Glam up with Pan Am

November 25th, 2011

This article is more than 12 years old.

One of the highest profile casualties of the last recession was Pam Am, which went bankrupt in 1991 – the Lockerbie air disaster of 1988 probably didnÂ’t help. But while it ended badly, its legacy lives on, firstly in the form of Irish coffee – which was apparently first served to passengers disembarking from a Pan Am flying boat at Shannon Airport by a chef who wanted to warm them up (“Gee, is this Brazilian?” “No, itÂ’s Irish.”) – and secondly in the new US series of the same name, making its debut this week.


Pan Am follows the foibles and frivolities of a cabin crew back in the days when girls were unashamedly stewardesses and flight attendants a mere twinkle in the eye of womenÂ’s lib. ItÂ’s not brilliant and to a degree it rips off Mad Men, but itÂ’s fun, escapist and has an extremely attractive cast led by Christina Ricci. “This is a series where surface is substance, and surfaces donÂ’t come much dreamier than in this beautifully realised flight fantasy,” praised USA Today. However, the Washington Post decried it “a handsome study in perfect mediocrity”, while the Hollywood Reporter found it “revisionist feminism of the strangest sort Â… that takes sexism and somehow makes it aspirational”.

Staying in the air, the highly-rated Flying the Secret Sky (DR2, Fri 18:10) tells the story of the North American heroes who flew planes across the Atlantic to bolster BritainÂ’s supply in the early days of the Second World War.  

Elsewhere, Derren Brown: Russian Roulette (BBC Ent, Sun 21:00) enjoyed a controversial live airing when first broadcast; hum along to Last Night of the Proms 2011 (SV2, Sat 20:00); The Bengali Detective (DR2, Tue 20:55) reflects how Indians are increasingly shunning the police and turning to private detectives; The Glee Project (DR HD; Wed 19:00) is yet another reality talent show, but with good reviews; My Perestroika looks at the effect of the Soviet UnionÂ’s break-up on five Moscovites who were born in the 1970s; and there are no less than four relatively recent British films: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People (SV4, Sat 21:30), Myra Hindley drama Longford (SV1, Sat 13:30), Brick Lane (DR K, Sat 20:30), and Cloughie biopic The Damned United.

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