Small-Screen Jabber 11-17 June

Euro 2016 gets solidly under way from this week – expect the soaps and other regular shows to get shunted, squeezed or even vanish temporarily. New dramas are notable for their absence, unsurprisingly, and there’s a dearth of entertainment, too.


small screen jabber 11 17 june sir ranulph fiennes embed2Social history is at the forefront of Born on the Same Day (Tues, C4, 9pm), a three-part series that each week looks at three different people’s lives, from different generations. It starts with explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, born in March 1944, whose patrician background gave him a highly privileged start in life. Unable to enter the military, according to Fiennes family tradition, he chose exploration. Sharing his birthday is Jamaican Ewart Rennalls, who arrived in Birmingham as a teenager and experienced massive culture shock but carved out a successful business career, and Frances Chorlton, whose childhood accident shut off many avenues – she instead fostered 97 children. Fascinating tales, all of them, that show a wide range of experiences stemming from race, class and gender.


Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci are the two shortish operas on Pappano’s Italian Double Bill at the Royal Opera House (Sun, BBC4, 7pm). The conductor is Antonio Pappano and his two chosen pieces, known jointly as Cav and Pag, are part of the verismo tradition, which is the post-Romantic realism style also associated with Puccini. The rich musical culture of Romania’s Roma is the subject of The New Gypsy Kings (Thurs, BBC2, 9pm). Centuries old, it has helped many Roma become stars and able to pull themselves out of the poverty that much of their community lives in. The modern manele genre, which mixes in pop with the traditional folk tunes, emulates gangsta rap, at least lyrically – bigging up wealth, gangsters, flashy cars, easy women, etc. But at least some of these new stars are linked to Romania’s underworld and are earning fees of €20,000 for playing at Roma weddings and christenings. Documentarist Liviu Tipurita asks where this money comes when 80% of the community live below the poverty line and looks at how traditional Roma music is being pushed aside, possibly to be lost forever.


The annual Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (Sat, BBC2, 9.10pm) gets underway this month. Kirsty Wark and Morgan Quaintance of The Culture Show go behind the scenes to look at some of the works by artists both new and well known about to go on display. Sculptor Richard Wilson is this year’s curator and he’s promising to surprise and stimulate art lovers. It’s an open submission exhibition, meaning art in many different mediums, and our two hosts will be looking at the submission process.

Euro 2016

small screen jabber 11 17 june euro 2016 embedI’m only going to list UK matches or I’ll not have space for anything else, so here we go. Two matches on Saturday – Wales play Slovakia (Sat, BBC1, 4pm), with kickoff at 5pm, then it’s England vs Russia (Sat, ITV, 7pm), with kickoff at 8pm. Poland take on Northern Ireland (Sun, BBC1, 4.15pm), kickoff is at 5pm. Northern Ireland then play Ukraine (Thurs, ITV, 4pm), with the kickoff again at 5pm. And it’s also England vs Wales (Thurs, BBC1, 1.30pm), kickoff is 2pm.


Away from the footy glut, the grass court tennis season is also upon us. The prestigious Queen’s tournament (Mon-Fri, BBC2, 1pm daily, also on Euro1 from 12.15pm) is often a strong indicator of who is likely to do well at Wimbledon later in the month. Top players this year include Andy Murray, naturally, who is a four-times champion here, and Stan Wawrinka, Nick Kyrgios and Milos Raonic. It’s also the week of the five-day Royal Ascot racing event (from Tues, C4, from 1.40pm), with Clare Balding and Nick Luck presenting.

The Referendum

Immigration is without doubt the biggest driver of the Brexit campaign and hugely divisive across the nation. In Britain and Europe: the Immigration Question (Tues, BBC2, 9pm), Mishal Husain explores both sides of the debate – how immigration from other EU member states affects jobs, the economy, the NHS, local infrastructure such as education and housing, even our national identity. Would a Brexit stem incomers, or damage the economy instead? And would change if we remain? It’s only an hour, so this cannot be in depth, but it at least lays out the main effects of having open borders. The first of two Question Time specials is Question Time EU Special: the Case for Leave (Wed, BBC1, 6.45pm). Both hosted by David Dimbleby, this week’s debate features Brexit campaigner Michael Gove, the Tory Justice Secretary. In front of a Nottingham audience, he’ll be answering questions on the facts the Leave side are touting, such as how much money we give to the EU every week.

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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