Small-Screen Jabber 8-14 July


Some of Mark Billingham’s DI Tom Thorne crime novels have already been dramatised on Sky. Now it’s the turn of his DI Helen Weeks character in In the Dark (Tues, BBC1, 9pm), the first of four adaptations. MyAnna Buring stars as the pregnant Weeks (pregnant by Thorne, who is inexplicably not in this episode), returning to her rural home town to tread on the local constabulary’s toes when two young girls go missing and the husband of an old schoolfriend is arrested. Weeks is less maverick than Thorne but still unorthodox when it comes to crime-solving. Plus she has a troubled past, like all the best telly cops.

in the dark myanna buring bbc

The brutal killing of Sophie Lancaster shocked the nation 10 years ago when she got kicked to death by a gang in a Lancashire park for being a goth. Her boyfriend was left in a coma. Murdered for Being Different (Thurs, BBC1, 10.45pm) tells the story in flashback and doesn’t hold back – the violence is graphic. But it’s also a touching love story and the tale of how her killers were brought to justice. Abigail Lawrie and Nico Mirallegro star as the young goth couple and both deliver compelling performances.


Channel 4’s current gay season serves up two fascinating slices of social history this week. First up, Epidemic: When Britain Fought Aids (Sun, C4, 10pm) – those doom-laden 1980s adverts telling us not to die of ignorance about Aids were the remarkable product of an improbable alliance between gay campaigners, the NHS and Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government to raise awareness of the then-untreatable HIV virus. Paul O’Grady and Jean-Paul Gaultier are among the gay celebrities who describe living through that time and how an impending medical crisis helped normalise the gay community in mainstream society. Convicted for Love (Mon, More4, 10pm) is sadder, telling the personal stories of four older gay men who fell foul of anti-homosexuality laws before 1967. John was given ECT to “cure” him, others found it impossible to have earlier convictions for public indecency erased from their criminal records.

convicted for love more4

Hot on the heels of the BBC’s charming biopic Babs, which aired in May and starred Jaime Winstone, comes The Barbara Windsor Story (Fri, Channel 5, 8.30pm) a feature-length documentary that looks at her career and turbulent private life. There’s a well-deserved focus on her long spell in EastEnders, where she quickly dismissed the popular view that she was only good for the Carry On films and proved her serious acting chops. Contributions come from Michael Sheen, EastEnders co-stars Ross Kemp, Pam St Clement and June Brown, and Bernard Cribbins.


Los Angeles is usually synonymous with film, but one particular neighbourhood – Laurel Canyon – is linked firmly to rock stars. Legends of the Canyon (Sat, Sky Arts, 9pm) reveals the astonishing number of famous musicians who made their home there – Jim Morrison, Carole King, Jimi Hendrix and Joni Mitchell, among many others. Jon Brewer’s feature-length documentary is narrated by rock photographer Henry Diltz and draws heavily on archive footage, it’s main flaw being far too focused on Crosby, Stills and Nash, all of whom share their memories. Worth a watch if you’re interested in the music of the late 60s and early 70s.

legends of the canyon

The Proms season kicks off with First Night of the Proms (Fri, BBC2/4, from 8pm), which traditionally combines old favourites with new compositions at the Royal Albert Hall. The new comes from young British composer Tom Coult, whose world premiere of St John’s Dance opens the concert, while John Adams’ Harmonium is performed again after it was first played at the 1990 Proms. Edward Gardner conducts, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Choir and the BBC Proms Youth Choir.


museum of the year hepworth

There’s something delightfully British about appointing an entity “of the year”, but in the case of Museum of the Year (Sat, BBC2, 9pm) it’s well deserved as it often puts lesser-known places under the spotlight. This year’s finalists do include a biggie – the Tate Modern, following its major refurbishment – but also the Lapworth Museum of Geology and a horseracing museum in Newmarket. Tristram Hunt, the new director of the V&A, which won last year, presents all five finalists and reveals the winner.


Lots of big tournaments are in full flow this week. The England v South Africa Test Cricket (Sat/Sun/Mon, Sky Sport 2, from 10am) still have three matches to complete. We are also into the second week of Wimbledon (Sat/Mon-Fri, BBC1/2, from 11am), with Brits Andy Murray and Jo Konta the last two standing and into Monday’s fourth round. The Tour de France (daily, ITV4, from 11am) enters its second week.

The London Anniversary Games (Sun, BBC1/2, from 12.15pm) comes live from the London Stadium, with some top athletes such as Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford competing, among a substantial number of Olympic champions. Live coverage of the World Para Athletes Championships (Fri, C4, 7.30pm) at the London Stadium begins at the end of the week. Day one features javelin throwing, club throwing and wheelchair races. The 49-strong Team GB includes 21 Paralympic champions.

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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