Catch Up TV review: Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure, Shipmates, Drag SOS, Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier
Ivan Radford | On 07, Jul 2019
Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure (ITV Hub)
“A Dame goes into the jungle” might sound like the beginning of a joke, but ITV’s new celebrity-explores-nature documentary benefits from the rare breed of its presenter and subject: it’s not often that we see Judi Dench go off-script, and she has that same twinkling enthusiasm that has always made her screen acting so charming. Surrounded by tall trees and tons of orangutans, she’s all too keen to find out more and get stuck in – even climbing a tree to get a new look at the world around her. (“It’s like flying over broccoli,” she says, as they helicopter across part of Borneo.) Accompanied by “her chap” conservationist David Mills, the message is that we need to take care off our planet better and think about keeping the environment protected from our sprawling, unfriendly human ways. Also, send Judi Dench to more places – her awe is infectious.
Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier (UKTV Play)
A year can make a huge difference to your memory. Just over 12 months on from Jon Richardson getting his own series on Dave, Ultimate Worrier is back for a second season, and it’s much funnier than you might remember. That’s mainly because it’s easy for your brain to lump this into the generic panel show category of TV, but the opening episode of the show’s sophomore run reminds you just how distinct and different this is. Part talk-show, part stand-up, it’s an enjoyably free-wheeling programme that races between divergent topics with ample time for each guest to talk about pet concerns and equally ample time for Richardson to rant about them all. There’s room for skits and filmed sequences, but also added in-studio action, as Jon tries to face fears with aversion therapy. Throw in a variety of guests – the ever-eccentric Joe Wilkinson, witty stand-up comic Lucy Beaumont and All Killa No Filla host Kiri Pritchard McClean – and you get a comedy series that’s able to talk midlife crises and true crime obsessions, while also sending Richardson and Beaumont (who are married off-screen) to a laugh-out-loud photo session. It’s personal, silly and has the kind of shiny-undergarment-wearing climax that’s hard to unsee.
Drag SOS (All 4)
RuPaul’s Drag Race meets Queer Eye in Channel 4’s new series, a TV show that sounds so logical in its premise that it couldn’t possibly work. It follows a group of drag queens – “The Family Gorgeous” – who visit different towns across the UK to help encourage people there to find their inner drag and get a makeover into something extraordinary. But while the production values are distinctly low-budget, and the result is far less slick than Queer Eye, the reality series finds real emotion and charm in the way it shows how drag and help people to value themselves more or explore a part of their life that they’ve struggled to express. And so we see the reinvention of Abby, a single mum who wants to rediscover her younger self, and Nico, an art student who wants to recapture her self-confidence, both of whom perform on a special night to the local community. They’re joined, most powerful of all, by Shaun, a 55-year-old dad with a traditional sense of gender and sexuality, who goes through the whole thing in an attempt to bond with his son, Owen, who came out as gay when younger. As he begins to understand the emotions that Owen went through at a younger age, without having his father’s support, it’s impossible not to be moved. Drag Race UK, when it arrives on BBC Three later this year, will sashay away with all the glamour, but Drag SOS makes up for any lack in glitz with a great big heart.
Shipmates (All 4)
Channel 4’s second attempt at imitating a popular format is far less successful. Shipmates is a barely concealed copycat of Love Island, but without that reality TV behemoth’s understanding of how to push audience’s buttons and keep them coming back for more. It follows two teams who board a deluxe cruise, with a challenge to win over the 1,500 people on board. Whichever team proves the most popular wins the prize of… another luxury holiday. And so we watch as friends, exes and near misses all get jealous and fired up over each other’s flirty antics, throwing around phrases like “do bits” and trying to chat up anything with two legs. The result is unlikeable, uninteresting and shallow as anything. Narrator Stephen Mangan brings some sarcastic humour to events, but even he can’t liven things up.