Small-Screen Jabber 1-7 July


The annual Tour de France (from Sat, ITV4/Eurosport 1, 2pm) starts in Dusseldorf this year, with a 14km time trial for stage one. Thereafter it crosses the border into Belgium then Luxembourg before heading back to France for first the Jura mountains in the east and then the Pyrenees in the west and finally the Alps, before Paris beckons. Britain's Chris Froome will be hoping to win his fourth title.

wimbledon 2017 andy murray

And Andy Murray will be hoping to lift his third trophy at Wimbledon (from Mon, BBC1/BBC2, from 1.30am) although on current form it looks unlikely. Especially as Roger Federer has made an unprecedented return to form this year and is a strong contender for champion. Sue Barker anchors the broadcast as usual for the next fortnight, but first she presents Our Wimbledon (Sun, BBC1, 5.20pm), a look at 90 years of BBC coverage of the championship in which she also interviews some of the sport’s legends.

It’s clearly a week for big sporting events, with the cricket test matches also getting underway. International Cricket: England v South Africa – First Test (Thurs, SkySports 2, 10am) comes live from Lord’s and this series of four matches precedes three tests against the West Indies team. Highlights are on Channel 5 at 7pm, for that post-work gentle thwack of willow.


fifty shades of gay channel 4

Channel 4’s season of programmes marking the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality continues with 50 Shades of Gay (Mon, C4, 10pm). Rupert Everett presents a highly entertaining look at how gay life has changed since 1967 – he visits a public toilet, often the only place gay men could meet in the past and meets a former police officer who would arrest cottagers, gatecrashes former royal butler Paul Burrell’s wedding and calls in at some of London’s legendary gay pubs. The women get a look in too when Everett heads to Hebden Bridge, home to the UK’s largest community of lesbians.


rock n roll guns for hire david bowie earl slick

Session musicians get to share their stories in Rock ‘n’ Roll Guns for Hire: the Story of the Sideman (Fri, BBC4, 9pm). Earl “Slicky” Slick, who played guitar alongside David Bowie for 40 years, fronts this feature-length documentary about the session players who make up the bands behind the stars. He interviews musicians who have worked with the likes of Beyoncé, Prince and John Lennon and finds time for a chat with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger about how they choose their backing players. And what makes the perfect stage sidekick? Slick reveals a range of qualities, not least the ability to learn a whole set list in a few days, note perfect.


It’s not grim up north, not when the biennial Manchester International Festival exists (Sat, BBC2, 8pm) and Lemn Sissay is your guide to the eclectic and wide-ranging events on offer, from groundbreaking theatre to installation art and exhibitions. The festival got underway last Thursday, the opening event – What is the City But It’s People? (viewable here) was an extraordinary planned coming together of Mancunians on a specially built catwalk in the city centre and given added poignancy in the wake of the May bomb attack. The BBC is live-streaming various events over the next fortnight so after this taster, if you’re not in Manchester head to the MIF website and hit the live button to see some of the top shows.

TV is older than 50, but Melvyn Bragg on TV: the Box that Changed the World (Sat, BBC2, 9pm) takes the queen’s 1953 coronation as the starting point for a look back at 60 years of cultural history as seen on the small screen. Bragg is at the Bafta Institute with assorted guests such as Ken Loach, Joan Bakewell and Anthony Horowitz to explore how programme makers reflect viewers’ identity, whether the medium has kept pace with a rapidly changing society and if TV is still capable of bringing us together for a show.


the windsors channel 4

Poking fun at the aristocracy collides with political realities in the second series of The Windsors (Wed, C4, 10pm), the satirical soap about the royal family. Gillian Bevan spoofs Theresa May, presenting her as a hard-nosed schemer (wait, is that a spoof?) – Charles and Camilla (Harry Enfield and Haydn Gwynne) incur May’s wrath when they have misgivings about helping her secure a trade deal with the Chinese at a gala dinner. Harry’s girlfriend Meghan Markle in the form of a brilliant Kathryn Drysdale joins the show too.


Craig Revel Horwood, renowned choreographer and Strictly’s waspish judge, discovers he’s descended from a convict who was sent to his native Australia in the new series of Who Do You Think You Are? (Thurs, BBC1, 9pm). But first, Charles Dance – an actor who’s built a career out of playing evil aristocrats but whose mother was a parlour maid. His dip into his ancestry leads to some surprising truths about his background. Also coming up are Lulu, Clare Balding, Noel Clarke and Ruby Wax.

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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