Eye Box

Keeping a critical eye on the world of TV and film

Apprentice record-breaking ratings suggest a good year for BBC

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446apprentice2Upon hearing the news that The Apprentice scored the highest ever BBC1 opening show ratings – a hefty 8.1m viewers, or 13.5% of the entire UK – I thought that now seems like as good a time as any to round-up what we can expect from the Beeb’s four main channels, BBC1, 2, 3 and 4, in the coming months.

BBC1

446ashesAshes to Ashes will be back for new series, it was announced today. The new series, set in 1982, will star everyone’s favourite anti-PC Pc Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) and “will move the show in a slightly new direction”  say producers, but there’s no indication whether this will be final bow for the Life On Mars spin-off.

Also, Sophie Okenedo has signed up has been signed up to play Winnie Mandela in a 90-minute, one-off drama later this year in Mrs Mandela, which will focus on the controversial lady’s relationship everyone’s favourite state figure Nelson progressed after their first meeting way back in the 1950s.

446tennant_ryanBBC1 have also announced a Doctor Who Easter special co-starring Michelle Ryan, which will add to continuing speculation she is to take over as the Doctor’s new sidekick. Besides that, it’s now you should really be watching the channel, with The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency currently showing on Sundays, alongside the long-awaited return of the televised Alan Sugar ego-trip (no bad thing), now screening on Wednesdays.

BBC2

446wire2

The Big Event of the Television Calender Year was not Red Riding on Channel 4; my feelings about that particular let-down are well documented on this blog. No, the real firecracker will commence this coming Monday when American cop/gangster drama The Wire has been pencilled to begin the mammoth 60-episode run from series 1-5, so please, no-one phone me between the hours of 11.20pm and 12.20am, Monday to Friday. Unfortunately the BBC haven’t secured an iPlayer licence from American net HBO, so it’s late night viewing or nada.

BBC3

300pullingIt looks set to be an interesting few months for the Beeb’s ‘youngest’ station. Pulling, the excellent cringe-comedy written and starring Sharon Horgan, be back for a one-off special. Also returning for a new series is ghost drama (is that a real term or have I just made that up?) Almost Human, which I like because it’s set near a part of Bristol where I lived for a year as an undergraduate.

There’s also a potentially interesting factual ‘Belief Season’ lined up. A series of documentaries will explore the more odd and unexpected ways that faith can impact on young people. As an opponent of organised religion, I’ll be interested to see what these docs have to teach my overly-cynical mind.

BBC4

300paul_mertonThe Beeb’s ‘Intellectual’ channel is sticking to what it knows in the coming months. Paul Merton’s love of all things silent movie will continue with Paul Merton on Hitchcock, a look at the great director’s experimental early work. Merton previously presented Paul Merton’s Silent Clowns in 2007 and frequently lectures and holds screening on and from the genre. (You can book tickets for his current tour here.)

The new series of US mega-hit Mad Men will also screen on BBC4, as well as a Storyville documentary on the career of Roman Polanski, the wild American director famous for films such as Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown – one of my personal favourite films – and infamous for fleeing the US after being convicted of statutory rape. In addition, Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe will also return for more televisual irreverancy. However, it is the announcement of a rare TV interview with the brilliant American folk guitarist Neil Young which has really got my attention. Neil Young – Don’t Be Denied will be screen later this year, on a currently unspecified date.

To sign off this post, here’s a vid of Young playing ‘All Along The Watchtower’ at the October 1992 BobFest…

All pics courtesy of BBC

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