Barry Murphy once more trawls the TV and radio guides (so you don’t have to) to find anything worth tuning into this week. All listings are for UK terrestrial TV, Freeview and national radio, with the shows running from Friday 31st August to Thursday 6th September.
Highlights of the week
As part of BBC 4’s Hidden Lives season, this week features repeat showings of some great documentaries.
On Monday 3rd, Arena: Joe Orton: a Genius like Us – A profile of the darkly comic playwright Joe Orton, exploring his family life, sexuality and short-lived career which was ended when he was murdered by lover Kenneth Halliwell. On Wednesday 5th, Arena: The Strange Story of Joe Meek – A profile of the eccentric, pioneering 1960s record producer who committed suicide in 1967. And on
Thursday 6th, Arena: The Brian Epstein Story – Profile of the Beatles’ first manager, who died of a drug overdose in 1967. Features interviews with family and friends, and a look at the birth of the Merseybeat sound.
Friday 31st August
Film: The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) – Channel 4. 1.35pm – 3.30pm
Stylish romantic crime caper starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Millionaire Thomas Crown plans an ingenious bank robbery and finds himself drawn into a battle of wits with top insurance investigator Vicky Anderson.
BBC1 Session: Amy Winehouse – BBC 4. 9.00pm – 9.55pm
This year’s Best British Female Singer Brit Award-winner showcases the greatest hits from her latest album Back to Black and 2003 Mercury-nominated collection Frank in the intimate surroundings of the Porchester Hall in London.
Sinatra: Dark Star – UKTV History. 9.00pm – 11.00pm
This excellent documentary, originally in two parts, gives an insight into Frank Sinatra’s links with the mafia, revealing his surprising closeness to a number of prominent gang bosses, and how they may have contemplated killing him after his failure to soften President Kennedy’s policy on organised crime.
Originals: Dinah Washington – Evil Gal Blues – BBC 4. 9.55pm – 10.55pm
Profile of the Chigaco-born jazz singer, who began recording in the 1940s and went on to enjoy success for another two decades, before she met her untimely death at the age of 39.
The Professionals – ITV 4. 10.00pm – 11.00pm
A newly released convict causes chaos when he takes a group of hospital patients hostage – can Bodie and Doyle get to him before he starts shooting?
Tales of the Unexpected – ITV 3. 11.00pm – 12.05am
Double bill of the series. In the first, a girl who is followed by a stranger seeks shelter with a kind woman. In the second, a woman learns that her husband plans to kill her.
Film: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) – Film4. 11.00pm – 12.40am
Cult comedy, written by Cameron Crowe, that follows a group of teens over a year at high school.
The Film Programme – BBC Radio 4. 4.30pm – 5.00pm
Andrew Collins talks to director Mike Leigh and producer Simon Channing-Williams about their collaboration, which includes award-winners such as Vera Drake, Secrets and Lies and Life is Sweet. Plus an interview with Ken Loach as two boxed sets of his work are released on DVD.
Saturday 1st September
Film: Bless This House (1971) – More4. 1.55pm – 3.35pm
Comedy starring Sid James.
Film: Charade (1963) – ITV 3. 4.30pm – 6.40pm
Romantic comedy thriller starring Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn and Walter Matthau.
British Film Forever (6/7) – BBC 2. 9.00pm – 10.35pm
Bullets, Bombs and Bridges: the Story of the British War Films. Documentary looking at British cinema’s documentation of armed conflict and how many of the country’s great film-makers, including Humphrey Jennings, Powell and Pressburger, and David Lean, are indelibly linked with war movies. Interviewees are Richard Attenborough, Richard Todd, Michael Caine and Anthony Perkins.
Sounds of the 60s – BBC Radio 2. 8.00am – 10.00am
Brian Matthew spins two hours of hits, B -sides and album tracks.
The Funk and Soul Show – BBC Radio 6. 6.00pm – 9.00pm
3 hours of funk, soul and blues.
Blood and Fire: Roots, Reggae and Rastafari – BBC Radio 2. 8.00pm – 9.00pm
Don Letts demystifies Rastafari beyond its everyday links with dreadlocks, Bob Marley and spliffs in a programme exploring the religious movement’s impact on Jamaicans following years of British colonial rule and enforced slavery. Letts draws particular attention to its musical voice – roots reggae – which from the 1970s, spoke to Jamaica’s poor and oppressed. Contributors include Max Romeo, Johnny Clarke, Stephen Marley, the Abyssinians, the Mighty Diamonds, Steel Pulse and Rico Rodriguez.
The Record Producers – BBC Radio 6. 9.30pm – 11.00pm
Richard Allison and producer Steve Levine return with their occasional series devoted to the works of studio greats. They continue with formidable Motown songwriting/producing trio Holland/Dozier/Holland – Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland – whose contributions to the Motown repertoire include Reach Out I’ll Be There, Can I Get a Witness, This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You) and nearly every 60s classic by the Supremes. Plus a look at their pioneering studio techniques.
Classic Serial: To Sir with Love (1/2) – BBC Radio 4. 9.00pm – 10.00pm
Rick Braithwaite is a handsome ex-RAF pilot who gets a job as a teacher in a radical school in postwar London’s East End. The students are tough, foul-mouthed and angry but he inspires them as they inspire him. By ER Braithwaite, dramatised by Roy Williams.
Sunday 2nd September
The Unforgettable… Tommy Cooper – ITV 1. 4.10pm – 5.00pm
Memories of the much-loved funnyman.
Stuart Maconie’s TV Towns – ITV 3. 8.00pm – 9.00pm
The DJ casts his eye over locations featured in productions for the small screen, beginning with a trip to Newcastle upon Tyne.
Arena: Flames of Passion – the Other Side of British Cinema – BBC 2. 9.00pm – 10.30pm
Unearthing a wealth of vibrant extracts from forgotten and over-looked movies, this documentary celebrates the British cinema of the 1940s and 50s, when films of the era tended to deal with the difficulties and occasional traumas of women and men as they come to terms with the postwar world.
Classic Serial: To Sir with Love (2/2) – BBC Radio 4. 3.00pm – 4.00pm
Rick Braithwaite is a handsome ex-RAF pilot who gets a job as a teacher in a radical school in postwar London’s East End. He is falling in love with Gillian Blanchard, another new teacher at the school.
Monday 3th September
Film: Carry On Nurse (1959) – Channel 4. 1.50pm – 3.25pm
Comedy. The staff on the men’s surgical ward at Haven Hospital have to cope with the antics of amorous patients.
Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) – ITV 4. 6.00pm – 7.00pm
A ghost hunt leads to murder.
Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! – BBC 4. 9.20pm – 10.40pm
Michael Sheen plays the camp comedian in this excellent dramatisation of his outrageously candid and breathtakingly caustic diaries.
Arena: Joe Orton: a Genius like Us – BBC 4. 10.40pm – 11.55pm
A profile of the darkly comic playwright Joe Orton, exploring his family life, sexuality and short-lived career which was ended when he was murdered by lover Kenneth Halliwell.
Film: Stoned (2005) – Five. 11.05pm – 1.00am
Biopic starring Leo Gregory as Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones. His rock’n’roll rise and drug-addled fall is shown in flashbacks.
Smokey Dives – BBC 4. 11.55pm – 12.55am
George Melly looks at the rise of jazz music in postwar Britain.
A Night with George Melly – BBC Radio 4. 11.30pm – 12Midnight
This tribute to the jazz singer, author and raconteur who died in July features Melly recalling his experience of partying and performing, and his passion for fishing at night. With music from Bessie Smith and Cab Calloway. Recorded in 1996.
Tuesday 4th September
Reputations: Frankie Howerd – BBC 4. 8.00pm – 9.00pm
Affectionate portrait of the comedy actor, tracing the highs and lows of his career.
Reputations: Liberace – BBC 4. 10.30pm – 11.20pm
Too Much of a Good Thing is Wonderful – The life and career of Liberace, a musician and performer loved by the public, loathed by critics.
Film: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) – Film4. 10.40pm – 12.20am
Expansive science-fiction sequel starring Roddy McDowall. The planet’s ape population plans a revolt against their human masters. The most violent of the Apes series, the comparisons to the civil rights movement and America’s campus riots of the late 1960s are evident here.
I Was Morrissey’s Drummer – BBC Radio 4. 11.30am – 12 Mid-day
Comedian, writer and session musician Andrew McGibbon, who has played with acts from Peter Gabriel to Bucks Fizz, recalls his time as a drummer for the singer.
What’s My Name? The Muhammad Ali Story (1/2) – BBC Radio 2. 10.30pm – 11.30pm
Benjamin Zephaniah profiles Muhammad Ali, from his emergence as a heavyweight boxing champion, aged 22, to his lighting of the Olympic touch at Atlanta in 1966. This first edition looks at the outspoken star’s early career, his rejection of his "slave name" Cassius Clay, his alliance with the Nation of Islam and other peaks and controversies that define one of the more colourful lives of the last half century.
Soul Solutions – BBC Radio 2. 11.30pm – 12.30am
Includes an ‘audio postcard’ from Motown legend Martha Reeves.
Wednesday 5th September
Film: Please Sir! – Film4. 4.50pm – 6.45pm
Big screen version of the classic 70s sitcom.
The Saint – ITV 4. 6.00pm – 7.00pm
Simon Templar helps out a magnate with a dishonest double.
Arena: The Strange Story of Joe Meek – BBC 4. 10.20pm – 11.20pm
A profile of the eccentric, pioneering 1960s record producer who committed suicide in 1967.
Mark Lamarr’s Alternative 60s – BBC Radio 2. 10.00pm – 11.00pm
Mark Lamarr continues his new series showcasing obscure 1960s recordings from rock, pop, and psych to folk, soul, R&B and garage.
Thursday 6th September
The Champions – ITV 4. 6.00pm – 7.00pm
The team help a world-famous doctor placed under house arrest.
The Truth about Boybands – ITV 2. 8.00pm – 9.00pm
First in a two-part documentary narrated by Emma Bunton, charting the rise of the boy band phenomenon from the Monkees to the Osmonds and the Bay City Rollers.
Film: The Leather Boys (1963) – BBC 4. 8.30pm – 10.10pm
Drama starring Rita Tushingham and Colin Campbell. Dot marries Reggie to escape from her parents, but he loves motorbikes more than he loves her, and she’s more of a child than a wife.
Arena: The Brian Epstein Story – BBC 4. 11.40pm – 1.10am
Profile of the Beatles’ first manager, who died of a drug overdose in 1967. Features interviews with family and friends, and a look at the birth of the Merseybeat sound.