Catch up TV review: The Tez O’Clock Show, George Clarke’s Council House Scandal, The Best Little Prison in Britain?, I Am
Ivan Radford | On 04, Aug 2019
The Tez O’Clock Show (All 4)
Channel 4 is paving the way for a wonderfully diverse line-up in the late night talk show arena, with Big Narstie and Mo Gilligan bringing a welcome change to the usual topical comedy perspectives in recent months. Tez Ilyas is a superb addition to two broadcaster’s now distinctive Thursday and Friday evenings, with his exuberant personality expanding to full every minute of his own show. As a northern working-class British-Asian-Muslim, he brings a take on the week’s news that is so often lacking in mainstream media, and he manages to address this with both a sharp, pointed wit and a playfully light touch: segments range from a news discussion with rising stars Sophie Willan and Adam Rowe to an excellent double-act with Sindhu Vee. Guz Khan, whose Man Like Mobeen is splitting sides over on BBC Three, also gets a welcome chance to appear in sketches with Tez, while the man himself proves surprisingly adept at getting candid contributions from guests such as John Bishop. The format is still in its early days, but this fresh-faced production is the most exciting new piece of satirical TV since the premiere of The Mash Report. More please.
George Clarke’s Council House Scandal (All 4)
A child of a council estate, George Clarke’s decision to make a documentary looking back at the family home of his youth might sound like nostalgic telly, but beneath those rose-tinted recollections of how happy he and his mates were lies an angry piece of filmmaking that makes a bleak, important point. Because those were the good old days he remembers, at least in terms of housing: these days, affordable public homes have nosedived, with schemes such as Right to Buy allowing council homes to be bought off the market but without the drive and regulation to ensure they’re replaced like for like with new builds. Clarke wants to start a housing revolution and kickstart a new wave of construction – moments where he speaks to ministers and organisations who agree but don’t back up their words with anything resembling action or commitment are disheartening, but this documentary is an important reminder of the unseen crisis currently crippling the country. Double-bill it with BBC One’s Broke, before picking up the phone to donate to housing charity Shelter.
The Best Little Prison in Britain? (ITV Hub)
Think you’ve seen everything a TV prison documentary could possibly offer? Think again. The Best Little Prison in Britain is a bizarre insight into an unusual prison: the jail located on The Isle of Man. While it is known for tough sentencing, everyone on the island goes to the same prison, which means people are there for everything from cyber crime and drug dealing to robbery and hitting someone over the head with a rolled-up magazine. At the same time, its progressive approach means that the prison has some of the lowest reoffending rates in Europe. If this sounds like a weird mix of attitudes, you’d be right, and ITV’s series does a great job of immersing in the bizarrely quaint, yet undoubtedly tough, world behind Manx bars. We see singing prison officers forming friendships with inmates, people trying to represent themselves in court, and even one couple start a relationship in prison, whose supervised meetings can’t go beyond a light peck on the check but still have to be stopped early when things get heated.
I Am… (All 4)
Dominic Savage writes and directs this impressive, compelling trip of standalone dramas, which feature some of our best actors: Samantha Morton (Minority Report), Vicky McClure (This is England) and Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians).
They each had a hand in developing and co-writing their stories, which zero on intense emotional drama, serious explorations of identity and pick apart thorny relationships. That connection with the material is evident from the off, with Line of Duty veteran McClure playing Nicola, a hairdresser who is searching for her romantic ideal, but she’s stuck in a relationship with her far from perfect partner, Adam (Perry Fitzpatrick). In only an hour, the drama needles into the poisonous way that he treats her, manipulating and coercing her into what he thinks she should be. This is compelling, skilfully acted telly that delivers big punches in small packages.