This Week’s TV: Wiping away the tears of both sadness and laughter

Pick of the week:

The wipers times
Dr2, mon 16:44

BBC feature length drama The Wipers Times is based on the satirical World War One trench newspaper of the same name.

Hailed as a “funny, sad and peculiarly British drama” by the Guardian, the 2013 dramedy, which was co-written by Private Eye editor Ian Hislop and stars Ben Chaplin and Michael Palin, was roundly applauded by the critics for its approach.

The Wipers Times was founded following the discovery of a working printing press in the town of Ypres, Belgium, a place whose name no-one in the British army could pronounce and subsequently recall due to its carnage.

And as soldiers dodged bullets, shells and disapproving staff officers, the newspaper did its best to keep everyone’s spirits up.

This more than just the usual ‘war is hell’ affair. The dark humour and satire the original paper was famous for permeates throughout. (David McQuilling)

Also New:

So you’ve betrayed your country for Mother Russia, your family and friends don’t exist anymore, and you arrive in Moscow … and nobody cares. Your new home has all the atmosphere of a 1987 Chernobyl housing estate. Welcome to Cambridge spy Kim Philby’s world, explored in the sympathetic doc The Spy Who Went Into the Cold.

In similar vein, you spent a decade looking for your biological dad to find out that he still hasn’t graduated – from uni and knocking one out. Sperm Donor Anonymous (DR2, Sat 20:55) reminds us why they didn’t want to know. At The Genius Sperm Bank (DR2, Sat 20:55), meanwhile, you knew what you were getting. After all, the boffins always have plenty going spare.

If that sounds gloomy, be thankful Russia hasn’t invaded Latvia in This War: World War Three – Inside the War Room (DR2, Mon 21:30), and lift your spirits with Sonita, three years in life of a teenage Afghan rapper that the Guardian acclaims as “thrilling”.
Elsewhere, we’ve got the Eurovision final (DR1, Sat 21:00); another channel’s showing The Graham Norton Show (DR3, Sat 20:15 or Tue 20:45); Putin’s Way (DR2, Sun 21:35) assesses the autocratic Russian leader; and Nigel Marven: Ten Deadliest Snakes (DR2, Wed 19:15) holds obvious thrill appeal. (BH)