores the consequences of grief, rage, class politics and familial tectonics.

collateral nicola walker

A Syrian refugee is shot dead in south London while on his round as a pizza delivery driver. DI Kip Glaspie (Carey Mulligan) believes there is more to the apparent randomness of Abdullah’s death in Collateral (Mon, BBC2, 9pm). Her investigation soon uncovers that a professional hitman was involved and that the shooting is linked to a highly sophisticated people-trafficking enterprise and a conspiracy that goes to the top. Local Labour MP David Mars (John Simm) soon turns up – his volatile ex-wife Karen (Billie Piper) was the customer who’d ordered the pizza. And the local vicar Jane Oliver (Nicola Walker) is struggling to hide her affair with the only witness to the shooting, a young woman who was high on drugs and gave the police a false name and address. David Hare’s taut script explores the myriad repercussions of the shooting in a cleverly crafted thriller.


south korea earths hidden wilderness

Never mind the winter Olympics, there’s much to South Korea than that and its capital Seoul. South Korea: Earth’s Hidden Wilderness (Sun, BBC2, 8pm) explores the vast expanse of rural land that is in deep contrast to the modern cities the country is famed for. Out in the wild there are bottlenose dolphins, cicadas, raccoon dogs, giant fish-eating spiders and the staggeringly diverse ecosystems in the mudflats of Suncheon Bay. And the Koreans practise many centuries-old traditions in tandem with the seasons, such as the Haenyeo sea women who deep-dive for conches into their 90s.

one pound houses

With house prices ever more unattainable, it’s no surprise families on tight budgets were queuing up when Liverpool council sold off a street of derelict homes for a snip in 2013. What happened next is revealed in The £1 Houses: Britain’s Cheapest Street (Wed, C4, 9pm). The buyers had to commit to living in the properties but first had to have their renovation plans approved. And with crime rising in Wavertree, the council was feeling the pressure to get the families housed quickly so the derelict buildings wouldn’t be a target. The cameras follow both buyers and council officials as the former scrape together cash for repairs and the latter deal with antisocial behaviour on the doorstep. With a successful outcome, this programme points a way to solving our housing crisis.

Physicist Dr Helen Czerski examines how heat and cold have shaped our world in From Ice to Fire: The Incredible Science of Temperature (Thurs, BBC4, 9pm). Everything around us – from the tiniest insects to the most distant stars in the known universe – lie on a vast temperature scale. Czerski explores the astonishing science of temperature – how it works, how it influences our lives and how this hidden force that has shaped everything. In three parts, the first looks at cold – what is absolute zero and why does “frozen” not mean what we think it does? She meets scientists who are pushing the boundaries of cold to open up a new world of scientific possibility and advance technology, from superconductors to quantum computing.



Stephen Mangan stars as a bigamist in Bliss (Wed, Sky 1, 10pm). Successful travel writer Andrew leads a double life – he has two wives and two teenage kids in two different countries and neither family has any idea of the existence of the other. Andrew struggles for his sanity as he tries to stop his life unravelling as he splits his time and energy ever more frantically between wife no. 1 Kim (Heather Graham) and wife no. 2 Denise (Jo Hartley). He’s also battling a moral crisis, as he truly loves both families. The comedy lies not so much in the cruel deceptions but the close shaves that threaten to expose him.


The Winter Olympics 2018 (Sat, BBC1/2 and ESPN, from 6am) kick off in earnest on Saturday. The first events are cross-country skiing, speed skating and luge. Clare Balding and Hazel Irvine are anchoring all the coverage. For a day-by-day guide to events over the next fortnight, all the print TV guides are offering pull-out supplements. And you find highlights daily on BBC2 at 7pm.

Louise Bolotin is Screenjabber’s TV critic. She has a penchant for quality drama and quirky documentaries, slums it with EastEnders and pities people who watch reality TV, which might be why she never writes about The X Factor.

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