Catch up TV reviews: Unreported World, Elevenish, First Dates, Amy
James R | On 20, Mar 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.)
Unreported World: Muslim, Trans and Banned (All 4)
Transgender people are becoming a more and more prominent part of the media landscape. While it’s welcome to see growing discussion of them in the UK, though, there’s rarely any consideration to what it’s like for them in other countries. Enter Unreported World, which investigates what it’s like for transgender Muslims in Malaysia, where the government has declared them to be enemies of Islam. Marcel Theroux captures not only the struggle of people to come out as transgender in the first place, but also the pressure upon those who decide to reverse that decision. For those who tire of reality TV game-shows, what a treat it is to have Unreported World back. Channel 4 News’ series remains one of the best pieces of international journalism on the small screen.
@elevenish (ITV Hub)
The words “sketch show” and “ITV 2” may not necessarily fill you with confidence, but this new series has promise, thanks to its blend of sketches, stand-up patter delivered straight to camera and supposed behind-the-scenes sequences that see the programme being cobbled together. There are misses as much as hits, with disappointing discussion of the Budget by Funmbi Omotayo solely tackling what’s in George’s briefcase (a skit that underestimates the show’s audience as much as its subject matter) and a bizarre Sharapova gag by Rhys James that doesn’t quite deliver on its surreal premise.
Luke McQueen as an unknown celebrity, though, is entertaining, while Dane Baptiste, who also created a BBC Comedy Feed last year, delivers his material with a likeable energy. It’s a pleasure, meanwhile, to see Natasia Demetriou and Ellie White of sketch show People Time (watch their pilot now on BBC iPlayer) get another platform to showcase their talents.
Photo: Talkback Thames
First Dates (All 4)
Channel 4’s dating series returns for a sixth season and, as ever, finds its strength less in its supposedly candid eye-on-the-wall footage and more in the careful crafting that goes on behind-the-scenes. The editing always manages to serve up a contrasting menu of dates, from those that end in romance and those that don’t, but the show’s ability to play upon our expectations doesn’t end there: when single parent Sonya discovers that macho Ashley is actually a scientist, we share her excitement and intrigue – the kind of trick that keeps audiences emotionally engaged with the parade of couples week in, week out. Combined with the programme’s endearing quality of never laughing at its participants, but with them, and you have a reality TV show that manages to be smart as well as sweet.
Photo: Channel 4 / Stephen Wells
Amy (All 4)
my Winehouse. Everyone’s heard the name – and it conjures up thoughts of toe-tapping hits, ugly paparazzi photos and jokes about addiction. But Amy the documentary steps back from all that and presents us with something else: Amy the author.
People don’t tend to think of Amy as a song-writer, but director Asif Kapadia teases out the old-timer behind her young lyrics. The film’s most powerful device is the use of her own words to narrate events. They appear in a bright, pink font on-screen, picking out the references within verses and choruses that are heart-wrenching in hindsight, but seemed to go unnoticed at the time. By highlighting Amy’s unappreciated wit and maturity on the page, the documentary presents us with a troubling, moving, respectful portrait of an artist.
Photo: Richard Young/REX