Catch up TV review: Life on the Psych Ward, House of the Year, MPs Behind Closed Doors
Ivan Radford | On 04, Dec 2016
Life on the Psych Ward – All 4
Ever since the Alfred Hitchcock film, the word “psycho” is used with carefree abandon to refer to people with a mental disorder. Perhaps it’s because what actually goes on when treating a patient in a psychiatric ward is so unknown to us. This one-off documentary is a fascinating insight, taking us into a London hospital to look at three patients who have committed terrible crimes in the past. Should they be discharged after serving their sentence or not? We see staff wrestling with the difficult decisions, but it’s the men themselves who make the biggest impact, appearing lucid, logical and articulate about their situation and their disorders, while the programme makers are just as adept at empathising with the knock-on effect of the criminals’ treatment upon their families. The result is a piece of exceptionally human television about a subject that can often be thought of as inhuman.
Grand Designs: House of the Year (All 4)
The Royal Institute of British Architects award for the best home in Britain returns for another year. You’ll be quietly stunned by a covert home built in the gardens of a period home. Its owners sold the main property, holding on to the bit of green out the back, so they could dig down into the ground to make a semi-subterranean house that is full of skylights and windows to let in the light and covered in mirrors to make it blend in with the trees – not bad going for what’s essentially a concrete box. Even better is a similarly squeezed-in home in Edinburgh, which rivals the Thunderbirds for fancy gadgets – from a hidden bath and automatic shutters opening up the ceiling to a bookcase with secret windows and, best of all, parts of the wall that can be completely folded out. Host Kevin McCloud ensures that the middle-class vibe is present and correct, but for architecture fans, this is undeniably enjoyable property porn.
MPs: Behind Closed Doors (My5)
Between Brexit and Donald Trump, it’s hard to believe that just over a year ago, our biggest political scandal involved Ed Miliband and a bacon sandwich. But one thing that has become increasingly clear since then is the sheer gulf that seems to exist between Westminster and the people of Britain. This fly-on-the-wall documentary from Channel 5, then, is something of reassuring watch, not just because it reminds you that Channel 5 does produce some genuinely strong non-fiction telly, but because it shows that conversations between MPs and the members of their constituencies do talk on a regular basis in designated surgeries.
The selection of MPs we follow is, of course, balanced, and so we see Naz Shah (Labour, Bradford West) trying to find her feet on the job after being elected last year, Jacob Rees-Mogg (pro-Brexit Tory, North East Somerset) listening to people disagree with him on Brexit, and Nick Clegg (LibDem, Sheffield Hallam) helping people to lobby their views for legalising cannabis and other issues. Clegg, in particular, comes across very well; in between this and his many published articles about the EU referendum that are remarkably astute, he appears as the kind of politician that is doing some good in this country. The fact that you can even think that several years after the Lib Dems failed to capitalise on their Tory coalition is a sign of how effective this window into the day-to-day world of local politics is.