Join me for a catch up on the best of catch-up…
Can Science Make Me Perfect? iPlayer until 16 July
The annual talk of an ideal summer beach body never really takes the argument to a logical conclusion:
Thankfully Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham, is here to build the perfect female form – part science, part sci-fi and all nightmares. With doctors, sculptors and SFX experts she rebuilds her own body from scratch, and fixes the flaws that natural selection has embedded in our collective DNA. Her intentions are the best; making giving birth safer, solving the problems of our bad backs and giving us excellent sight and hearing. She unveils the life-size model in London’s Science Museum to gasps of amazement, but certainly not delight. Part elf, part bird and part kangaroo I think I’ll stick to human 1.0. Thanks all the same Alice.
Frankie Goes to Russia iPlayer both episodes available until 13 July
Given the UK’s continuing fraught, nervous and allegedly poisonous relationship with Russia, sending controversial stand-up comic Frankie Boyle out there seems like a crazy idea in the extreme. But this sharp and timely look at Russia, their footballing history and their proud preparations for the World Cup is excellent travel journalism. Frankie is funny, warm and genuinely interested in the people he meets. He’s got no love for the state so I doubt this show will be popular with fans of RT News, but it’s a great way for the rest of us to get to know a country so often painted as the villain. To misquote Sting, turns out Russians love their football too.
Manhunt: Unabomber Netflix UK
Watching this was a bit of a punt for me. I love Netflix’s true crime offerings, but their dramas I find are a bit hit and miss. Unlike the rest of the blogging crowd I didn’t go mad for Mindhunter and found that serial killer stuff, appropriately, a bit tortuous. Manhunt is a drama based on the famous Unabomber case, where one man waged a 17 year campaign of terrorism on the American public. This is a procedural of a sorts as we follow the police and the forensic linguists who made his arrest and conviction possible after nearly two decades of failed attempts. The twists and turns are very satisfying, even if you are already familiar with the case, and the pacing is good. If you like your police dramas a bit more cerebral than the average, give it a go. It’s engrossing.
The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan iPlayer until 3 August
Despite his protestations, stand-up comic and telly regular Romesh Ranganathan is an adventurous traveller. After all, he took his Mum on holiday, a lot, in BBC3’s Asian Provocateur. Now he’s packed his bags to fly off to some of the world’s unlikeliest and supposedly most unwelcoming holiday destinations. This time his Mum isn’t invited. In the first episode he plays on the danger of traveling to Port-au-Prince in Haiti, and frightens himself silly with a voodoo ceremony. He’s an engaging and friendly travelling companion, very interested in local life and sensitive to the issues surrounding poverty (and Westerners making documentaries about poverty). The Haitian coast looks amazing – I hope they get that influx of tourist money they desperately need. Next up for this series Ethiopia and then Albania.
Taskmaster UKTV Play
There’s a massive six series of this formidable comedy game show to watch on UKTV Play. It’s Dave’s most successful series ever and it’s clear why. Fiendishly simple yet totally bizarre tasks are dished out to five regular contestants, usually stars from the world of TV comedy and stand-up. It used to be appointment television, with a cast-iron guarantee of belly laughs, but series six itself was not a highlight, with the tasks being too rigid, the series overlong and little in the way of points for style or lateral thinking. 1-5 are all magnificent though, so we can forgive them. And with the contestants for series 7 already announced we can get excited about the next outing, which will be round soon enough.