What’s available on-demand on Freeview? Keep up-to-date with our weekly catch-up TV column, including reviews of shows on ITV Hub, new releases on All 4 and a guide to My5.
(For BBC TV reviews and round-ups, see our weekly Best of BBC iPlayer column. Or for reviews of the shows on All 4’s Walter Presents, click here.)
Famous and Fighting Crime (All 4)
If you’re tired of seeing celebrities in a faux-jungle eating insects, this new Channel 4 series is for you, managing to combine both the fish-out-of-water appeal of reality celeb series with a close-up portrait of just how under pressure the UK’s police force is. With thousands of volunteer officers shoring up numbers in the face of police cuts, we see what exactly they have to face on a day-to-day basis, as Marcus Brigstocke, Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, Gogglebox viewer Sandi Bogle and presenter Katie Piper recruited for shifts on the street. Training them is an ordeal in itself, while their eventual patrols leave some dazed by the thought that they’re out there without a menagerie shielding them from the perils of the real world, but this works less because we’re seeing famous people out of the comfort zone, and more because we’re seeing what it’s like to be a volunteer officer in modern Britain. The presence of TV stars reminds us that it’s a thankless task, but that someone’s gotta do it.
Available until: 3rd April 2019 (Episode 1)
Skint Britain: Friends without Benefits (All 4)
Channel 4 surpasses itself with this heart-wrenching reminder of what the government has done to the poor in UK society. Once home to such shows as Benefits Street, this programme does away with the scandalising of those on welfare and instead focuses on the genuine scandal that is the Conservative Party’s Universal Credit scheme, which bundles benefits into one lump sum – but refuses to pay out for several weeks, leaving many struggling to make ends meet at all, let alone successfully claim what they’re entitled to in the future. One finds work with a local shopkeeper willing to extend a lifeline, another finds hope in the dream of a drumming career, while the first episode peaks with a scene of one guy in a telephone box trying to get an emergency payment to last the weekend. Shot with a grim dose of cinematic tension, it’s a gut-punching reminder of how some have to life in Hartlepool, where UC has been rolled out as part of a trial run. All the while, another goes hunting with his dog to find food in the woods – a worrying glimpse of the future for some.
Available until: 29th March 2019 (Episode 1)
The Death of Aimee Spencer (ITV Hub)
True crime can be a strange genre, as it asks us to invest our emotions and attention in a case, ready to unearth an answer or solution. But what if there isn’t one? The Death of Aimee Spencer follows the investigation into the tragic death of the Geordie Shore extra, who was found fatally injured in Brighton, after apparently falling from a window. Inside, the police find Daniel Lewis, who has taken class A drugs and is unable to process what’s happening. With body cams showing us the arrival of the police on the scene, and interview footage with Aimee’s family, as the case continues, the documentary highlights the heartbreak of the family but never seems to get to the bottom of what really happened, leaving us, like them, questioning the verdict ultimately given by the court earlier this year. Katie Piper presents with restraint and respect, but with an ending that doesn’t satisfy expectations of the genre, you wonder why ITV chose the case as the subject for a programme, as it ends up feeling more intrusive that most.
Available until: 16th March 2019
Catastrophe: Season 4 Finale (All 4)
Never seen Catastrophe? All four seasons are available as a box set on All 4. Why you should watch it.
“What did you think?” “I threw up when I saw it. But then I thought, why not?” That’s Rob (Rob Delaney) and Sharon (Sharon Horgan) finding the perfectly imperfect words to express what made Catastrophe such a remarkable, unique piece of TV. The sitcom, created by the duo, has long been a filthily heartfelt treat, as it charts the ups and downs of Rob and Sharon’s relationship – a bond founded on him accidentally knocking her up during a business trip before agreeing to cross the Atlantic and try to build a family together. It was a leap of faith, a venture out into waters unknown, and Catastrophe’s Season 4 finale takes us full circle back to that act, with renewed complexity and profound maturity.
This final season of the hilarious comedy has found everyone coming to frank terms with their feelings, from split couples reuniting to family rifts coming to the fore. It climaxes in a perfectly judged 25 minutes that whisks us away to Boston on a family holiday, only to receive sad news about Rob’s mum, Mia. The result serves as both a way for the show to pay tribute to Carrie Fisher, who repeatedly stole scenes in the episodes she filmed before her tragic death, but also a way for our lead couple to confront questions of life, loss and grief.
Delaney’s performance is remarkable, building up a pressure cooker of emotion that erupts at little notice from his perfectly-chinned face, while Horgan’s compassionate, loyal and fierce presence makes it clear that they’re a perfect match for each other – no matter whether that was fuelled by an unexpected baby or not. The show wraps up with a joint declaration by our couple that borders on the metaphysical, leaving us unsure whether they’re heading somewhere approaching oblivion or anchoring each other to life’s tempestuous shore. The answer, of course, is irrelevant, and therein lies the timeless brilliance of this astonishingly honest portrait of the wonderful mess that is parenthood, the agonising joy of relationships and the always-awkward timing of shopping for swimwear. More TV shows should have the balls and the heart to end like this. So long, Catastrophe. You’ll be sorely, sorely missed.
Available until: 15th March 2019 (Box Set)