TV listings | Arab spring and anonymous sperm

How involved should a documentarist be in their narrative? After all, you can bill yourself as an investigative reporter and become the star. Donal Macintyre and Nick Broomfield are good examples – but at the same time they alienate part of their audience by irritating them with their self-righteousness. 

The subtler approach is to remain, as much as possible, off-camera. Suggest things to your subjects, but let them do the work. In The Reluctant Revolutionary (DR2, Wed 23:00), Sean McAllister gives us a masterclass in manipulation as we follow Kais, a Yemenese tour guide, through the Arab Spring and watch as his pro-governmental sentiments dissolve.

 

The Hollywood Reporter hailed its “breathless pace, sense of black humor and great central character”, while The Huffington Post felt that “McAllister is either a fool or brave or possibly both” because what “he captures is extraordinary access conventional media flinch from”. 

From a reluctant revolter to a reluctant sperm donor, or is he? In The Donor Unknown (DR2, Sat 20:00), we meet Jeffrey, 52, a bachelor who lives with four dogs and a pigeon. Thirty years ago he donated sperm with the same amount of emotional involvement that most of us invest in taking our bottles back. But yet he has kids, possibly hundreds of them, and now many are seeking him out. Should he come clean that he helped conceive them while looking at a porn mag?

 

One person who never owned up was Max Mallowan, the archeologist husband of Agatha Christie (DRK, Thu 21:00). She believed the older she got, the more interested he became. Nothing to do with the millions of books she sold then (when she died, he married his mistress – flaming hell, did Hercule Poirot ever investigate?).

 

Elsewhere, Senna is an acclaimed doc about the peerless F1 driver who tragically died at the age of 34; Suburgatory (TV2 Zulu, Tue 20:55) is a new series about life in the suburbs that has a creditable 70 on Metacritic, but how similar is it to Desperate Housewives and series of that ilk; and there’s another chance to see The Promise (SV1, Wed 22:00), an intriguing four-parter set in Israel and Palestine, from the 1940s to the modern day. 

 

Read this week's TV listings.