Catch up TV reviews: Elvis and Me, The Secret Life of 4-Year-Olds, Chris Tarrant Extreme Railway Journeys, The Indestructibles
Ivan Radford | On 08, Nov 2015
Joanna Lumley: Elvis and Me (ITV Player)
Did you know Joanna Lumley really likes Elvis? That’s the only thing we learn in this documentary that sees the British icon head to Memphis to swoon over the late American icon. Not his latter years, but the pelvis-swinging young country star who rocked teenage girls’ worlds.
Lumley gushes over everything to do with The King, from his house to his former wife, to a studio recording at Abbey Road, to the clothes store where he got his shirts and jackets. She even explains how Patsy in Ab Fab had her own Elvis-inspired grin. The problem is that after 10 minutes, the fangirling gets tiresome and you find yourself longing for some kind of insight or information. The American South, she tells us, is important to understanding Elvis. Not for any objective, factual reason, just because she thinks it is.
Sony Music’s name is all over the end credits, which might offer a clue as to why this feels less like a piece of television and more like an advert (punctuated, thanks to its broadcast on ITV, with even more adverts).
“I wish I’d met him. I wish I’d known him. I’d have loved him,” Lumley enthuses halfway through, completely straight-faced. “I hope, I think, he’d have loved me.”
There’s a new album released this week that sees old Elvis recordings accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. What a coincidence.
Photo: Jaimie Gramston / Sony
Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railway Journeys (My5)
Chris Tarrant on a train. That’s the hook for this Channel 5 series, which is bafflingly popular enough to have been commissioned for a second season – a run that just came to an end this week with a run across Canada. How did the land of wilderness and maple syrup come to be conquered by steam and rail? There’s a bit of history in here, which train nut Tarrant delivers with the charming enthusiasm of your granddad’s mate who’s come round for tea on a Sunday afternoon. The show seems to realise that it needs a bit of variety, though, so we’re treated to such extreme acts as Chris Tarrant hiring a truck to drive the portion of the country that is only traversable by freight train – or dropping explosives onto snow-capped mountains to trigger avalanches and avoid icy disasters for the routes that go underneath. The surprising joy of the whole affair, though, is watching this famous broadcaster getting excited by such trivial things as a bed being made in his carriage. He clambers onto the freshly turned duvet with the grin of someone sure that he’s making classic television. Chris Tarrant on a double bed. On a train. It’s extremely something, they’re right there.
The Indestructibles (UKTV Play)
Action-sports-athletes-turned-presenters Tim Warwood and Adam Gendle host this new Dave original show, which sees a group of blokes trying to pull off ridiculous stunts around the world for the sake of it. In other words, it’s exactly what you expect from the phrase “a new Dave original show”.
Curiously, the whole project is funded by fashion-watch brand Casio G-SHOCK, the kind of corporate synergy that can lead to forced or irritating telly, but the opening episode delivers its laddish entertainment with just enough dose of knowing wit to get away with it – the opening poses for the title sequence are swiftly undermined by a pinecone.
The main challenge in the first episode? Bouncing people, a la The Dam Busters, off the surface of a lake. “It’s not enough for Joe to enter the water, because look at him he’s a meathead,” explain our manly male men, as they assemble some inflatables. “He wants a challenge. He wants to hit the child’s pink bouncy castle…” Of course, he does. This is the TV equivalent of a cheeky Nando’s. And that’s exactly what its target audience will enjoy.
The Secret Life of 4-Year-Olds (All 4)
Children are fascinating things. You look away from your sister, your nephew or your daughter for 10 seconds and suddenly, they’ve grown up – but pay attention during their formative stages and there’s an astonishing amount going on behind the scenes, from learning the difference between right and wrong to understanding social boundaries and how friendships work.
Channel 4’s series, which combines footage of kids with observations from psychologists and other adults, captures that whole process brilliantly. Adding just enough commentary without overshadowing the natural charm of its subjects, it tracks that subtle shift from a child agreeing to share to discovering they can use that bond to their advantage. “If you tell, I won’t be your friend,” glowers one, with a face that’s slowly grasping what power they have. As the rest of the group either fall in line or rebel, the expressions on their faces are as hilarious as they are endearing.
Photo: Richard Ansett / Channel 4