Catch up TV review: Cheap Cheap Cheap, Inside the Cockpit, Valkyrien, Professor T
Ivan Radford | On 20, Aug 2017
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.)
Cheap Cheap Cheap (All 4)
You can tell when it’s summertime: the biggest TV shows on UK schedules tend to be imports from the US, while the schedules fill up with trivial filler to bide time until autumn begins, or try out new ideas when nobody’s watching. And so we have shows like Len Goodman’s Partners in Rhyme on BBC One. And, just when you think it can’t get worse than a former Strictly judge pretending to rap, this new gameshow from Noel Edmunds. Cheap Cheap Cheap (yes, that really is its title) is hilariously misjudged codswallop – it ranks alongside Hole in the Wall and ITV’s Splash as one of the most dreadful ideas ever to grace UK screens.
The show’s premise is simple yet completely most mind-boggling: contestants have to go into a shop and work out which item is the cheapest. Once they have decided on their selection, they say “Cheap Cheap Cheap!” and find out whether they’re right. The catch? The shop isn’t real. And it’s owned by Noel Edmunds. And filled with a bunch of other characters (played by actors), ranging from the European woman upstairs who keeps hitting on Noel to the young shop assistant who wants nothing more than to leave early and listen to music on her headphones. They swan about, improvising banter as if this is a primetime comedy in the 1980s – a sitcom that makes Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps seem like Blackadder.
The result is a truly bizarre mix of Play Your Cards Right and Open All Hours, which only gets stranger the more you watch. Even the items being priced don’t make sense, the magical variety of unpredictable objects creating what amounts to a poor knock-off Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but instead of chocolate, it’s second-hand hairdryers, and instead of Willy Wonka, Noel Edmunds, the former House Party host surveying his kingdom with a waistcoat of fading relevance and fraying moustache of desperation. There’s no laughter, no live audience to cheer him on, just endless silence, as each attempt at a joke floats off into a void, until one of the rejects from Are You Being Served rings a bell and orders everyone to go home. The bad news? They all have to come back the next episode to continue, trapped in an eternal half-hour purgatory of a darkened empty studio, like a Beckettian version of The Weakest Link, in which everyone loses. From the mind of the man who gave us a motivational phone line for pets, Cheap Cheap Cheap is almost worth seeing just to witness its existence for yourself. It almost makes Twin Peaks look normal.
Valkyrien (All 4 – Walter Presents)
“A maverick doctor and a disturbed civil servant walk into an underground station. It sounds like the start of a bad joke, or a terrible TV show, but it’s the unlikely basis of TV show Valkyrie. And, sure enough, Walter Presents’ latest foreign-language drama, acquired fresh from Norway, is like nothing you’ve ever seen. The maverick doctor? That’s Dr. Ravn (Sven Nordin), who spent his final professional years struggling to invent a cure for his wife Vilma’s fatal illness. When their medical colleagues ban him from trying it, for ethical reasons, he goes rogue – and then some. Faking his wife’s death and keeping her secretly in a coma, he relocates underground to continue his work. Underground isn’t just a figure of speech: he makes a base in a disused bomb shelter beneath an old train station, sourced by his strange mate and former patient, Leif (Pål Sverre Hagen), who has a history with the Norwegian Civil Defence and an unhealthy obsession with the end of the world. They strike an ingeniously ill-planned deal: set up a secret hospital inside those concrete corridors to treat the underworld of the Norwegian capital, providing triage and treatment to criminals and worse. Flush with vermin, stolen cash and violent offenders, Holby City this ain’t.” (Read our full review)
EasyJet: Inside the Cockpit (ITV Hub)
Another week, another branded documentary that’s part-human interest, part-corporate profile and almost all commercial advertising. But EasyJet’s team-up with ITV is notably different for its sheer level of access to that place we never really get to see in real life: the cockpit. Air hostesses, airport staff and more have all been given the non-fiction TV treatment, but it’s not often we get an insight into the behind the scenes work that goes on behind the scenes. Released smack bang in the middle of summer, the result is an intriguing look at the people who fly our planes to Europe and beyond. As they train up in New Zealand (where there are fewer planes in the skies), their wobbly starts and eager successes will either make you appreciate going on holiday even more, or just make you more nervous about lift-off. To make it even more mindlessly easy viewing, hitching a ride along with the crew is none other than Stephen Fry.
Professor T (All 4 – Walter Presents)
“I’m not Hercule Poirot,” says the titular lead of this Belgian crime series. And, while he has nothing bar his nationality in common with Agatha Christie’s detective, there’s most definitely the whiff of numerous other TV sleuths. Suffering from extreme OCD, lacking empathy but having a detached but brilliant insight into the criminal mind, he’s a mix of Monk, House/Sherlock and – as an irritating consultant to the cops – Jimmy McGovern’s Cracker. Derivative though the premise is, leading man Koen De Bouw (a Belgian legend, he can currently be seen in Amazon’s The Last Tycoon) completely owns the part, and the rest of the cast follow suit.” (Read our full review)