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.)
Unreported World: Putin’s Family Values (All 4)
Back in the days of the Soviet Union, religion was frowned upon by the law. In recent years, though, Russian President and eventual world overlord is all for religion. In fact, he encourages it, using the church to help encourage traditional values, particularly those to do with families. Marcel Theroux delves into the changing times. That includes hanging out with Ivan and Nadezhda Osyaki, a family favoured by Putin thanks to their litter of no fewer than 18 children. 18 kids in around three decades? Someone should give them a medal. Sure enough, Putin has: they bear the Order for Parental Glory. And Ivan, a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church, no doubt sings the praises of both his lords.
There’s a sinister side, though, which will come as no surprise to viewers, as Theroux also talks to Putin’s “brain”, Aleksandr Dugin, whose comments lead Marcel to conclude that religion’s rise is only making it easier to stamp out dissenting voices. Sure enough, we witness a protest that’s being held against a bill proposing the decriminalise domestic violence, instead leaving those guilty only having to pay 5,000 roubles for beating their spouse. Russian’s politicians said amen to that, eating away at women’s rights. Protestors, meanwhile, were only allowed to stand 50 metres apart from each other, quietly holding their signs.
These are alarming insights that make for thought-provoking viewing, which Theroux presents with typical sensitivity, skill and sobriety. All that in 30 minutes? Channel 4’s Unreported World once again proves both indispensable and eye-opening. After all, we should probably get to know Russia – one day, we may end up part of them.
Available until: 4th June
Three Wives, One Husband (All 4)
When it comes to family values, nobody cares more than Enoch Foster. He’s an avid Mormon, a loving father to 16 children and a caring husband… to two wives. That’s the way you get closer to God, he tells us. Polygamy. And so, while they all get along with each other, he’s lining up a third spouse, courting a woman called Lydia in the hope that she will also join the Foster flock.
The documentary’s access is incredibly intimate – these filmmakers have clearly earned the trust of their subjects – but it’s also commendably detached, never leaping to judge the people we see on screen. That means while we see the family mostly happy with their lot, we also witness the occasional crack in their happy surface, from one wife admitting it’s painful sometimes to a family vote on whether Lydia should be allowed to become Enoch’s new wife. Young son Joseph says no. By the end of the conversation, they seem to have talked him into changing his mind. You wonder whether he feels closer to God or not. Eye-opening stuff.
Available until: 13th May
Yorkshire: A Year in the Wild (My5)
In a world of unpresidential politicians, ongoing international conflict and men using family values and religion to their own ends, sometimes, you just want to sit down and admire all the pretty squirrels in the trees. Thank goodness for Channel 5, who this week remind us that they produce some top-notch nature documentaries that get unfairly overshadowed by the BBC and David Attenborough. Instead of flying to far-flung destinations to peer at exotic creatures, A Year in the Wild instead sticks to its roots, giving us an in-depth tour of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. Episode 1 gives us spring, giving us a glimpse of fawns in the national parks and an intriguing study of adders’ mating rituals. We don’t get to see much of Britain’s countrysides on the telly, so this is a treat. As for the David Attenborough bit, Sean Bean’s narration is a gruff, warm accompaniment that goes down like Heinz tomato soup on a chilly March evening. Lovely stuff.
Available until: 11th April 2018
Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway: Season 14 (ITV Hub)
14 seasons in and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway is still going on, like some unstoppable, immortal force of the undead. With Mrs. Brown turning her hand to Saturday night entertainment, though, the question is whether the show still has the chops to see off the competition. The gimmick of winning the products shown during advert breaks is still in place, and still feels a little underwhelming, but there’s clearly life in the old dog yet, as people readily race to secret locations shown on screen to win prizes by carrying the sofa there from their living room. The addition of Scarlett Moffat to the team may bring in fans of I’m a Celebrity and Gogglebox, but it’s that tried-and-tested sway its hosts have with viewers that keeps ITV’s variety show on the road: Ant and Dec may look like they haven’t aged, in a way that’s now become really quite creepy, but they’re as hyperactive and engaging as ever, from their daft spy spoof The Missing Crown Jewels to the chance to get up on stage with Take That and belt out a tune. Is this smart or surprising telly? Not at all. But there’s something to be said for Ant and Dec’s unchanging charisma. Even if its vehicle has become somewhat tired, in 2017, the ghost of SM:TV Live lives on.
Available until: 24th April (Episode 5)