Small-Screen Jabber 20-26 October


54 hours gladbeck hostage crisis

The true story of people caught up in a German bank robbery in 1988 is dramatised in 54 Hours: the Gladbeck Hostage Crisis (Sat, BBC4, 9pm). Two masked and heavily armed robbers try to rob a branch of Deutsche Bank in a small town near Dortmund and take two staff members hostage. The police are hopelessly out of their depth and as the crisis escalates, the media arrive in droves and add to the pressure by interviewing the criminals on a radio station. The police negotiate a ransom and allow them to leave, but then the robbers hijack a bus as they become increasingly desperate. The police and media both make a string of errors that make the possibility of a good outcome increasingly remote, triggering a huge debate in Germany about how such crises should be handled. An absolute thriller, rife with tension and packed with emotion over its two 90-minute episodes, depicting the often shocking events. In German, subtitled.

berlin station

In a week for dramas that are set in Germany, you can also enjoy Richard Armitage (Spooks, Robin Hood) and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) starring in spy thriller Berlin Station (Thurs, More4, 9pm). Daniel Miller (Richard Armitage), an analyst at CIA headquarters in Langley, has been posted to its foreign station in Berlin on a covert mission to identify the person responsible for leaking intelligence to a whistleblower known only as Thomas Shaw. Being out in the field is mystifying to Miller and he is taken under the wing of veteran agent Hector DeJean (Ifans), who teaches him how to run agents, practise deception, be alert to dangers and how to handle the moral compromises. Miller soon discovers that working in the German capital is like being lost in a hall of mirrors, but then stumbles on a conspiracy that leads back to Washington, DC.

If you ever idly wondered what happened to Sabrina the Teenage Witch when she grew up, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (from Friday, Netflix) might surprise you. Gone is the comedic cutesiness of the original series, to be replaced by a hefty slice of satanism, human sacrifice and gore in a very adult updating of her adventures. Like its predecessor, it’s based on the Archie comics, and is dark and knowing. Sally Draper of Mad Men fame stars as the older Sabrina (main pic).


why does everyone hate english

“Pub landlord” Al Murray takes a look at other European countries’ attitudes to some us of in Why Does Everyone Hate the English? (Mon, History, 9pm). Over five episodes he does a whirlwind tour, starting, obviously, with Scotland, Wales and Ireland before hopping over the channel to France and Germany. In each location he hooks up with a local comedian to examine just why they find the English so annoying.  


blues and beyond

If you’re a fan of the blues, check out Blues and Beyond with Cerys Matthews and Val Wilmer (Fri, BBC4, 8pm). Matthews is the acclaimed presenter of Radio 2’s Blues Show, and she knows her stuff. She teams up with blues photographer Wilmer, also highly respected in her field, to chat about their favourite blues musicians, play some tracks and swap anecdotes. They cover all the biggest stars, from Muddy Waters and Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker, via Hendrix and Peggy Lee.

One of David Bowie’s last ever live performances was at a festival, and the BBC was heavily criticised at the time for broadcasting only the few songs. Now, here’s your chance to catch David Bowie at Glastonbury 2000 (Fri, BBC4, 10.55pm) for an hour’s worth of highlights from that two-hour set. He covers hits from across his career, such as Wild is the Wind, Ashes to Ashes, Starman and Let's Dance, and looks pretty funky with long hair reminiscent of his Hunky Dory days and a very dandy frock coat. Unmissable.


Tracey Emin is the subject of this week’s Imagine… (Tues, BBC1, 10.45pm), subtitled Where Do You Draw the Line. As Emin turns 55, Alan Yentob follows the artist for a year as she prepares for exhibitions in Brussels and Hong Kong and takes on commissions for St Pancras station in London and Sydney. Known for her outspokenness, Emin is as frank about her career and personal life to date as you’d expect and contributors who include Sir Nicholas Serota, Jay Jopling, Maria Balshaw and David Dawson help provide a rounded portrait of her – a rebel artist who has matured and become more reflective. Probably the best all-round perspective of Emin yet.


stand up to cancer

Channel 4 is running all manner of celebrity versions of old favourites this week for it’s Stand Up to Cancer fundraiser. It culminates in the telethon that is Stand Up to Cancer (Fri, C4, 7pm), which is hosted by Adam Hills, Alan Carr and Maya Jama and features a raft of celebrities hoping to get you to donate to cancer research. Watch out for Michael Bublé doing Carpool Karaoke, star bakers from Celebrity Bake Off, a Gogglebox special and a tribute section to Aretha Franklin. Even Liam Gallagher shows up, to rant about why cancer is so devasting for all those affected.


The fourth Invictus Games (from Sat, BBC1, 5.25pm), the sporting contest for disabled veterans started by Prince Harry, gets underway in Sydney this year. Team GB has 90 athletes, who will compete over the next eight days against 18 other nations in a range of sports from track and field, to rowing, cycling, rugby, tennis and golf. Daily highlights are on BBC1 (check times), to watch live go to BBC online.

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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