How TV and Radio Reacted to Prince Philip's Death

A lot of changes have been made in the schedules, so here's an update.

Hello,

There have been a lot of changes on television and radio in light of the death of Prince Philip, so here is a quick newsletter to bring you up to speed.

Firstly, here is how BBC One announced the death of Prince Philip:

  • Martine Croxall, who was presenting on the BBC News Channel at the time, put on a black jumper shortly before announcing the news. Huw Edwards, wearing a black tie, then fronted coverage a couple of hours afterwards.

  • All BBC radio stations, from BBC Radio 1 to all the local stations, simulcast an announcement of his death, followed by a special programme hosted by BBC Radio 4’s Evan Davis and Mishal Husain. Here is how radio announced the news.

  • The transition from Radio 1 Dance to the simulcast sounded a bit surreal. This was because the station is mostly pre-recorded and automated.

  • At 4pm, BBC Radio 1 / 1Xtra / 1Dance started to play their own music again at 4pm, but all of the songs were stripped of their lyrics. Here’s a snippet of how it sounded. At 5pm, Radio 2 started to play classical music.

  • Many commercial radio stations have also cut adverts this afternoon, playing inoffensive and melancholic songs instead.

  • UKTV channels (such as Dave) have cut adverts. A bar has appeared at the bottom of the screen, informing viewers to switch to BBC News. UKTV channels are owned by BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the BBC.

  • BBC One and BBC Two have suspended all non-news programming for the rest of the day. This means that EastEnders, Gardeners’ World, HIGNFY and the finale of MasterChef won’t be airing tonight. There have been no announcements made yet on when programmes will resume (so whether it will affect Line of Duty etc).

  • BBC Four has suspended programming this evening.

  • BBC Two will air the same as BBC One this evening, but will opt out for Newsnight.

  • ITV have also cut non-news programming. They aren’t showing adverts during their coverage either. There will be a special documentary airing this evening, along with a special live show hosted by Julie Etchingham and Philip Schofield.

  • Channel 5 have also been also airing a documentary and special bulletins. In a coincidence, they were due to air a film called Dying for the Crown, but it was scrapped when the news was announced.

  • Channel 4 meanwhile, after going to a news report, returned to their usual schedule. This caused quite a stir on Twitter. The finale of The Circle and an episode of Gogglebox will air as usual on the channel as usual.

That’s all for now, but do let me know if you spot anything else.

Scotty / @scottygb

Lockdown Recommendations: "It's A Sin", "Adam Curtis", "The Investigation" and "Tracy Beaker"

Here's some February TV and streaming suggestions.

Hello,

Welcome to Worth Watching, telling you what is worth worth watching at the moment.

It’s A Sin (All 4 - all episodes) - A lot has been said about this show already. All I will say is that if you’ve been putting off this show because you think it will be a heartbreaking watch, make you sure you still make a commitment to watch it at some point.

It is not just a story of discrimination and neglect. It is also a love story to those who helped and supported them. It’s a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. I’ll be thinking about those people for a very long time.

The Investigation (BBC iPlayer - all episodes) - Looking at the disappearance of the journalist Kim Wall, this true crime drama is unlike any other in the genre. It focuses solely on a police and criminal investigation and not on the culprit. This avoids giving them the notoriety that they may want.

Adam Curtis: Can’t Get You Out of My Head (BBC iPlayer) - Adam Curtis is a brilliant storyteller, able to weave together different stories into a compelling argument. In this near seven hour film (split into different parts so you can pace yourself) he gives us his take on how we have ended up in this dispiriting, uninspiring, divisive period of history. His use of the archive is utterly compelling.

Behind Her Eyes (Netflix) - If you are liked Haunting of Hill House and The Stranger, this new British drama is essentially both of them mushed together. Rather ridiculous thrills. Oh and Rahul from Bake Off makes an unexpected cameo.

Framing Britney (Sky Documentaries / Now TV) - It’s the Britney Spears documentary everyone is talking about. Whilst the focus is on the legal battle she currently finds herself in, the heart of the piece looks at the misogynistic and invasive media attention she’s had in her two decade career. It’s another one of those docs that makes you realise how much has, or hasn’t changed, in our culture since the noughties.

My Mum Tracy Beaker (BBC iPlayer) - If you were a fan of Tracy Beaker back in the day, this revival, featuring many of the cast reprising their roles more than a decade after the original series, is absolutely for you. The plot is loopy, but then again many many kids shows are. I talk about this show a bit more here.

As we (slowly) head towards the country opening up again, it is always a good idea to spend your evenings bingeing on an all-time great series you’ve been meaning to get round to watching, but haven’t yet. My flatmate and I have been watching Breaking Bad (Netflix) each weeknight. I’ve been rewatching The West Wing (All 4) and I’m just getting stuck into the incredible end of season two. One of the greats really helps you break up those days.

Coming up … The Circle returns to Channel 4. Celebrity Bake Off too.

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A few things I’ve done recently, in case you’ve missed them. I wrote for the Evening Standard about the relationship between television and the London theatre and why the talent pipeline between the two is at risk. This quote by the screenwriter James Graham, behind Quiz, stood out for me: “If we lose 25 or 30 per cent of our theatre buildings or theatre companies, you are going to notice that ten years later, on stage and on screen. That is because these are the places where a lot of talent comes from. It’s both the talent and sometimes the literal content.”

As well as the Must Watch podcast, which features reviews from me and Hayley every week, I was recently on the Headliners podcast interviewing Ruth Coker Burks, who has spent her life comforting those dying of AIDS-related illnesses. Nihal Arthanayake interviews her for the first half, I come in during the latter half.

That’s all with the newsletter this week. I leave you with this dog, because I am a firm believer that all newsletters should end with photos of dogs:

All my love x

Scotty / @scottygb

Lockdown Recommendations: "The Great," "Staged," "Grand Designs" and more...

Here's some great television distractions for the next few weeks.

Hello,

I know. It’s a hugely unsettling time, but thankfully there’s a lot of great television on.

Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that we’re not running out of television either. Production has been able to continue despite the last two lockdowns. In addition, a lot of broadcasters have held back shows that they were going to air last Autumn until now, just in case gaps started to appear in the schedule. This means that we’ve got a bumper month of shows ahead.

Here’s a quick list of all of the shows that I have enjoyed of late:

Bridgerton (Netflix) - Essentially, it’s Gossip Girl but with Top Hats. I love it.

The Great (Channel 4) - Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult (together in the photo above) star in this satirical drama looking at the life of Catherine The Great. It never takes itself too seriously, and also relishes in being historically inaccurate. The tone feels completely escapist at the moment. If you just finished Bridgerton this is the show you should be watching next. Episodes out weekly.

Staged (BBC Two) - The lockdown sitcom created by Simon Evans, and starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, returned for a second series on Monday. Each of them plays exaggerated versions of themselves, whilst attempting (and failing) to rehearse a play on Zoom. The joy is the in-jokes that develop throughout the series, so I would recommend watching the first series on BBC iPlayer, before watching any new episodes.

Grand Designs (Channel 4) - It usually airs in the Autumn but it’ll be airing weekly from this month instead. Traditionally, the person deciding to build the house either has more money than sense, or more sense than money. By the look of the programme description for the first episode, the house includes a moat. So much hunch is that it will be the former rather than the latter.

The Serpent (BBC iPlayer) - A well-thought through BBC One thriller that looks at serial killer and fraudster Charles Sobhraj. The story jumps forward and back in time over and over, so it requires your concentration (basically, put down your phone). Heck, perhaps not looking at your phone for an hour or so is not that much of a bad thing.

Ghosts (BBC iPlayer) - This BBC sitcom, by the same people who brought you the series Horrible Histories is a modern classic. It is full to the brim with great one-liners and hilarious characters. It is also so full of heart. Make sure you watch the Christmas episode if you haven’t already.

Celebrity: 21st Century Story (BBC Four and iPlayer) - A good four hour documentary (split across four episodes) that looks at the rise of people being famous for being famous, or for participating in reality shows. The show’s strength is its highbrow take at something lowbrow. It also provides a nostalgia hole for all things noughties. You’ll end up going “oh yeah, that happened” over and over.

Max Richter’s Sleep (BBC Four and BBC iPlayer) - Last year, at the height of the first wave, BBC Radio 3 played an eight hour piece by the celebrated musician Max Richter during the night. This song was designed to be heard whilst you were asleep. This documentary looks at how he pulled it off. It’s an interesting watch; one that ironically won’t make you nod off.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (BBC iPlayer) - All 148 episodes of the classic sitcom are now available to watch BBC iPlayer. To celebrate 30 years since the show first aired (☠️) there’s a reunion episode on iPlayer too, which also looks back at the life of the late James Avery.

That’s not all. Russell T. Davies’ drama It’s A Sin is out later this month on Channel 4.

Drag Race UK also returns for its second series weekly from January 14th (that’s week Thursday) on BBC Three. The latest episode of the latest US series drops on Netflix on Saturday mornings.

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In February, Disney+ will be massively expanding their library with a new channel on the platform called Star. Shows broadcast in the UK for the first time, such as Love, Simon will be on there, alongside classic TV favourites such as Family Guy, The X-Files, Black-ish, Lost, 24 and Desperate Housewives.

And if you want any more suggestions, I asked for suggestions on Twitter today and I got loads back, from The Queen’s Gambit to Sewing Bee. Click on the thread and you can see a whole lot of great shows.

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The latest Must Watch podcast had two fabulous guests… Simon Evans from Staged talked about making the second series in a ridiculously short time-frame. He also revealed that despite starring in the same show as Tennant and Sheen, he has never been in the same room with them at the same time.

We also spoke to Mel B from the Spice Girls about The Masked Singer. She claimed that Glastonbury had been cancelled later this year. This caused a bit of news, but Emily Eavis who runs the festival, has since tweeted that there’s “no news” about the festival this year.

Subscribe to the podcast on BBC Sounds.

In case you need anythibg to cheer yourself up with, I did a big thread of TV news moments from 2020 that I found rather hilarious. If you click on the link below you can see the thread.

I’ll be back with another newsletter soon. Remember, you don’t need to watch more television during a lockdown, only better television.

Scotty / @scottygb

"Ghosts," "The Story of SM:TV Live," "Victoria Wood" and "Bridgerton"

Here's some good shows to watch during the Christmas break.

Hello you,

At a time when we’re all apart, TV can really bring us together.

Netflix and countless new streaming services have changed the way we watch television, but there’s nothing like watching a show knowing that everybody else is watching it at the same time as you, especially loved ones. It’s especially true this month. So with that in mind, here’s a quick list of festive picks to tide you over:

Ghosts (BBC One, December 23rd, 8.30pm) - The best sitcom of the past few years returns with the best Christmas special on TV this year. I can’t go into details due to spoilers, but some scenes towards the end of the episode will particularly resonate with anyone not having a usual Christmas at home. It was unintentional, as it was filmed before the pandemic took hold.

The Story of SM:TV Live (ITV, Boxing Day, 9:25am) - A great documentary celebrating the iconic Saturday morning kids show from the late nineties, which also catapulted the careers of the show’s presenters: Ant & Dec and Cat Deeley. It’s a real nostalgia fest. You’ll also learn that the show was not an instant success when it started either. In fact the presenters found these episodes so embarrassing they have never watched them.

Death to 2020 (Netflix, December 27th) - There’s no Charlie Brooker ‘Wipe’ on the BBC this year, but there’s this special on Netflix instead. With editing right up to the last minute, it makes you wonder how much comedy you can make from an unbearably sad year.

Zog and the Flying Monsters (BBC One, Christmas Day, 2.40pm) - A beautiful little animation for the little ones, based on the illustrations of Julia Donaldson.

Bridgerton (Netflix, released on Christmas Day) - Many period dramas I’ve reviewed in recent years have fallen into the trap of being slow-paced and lacking in originality. This new Netflix series is the total opposite. Based on the books of Julia Quinn (and brought to television by the US TV powerhouse Shonda Rhimes), you’ll get blown away by exciting cast, interesting plots and a surprisingly modern soundtrack.

Victoria Wood’s Secret List (BBC Two, Christmas Day, 9:10pm) - You might be tired of the shows based on archive material, but what makes this show worth watching is how it celebrates Victoria Wood’s work through a list of her favourite sketches that she had written in her own personal notebook. There’s always something nice in knowing that it was approved by the creator herself.

Michael Palin’s Himalaya: Journey of a Lifetime (iPlayer) - If you watched the documentary series celebrating the work of the comedian and travel broadcaster, there’s now a 90 minute special looking back at his Himalaya series, which was filmed back in 2004. Just a nice excuse to watch a lovely bloke, really.

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing (iPlayer) - If you’ve missed the Christmas special hosted by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse, make sure you catch up with it. Expanded to a full 60 minutes, this special just focuses on their friendship and how Christmas reconnects us with the bad memories, as well as the good.

The Masked Singer (ITV, Boxing Day, 7pm) - Why not? It’s Christmas.

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If you want a podcast to listen to… the Must Watch Christmas Special is now available to listen to on BBC Sounds. I interviewed Cat Deeley about SM:TV Live, Hugh Skinner about Zog. Nicola Coughlan also swung by to talk about Bridgerton, whilst Ben Willbond and Simon Farnaby talked about Ghosts.

If you’re looking for some more recommendations… I’ll be on BBC Radio 5 Live on Christmas Eve at 3pm to talk about the greatest Christmas TV episodes of all time, as well as Christmas Day to talk about what is worth watching that day too. I’ll also be on BBC Breakfast on Boxing Day.

Merry Christmas.

Scotty / @scottygb

Recommendations: "Taskmaster," "Michael Palin," "Alison Hammond" and "The West Wing"

Here's some good TV recommendations.

Hello,

Welcome to Worth Watching. It’s the email where I tell you what television and streaming shows are worth your time. Thanks for subscribing.

I come with some good news - there are a lot of *new* television shows you can get stuck into at the moment. The production delays caused by the March lockdown will have quite an impact on the number of shows that we end up we with Spring, but it’s not a noticeable reduction this Autumn. Here are some choice picks:

Song Exploder (Netflix ) - The podcast series by Hrishikesh Hirway has been adapted into a television series, without it losing what made a success. Each episode looks at how a much-loved record was formed, by scouring over the lyrics and how each sound works together, without it ever becoming too technical. It could easily just be of interest to music production geeks, or so philosophical that it only interests the musician. A good place to start is the episode on how “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. became a global hit, even though it lacks a vocal chorus and is performed mostly on a mandolin.

The Trump Show (BBC iPlayer) - I know what you’re thinking. When Trump dominates so much of the news cycle, why on earth would you want to watch a three hour documentary looking back at his Presidency? The answer: that it brings into the sharp focus how dramatic the past four years have been, how the relentless news cycle has pushed huge stories out of your memory (his impeachment, Stormy Daniels, the lack of crowds at his inauguration). Also how time and again, Trump has come back when absolutely every pundit and expert has written him off. It’s something worth bearing in mind as we head to the US Election in just over a fortnight.

Taskmaster (Channel 4) - I never got round to watching this when it was on Dave. It’s a gameshow show where comedians are made to complete increasingly bizarre (and cheap looking) challenges. Right now I am watching, simply because it is so nonsense that it feels like a complete distraction from everything else. I like how the comedians asked to take part stick around for the whole series (this time it’s Daisy May Cooper, Johnny Vegas, Mawaan Rizwan and Richard Herring). It’s also a relief to see a panel show where all the comedians aren’t trying to talk over each other, desperately attempting to get the best one-liner.

Michael Palin - Journeys of a Lifetime (BBC iPlayer and BBC Two, Sundays 8pm) - I have been a big fan of Michael Palin’s travel documentary work since I was a kid. I’ve also recommended watching his work during the lockdown, so you can only imagine how I pleased I was when I heard that BBC Two was to air a four-part series where he looks back at his favourite adventures. Ignore the talking heads. The bits where he reviews his work is the best bit.

There’s something particularly healing about seeing the rest of the world on a television at a time when you can’t easily go there. A comfort too in watching archive material, making you realise that this awful period has only ever been within our recent history. It also make you realise, heck, there’s a world out there. I was lucky enough to speak to Michael Palin earlier this month for The Guardian and this quote out to me:

“I think it’s very, very important to remember that we are this tiny part of a vast world, in which people right across the globe are suffering in various different ways from the pandemic. It’s a reminder that there are a lot of things that we do share, that you can’t just cut yourself off in certain countries and say: We’re all right, forget the rest.”

Alison Hammond - Back to School (ITV) - Alison Hammond is one of the best presenters on British television today. She’s also criminally underused in primetime. Earlier this month ITV offered her a one-off documentary where she ventures around the country to find out notable black figures in British history that have been so far largely not been taught about in schools (a reminder that they should).

The West Wing (All 4) - No need to dust off the DVD boxset! A streaming service has finally got the rights to all seasons of the beloved US political drama. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to spend the next few months rationing episodes, whilst listening to the podcast West Wing Weekly. You don’t necessarily need to watch the whole thing either, just the first four seasons (they’re the best ones).

Roadkill (BBC iPlayer) - Meanwhile this British political drama is not exactly spell-binding but is worth a look, simply because Hugh Laurie and Helen McCrory are in it and they are very good in it. The issue is that it is riddled in clichés. For example, when a journalist is fired from her job in the first twenty minutes, a later scene consists of her walking home carrying a cardboard box containing a pot plant. All episodes are available to watch on iPlayer.

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If you’re looking for more shows to keep your mind off *the news,* here’s some great recommendations from Twitter. Suggestions include: Ted Lasso, Veep, Ghosts, Gavin & Stacey, Peep Show, Selling Sunset and Schitt’s Creek.

A few tidbits:

  • BAKE OFF: I’m doing the Bake Off liveblog for The Guardian with 2019 favourite Michael Chakraverty this year. I’ve also written for The New York Times about how the show is giving us a slice of normality at an uneasy time.

  • RENEWALS: David Tennant and Michael Sheen’s Staged has been given a second series. Stath Lets Flats has also just been given a third series.

  • GOGGLEBOX: Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compston and Vicky McClure from Line of Duty will be featuring in a one-off celebrity Gogglebox episode Friday evening (23rd October) to raise money for Stand Up To Cancer.

  • MUST WATCH: We’ve had a lot of good guests on the 5 Live / BBC Sounds podcast in recent weeks, including Katherine Parkinson, Blake Harrison and Mathew Baynton. You can also read Hayley and I’s reviews all in one place. Subscribe to the podcast through the BBC Sounds app.

  • AND THAT’S HOW, FOR NOW: ITV has announced that the iconic kids show How is returning. One of the presenters? Fred Dinenage (who is 78 years young). Amazing.

I leave you with this quirky moment from BBC News.

If you have any TV recommendations, please do send them back to this email and I’ll see about including it in a future newsletter. And if you find this email useful, it would make such a difference if you tell them to subscribe through this page.

Thanks so much for reading.

Scotty / @scottygb

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