Entertaining, endearing, extremely unlikely

PICK OF THE WEEK: Whitechapel series 4 & Downton Abbey series 4

Two popular, absurd but entertaining British series are returning for their fourth series within months of screening in their homeland. From DR’s perspective therefore, Downton Abbey and Whitechapel are clearly international series their viewers want to watch that are worth paying ITV top dollar for.

Whitechapel, which will not be returning for a fifth series, is stylishly-shot, suspenseful and eerie.

Posh Rupert Penry-Jones (Spooks), grumpy Phil Davis (North Square), and strange Steve Pemberton (The League of Gentlemen) enjoy excellent chemistry.

But don’t expect realism. It’s far-fetched in almost every way.

Downton Abbey is also absurd. One can only presume that creator Julien Fellowes took years writing the first series and hours writing the rest.

Each year the casting gets more outlandish. Last year it was Shirley MacLaine – this year it’s Paul Giamatti as her son! Oh and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is playing Dame Nellie Melba.

“The show succeeds magnificently as bad television,” the Atlantic observes. “But the acting is superb – it has to be."


The way the news is reported has been changing. Increasingly members of the public, armed with an iPad, are doing the reportage – often in countries that rarely see CNN.

But while Afghanistan might not fit into this category, the new British series Our War definitely does as it is filmed exclusively by members of the country’s army.

With 8.5 on IMDB, the Daily Telegraph applauded an “extraordinary view of the conflict … that was not how we are used to seeing war on our screens”.

How to Survive a Plague (DR2, Tue 21:00) is an Oscar-nominated 2012 doc about the history of AIDS that had 700 hours of archived footage at its disposal. With a 99 percent rating on RT, you can’t really go wrong.

Elsewhere, there’s another chance to see the entire first season of The Blacklist, the second season of jazz drama Treme (SVT2, Sat 21:40) and Oscar-winning doc Searching for Sugarman (DRK, Sat 20:55); the transmission length of Two Raging Grannies (DR2, Tue 23:00) does not match the cinematic release; and Ellis Island: A History of the American Dream (DRK, Tue 19:00) sounds like a good intro to the island that introduced immigrants to the US.

COMING SOON: Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey

Been some buzz about this cosmic series, which so far has a 9.6 rating on IMDB and 82 on Metacritic.

This 12-episode follow-up to Carl Sagan’s epic 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage does not shy away from the profound and infinite nature of the universe as we recall the many human endeavours that have helped us find our place in it.

The scientist presenter owes a big debt to his executive producer, Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane, whose passion helped realise the series.


They don’t come much bigger than El Clasico. Barca know a Bernabéu defeat will put them seven points behind with just nine games left. Man City fans will argue that their derby game at Old Trafford is bigger. Defeat could leave them nine points off, albeit with games in hand. And don’t forget Chelsea vs Arsenal (K6, Sat 13:45)!


Iran’s The Stoning of Soraya M is in Persian and English, but worth persevering with. Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (DR1, Sat 00:05) was banned for years in the UK due to a controversial rape scene. Elsewhere, watch early efforts by best director nominees Steve McQueen and Alexander Payne: Hunger (SVT2, Fri 22:15) and Election.