Catch up TV reviews: A Granny’s Guide to the Modern World, Real Stories, Saddam Goes to Hollywood
James R | On 14, Aug 2016
What’s available on-demand on Freeview? Keep up-to-date with our weekly catch-up TV column, including reviews of shows on ITV Hub, new releases on All 4 and a guide to My5.
(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.)
A Granny’s Guide to the Modern World (All 4)
It sucks growing old – or does it? This light-hearted bit of telly sees Britain’s OAPs cut loose have some fun. The premise, which combines a bit of hidden camera work with some other skits, sounds like a companion piece to the lazy, dull and smug Very British Problems TV series Channel 4 brought us last year, but this is sprightly bit of comedy that gleefully subverts the stereotypes placed upon the elderly population. And so we watch as they try drugs, listen to grime, learn politically correct words that aren’t racist or homophobic. One stand-out sequence sees an elderly lady test out her potential Tinder profile pictures on young people. The victims of their pranks are surely in on the joke, but it’s just nice to see naughty nonagenarians given the chance to enjoy themselves on-screen. Growing old may suck, but anyone who’s spent time with old people will be well aware that they don’t. This is a cute reminder.
Real Stories With Ranvir Singh (ITV Hub)
So much of the news is negative these days – and, if you look around at the state of politics and financial inequality, not to mention the various wars and conflicts going on around the world, perhaps it’s no huge surprise. Bravo to ITV, then, for dedicating a series of reports by Ranvir Singh and Michael Underwood to something more upbeat.
Telling “the personal stories of people involved in extraordinry events”, Real Stories presents us with the tale of people like the daughter of Julie and Phil (yes, the footballer) Neville, who has defied doctor’s expectations and driven the couple to fundraise for the hospital that helped her. 10-year-old Owen Howkins, meanwhile, finds that his painful Schwartz Jampel condition has been made more bearable by a pet dog, called Haatchi. The music, which sounds like an informercial in the middle of a daytime chat show trying to sell you a salad bowl, threatens to push this into sickly, schmaltzy territory, but this remains a surprising dose of positivity for those who stumble across it on ITV Hub.
Saddam Goes to Hollywood (All 4)
Propaganda is a time-honoured tradition in politics, ranging from newspaper reports and leaflets all the way to expensive blockbusters. Saddam Goes to Hollywood, which sees someone discover a lost film from Saddam Hussein’s regime in a garage in Surrey, might sound like the start of a satirical comedy, but it’s all 100 per cent: the Iraqi dictator really did go into the movie business. This fascinating, amusing investigation into the failed production unearths incredible after incredible fact, from the project’s budget – on a par with Return of the Jedi – to Oliver Reed being hired to play the lead. A grand a week and being well looked after? As one unemployed actor points out, why not?
The ensuing chaos that followed saw Reed get an airplane full of talent wasted on a plane on the way to Iraq, and people run amok on a set with an inexperienced director – Riefenstahl, they weren’t. Legendary stuntman Vic Armstrong delivers a candid account into the hectic shoot, while the mounting Iraq-Iran war in the backgroud only highlights the absurd juxtaposition of this farcical filmmaking (Reed’s 17-year-old girlfriend tags along and was seen off by her mother at the airport with some homemade dundee cake) and the very real peril off-screen. The film, called Clash of Loyalties, was never released. Saddam reportedly loved it. Astonishing viewing.