Peter Moffat’s latest drama series – the six-part The Last Post (Sun, BBC1, 9pm) – is set in the tense and febrile hothouse of 1960s Aden, a British-controlled port in Yemen. The refinery there has importance as part of the Middle East oil boom, but trouble looms as local insurgents try to wrest control of the territory. Amid the politics, possible war and even the Swinging Sixties, a unit of the Royal Military Police tries to maintain order, but then the outgoing and much-loved Captain Nick Page’s replacement arrives – the newly wed Captain Joe Martin (Jeremy Neumark Jones) and his wife Honor (Jessie Buckley). There is a real sense of the heat, danger, glamour and claustrophobia on the army base, with the wives feeling cooped up and their husbands becoming casualties from insurgent grenade attacks and snipers. And Moffat is not afraid to ask the big questions about what the British were doing in Aden. Jessica Raine co-stars as a frustrated wife who leads Honor astray, alongside Amanda Drew, Ben Miles and Stephen Campbell Moore.
Another chance to see: The Handmaid’s Tale. What do you mean you missed THE drama of 2017, now the deserved winner of five Emmys? Margaret Atwood’s disturbing and dystopian story, thoroughly updated by the scriptwriters for some chilling modern resonance and starring Elisabeth Moss as Ofglen, airs on Thursdays on More4 at 10.15pm.
The legendary Iggy Pop has his major 2016 French gig screened for the first time in Iggy Pop: Live at Rock en Seine (Sun, Sky Arts, 9pm), the iconic Parisian festival. The singer stage tracks from his newest album Post Pop Depression as well as classics from his back catalogue that include I Wanna Be Your Dog, Lust for Life and The Passenger.
Suzy Klein’s three-part Tunes for Tyrants: Music and Power (Mon, BBC4, 9pm) explores the politics of music and how it is used to rally people, represent a regime or inspire protests and uprisings. Episode one looks at the interwar period when music was viewed as a tool to change society – the turbulent aftermath of World War I and the Russian revolution provided a golden age for music. There was the rise of jazz, Berlin’s decadent cabaret scene was both satirical and highly political against the backdrop of approaching Nazism and Klein tells the story of the infamous Horst Wessel song, which helped bring Hitler to power. The music is brought to life by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Chorus, as well as solo artists, and Klein raises important questions about how music can shape a culture.
Fronted by the Grammy award winner and founder of disco darlings Chic, Nile Rodgers: How to Make It in the Music Business (Fri, BBC4, 9pm) is a highly personal account about what happens when you first pick up a guitar and discover you have talent. Talent isn’t everything – there is graft and being in the right place at the right time too. Rodgers is a great storyteller, explaining how he built a reputation as a session player before founding Chic with Bernard Edwards and going on to write dozens of hits for other artists. Many of Chic’s songs were rooted in Rodgers’ own frustrations and experiences, and his difficult childhood. He talks candidly about all this and how he hears music in his head non-stop, and gives brief masterclasses in how he works. Record producer Mark Ronson, Duran Duran’s keyboard player Nick Rhodes and Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge contribute to discuss Rodgers’ complex compositions and unique guitar style, plus what it’s like to work with him. And joy of joys, there are more episodes to come with other major artists…
As National Poetry Week ends, there’s a timely look at one of the UK’s most influential poets of the last 100 years. Stop All the Clocks: WH Auden in an Age of Anxiety (Sat, BBC2, 9pm) explores how the two poems referenced in the title and others have continued to grab our imaginations. Stop All the Clocks was made widely famous in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, although its actual title is Funeral Blues. New Yorkers turned to September 1, 1939 for solace in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Adam Low asks why Auden’s work continues to excite and inspire modern readers when his peers have withered – is it because it still helps us better understand the world we live in? Contributors include writers Polly Clark, Alan Bennett, Alexander McCall Smith and film director Richard Curtis, plus there are archive recordings of Auden himself.
Also under the umbrella of the BBC’s Contains Strong Language season is Sex, Chips and Poetry: 50 Years of the Mersey Poets (Tues, BBC4, 9pm), an examination of the 1960s Liverpudlian beat poetry scene. Artists Roger McGough, Adrien Henri and Brian Patten recall the publication of their hip anthology The Mersey Sound, published by Penguin in 1967 the day after the Beatles released their Sergeant Pepper album, and how it made poetry cool. Alongside the Fab Four, Liverpool then dominated the UK’s cultural scene. The trio haven’t lost their wit, as they puncture the hyperbole surrounding the book, while superfan John Cooper Clarke is on hand to read the poems and attempt to contain his laughter.
Yet another survival show from Channel 4, but one with an interesting premise and refreshingly free of Bear Grylls. Escape (Sun, C4, 8pm) Five highly skilled engineers are stranded each week following a (staged, obviously) crash of some sort or other in the middle of a hostile environment (a plane and a desert this week) and must not only figure out how to survive but also get back to civilisation. The team are led by former special forces instructor Ant Middleton (now fronting shows like SAS: Who Dares Wins) and they battle the clock as they try to build a vehicle from the wreckage. They are supplied with food and water, but that’s it – they don’t even have contact with the film crew, who filmed from a distance as if it were a wildlife show. No preview clips were released apart from a very brief enticer, but it looks pretty gripping.