Small-Screen Jabber 24-30 March

Drama

come home bbc

Christopher Eccleston stars as single dad Greg in Come Home (Tues, BBC1, 9pm). His wife Maria (Paula Malcomson) has walked out after 19 years of marriage and three kids, without so much as a word, and Greg is baffled – he thought they were happy. Eccleston has a good line in anguished alpha males trying to make sense of a changing world and the mysteries of women (see The A Word), and here he is, a lonely man trying out dating again but just wanting Maria back. Episode one tells the story from Greg’s point of view, the second from Maria’s, the third is about reconciling. Writer Danny Brocklehurst has a strong track record in crafting emotional truths and here uses flashbacks and multiple time frames to explore two people’s perception of their relationship and also looks at the ongoing taboo of why a mother would walk out on the children she loves.

Comedy

in the long run sky

Idris Elba can seemingly turn his hand to anything, including writing and starring in In the Long Run (Thurs, Sky 1, 10pm), which is set in and around a Hackney tower block in the 1980s, and thus loosely based on his own childhood. Elba plays Winston, an emigré from Sierra Leone who has made a settled life for himself, his wife Agnes and son Kobna in east London. But this is all set to be upended by the arrival of his wayward brother Valentine. This is a comedic drama rather than a straightforward sitcom – it’s warmly nostalgic, focusing on community, family life and the rougher side of that period in its depiction of the casual racism black Britons must deal with. Bill Bailey does a brilliant turn as eccentric neighbour Bagpipes, and there’s a cracking soundtrack of funk, reggae and 80s chart hits.

Factual

indian summer school c4

Can five unruly teenage boys sort themselves out in a posh boarding school on another continent? Six months at Indian Summer School (Thurs, C4, 9pm) may or may not be successful. All five failed their GCSEs, but strict discipline, Indian style, doesn’t have much effect to start with when there are the distractions of smartphones, booze and intimate friendships. Plus one has gender dysphoria and may not be on the best place to prepare for a later transition. The Doon School is one of the best in the world, with a 100% exam pass rate, so no pressure then. You can follow their fortunes over three episodes as they learn to shape up, or ship out.

Music

R Kelly sex girls videotapes

Hugely successful, yet highly controversial R&B artist R Kelly has had his career dogged with allegations of rape, sexual harassment, a liking for underage girls and – more recently – of keeping a harem of women semi-captive in a sex cult type of set up. No legal proceedings have ever stuck. R Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes (from Wed, BBC3) aims to get to the truth of these latest dark and disturbing allegations about his private life. With unprecedented access, reporter Ben Zand talks to members of Kelly’s inner circle, including his family and ex-lovers, to find out whether the rumours are true or the star’s detractors are just out to get him.

Rapture embed

The history of American hip-hop is explored in the hefty (eight episodes) and vibrant documentary Rapture (from Fri, Netflix). Groundbreaking artists, including legends such as Nas, and the youngsters snapping at their heels share their stories and reveal why hip-hop has such had a massive impact on global culture. It’s certainly detailed and thorough, giving as much space to new artists as the pioneers, and exploring gender differences as well as regional and international variations of the style. Featured artists apart from Nas include Dave East, T.I., Rapsody, Logic, G-Eazy, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Just Blaze and 2 Chainz.

Bob Dylan’s Christian period lasted only a couple of years, in which time he released Slow Train Coming, an album of proselytising songs rooted in his new faith. He toured the album backed by gospel singers as well as a band, and a film was shot at one of those shows. It’s never been shown – until now, as Arena’s Bob Dylan – Trouble No More (Fri, BBC4, 10pm). While Slow Train Coming is one of his lesser records, the performance here is fine. Or would be, but for Dylan’s insistence, 37 years on, that mini sermons preached by actor Michael Shannon be inserted between the songs. It’s a shame that this contemporary intervention has marred this but Dylan fans should enjoy it anyway.

Culture

Picasso’s later works don’t often get much of a look-in, but Picasso's Last Stand (Sat, BBC2, 9pm) aims to rectify that with a look at the final decade of the artist’s life and his astonishing burst of creativity amid his declining health, criticism of his work and gossipy revelations about his private life. Picasso’s last period marked another shift in style – humorous, sexual and revolutionary – yet drawing more criticism. In this revealing documentary his biographer Sir John Richardson and granddaughter Diana assert that he produced some of his finest work in this period. With contributions from other family members, close friends and critics.

Sport

boat race 2018

The annual row-fest between Cambridge and Oxford universities goes plural from this year in The Boat Races (Sat, BBC1, 3.50pm) – historically, the women’s race hasn’t been televised but this year the two women’s teams are under starter’s orders at exactly 4.31pm. Cambridge hold the current title. The men’s race starts at 5.32pm, with Oxford hoping to retain their supremacy.

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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