Small-Screen Jabber 3-9 March


rough justice

Walter Presents, Channel 4’s foreign drama strand, returns to Belgium for Rough Justice (Fri, More4, 9pm), a 13-episode police procedural set in Antwerp. Superintendent Liese Meerhout (Hilde De Baerdemaeker) heads a tight-knit homicide unit tasked with solving some of the city’s worst crimes. Naturally, she’s a maverick – a brash rule-breaker who will cross boundaries to catch a killer, and who hangs out in gay bars and plays the drums to relax. Each episode is self-contained – in the opener, after a cracking set piece in which Meerhout takes another officer apart in order to solve a car crash that her boss was involved in, the team investigate the killing of a journalist who is found suffocated by the harbour. Then more bodies turn up. Antwerp is a cool city, and this series also looks effortlessly cool and stylish. In Flemish, with subtitles.


churchills secret affair

With the renewed interest in Winston Churchill (see Darkest Hour, and Gary Oldman tipped for best actor Oscar), Channel 4’s documentary on the former prime minister is timely. Churchill’s Secret Affair (Sun, C4, 8pm) delves into some dark corners. On a visit to President Roosevelt during World War Two, Churchill ran into Lady Doris Castlerosse, a willowy London socialite with whom he’d enjoyed a secret liaison in the 1930s. She was stranded in the USA and desperate to get home. She also owned an intimate portrait of herself that Churchill had painted and which now threatened to ruin his career. This fascinating tale of how he was under pressure to get her on a ship home before she could leak her tale to the American press still resonates.


Three billboards outside ebbing missouri

Inevitably, the 90th Annual Academy Awards (Sun, Sky Cinema/Sky 1, from midnight) will be heavily focused on the issues around sexual harassment and coercion in Hollywood that the unmasking of Harvey Weinstein revealed. Expect #MeToo dress codes on the red carpet. And without Weinstein’s films being heavily pushed for votes, it does feel as if this year the field is wide open to genuine outsiders. Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand are both tipped to win best actor/actress. And Three Billboards and The Shape of Water are frontrunners for best picture, but films like Get Out (which did well elsewhere) could rock the boat. It honestly feels difficult this time to predict anything accurately. So sit back, enjoy the red carpet at midnight and be ready to be stunned by the winners. Your host is Jimmy Kimmel. You can catch the Oscars Highlights on Monday, 9pm on Sky 1.


action team

Action Team (Mon, ITV2, 10pm) is a classic spoof comedy of the Naked Gun variety. Jim Howick and Tom Davis star as two government agents in a six-part spy thriller packed with risqué sexual gags. Martial arts whizz Logan Mann and crack sniper Graham Hooper serve in a special branch of M16, overseen by head of operations Ruth Brooks (a magnificent Vicky McClure). Their mission is to find and destroy the evil mastermind Vladimir Schevchenko, who is the dictator of an obscure former Soviet republic. Episode one sees the team head to Austria to protect an international charity conference from a deadly attack and unravel the secret of “Abacus”.


celebrity bake off stand up cancer

If you’re missing Bake Off, which won’t reappear until next August, then The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer (Tues, C4, 8pm) might fill the gap. The format is exactly the same – three tests, plus judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, and presenters Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig – and it runs for five weeks. The first batch of celebrities include actor Martin Kemp, comics Harry Hill and Roisin Conaty, and journalist Bill Turnbull. Enjoy the showstopper round, where they have to make a 3D scene in biscuits of the best day of their life. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Kemp’s Live Aid stage.


The Winter Paralympics (Fri, C4, from 10.55am) kicks off at the end of the week with the opening ceremony and then soon after the downhill skiing events. Broadcasting is direct from PyeongChang in South Korea, as well as a purpose-built studio at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, where presenters will demonstrate some of the skills needed by disabled Paralympians to excel. Clare Balding and Paralympic gold medallist Jonnie Peacock anchor the coverage, with presenters Lee McKenzie, Ade Adepitan, Sophie Morgan and Arthur Williams. There will be three episodes of The Last Leg during the Games. And highlights will be shown nightly at 11pm.

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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