Small-Screen Jabber 13-19 August

small screen jabber 13 19 august 2016 jessica ennis hill rio olympics embedRio 2016 Olympics

It’s another week of wall to wall sport, with virtually all non-sport shows wiped off BBC1 and BBC4 and little escape on BBC2 either. And like last week, there’s precious little on most other channels for viewers who don’t want to watch Rio 2016. As last week, there is far too much going on to list here so get a decent TV listings mag for a rundown of which events are on when. Week Two is when most of the golds get handed out. This time last year, Team GB enjoyed a “Super Saturday”, when Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all won gold in the athletics within an hour of each other. They are tipped to do so again this year – the athletics coverage starts on Saturday from 1.15pm on BBC1 and continues into Sunday.


As the Edinburgh Festival gets under way this month, Kirsty Wark presents a second series of Edinburgh Nights (Sat, BBC2, 9.30pm) over the next three Saturdays. The weekly 30-minute rundown offers highlights of the festival’s top shows, while Wark interviews some of the stars and directors. This week she’s talking to Richard Wilson, who’s revived his most famous character – Victor Meldrew – in a one-man show, and Angus Deayton, also revisiting past glories with scripts from his 1980s radio show Radio Active.

small screen jabber 13 19 august 2016 mad max embedFilms of the day

With so few new shows launching this week, make the most of a really good selection of classic films instead.

Saturday: Gladiator (C4, 10pm) – Ridley Scott’s sweeping Roman epic about betrayed general Maximus, whose father is assassinated by Commodus in order to seize power. Maximus is enslaved but becomes a star gladiator as he works to avenge his father’s murder.

Sunday: Pulp Fiction (Channel 5, 10pm) – directed by Quentin Tarantino, this comic, violent noir interlinks tales about gangsters, petty thieves, a contract killer and a prizefighter.

Monday: Silence of the Lambs (Sky Crime/Thriller, 9pm) – the film that unleashed savant serial killer Hannibal Lecter and picked up a bazillion Oscars for its taut, suspenseful plot. FBI agent Clarice Starling hunts Buffalo Bill, aided by Lecter but at a price.

Tuesday: Mad Max (TCM, 11.05pm) – Mel Gibson stars in the title role in this dystopian tale of the breakdown of society in a post-apocalyptic Australia. A police officer takes revenge after getting caught up in a feud with a gang of violent bikers.

Wednesday: Edward Scissorhands (Greats, 6pm) – Tim Burton’s touching romantic fantasy stars Johnny Depp as a human-like young man created by an inventor who gave him scissors for hands. Taken in by a local family, he falls in love with their daughter but can never be with her.

Thursday: David Copperfield (TCM, 6.25pm) – George Cukor’s 1935 B&W film for MGM is still considered the definitive version of Charles Dickens’ tale about how David escapes his cruel stepfather after his mother dies and begins to rebuild his life in London under the care of his great-aunt Betsey.

Friday: Brokeback Mountain (Sky Drama/Romance, 5.40pm) – two cowboys begin a secret gay relationship in 1960s Wyoming, a connection that turns into deep love and endures through separation and marriage.

small screen jabber 13 19 august 2016 skies above britain embedFactual

Just how can a single punch kill someone? This type of violent assault is on the rise and documentarist Aaron Roach Bridgeman tries to understand what drives One Punch Killers (Mon, Channel 5, 10pm). He talks to experts to discover the science behind how a single blow can kill and meets the families of victims who were attacked and died this way. Bridgeman examines a few notorious cases and then traces one of the perpetrators to hear why he punched someone and it resulted in a death. In an act of restorative justice, he brings together this attacker and the mother of the man he killed – can she forgive her son’s killer?

Our skies see more action than just scheduled airlines ferrying us from A to B. The five-part series Skies Above Britain (Wed, BBC2, 9pm) explores what else is happening up there and how we keep our airspace safe. Episode one looks first at air traffic controllers and the stressful job they do to stop aircraft colliding in mid air or deal with unidentified aircraft entering restricted spaces. The RAF are busy too, scrambling jets to intercept problem planes and training in the supersonic Typhoon combat planes. Search and Rescue helicopters get called out too to help the stranded and injured. It’s a revealing look at a complex and largely hidden world.

Documentary of the week is Secrets of a Police Marksman (Thurs, C4, 10pm), which lifts the lid on another unknown world. What’s it like to kill someone in the line of duty? It’s a highly pertinent question, the timing of this broadcast coming hot on the heels of 1,500 armed police being deployed across the country to counter terrorism following the recent attacks in France and Germany. Firearms officer Tony Long, who has served 25 years in the Met, is remarkably candid about his job – he has shot five people on deployment, two of whom died and he was up on a murder charge for one of those, which destroyed his career. Long discusses the complicated history our police forces have with carrying guns, why marksmen sometimes have to take down terrorists, killers and hostage takers, and the personal cost to those who kill on the job.


The music of Ira and George Gershwin gets aired in the BBC Proms (Sat, BBC2, 7.30pm), when John Wilson and his orchestra play a selection of their top Broadway and Hollywood hits. Among the set list are An American in Paris, Porgy and Bess, Embraceable You, Love Walked In, Fascinatin’ Rhythm, Shall We Dance and many more. Wilson’s regular singers Louise Dearman, Julian Ovenden and Matthew Ford are also appearing.

For a rockier sound, Soundstage Presents Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation (Sat, Sky Arts, 9pm) in a TV premiere of 2005 concert. The former Led Zeppelin vocalist reworks his old band’s classics plus there’s a decent selection of his solo work.

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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