Catch up TV review: Close to Me, Moneybags, Comedians Giving Lectures
James R | On 14, Nov 2021
Close to Me (All 4)
Based on Amanda Reynolds’ novel of the same name, this six-part drama tells the story of Jo Harding (Connie Nielsen), a woman who seems to have it all – a beautiful house in the country, a loving family and Rob, her devoted husband, Rob (Christopher Eccleston). But following a fall, an entire year suddenly vanishes from Jo’s memory. Looked after by Rob, she tries to piece together what’s happened, and Nielsen captures the stress and fear that ties into that with moving impact. But it’s Eccleston’s performance that really brings the intrigue to the table, as we suspect gaslighting is at play – but still can’t work out how, what about or why. In other hands, this could be melodramatic or overcooked, but the cast keep things engagingly mysterious and compellingly human.
Comedians Giving Lectures (Dave)
Dave’s quest to create its next Taskmaster continues with the return of Comedies Giving Lectures, a show that does exactly what it says on the tin: gets a bunch of comedians to deliver amusing versions of real-life lectures. Season 2 gets off to a strong start with Jo Brand arguing that Older People Are Happier, which she proves through the mental image of Iain Duncan Smith on a trampoline, while married couple Harriet Kemsley and Bobby Mair bring their naturally amusing chemistry to a lecture about marriage, while Ahir Shah argues that experts aren’t needed to solve problems. Sara Pascoe grades the lectures with the blunt honesty of a schoolteacher, but it’s the short lengths and varied topics that make this show work, as it emerges less an informative watch and more a showcase for a diverse range of comic talents, some you’ll know and some you’ll want to know before their become household names.
Moneybags (All 4)
Conveyor belts, bags of money, Craig Charles, trivia questions. All of these things are present in Moneybags, Channel 4’s new game show, but somewhere in the mixing of them together lies a strange alchemy that turns a pretty simple format into one of the most bewildering TV experiences of the year – in a good way. The conveyor belt has two positions: pole and the hole, and contestants can constantly steal each other’s top spot just by getting a question right, which they do by grabbing a bag based on the answer written on the outside. If they’re right, they can be first in the bag-grabbing queue – if they’re wrong, they have to stand they nervously wondering whether they should be grabbing the next bag or not. The trivia on offer is Shooting Stars-worthy, from what colours are on flags to what’s bigger or smaller than a Shetland pony. In between it all, Craig Charles banters his way through the rules without any hint of rhyme or reason, announcing each new twist in the rules like it’s last orders at the pub. He’s entertaining, grounded and warm, and he makes this nonsensically daft programme an oddly brilliant watch. It’s Moneybags. What’s not to like?