Catch up TV review: Porters, 60 Days on the Streets, Speechless
James R | On 17, Mar 2019
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(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.)
60 Days on the Streets (All 4)
The homelessness crisis in the UK is getting worse with every year, thanks to austerity cuts, a lack of affordable housing and, to top it all off, a media that presents all of this as Not Your Problem. Bravo to Channel 4, then, for this new series that takes us onto the streets and leaves us there to get attuned its sights, smells and people. Unlike a superficial documentary that might briefly skim over the surface of those sleeping rough in Manchester, Ed Stafford’s three-part series spends 60 days there, taking the time to get to know the others in sleeping bags. It gives us an immediate sense of the challenges of getting by with nothing, from eating in bins to washing in the bowls of public toilets, but, more importantly, gives a prolonged platform to the voices of those who are passed by every day by so many people – from Dina, who has children living with their dad, to Jeff, who was evicted after being hospitalised for a suicide attempt. Drugs are prevalent in all of the stories Ed encounters, but so is a resilience and supportive camaraderie that takes you entirely by surprise – but even just an hour of this is enough to remind us that this community shouldn’t have to exist in the first place. Vital viewing.
Available until: 27th April 2019 (Episode 1)
Speechless (All 4)
Minnie Driver is always worth watching, and that’s as true as ever in Speechless, a new sitcom that finally arrives from the US on E4. Driver plays Maya, the mother of Ray (Mason Cook), Dylan (Kyla Kenedy), and JJ (Micah Fowler), her eldest son, who has cerebral palsy. As they work to make a new home for themselves – the worst home in the best neighbourhood – she also fights on behalf of JJ, determined to make sure he has a voice and isn’t discriminated against. Driver plays the over-bearing mother to just the right degree, both pushing too far and being too protective but never being unsympathetic, while Fowler is hilarious as JJ, both deadpan reacting to her behaviour (and the spontaneous applause of his new high school class just for him walking in the room) and building a likeable chemistry with his new helper, Kenneth, played with down-to-earth wisecracks by Cedric Yarbrough. The series gets off to a busy start, as it tries to squeeze in every character and strand, but there’s a good balance to its ensemble and a nice mix of cynical sarcasm and sincere affection.
Available until: 18th March 2019 (Episode 1)
Porters: Season 2 (UKTV Play)
How many times can we see another sitcom about a white guy pining for a woman out of his reach? Porters tests the patience for that premise to the limit with its second season, which puts us right back in St. Etheldreda’s Hospital, where power Simon (the likeable Edward Easton) is longing to win the heart of Lucy (Claudia Jessie). But if that begins to frustrate, as we see Lucy swoon over hew new fiancee, Dr. McKenzie, Porters is smart enough to shake things up elsewhere, as it drops into the mix a new porter, Anthony. Played by the ever-brilliant Daniel Mays, the swaggering, brash outsider immediately clashes with head porter Frankie (the scene-stealing Susan Wokoma), as they try to get the best cut of the hospital’s black market for perfume. Their excellent interactions keep the laughs coming, while Jessie doesn’t miss the chance to make more of her character by putting Simon firmly in his place. The whole box set of six episodes are on UKTV Play.