Small-Screen Jabber 3-9 February


The young Morse, before he became an inspector, returns for series five of Endeavour (Sun, ITV, 8pm), with Shaun Evans in the title role, but as ever with sidekicks Roger Allam and Anton Lesser stealing every scene they appear in. The first of this new run of six two-hour episodes has Morse working out the connection between a series of a sadistic murders and the theft of a priceless Fabergé egg. He is also enjoying his promotion to detective-sergeant, while the time shift forward to 1968 reflects the changing police landscape.

maltese mafia detective

Flip channels immediately after to catch the first episode of Maltese: the Mafia Detective (Sun, C4, 10pm), a new Italian detective series set in Trapani, Sicily. Inspector Dario Maltese has returned home from a stint in Rome and takes on both the local, violent mafia clans and corrupt police officers. Set in 1976, it features a high count of period moustaches and is in Italian with subtitles. All eight episodes will be available straight after on All4.

my boy jack

A young Daniel Radcliffe co-stars in My Boy Jack (Thurs, ITV3, 10pm) which gets a rare screening. Written by David Haig, who also plays Rudyard Kipling, this poignant drama is based on true events. Kipling’s son John (Radcliffe, the Jack of the title) goes off to fight in the Great War as a teenager but is killed in action very soon after his 18th birthday. He is posted as missing in action, and his family spend three years tracing Jack’s fellow surviving platoon members to find out what happened to him. A fine adaptation of Haig’s original stage play, it also stars Kim Cattrall as Jack’s mother and Carey Mulligan as sister Elsie.


flatpack empire

You’ll probably not have missed the news that Ikea founder Ingvar Kampad died last week, so Flatpack Empire (Tues, BBC2, 9pm) is very timely. This three-parter goes behind the doors of the Swedish furniture giant, which has given the cameras unprecedented access to its design studios and factories, as well as its stores. There’s a strong UK focus – collaborations with, for example, designer Tom Dixon on a sofa bed, the trialling of new tech in the Warrington store (where Ikea first launched here) and the managers who go to Sweden for training at Ikea’s HQ. It’s not eye-popping but there’s a certain fascination that makes it compulsive viewing, whether you own a Billy bookcase or not.

My Brexit in a Box show of the week is My Millionaire Migrant Boss (Wed, C4, 9pm), in which Marwan Koukash offers four British apprentices a two-week work trial at his Liverpool base. Koukash arrived here in 1976, with just £200, and his hard work to build a life here has paid off handsomely – as it has for many of those we have welcomed to our shores. The Brexit bit (my twist, not his) is that many Brits don’t want a lot of the jobs on offer in the UK, which is why we depend so heavily on migrant labour. Koukash’s experiment may highlight why… but it’s also hard to shake the notion that some lazy stereotyping of lazy natives is afoot. Judge for yourself.

james bulger cctv

It’s the 25th anniversary of the shocking murder of two-year-old James Bulger by two 10-year-olds. There’s a few programmes scattered across this week’s schedules to mark the occasion but my pick is James Bulger: a Mother’s Story (Thurs, ITV, 9pm). Sir Trevor McDonald reported on the killing at the time and now returns to Liverpool to examine still-troubling questions about the two killers. He looks at the police investigation and subsequent trial, with some distressing audio. But his interview with James’ mum Denise is the focus – she’s rebuilt her life but her pain is etched permanently on her face. Moving and essential viewing.


stanley and daughters

BBC4 gives over an evening to renowned artist Stanley Spencer. Arena: Stanley and His Daughters (Sun, BBC4, 10pm) explores how Stanley’s two daughters, Shirin and Unity, became estranged from each other after their parents’ marriage broke up and he moved in with a lesbian neighbour. Stanley’s life in the 1930s was hardly conventional – a committed Christian and workaholic who married artist Patricia Preece and signed over his house to her while she refused to consummate the marriage and lived with her lover Dorothy. Shirin and Unity were only reconciled decades later and in this film offer a portrait of their father as seen through his love letters and drawings. Stanley Spencer: the Colours of the Clyde (Sun, BBC4, 11.15pm) is about Spencer’s series of paintings of a Glasgow shipyard and the stories behind them.


Eurovision you decide

This week’s slice of kitsch is Eurovision: You Decide (Wed, BBC2, 7.30pm), ahead of this year’s contest in Lisbon. You’ll probably not have heard of any of the six contenders and, let’s face it, whoever we send is unlikely to win. But if you’re a Eurovision fan tune in to watch Mel Giedroyc and Mans Zelmerlow host this sing-off live from Brighton’s Dome


A big sporting week beckons. Six Nations Rugby (Sat/Sun, BBC1/ITV, times vary) is back. Coverage starts on BBC1 on the Saturday at 1.45, then first up it’s Wales v Scotland with a 2.15 kickoff. That match is followed by France v Ireland, with a kickoff at 4.45pm. The third match takes place on Sunday, with Italy v England – coverage starts at 2.15pm on ITV, with a 3pm kickoff.

It’s the GB v Spain Davis Cup (BBC2, 1pm), with the tie taking place in Marbella. Saturday is the Day Two doubles, with Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot hoping to beat Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez. There’s unlikely to be tennis on Day Three (from 10am) unless we win one of last Friday’s two singles as both Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund are out, and Cam Norrie and Liam Broady aren’t expected to beat Roberto Bautista Agut or Albert Ramos Vinolas.

Also on Sunday is the Super Bowl (Sun, Sky/BBC1, from 10pm), the supreme American Football championship. The kickoff for New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles is at 11.15pm, with coverage starting on Sky Action/Mix at 10pm, on  Sky Main Event at 11pm and BBC1 at 11.15pm. Halftime entertainment is Justin Timberlake.

winter olympics

And finally, the Winter Olympics 2018: Opening Ceremony (Fri, BBC1, 10am) is here. Clare Balding anchors coverage live from Pyeongchang in South Korea. Expect the Koreans to pull out all the stops for a spectacular opening ceremony, followed by athletes from  90 countries parading through the stadium.

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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