Small-Screen Jabber – 5-11 May 2018


the bridge

The consistently brilliant The Bridge (Fri, BBC2, 9pm) is back – the bad news is this will be the concluding series. Saga Noren (Sofia Helin) reunites with her work partner Henrik (Thure Lindhardt), a man who understands her and enabled her in series three to show her emotions in a stunning climax. In the opening episode we learn that Saga has been imprisoned for two years on suspicion of murdering her mother. Henrik has partnered with Jonas and they discover a body (again) has been dumped on the Øresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden. When Saga is released, she keeps her promise to Henrik and starts looking for his missing daughters. This is the most personal season, as the pair become romantically involved – no spoilers, but the resulting events test their working relationship and their love to the limit. It’s also very satisfying – plenty of twists for the murder investigation, an abundance of emotional rollercoasters for Saga and Henrik, and a worthy conclusion. My programme of the week. Unmissable.



Gender is one of the conundrums of the decade, as more and more people declare themselves male, female, trans, pan-gender, gender-queer or gender-fluid, non-binary or even ungendered. Genderquake (Mon/Tues, C4, 9pm) aims over two nights to pick through all the issues by putting 11 young people, who all identify their gender differently, together Big Brother style for a week. I’m not a fan of the BB format, but the conversations here may well make you question everything you thought you knew about gender.

Acclaimed war photographer Don McCullin partners with historian Dan Cruickshank on a highly risky journey into the heart of Syria in The Road to Palmyra (Mon, BBC4, 9pm). Their mission is to record the destruction by Islamic State of centuries-old cultural artefacts and discover how it has affected ordinary Syrians. War is still raging around them as they travel to the ancient city of Palmyra, which has also been badly destroyed by Assad’s regime, to examine what they call “an act of cultural terrorism”. The loss of icons such as the Temple of Bel, which was 2,000 years old and blown up with explosives by Isis, is shocking. The pair hope this moving documentary will contribute to the debate about how what to do with such ruins.

mai 68

Fifty years on from the student uprisings in France in 1968, Viva la Révolution! (Wed, BBC4, 10pm), cultural commentator Joan Bakewell looks back at the global events that triggered the protests, first in Paris, then spreading around the globe. May 1968 was fuelled by anger about the Vietnam War, the growing civil rights movement in the US, industrial unrest and personal politics such as feminism. It was also, she discovers, a response to General de Gaulle’s paternalistic style of presidency that disdained the voice of youth. Student Daniel Cohn Bendit was the catalyst at Nanterre university, when he challenged a visiting government minister on the ban on mixed student accommodation. Events escalated as students occupied their universities and workers went on a general strike. Bakewell explores the role Situationism played in the student movement, leading to the creation of iconic slogans and posters.


If you like your music cheesy, with a whiff of camp, tune into the Eurovision Song Contest Semi-finals (Tues/Thurs, BBC4, 8pm). Scott Mills and Rylan Clark-Neal host live from Lisbon as 19 acts perform on Tuesday and 18 on Thursday to be whittled down for the big event (Next Saturday, if you’re wondering). The pair are joined by the UK’s entrant SuRie, to discuss this year’s show.

More cerebral music can be found on the new series of Later Live.. with Jools Holland (Tues, BBC2, 10pm). Snow Patrol headline this week, showcasing their new album, and the other artists include singer-songwriter Jade Bird, Tower of Power and Bob Dylan covers queen Bettye Lavette.


BBC4’s dance season has already started but the centrepiece this week is Ballet’s Dark Knight: Sir Kenneth Macmillan (Sun, BBC4, 9pm). The renowned, and often controversial choreographer is profiled professionally and personally, exploring his creation of more than 60 new ballets that forever altered the meaning of dance, and his struggles with alcohol and mental ill-health. This intimate and warm film is made up of performance footage (some shot specially for this programme, newly released archive film including home movies shot on Super 8, and clips from the archives. Contributors include MacMillan's family, Sir Anthony Dowell, Darcey Bussell and Dame Monica Mason.


peter kay car share

There were groans of disappointment when Peter Kay announced there would be no more Car Share after 2017’s second series – everyone was desperate to know if supermarket manager John (Kay) would get together with promotions rep Kayleigh (Sian Gibson). Then Kay did a couple of live shows earlier this year, a special for Comic Relief, and finally we have Peter Kay’s Car Share Unscripted (Mon, BBC1, 10pm). It is indeed unscripted – so no previews were available and the pair have improvised everything, with Forever FM in the background. And if that’s not enough, a final scripted episode will air at the end of this month. Enjoy.



Top Gear and Mad Max fans will love Carnage (Sun, Sky 1, 8pm), a Robot Wars style mashup of the two in which teams of engineers and mechanics go head to head in a series of races and challenges in three arena, including a scorching desert. It’s Wacky Races versus bumper cars, as the teams modify and weaponise ordinary cars with the aim of trashing their opponents’ vehicles until it’s last one standing. Your three celebrity presenters are Freddie Flintoff, MC Lethal Bizzle and radio host Vick Hope.


The Women’s FA Cup Final (Sat, BBC1, 5.10pm), at Wembley Stadium, is Arsenal Women v Chelsea Ladies, reprising their 2016 final meet. Arsenal won that time, but Chelsea have had an unblemished season, so stand a good chance of revenge on the Gunners. Kickoff is at 5.30pm.

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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