This week’s TV: The 18th century soap Middle England is buzzing about

Pick of the Week:

SVT1, Sat 21:30

Every year without fail an adaptation of a 19th century novel leaves the British middle classes in a swoon, so this time around, Poldark is somewhat bucking the trend as it was mainly written in the 1940s and 50s and set in the late 1700s.

Set in Cornwall, partly down a tin mine, it’s a dreary tale of romantic melodrama that has excellent production qualities and solid casting – which amongst the ever-trying realms of reality TV solely featuring famous people appears to be enough these days.

Its 72 percent score on Metacritic confirms that even the Yanks are reasonably impressed, and you only have to search for it on the Guardian’s website to see what an impact it has made on local house prices, BBC 1’s Sunday night ratings (7 million), the appreciation of the male six-pack, and the public’s faith in the Beeb to make period dramas following its unintelligible rendering of Jamaica Inn.

Also New:

It doesn’t matter how quick Usain Bolt runs, he’ll never go faster than the time explored in 9.79 – the story of Ben Johnson (DR3, Mon 22:10).

The Canadian sprinter wasn’t just on steroids that day, he was on the drugs they fed the Manchurian Candidate. It was crazy and unforgettable.

But what sort of message does it send to today’s athletes: if you get caught, you’ll be welcomed back, just like the cheat Justin Gatlin (I’m only bitter because his 2004 Olympic gold robbed me of 4,000 kroner). Could it ultimately destroy the sport? Has it already?

Swap steroids for rich people and athletics for Britain and you have the plot of The Super-rich and Us (DR2, Sun 20:00), which examines how the government invited them in at the country’s cost. Staying on the same theme, Billion Dollar Hotel (Tue 20:00 or Thu 19:15) is a fly-on-the-wall look at Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, and Shadow Billionaire (Wed 20:00) looks at the would-be heir avalanche that followed the death of the founder of DHL.

Elsewhere, relive Glastonbury Festival 2015 (SVT1, Mon 22:30); go undercover with The Cannabis Smugglers (DR3, Tue 20:45); and join Networks of Power (DR2, Mon-Fri 18:30), a six-episode journey through six major cities that sets out to establish what makes them tick, and who really wields the power. (BH)

Coming Soon:

Show me a Hero

HBO’s new miniseries, which premiered this past Sunday, is written by the fearless David Simon (The Wire) and has scored 83 on Metacritic.

Set in the ‘80s and based on Lisa Belkin’s non-fiction book, it delves into the row that broke out when a young mayor, Nick Wasicsko (Oscar Isaac), was obliged by a court-order to build low-income houses in the New York suburb of Yonkers. It completely divided the area.

Based on a true story, which remembers a time when politics was all about popularity, it will hook you from the start.

And, with a writer like Simon, it’s a keeper. (EN)

Sport of the Week:

Excluding the Kenyan, Denmark has never won a World Athletics gold before, but in Sara Slott Petersen (Wed 14:10), they have a genuine contender. And don’t miss the men’s 100 metres to see Usain beat the cheat. Elsewhere, we’ve got the Belgian GP, the second leg of the final Champions League qualifiers and Man United vs Newcastle United in the EPL (K6, Sat 13:00). (BH)

Film of the Week:

Some are so bad they’re good, and others are just bad. Sket (aka Sisterhood Gang) is a laughably horrid, girl power revenge yarn, while fellow Brit flick The Liability (DR1, Sat 00:15) is a preposterous hitman caper. Avoid Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages and likewise About Adam (DR3, Thu 22:00). But American Reunion, the final piece of the Pie series, is better than you might think. (BH)

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