Catch up TV review: Travel Man’s Greatest Trips, Paul O’Grady, Our Baby, Madeleine McCann, Real EastEnders, Stephen Lawrence
Ivan Radford | On 02, Aug 2020
Travel Man’s Greatest Trips (All 4)
Is there anyone more suited to being your travel companion than Richard Ayoade? Capable of being simultaneously sarcastic and cynical and sincerely excited at the tiniest of things, he’s an adroit host with the ability to reel off facts at pace while making you laugh at the same time. This compilation of his greatest trips, though, is a nice chance to see when he laughs, as well as other choice putdowns and one-liners, as we see him and various sidekicks – from Chris O’Dowd to Dawn French – head to Vienna, Dubai, Helsinki, Florence and more. At a time when international travel is fraught with risks and quarantining consequences, this quick-fire montage of vicarious tourism is a joy. If you’re going to do a clips show to fill up schedules in lockdown, this is the way to do it.
Paul O’Grady for the Love of Dogs: What Happened Next (ITV Hub)
There’s nothing better in life than seeing a happy dog – unless it’s seeing a happy dog with a smiling Paul O’Grady next to it. The dog lover is back on enthusiastic form as he returns to ITV to catch up with the dogs he’s helped over the past years with his long-running series. It’s a comfortingly sweet slice of feel-good TV, one that’s served up with just enough brash honesty to avoid being entirely saccharine – but you’d be hard pressed not to well up when Paul is brought back together with Bruce, the puggle, and Chester, the most injured dog Paul has ever helped. O’Grady recently revealed that the series had postponed its next run because Battersea Dog’s Home didn’t have enough residents due to high rehoming demand – a bittersweet thought.
Our Baby: A Modern Miracle (All 4)
Becoming a parent is a miracle and a challenge at the best of times. Becoming a parent when both you and your partner are transgender is even tougher – and doing that during a global pandemic? It’s safe to say that Hannah and Jake Graf’s story is a remarkable one, and this Channel 4 documentary is an eye-opening, heartwarming portrait of their excitement, nerves and loving solidarity. Director Gussy Sakula-Barry responds to the documentary’s up-close access with a sensitive approach that takes us through their attempt to secure a surrogate and attend the baby’s birth just as lockdown began. It’s a wonderful portrait of the universal pains and hopes that expectant and new parents all go through, regardless of gender – and an insightful reminder than even after transitioning, the gender stereotypes society has drilled into everyone can still hold sway, as Hannah and Jake talk about their expectations of having a boy or a girl. A thoughtful, involving, sympathetic watch.
Madeleine McCann: The Hunt for the Prime Suspect (ITV Hub)
What else is there to say about Madeleine McCann? Judging by the slew of documentaries in the past year or so, still quite a bit, and this new ITV offering looks at the new prime suspect that has been identified by German prosecutors. Given he was a sex offender living near the apartments at the time, the mystery is only amplified and, while this documentary doesn’t necessarily go over much new ground, it serves us an unexpectedly potent documentary about how police investigations can still be bungled even when the world’s eyes are on them – and how authorities haven’t necessarily learned from the mistakes of the past.
Real EastEnders (All 4)
From Danny Dayer to Dirty Den, the word “EastEnders” conjured up all manner of stereotypes and expectations. This one-off documentary is a lovely corrective, delving right into the heart of the Isle of Dogs – a former industrial hub turned into a financial sea of skyscrapers. Lifelong islanders and young kids living in the area all share their experiences and life stories, with a soundtrack that’s wonderfully authentic from a local musician. With EastEnders the soap off air for the foreseeable future, due to a coronavirus-caused pause in production, this is a wonderful slice of East End life without any soap operatics.
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence (ITV Hub)
BBC One’s Anthony this week reminded us of the tragedy of a life lost by imagining what a young murdered black man might have gone on to do in his unlived years. ITV’s The Murder of Stephen Lawrences finds power in following the lives of those around the tragically lost Stephen, as Neville and Doreen Lawrence fight for justice for years after the 1993 murder. Directed by Paul Greengrass, the two-hour drama was first broadcast in 1999 and features two stellar performances from Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Hugh Quarshie, anchoring a programme that focuses on the personal struggle more than the police procedural, as Stephen’s parents demand answers and closure from an investigation that was undermined by systemic and institutional racial bias. Watching this back more than 10 years on, it’s still a tragically timely watch.