Small-Screen Jabber 23-29 June


nhs generic

Happy birthday! This is the year our health service turns 70 and all week How the NHS Changed the World (Mon-Fri, BBC2, 7pm) will be looking at some of its incredible achievements – the first heart transplant in 1979, the first separation of conjoined twins, cutting-edge eye surgery at Moorfields, revolutionary neurosurgery in Oxford that is transforming lives by curing pain, pioneering genetic medicine. The NHS is the envy of the world – the reports here show just how amazing it is, despite it being starved of funds by the government. BBC2 is running NHS docus all week, so check out the listing for lots of other goodies.

#MeToo – unless you live in Japan, where sexual attacks are widespread, but there is a huge taboo to report them to the police, let alone talk about them. In Japan’s Secret Shame (Thurs, BBC2, 9pm), cameras follow journalist Shiori Ito after she reported an alleged rape by a colleague and was barraged with hate mail. She meets other sexual assault victims in Japan who haven’t told the police for fear of humiliation and she challenges the institutions that failed her. Her bravery in lifting the lid on a hidden side of her country in this remarkable and frank documentary.

Current affairs

reporting trumps first year the fourth estate

Cameras follow the staff of the New York Times in Reporting Trump’s First Year: the Fourth Estate (Sun, BBC2, 9pm). This four-part documentary kicks off with how reporters covered the president’s first 100 days in office, as he denounced the media as an enemy of the people, faced the first allegations of Russian interference in the US election and FBI chief James Comey launched his investigation. The paper itself was under financial pressure in a changing consumer environment (and fake news) and this offers a great insight into not just US politics but also how journalists scramble to keep up to speed with a fast-changing news agenda. My documentary of the week.

Also worth a look is Inside the American Embassy (Mon, C4, 10pm), a three-parter about the US embassy in London. The US is normally security-heavy about what goes on behind closed doors, but the programme-makers had unprecedented access. Trump’s newly installed ambassador, Robert Johnson, brags to camera and trivialises major headaches such as Brexit, in a revealing look at how Trump’s administration really views our “special relationship”.


Duran Duran

I’m surprised Duran Duran haven’t had a look in on BBC4 before, given the Friday music night has covered pretty much every other 80s band of significance, and some that weren’t. But here go – it’s Duran Duran Night, kicking off with Duran Duran: There’s Something You Should Know (Fri, BBC4, 9pm). Exactly 40 years since their formation, the band open up about their career – the hits, the glamour, the ruffled shirts, the model girlfriends and the controversies. Their story unfolds through seven of their 14 albums – each uncovering a chapter in the band’s journey – and there’s lots of previously unseen archive footage as well as intimate interviews and contributions from Cindy Crawford, Boy George, Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers, Antony Price and others. In Duran Duran: A Night In (Fri, BBC4, 10pm) band members talk about their early inspirations, as they look back together at the television programmes, music and film that they grew up on from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Their choices are interesting – from the film Barbarella, which gifted them their name, to Patti Smith’s album Horses and even Tomorrow’s World.


There’s a taster of the summer-long Great Exhibition of the North (Sat, BBC2, 6.30pm). Shaun Keaveny looks at the shows and events taking place at 30+ venues around Tyneside – music, art, literature and more. The opening ceremony features rock band Maximo Park, poet Lemn Sissay and artist Glen Brown.


stath lets flats

It’s astonishing, given the housing crisis and overheated property prices and rents in London and elsewhere, that no one has exploited the entertainment value in estate agents. Until now. Stath Lets Flats (Wed, C4, 10pm) stars Jamie Demetriou as Stath, scion of an Anglo-Greek family that runs a property agency and employs Stath as their lettings agent. Demetriou (also co-writer, with Friday Night Dinners’ Robert Popper) is excellent as the incompetent Stath, who struggles to find tenants and buyers for the homes on the agency’s books. There’s plenty of slapstick, but also some more subtle pokes at the skewed housing market in the capital.


Grime crew N Double A’s MC is fronting the eponymous Big Narstie Show (Fri, C4, 11pm), a late night magazine in which Big Narstie, who has previously done the weather reports on Good Morning Britain, and co-host Mo Gilligan introduces an eclectic mix of music, comedy and chat. This is loud, chaotic and sits well as post-pub late-night entertainment.


If you’re following the World Cup, here’s this week’s England matches: England v Panama (Sun, BBC1, 12.10pm) – kickoff at 1pm; England v Belgium (Thurs, ITV, 6.15pm) – kickoff at 7pm. The International Rugby Union also continues. This week’s matches are: South Africa v England (Sat, Sky, 9pm) – kickoff at 9.10pm; Argentina v Scotland (Sat, C4, 8.10pm) – kickoff at 8.40pm; Lastly, it’s the finals weekend at Queen’s (Sat/Sun, BBC2, 1pm/2.30pm). The semi-finalists are Marin Cilic v Nick Kyrgios and Jeremy Chardy v Novak Djokovic. My money’s on a Kyrgios – Djokovic final on Sunday.

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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