Catch up TV reviews: Sanditon, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Bake Off 2019
Ivan Radford | On 01, Sep 2019
The Great British Bake Off: Season 10 (All 4)
It’s back and by now, we know precisely what to expect from Channel 4’s incarnation of one of the greatest cooking shows of all time. Our quartet of hosts (Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig, Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood) perhaps go too far trying to top them with a Wizard of Oz-style introduction that’s a little painful, but things soon settle into a comfortingly familiar recipe of proven ingredients. There are, however, some slight twist in the mix, including the reintroduction of a double-eviction week (there are 13 contestants this season) for added tension and an extended 90-minute runtime to let us soak up more of the drama.
Bake Off has always been a joy because it doesn’t attempt to whip up a storm of scandal, but the producers have certainly chosen a prime batch of bakers to serve up the tweaked menu: this is the youngest group to date on the show, and their levels of experience are decidedly varied, meaning that there are more mistakes and disasters than usual in the opening episode, including frosting melting on warm cakes and sugar decorations falling apart. But Noel and Sandi remain as positive as ever – watch out for Noel bonding with a fellow goth, who crafts a stunning fairy hideaway – while you can see spy the signature touch of all Bake Off seasons: contestants trying to help out each other once they’ve finished their own creation. The tension’s been dialled up a notch, and someone has to leave the tent because their flavours are too bland, but there’s still plenty of heart to go around.
Sanditon (ITV Hub)
With Poldark over, it’s ITV’s turn to make a play to be the nation’s most talked-about costume drama, and who better to lead the charge than Andrew “Pride and Prejudice” Davies? Here, he takes the bold decision to adapt – and complete – Jane Austen’s final, unfinished novel.
It finds the author chronicling a society in flux, as a Regency seaside town is being developed into the next coastal hotspot. Journeying there is Charlotte Heywood, sent from her home to find a man and make a fortune – something that will no doubt by helped by the Chekhov’s carriage accident in the opening episode, which involves the Parker family and entrepreneur Tom Parker (Kris Marshall, on fine form), the man overseeing the transformation of the titular fishing village.
The result ticks a lot of genre boxes, in a mostly uninspiring way – the frisson of naughtiness here pales with the thrilling immediacy of Gentleman Jack or ITV’s pertinently over-stylised take on Vanity Fair. Still, there’s potential for something interesting afoot, with the introduction of Austen’s first black character, Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke), a roguish Edward Denham (Jack Fox, clearly enjoying himself with Davies’ suggestive dialogue) and a brooding potential suitor, Sydney Parker (Theo James). But if the script and set-up are a little too formulaic, as Davies perhaps tries too hard to follow his own familiar paths after running out of Austen’s original pages, the main reason to watch is Anne Reid as the hilarious Lady Denham, who is all too aware that everyone around her is trying to get their hands on her money.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (ITV Hub)
It’s hard to imagine saying this years ago, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget Chris Tarrant’s days hosting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – or it would be, if the stage play Quiz reliving the infamous coughing incident hadn’t recently trod the boards in London. That ITV has now commissioned a TV version of the stage show is testament not only to the play’s timely dissection of the cheating scandal but the sheer staying power of the quiz show itself. Boiling the fun of multiple-choice questions down to nuts-and-bolts makes for undeniably dramatic viewing, and the choice of Jeremy Clarkson to present the age-old format only becomes shrewder the more seasons he hosts. Back for another run in 2019, he really has made the programme his own, with a blunt sense of humour that he directs at himself as much as the contestants, playing the show for laughs more than tension – after all, the quiz itself already generates enough of that. Highlights of this run include him attempting to commiserate people who get questions wrong and admitting that the Ask A Host lifeline (introduced last season) is entirely useless because he knows nothing about leaves or rugby.