Small-Screen Jabber 16-22 June

Slim pickings this week if you don’t like football…. (England's first match is against Tunisia on Monday, BBC1, at 6.15pm if you do.)


julius caesar

Imagine if Caesar had been a woman – that’s what film director Phyllida Lloyd did when she cast an all-female Julius Caesar (Sun, BBC4, 9.50pm) in 2016, for a special production for the Donmar Warehouse. Jackie Clune stars as the eponymous Roman emperor, but Harriet Walter as Brutus dominates this clever restaging of Shakespeare’s tragedy by setting it in a contemporary women’s prison and framing it as the inmates putting on the show for themselves, with the warders on hand to step in when things get out of control. There are some lovely touches with the props given the restricted setting – check out the red Marigolds Brutus wears when she has blood on her hands.


As the World Cup gets underway, football fans’ thoughts inevitably turn to 1966, and why England has not repeated its win in the 52 years since. Managing England: the Impossible Job (Sun, BBC2, 9pm) features a litany of past managers who tried and failed – Sven-Goran Eriksson, Roy Hodgson, Fabio Capello – and former team captains Gary Lineker, Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer examine the issues and discuss possible answers to retrieving some sporting glory.

Rebel Women great art fightback

The BBC is marking 100 years since women were first given the vote with a week of evening  programming on BBC4 from Monday. Starting at 7pm each night, there are shows about Emmeline Pankhurst, the WI, Joan of Arc and a new series of women’s monologues – the first stars Romola Garai as a young actress on the Hollywood casting couch. For me, the standout is Rebel Women: the Great Art Fightback (Mon, BBC4, 10.30pm), which looks at radical feminist artists in the 1960s. Artists such as Judy Chicago and Carolee Schneeman and Margaret Harrison pioneered visionary artworks that put women centre stage and discussed sexuality, birth and domestic violence. And check out the rerun of Jessica Hynes’ fabulous sitcom Up the Women (Tues-Thurs, BBC4, 7.30pm), about the suffragists.

convicted murder in suburbia

Linda Razzell vanished on her way to work in Swindon in 2002. Husband Glyn was jailed for life for her murder. But was he really guilty? He always claimed Linda had staged her disappearance to frame him, as they were embroiled in a bitter divorce. Conviction: Murder in Suburbia (Tues/Wed, BBC2, 9pm) sets out to examine the evidence. Linda Shorter, who heads up Inside Justice – a non-profit body that examines possible miscarriages of justice, and her all-female team review the case, in a two-part thriller that uncovers a new suspect.


unsolved murder tupac notorious big

The legendary feud between two top rap artists – Tupac Shakur (Marcc Rose) and Notorious B.I.G. (Wavyy Jonez) – and their subsequent murders are re-examined in Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. (from Mon, Netflix), 20 years after they took place. This dramatisation looks at the LAPD’s two investigations into the shootings, as well as airs theories as to who pulled the triggers. Jimmi Simpson plays Det Russell Poole, who ran the original investigation, while Josh Duhamel is Det Greg Kading, who takes on the cold case a decade later. Netflix does true crime very well, and while this is no Mindhunter, it ticks an awful lot of boxes.


mamma mia

When Abba penned their hit single Mamma Mia, they could never have envisaged it would spawn a stage musical, followed by a hit film that grossed over $1.5bn at the box office (and now owned on DVD by 25% of UK households apparently – but not mine). The light-hearted Mamma Mia: the Story of the World’s Favourite Musical (Sun, Channel 5, 9pm) airs as the movie sequel is set for release, and explores the extraordinary global cultural phenomenon that was unleashed. Screenwriter Catherine Johnson talks about turning Abba’s songs into a narrative, and cast members, celebrity fans and critics share their memories and views. The documentary is at the heart of a whole evening of Abba programmes, kicking off at 5.30pm


While you’re waiting for the home teams to start their World Cup campaigns, there’s plenty of International Rugby Union (Sat, times/channels vary) to keep you busy: Australia v Ireland (Sky Action, 10.45am), kickoff at 11am; South Africa v England (Sky Action, 3pm), kickoff at 4.05pm; Argentina v Wales (C4, 8.20pm), kickoff at 8.40pm); USA v Scotland (BBC Scotland, 1.45am), kickoff at 2am.

The grass court season for tennis is already underway. Queens (from Mon, BBC2, from 1pm) is generally viewed as a reasonable predictor of who will do well at Wimbledon in July. No news yet whether Andy Murray will use Queens as his return to playing, but new British no. 1 Kyle Edmund is worth catching, as are the other top players who have signed up for this prestigious tournament.

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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