Small-Screen Jabber 3 – 9 November


Homecoming julia roberts sissy spacek

The latest Hollywood film star to make the transition in TV is Julia Roberts, who stars as therapist Heidi Bergman  who works with war veterans at a rehab centre in Homecoming (new on Amazon Prime). The rehab centre is a secret government facility that helps the vets return to civilian life and a thriller slowly unfolds. Shot with two timelines, we see Roberts in the future working as a waitress in a diner, so what happened? It turns out she quit her job abruptly and for reasons she figures out only much later. The cinematography is clearly a homage to Hitchcock, with director Sam Esmail borrowing many of the maestro’s camera tricks. Roberts shines as brilliantly as in her hit films of her glory days, handling a complex role with consummate ease. Co-stars include Sissy Spacek as Heidi’s mother Ellen, Dermot Mulroney as her lover Anthony and Marianne Jean-Baptiste as the mother of one of Heidi’s patients.

Time to revisit Scandi-noir with the first new series of Beck (Sat, BBC4, 9pm) since 20126. Peter Haber reprises his role as Stockholm detective Walter Beck (top), but now he’s retired and Steinar Hovland (Kristofer Hivyu) has replaced him as head of the murder squad. In the first episode of four, Hovland calls on Beck to help solve the case of a young woman who went missing on her way home from work. Meanwhile, Beck is also helping the security services to investigate a suspected terrorist.

doing money

Based on a true story, Doing Money (Mon, BBC2, 9pm) is a feature-length drama about a young Romanian woman, Ana (Anca Dumitra), who is kidnapped on the street in broad daylight in London, then trafficked to Ireland and forced into sex work in pop-up brothels. Part of a season on modern slavery, this shocking and harrowing tale is gripping even in its relentless misery – a thought-provoking examination of how slavery is alive and well in our country.

killer by the lake le tueur du lac

Julie Depardieu and Julie de Bona stars in Killer by the Lake (Wed, C4, 10.35pm), the sequel to last year’s hit French thriller Vanished by the Lake. Detective Lise Stocker (de Bona), who in Vanished was searching for a missing teenager, has moved with her family to Annecy to start anew: saving her marriage to Clovis, bringing up their baby boy and caring for her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. Two women are discovered dead within two days of each other by the lake in Annecy. They have been violently murdered and Lise and Clovis, a paramilitary police officer, conclude a serial killer is on the loose. And as the bodies start to pile up, Lise discovers some unpleasant truths about Clovis. After this first episode, all eight will be available on All 4’s Walter Presents. In French, subtitled.


louis theroux altered states

In the first of three new documentaries, Louis Theroux: Altered States (Sun, BBC2, 9pm), Theroux explores three modern family issues. In the first, dubbed “love without limits” he examines the breakdown of monogamy in western society, where up to half of all marriages end in divorce. But increasing numbers of people are trying out new models for relationships, such as polyamory. In Portland, Oregon, Theroux meets people who practise various kinds of ethical non-monogamy – multiple romantic relationships conducted openly and with the consent of all involved. For some, this can lead to heartbreak and jealousy, but as Theroux discovers for the majority more relationships equals more love and more happiness. The other two topics that follow are adoption and euthanasia.

As the last centenary of the Great War draws to a close next week, WWI: the Last Tommies (Mon-Wed, BBC4, 9pm) is a three-part series of interviews with the last few surviving veterans of that terrible conflict. It also uses archive footage of the events they describe from their cheerful volunteering at the behest of Lord Kitchener to the horrors of the trenches and how they survived. Moving, sad and powerful, it’s a fitting reminder of why we should never forget.


soul and beyond corinne bailey rae trevor nelson

The latest in the current And Beyond strand, sees Corinne Bailey Rae and Trevor Nelson explore Soul and Beyond (Fri, BBC4, 8pm). The due select the tracks that have shaped their lives in an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary soul and R&B favourites. Their playlist includes songs by the Jackson 5, Gladys Knight, Prince, Mary J Blige, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

Seemingly having put their legendary feuds, and George’s diva-ish behaviour, behind them, Boy George and Culture Club: Radio 2 in Concert (Fri, BBC4, 10pm) sees the quartet perform live at the BBC’s radio theatre in London in front of a select audience. They’ve just released Life, their first album in 19 years, so expect tracks from that plus classic hits such as Karma Chameleon and Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?


ill get this

Rylan Clark-Neal, Anton Du Beke, Carol Vorderman, Ed Gamble and Ellie Taylor are the first five celebrities to pit their wits against each other in I’ll Get This (Tues, BBC2, 10pm). Each week, the group meet at a restaurant for dinner, where they put their bank cards in the middle of the table. While they eat they play games, the winner of each round retrieving their card – the last one standing picks up the bill in what could be an expensive evening (but they’re celebrities – they can afford it). I have high hopes for this, given stars like Victoria Coren Mitchell and Gruff Rhys Jones are participating in later episodes.

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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