Small-Screen Jabber 3-9 June

Love beats terrorism

ariana grande bbc one love manchesterPop star Ariana Grande returns to play a benefit gig in Manchester less than two weeks after a terrorist murdered 22 people as they left her show at the Arena. One Love Manchester (Sun, BBC1, 18.55pm) will be streamed live from the Old Trafford cricket ground to raise funds for those affected by the bomb attack. An impressive lineup includes Grande herself plus Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Take That, Pharrell Williams, Niall Horan, Miley Cyrus, Usher, Robbie Williams, Little Mix and The Black Eyed Peas. (Note: the Britain’s Got Talent final has been moved to this Saturday at 7.30pm, so as not to clash).


Giles Blunt’s John Cardinal Mysteries have been adapted for TV as Cardinal (Sat, BBC4, 9pm). The six-episode Canadian crime thriller stars Billy Campbell in the title role as a detective working in Algonquin Bay. Naturally, Cardinal is a maverick – fired for obsessing over a past unsolved case but brought back to the force when a body is found that could be that of the missing girl. The snowy landscapes of northern Ontario are a pleasing co-star in what’s a fairly decent cop show.

Soapy school drama Waterloo Road long outlived its sell-by date, but newcomer Ackley Bridge (Wed, C4, 8pm) looks interesting, with its premise based on a culture clash. It’s set in an ethnically divided Yorkshire mill town, home to a large Asian population whose kids attend one of the two comprehensives, and the white residents who prefer not to mix. But then both schools are merged into an academy. It’s not afraid to tackle some highly charged contemporary issues such as food banks and drug addiction, and it’s fast paced. Joy Joyner stars as the progressive head teacher, with Sunetra Sarker, Paul Nicholls and Adil Ray notable among the large cast.

fantabulosa bbc michael sheenAlso don’t miss the rerun of Fantabulosa! (Wed, BBC4, 9pm), a feature-length biopic of the late Carry On star Kenneth Williams made back when BBC4 excelled at creating homegrown dramas like this. Michael Sheen is superb as Williams, getting underneath the actor’s professional success to reveal the neurotic, waspish and repressed man beneath.


The mysterious disappearance of Lord Lucan in 1974 continues to interest conspiracy theorists. His wife Veronica, believed to have survived after Lucan allegedly murdered nanny Sandra Rivett by mistake, speaks for the first time in 30 years in Lord Lucan: My Husband, the Truth (Mon, ITV, 9pm) after years as a recluse. She lays bare the most intimate details of what was by all accounts a volatile marriage aggravated by the earl’s gambling, womanising and high-living lifestyle. Extraordinary, candid and utterly compelling.

As a keen cook who likes to splash out on some ingredients but also saves cannily on budget brands that do the job, I’m intrigued to see what chef Michel Roux Jr recommends for grocery shopping in Tried and Tested: the Ultimate Shopping List (Tues, C4, 8pm). He’ll be pitching premium brands against supermarket own labels along with restaurant critic Jay Rayner and Fred Sirieix, the maitre d’ from First Dates, in a blind tasting. The shtick is nothing new and it’s well known that own brands are frequently made in the same factories that produce the posh ones, but this crew look like they’re having fun and you can’t beat Rayner’s entertaining commentary. (See also Wednesday’s Eat Well for Less on BBC1 at 8pm, another brand-swapping TV staple.)


On the 50th anniversary of one of the Beatles’ most important albums, in Sgt Pepper’s Musical Revolution (Sat, BBC1, 9pm) composer Howard Goodall explores why Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was one the defining records of the mid-60s and a benchmark for almost every rock band that followed. As the Fab Four had stopped touring, they no longer needed to write songs they could play live and the subsequent recording sessions at Abbey Road freed them to experiment. Goodall deconstructs Sgt Pepper track by track using the master tapes and outtakes to show the astonishing amount of work that went into it – not just pop music but a work of art. A must-watch.

sgt peppers musical revolution bbcA year later, flower power and drugs on the US west coast spawned a new music and consciousness. The Summer of Love: How Hippies Changed the World (Fri, BBC4, 9pm) is a two-part exploration of an extraordinary collision of left-wing political activism, LSD, eastern mysticism and liberal thinking that created new rock sounds, psychedelia, the call for global peace and the idea of free love in 1967 in San Francisco. Director Michael Connolly shows how a 19th century sect of German naturalists brought their radical ideas to California after the Second World War, which kickstarted the “tune in, turn on, drop out” counterculture and led to changes in civil rights, feminism and more. The interviews with the ageing hippies who lived it are particularly interesting for their recollections and insights.


The gongs for the best suds get handed out in the British Soap Awards (Tues, ITV, 8pm, moved from Saturday’s planned live broadcast because of the Manchester benefit concert). Phillip Schofield hosts at Manchester’s Lowry Theatre and Emmerdale is expected to scoop up most of the trophies for its long-running storyline on dementia, although Coronation Street is also a contender for its child grooming plotline.

General Election 2017

Plenty of choice on offer on Thursday for coverage of what may be one of the most defining elections ever as May and Corbyn go head to head in the polls, with a side cast of other parties hoping to make a dent. Brexit and the NHS are dominating the agenda as I write but the pundits suggest nothing is a foregone conclusion. BBC coverage starts at 9.55pm, anchored by David Dimbleby and with analysis and reportage from Jeremy Vine, Laura Kuenssberg, Emily Maitlis and Mishal Hussein. ITV also starts  coverage at 9.55pm, with Tom Bradby at the helm. His expert team includes ITV’s political editor Robert Peston and journalist Nina Hossein. If the thought of watching the unfolding results is too much, then Channel 4 are offering the Alternative Election Night from 9pm to 6am, presented by David Mitchell, Jeremy Paxman and Richard Osman – they will be looking at the results from around midnight but also injecting plenty of humour, satire, quizzes and Goggleboxers.


Blink and you’ll missing the lunchtime start of The Derby (Sat, C4, 1pm). The big race – the Epsom Derby starts at 4.30pm, but there are four other races before that from 2pm. Juventus play Real Madrid in the Champions League Final (Sat, BT Sport 2, 7pm). Live from Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, the kick-off is at 7.45pm and you don’t need a subscription – you can find it on YouTube as well as Freeview channel 115.






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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