Catch up TV reviews: Educating Cardiff, Modern Life is Goodish, Life Stories, Sugar Rush
Ivan Radford | On 06, Sep 2015
Educating Cardiff (All 4)
“Where’s Switzerland?” “New Zealand.” Fly-on-the-wall reality series are everywhere on TV these days. Even Educating Cardiff is the latest in a BAFTA-winning string of shows, which has previously educated Essex and Yorkshire. Channel 4’s format relies upon its editing team to pick out the stories worth following from the sea of pupils at Willows High School and they’ve lost none of their edge, cutting together the tales of Leah, a year 11 pupil who is never on time, and Jess, who is so on time that she forgets to make friends as well as the grade. The teachers trying to turn these kids around – the no-nonsense head and the outwardly fierce Mr. Hennessy – could be cliched in their earnest conviction, but it’s the subtle parallel drawn between them that brings the heart to events; Hennessy, we soon realise, wasn’t unlike Leah himself once. It might seem like a familiar lesson, but Channel 4 still knows how to teach its audience a thing or two.
Photo: Nathalie Mohoboob / Mark Johnson / Channel 4
Piers Morgan’s Life Stories: Lionel Ritchie (ITV Player)
Piers Morgan may have the most punchable face on the TV, but that doesn’t stop him from coming back again and again with his Life Stories, a series that sees him interview famous people with less punchable faces. Morgan isn’t afraid to heap praise upon his latest subject, Lionel Ritchie, but the singer is more than up for it, dishing anecdotes and jokes with a bizarre combination of self-aware parody and casual ego. (“Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?” he starts the conversation.) The sycophancy on display only encourages the interviewee to dodge anything too difficult, but there are hints of interesting insight hidden between the lines. Presuming, of course, you can stop punching the telly long enough to look for them.
Available until: 4th October
Photo: Matt Frost / ITV
Jamie’s Sugar Rush (All 4)
Jamie returns to TV screens to tackle the huge contribution of sugar to global health problems, from diabetes to a growing number of dentures in young people. As he quizzes dieticians and examines supermarket packets, it’s hard not to be caught up in the urgency of his investigation, partly because it’s so relevant and partly because he’s such a likeable presence.
“I’m getting fired up,” says Jamie, as he attempts to rally big wigs from the restaurant industry to introduce a tax on sugary drinks. Years after his “pukka” days, it’s the key ingredient to what has proven a hugely effective recipe – not just for an engaging, provocative TV programme, but for genuine social change.
Available until: 4th October
Photo: Pro Co / Channel 4
Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish (UKTV Play)
Dave Gorman. The man who became famous by finding other people with the same name as him. The comedian returns this week for a third season of his Dave TV show, Modern Life is Goodish, the first episode of which can already be viewed on UKTV Play. It’s a curious bit of stand-up that sits somewhere between Adam Buxton’s Bug and Michael McIntyre, as he cues up clips from a range of property porn TV shows and makes fun of them. But over the course of the hour, you begin to appreciate just how much effort goes into his gags, which combine audio, video and – in one stunt – eggs to fantastic comic effect. With his love of wordplay and determination to get other people to read out his poems, he’s a Radio 4 listener’s dream: part pun, part plaid shirt and wholly amusing. Even his deliberate effort not to make cheap jokes at non-celebrities’ expense mark him out from a crowd of comedians as someone not only intelligent but someone who deserves a bigger audience. At one point he goes off on a tangent to talk about how life has become less surprising in the digital age. This is an pleasantly unexpected departure from that. Brilliantish.
Photo: Pete Dadds / Avalon / UKTV
Best movies on Freeview VOD
Thunderpants (Demand 5)
An 11-year-old boy’s amazing ability to break wind leads him first to fame and then to death row, before it helps him to fulfill his ambition of becoming an astronaut.
Available until: 7th September
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Available until: 11th September
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Available until: 14th September