Catch up TV review: Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, The White Princess, Ross Noble: Off Road, Born to Be Free
James R | On 10, Dec 2017
Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast (All 4)
What a strange programme this is – part Top Gear-style blokey banter, part-cookery lesson, and part-social campaigning. It’s all held together by the highly artificial framework of an end-of-the-pier cafe, which is supposedly run by Jamie Oliver – happy chippy chappy, innit – and Jimmy Doherty – whom foodies will recognise from Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped, among others. There, they serve up nosh to a not-at-all-fake audience of customers, along with some food tips and a sprinkling of celebrity interviewing, because Top Gear and The Last Leg are both off-air. The result is uneven, to say the least, especially as the programme heads off on a diversion halfway through to profile a supermarket selling on discarded food at a discount. But there’s genuine heart to their mini-documentary, even if the presenters’ enthusiasm often feels irritatingly forced, and there’s something charmingly rough-around-the-edges about such an uneven hotpot of ideas – especially when, in a sea of stunt-filled talk shows, Jamie Oliver is more interested in quizzing his guests about their supper preferences (now in its fifth season, Channel 4 clearly feel they’ve found a winning recipe in here somewhere). It helps that their star this week is none other than Mark Hamill himself, who proves himself game for Star Wars anecdotes and jokes, and has one of the most entertainingly terrible whisking techniques you’ve ever seen.
The White Princess (UKTV Play)
If you don’t have Netflix but you’re craving some royal drama this winter, then UKTV’s Drama may well have the answer: The White Princess, a follow-up to The White Queen, adapted from Philippa Gregory’s novel. There’s no getting past how much it pales in comparison: despite being a Starz production, the budget can’t quite compare and there’s a certain lack of polish to proceedings. It also lacks the same precise focal point. But, as you’d expect from Gregory, there’s still plenty of soapy fun to be had, as Emma Frost’s adaptation runs with the trashy romance as far as possible – and so we see Elizabeth of York in the aftermath of the War of the Roses, her beloved Richard III dead and her now betrothed to his conqueror, Henry Tudor. It’s a marriage arranged in hell for both, one resentful and in mourning, the other displeased to be attached someone who doesn’t respect him. And, of course, there’s the problem of having to prove Elizabeth is fertile, before he’s happy to get hitched proper – after a period of bloodshed, this is about legacy and bloodline, not affection and love. For those unfamiliar with the Tudors, there are a lot of names and faces to take in, but our central couple do good enough work to keep us engaged through the daft fictionalised contrivances. Jacob Collins-Levy is at once arrogant and honourable, while Jodie Comer, who impressed in BBC Three’s Thirteen is sympathetic as the nervous newcomer to a hostile court. Prepare for many weeks of heaving bosoms, saucy sexual politics and, most promising of all, Game of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley having a ball as resident frosty mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort. It’s worth tuning in for her alone.
Ross Noble: Off Road (UKTV Play)
Ross Noble is one of the most delightful and delightfully odd comedians on the British circuit, with a signature surreal style that fizzes with infectious imagination. Seeing him on a motorbike, then, is something of a surprise, but the Geordie has been a bike enthusiast for years, and so he returns to Dave to take on the gruelling challenge of the Scottish Six Days Trial. It soon becomes apparent how tough the contest genuinely is, and Noble is a frank, open presence, as he and his team struggle to get to grips with what they have to achieve day in, day out. But if it’s no laughing matter, it’s a shame that the three-part documentary occasionally gets too bogged down in the grimy frustration – sometimes, you wish someone would just crack a joke. Noble fans may be left with their wheels slightly spinning, but bike enthusiasts will enjoy the no-holds-barred ride.
Born to Be Free: Saving Russia’s Whales (All 4)
It’s been years since Blackfish first erupted on to the documentary scene and genuinely changed the way that orcas are treated and the way SeWorld operates. Now, Channel 4 may well help to do the same for beluga whales. Born to Be Free takes us into the fight by a pair of free-driving journalists to investigate and expose how they are captured and transported to cramped water parks. Specifically, they look at the 18 belugas that were ordered by Georgia Aquarium in the US and rounded up brutally in Russia like an Amazon shopping basket. Kim Basinger petitioned President Putin to free the whales – and that’s all this duo need to dive into the waters of cruel animal treatment. Their inspirational dedication to the cause just about offsets the unpleasant nature of what they uncover.