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: 30 Years a Slave (All 4)
There have been rumblings recently about government proposals to consider selling off Channel 4. The broadcaster, which is state-owned but also advertiser-funded, has a commitment to taking risks with its programming, as well as supporting new talent and independent production. Part of the channel’s public service broadcasting is its coverage of current events: Channel 4 News consistently offers the best reporting on the TV. Part of that news content is Unreported World, the latest strand of which features an expose of the shocking reality of the modern South Korean slave trade.
Marcel Theroux approaches his subjects with all the tact of his younger brother, Louis, bringing us the story of Lee Jang Soo, who stays at a homeless shelter in Mokpo and has worked for years without pay. The result is a powerful blend of investigative journalism and human interest – and a news story that would otherwise have remained, as the programme’s title suggests, unreported. Public service broadcasting, indeed.
Available until: Sunday 20th December
Toast of London: Season 3, Episode 1 (All 4)
Anyone who’s seen Matt Berry’s BBC iPlayer series of shorts, “Matt Berry Does…”, will already be familiar with the fertile hilarity of the actor’s voice. If some musicians are so musical that they impregnate the front row of their audience, Berry’s comedic delivery is so naturally funny it could probably make a baby appear right there in your living room.
He returns to Channel 4 this winter for more ridiculous theatrics as Stephen Toast, everyone’s favourite plummy-voiced performer. And judging by Episode 1, toast has lost none of its satisfying crunch. We catch up with the actor as he’s about to do a performance of Macbeth broadcast live from the theatre on ITV – something that he knew nothing about. That, a porn film and a lot of alcohol somehow leads to a wonderfully daft revelation involving Stanley Kubrick, not to mention a cameo from Lorraine Kelly, but it’s the little toppings that makes Toast something to savour: the discovery of another actor who can mimic his voice but is far less annoying, which means his voiceover work could soon dry up, or the brief conversations with his not-very-useful agent Jane Plough (Doon Mackichan), which fuel the gentle sympathy we have for the dimwit, a man so hapless he uses the phrase “Children in Need” as shorthand for weed.
It is, arguably, the same joke over and over again, broken down into fairly short skits, but when you’ve got someone like Berry delivering the lines, Toast isn’t dry yet.
Photo: Ben Meadows
Loch Lomond: A Year in the Wild (My5)
Channel 5, a place to indulge in Jill Dando conspiracy theories, be entertained by freak physical conditions or watch Chris Tarrant go on really long train journeys. It’s not always had the strongest reputation among audiences. But every now and then, the channel quietly produces a gem of a TV show. Earlier this year, that was Body Donors. Now, it’s Loch Lomond: A Year in the Wild, a nature documentary series that takes us around Scotland’s bonnie Loch and its areas, such as Trossachs National Park. From the cute critters to the charming Scottish narration, this is a gentle, slow-paced treat. Most wildlife fans will be watching David Attenborough on the BBC at this time of year, but this shouldn’t be overlooked.
Available until: November 2016