Small-Screen Jabber 6-12 August


First things first, if you don’t like sport – look away now. And consider going out to the pub every night, or the cinema, or your best mate’s. The BBC has effectively wiped everything off BBC1 and BBC4 for the next fortnight, plus invaded BBC2, and sadly the other channels haven’t taken advantage of the opportunity to cater for viewers who don’t want to watch sport. Rio de Janeiro is four hours behind the UK, so events start screening from noon daily until around 4am. There is far too much going on to list here – I recommend buying a TV listings magazine to track the events you want to watch. Plus this week’s Radio Times has a fantastic 72-page supplement this week that lists everything in forensic detail. Olympics Roundup (nightly, BBC1, times vary) is presented by Clare Balding, who looks at the day’s sporting highlights.


The dust seems like it will never settle following the EU referendum in late June. We are living in uncertain times and Brexit: the Battle for Britain (Mon, BBC2, 9pm) examines the aftermath of the shock result. The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg looks at the unexpected resignation of PM David Cameron, the crashing pound and how the referendum exposed the massive gulf between politicians and voters. She also goes to Sunderland, the first constituency to declare a massive No result, to examine just why so many voters opted to leave the EU. A decent attempt to chronicle the reshaping of the UK’s future so far.

small screen jabber 6 12 august 2016 inside cernIn a TV exclusive, Horizon heads to Switzerland to investigate what happens Inside Cern (Wed, BBC2, 8pm), where particle physicists try to prove their theories about the birth of the universe and other big questions. After their successes with the Large Hadron Collider last year, scientists then realised they had possibly discovered a new particle within the energy generated in the collider. This exciting documentary explores how this discovery could upend everything we thought we knew about the laws of physics.


Highlights from this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival (Sat/Sun, Sky Arts, 9pm) include some top artists – KT Tunstall and Christy Moore, Dublin rockabilly doyenne Imelda May and New York’s gypsy punksters Gogol Bordello. Mark Radcliffe and Julie Fowlis present.


small screen jabber 6 12 august 2016 van goghs ear embedHas The Mystery of Van Gogh’s Ear (Sat, BBC2, 9pm) finally been solved? The accepted wisdom has always been that the tormented artist sliced off his lobe and gave it to a sex worker. What actually happened has now been pieced together by art historian Bernadette Murphy, who spent seven obsessed years trying to uncover what really happened that night in Arles in 1888. Jeremy Paxman joins Murphy on the trail of the truth, in a thrilling journey that takes them from France to Amsterdam and ultimately California and the revelation that how van Gogh amputated his ear was more shocking than anyone could imagine.

When James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson filmed Giant in 1955, director George Stevens allowed all the residents of Marfa, Texas, where they were shooting, to watch it being made. It was Dean’s final film, an epic Western that explores racial, gender and class discrimination in post-war Texas. In Children of Giant (Thurs, PBS, 9pm) surviving cast, crew and locals share their memories about the shoot. There’s some fantastic photos and archive footage, including of the film’s stars, while the narrative shows how the film’s themes were mirrored in the lives of Marfa’s white and Mexican residents and the often brutal business of Hollywood.

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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