Catch Up TV reviews: Stand Up & Deliver, Unforgotten S4, Saturday Night Takeaway S17, Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig
Ivan Radford | On 28, Feb 2021
Stand Up & Deliver (All 4)
Stand-up comedy is something that everyone thinks they can do, but to do it and actually be funny, while overcoming stage fright, telling a coherent story and dealing with audience reactions? It’s far from easy, and this brilliantly conceived Channel 4 series is a perfect demonstration of just how tricky it is. The two-part show pairs celebrities with stand-up comedians and challenges them to come up with a five-minute set within 2 weeks. And so we see the Rev Richard Coles, Shaun Ryder, Baroness Warsi, Curtis Pritchard and Katie McGlynn all try to find their inner comics. It’s a wonderfully varied bunch, and they’re matched with a perfectly cast selection of mentors – David Baddiel, Judi Love, Zoe Lyons, Nick Helm and Jason Manford. What ensues is a series of surprisingly probing conversations, as the comics try to get to the heart of who their pupils are to determine their best material – whether it’s Coles’ naturally guarded persona, Pritchard’s giggling nerves about how he comes across, Ryder’s rambling frustration or Warsi’s pent-up frustration with the systemic lack of diversity in government politics. There are laughs aplenty – some intentional, some not – but there’s also a genuinely compelling journey to follow for each contestant. The result is surprising, entertaining, thoughtful and funny TV. The fact that it’s in aid of Stand Up to Cancer only makes it even more admirable.
Unforgotten: Season 4 (ITV Hub)
Over three seasons, Unforgotten has become one of ITV’s best crime dramas, with its solid-gold lead duo of Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar proving wonderfully likeable but also just admirably competent. Season 4 delves into its darkest material yet, as we rejoin Sunny and Cassie as the latter is eyeing up early retirement – but has been told she needs to work three more months first. It’s no surprise that she soon gets drawn into the latest case on the department’s table – involving a freezer, a Marathon chocolate bar and a football tattoo. Sure enough, it’s not long before the double-act’s familiar rhythms begin to surface once more, and their uniquely charming blend of optimism and professionalism has you glued to the screen all over again. Roll on Season 5.
Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV Hub)
ITV’s defiantly old-school variety show has been going for 17 seasons and, frankly, there’s a good reason for it: the show is unrelentingly, impossibly cheerful telly, powered by the star wattage of Ant and Dec, whose upbeat charisma hasn’t yet faded. Even a global pandemic can’t derail it, as the duo professionally follow in the footsteps of Romesh Ranganathan and others to host a virtual audience in a studio. Wandering the corridors off-set with the cameras constantly in tow, they still manage to bring the house down. And now, there’s something reassuringly familiar about it to boot – the opposite of David & Mitchell’s Stay Indoors quiz show.
Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig (All 4)
Sandi Toksvig travels around the UK looking at beautifully designed holiday hideaways. Sometimes, a TV series can sell itself in a single sentence. Even before the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, the prospect of seeing the national treasure potter about admiring cute getaways and adorable architecture would be high up on the list of Things To Make You Feel Warm Inside. For anyone suffering a case of wanderlust or wondering what they might be able to do for a summer staycation this year, though, Channel 4’s sweet, easygoing travel show is ideal, giving you enough variety in landscapes and locales while remaining endearingly low-key. Even the banter between Sandi and her celebrity companions – ranging from Jessica Hynes to Sindhu Vee – is low-stakes and off-the-cuff, closer to Mortimer and Whitehouse going fishing than Travel Man. The result is Sandi talk about how oak is wood that still lives on inside, or watching Jessica explore a windmill