Small-Screen Jabber 18-24 March


Ten famous faces delve into a museum’s collection and explain why their selected artefacts matter, in Britain at War: Imperial War Museum at 100 (Sat, BBC2, 7.30pm). Not all of them are under the roof in London or Manchester, though – Bear Grylls jumps aboard HMS Belfast, Al Murray is in Duxford admiring the Spitfires and Kate Adie drops into the Churchill War Rooms to learn why the humble typewriter was so important in conflicts. Hard to believe the IWM was founded even before the First World War was over, but the reasons for its expansion to five locations become clear in this understated documentary presented by Simon Weston.

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Biodiversity is being pushed to the brink in the Caribbean, as Puerto Rico: Island of Enchantment (Mon, BBC2, 9pm) illustrates so starkly. It’s depressing – with many native species almost extinct thanks to man’s destruction of their habitats – but there is cause for hope, as narrator David Attenborough meets the conservation groups that are starting to win the fightback to save turtles, manatees and parrots.

The big risk of internet dating – that you might meet a mad axe murderer – is statistically so tiny it’s almost insignificant, but it can and does (very rarely) happen. And gay men, surprisingly, are more likely to be a victim. How Police Missed the Grindr Killer (Tues, BBC1, 10.45pm) is a grim look at how detectives in east London failed to connect the dumped bodies of two of Stephen Port’s date-rape pickups. Was institutionalised homophobia to blame? And why did it take the murdered men’s families to make a breakthrough by conducting their own investigations? This is a sobering film that depicts how unconscious biases can throw a case and deny justice to families.

The grim horrors of the war in Syria continue to unfold. Syria’s Disappeared: the Case against Assad (Thurs, C4, 10pm) investigates how the governmental regime has spirited away tens of thousands of men, women and children into secret detention centres while the civil war has raged. War crimes experts show how they are currently sifting through mountains of official paperwork to uncover the truth and get justice – the Assad regime, like the Nazis, has kept meticulous documentation that campaigners hope will finally topple it. Survivors of detention and brutal torture bear witness in this must-see film. 


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Standup Julian Clary has always idolised Noel Coward, that quintessential Englishman whose artistic career comprised being a playwright, composer, director, actor and singer. Coward, like Clary, was also renowned for his razor-sharp wit and  flamboyance. In Passions (Tues, Sky Arts, 9pm), Clary reveals he owns Goldenhurst Farm, Coward’s former pile in Kent before setting out on a global quest to learn more about one of the UK’s most influential interwar cultural figures.


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The main attraction of this year’s Red Nose Day (Fri, BBC1, from 7pm) is that film director Richard Curtis has finally got round to writing a sequel to Love, Actually. Naturally, it’s only a few minutes long – just one of many snippets of entertainment to help raise money for children in the UK and Africa – but it does contain many of the original stars. Step forward Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rowan Atkinson. Also appearing, but not in Red Nose Day Actually, are French and Saunders, James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke with Take That, Miranda Hart and the cast of W1A.


It’s the so-called Super Saturday for Six Nations Rugby (Sat, BBC1/ITV, coverage from 12.10pm). All six countries will be facing each other as follows: Scotland v Italy (kickoff 12,30pm), France v Wales (kickoff 2.45pm), Ireland v England (kickoff 5pm). Midweek, football heads to Dortmund for a friendly with Germany v England (Wed, ITV, 7.15pm). This is a warm-up for both teams as they begin their qualifiers next weekend and kickoff is at 7.45pm. Can Gareth Southgate’s team prevail?






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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