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Rewind TV: Mary and Martha; Lightfields; Food Glorious Food; Heading Out – review

2 March 2013 4:06 PM, PST

It's hard to feel charitable towards Richard Curtis's malaria drama. There was more bite in Simon Cowell's dog's dinner

Mary and Martha (BBC1) | iPlayer

Lightfields (ITV1) | ITVPlayer

Food Glorious Food (ITV1) | ITVPlayer

Heading Out (BBC2) | iPlayer

Drama in aid of a worthy cause is not always more a pleasure than a duty, and Richard Curtis's feature-length Mary and Martha – an early curtain-raiser for Red Nose Day – was no exception. If its aim was to draw attention to the thousands of African children who die needlessly each year from malaria, all I can say is, it felt like it. I hope that doesn't sound too uncharitable. But I would have been as happy with a decent documentary as with this glossy weepie about two mums – one American, one English – having the bad luck to have a beloved son bitten to death by a mosquito in Mozambique and then »

- Phil Hogan

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Spiral: State of Terror – series four, episodes seven and eight

2 March 2013 3:00 PM, PST

It's been a busy week … Gilou performs his greatest feat of escapology so far, Samy returns carrying a torch for Laure and things get worse for Joséphine

Spoiler Alert: This blog is for people watching Spiral series four on BBC4. Don't read on if you haven't seen episodes seven and eight – and please do not leave spoilers if you've seen further in the series.

Catch up with Vicky Frost's episodes five and six blog

Hello Spiral heads. Vicky Frost is away this week so I'm filling in before she returns to tackle next week's offering. If you have even a passing familiarity with the show you know that suspect rights in Spiral rank about as highly as animal rights in a horse abattoir, so the new terrorism suspect reforms that come into play this week could be something of a watershed for all involved. That a lawyer must be present »

- James Donaghy

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New BBC director general Tony Hall: 'It's about setting the conditions whereby artists flourish'

2 March 2013 1:01 AM, PST

Tony Hall started working for the BBC 40 years ago, but left when he failed to get the director general's job. Now, more than a decade later, he's got it. Here he hints at what lies ahead

Tony Hall, the outgoing chief executive of the Royal Opera House, cuts a reassuring figure. Blandly dressed, and about as far from the cliche of the flamboyant opera impresario as you can imagine, the new director general of the BBC is thinking about the past, not the future. That's despite the fact that, almost as we speak, his former Covent Garden finance director, Anne Bulford, now chief operating officer at Channel 4, is being announced as the new BBC managing director, the latest in a number of highly paid appointments he is making before he formally takes over at the corporation next month.

The situation Hall faced at the Royal Opera House when he »

- Charlotte Higgins

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Eat your own placenta, January Jones? – No thanks | Deborah Orr

2 March 2013 12:45 AM, PST

Betty from Mad Men recommends it after giving birth, but I'll stick with tea and toast

January Jones – Betty in Mad Men – turns out to be a bit of a hippy. "With a name like that?" I hear you say, "Who'd have thought it?" She says that women should eat their placenta after childbirth, and insists that doing so helped her to avoid depression and fatigue.

As someone who still remembers the cup and tea and piece of toast I got after having my first baby as the most delicious and wonderful things I have ever tasted, I'm not convinced. Placenta wouldn't have been nearly as nice.

January demurs: it's not, she says, "gross or witchcrafty". Possibly not. The actress had her own placenta dehydrated and made into capsules. Frankly, if you have enough staff available for such obscure tasks to be done on your behalf in the immediate wake »

- Deborah Orr

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What I see in the mirror: Flavia Cacace

1 March 2013 11:00 PM, PST

'The part of my body that gets commented on most is my abs. I have actually got an eight-pack'

I spend a lot of time looking in the mirror because my Strictly Come Dancing partner Vincent and I are doing eight shows a week in the West End and have to do the hair, makeup and lashes. Makeup helps you interpret a dance. So, if we're doing a romantic dance, I'll go for pinks and neutral colours; and if it's a tango or paso doble, I'll go for much stronger reds and blacks.

People think I am from Italy, Spain or Greece. It's the dark eyebrows and hair, brown eyes and olive skin. My parents are both from Italy and I was born in Naples. Because of my Italian background, I was brought up on a Mediterranean diet, which does contain lots of carbs like bread, pasta, potatoes – but, because I am an active person, »

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The new BetVictor advert

1 March 2013 10:00 PM, PST

'As the screen fades to the BetVictor logo, all we can do is wonder what fate befalls the now-obsolete Carsino employees'

Reading this on mobile? Click here to view

Irksome ads for betting companies seem to be every bit as inescapable a part of modern life as the demonisation of the young unemployed or Micky Flanagan's face. Barely an ad break can crawl by without squawking irritants in the guise of wacky overseas football commentators, Matt Berry impersonators, or gruff thespians imploring viewers to "gertcha mobiles and laptops aht". In such a competitive field any lesser-known bookie would struggle to be noticed, yet BetVictor Casino puts together a package that really catches the eye. Paul Kaye plays wideboy Maurice, seemingly plucked from his natural habitat – a no-budget 90s ITV sketch comedy – and thrust into 2013, appearing wherever BetVictor boss Victor Chandler is nabbing a momentary respite from the bookmaking rat race. »

- Mark Jones

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Catch-up TV guide: from Nashville to The Jewel In The Crown

1 March 2013 10:00 PM, PST

Nashville | Fit | Happy Endings | Dancing On The Edge | Pitchfork Classic: Belle And Sebastian – If You're Feeling Sinister | The Jewel In The Crown

TV: Nashville

Essentially the anti-Smash, this brash country music drama has sass to burn and boasts an excellent pair of leads in the forms of Hayden Panettiere as a rising Taylor Swift-alike singer, and Connie Britton, as the old-school songstress she's looking to usurp. Watch recent episodes over on 4oD.


TV: Fit

From Adventure Time to Horrible Histories, some of the best comedy currently on telly is airing on the kids channels. This frantic sport-themed sketch show, which features comics including Peter Serafinowicz and Tony Law, is no exception. Fit airs Mondays, 6.15pm on the Cbbc channel, while you can see the series in full on the iPlayer.

BBC iPlayer

TV: Happy Endings

Left with a great whopping chunk of space after calling time on those endless Friends repeats, »

- Gwilym Mumford

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Parks And Recreation is comedy at its sweetest

1 March 2013 10:00 PM, PST

• Sarah Dempster's TV Od: Praise be to BBC4 for picking up the Us comedy smash Parks And Recreation, it's been a long time coming

"It's a great time to be a woman in politics," chirps Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), perched, beaming, on a park bench. "Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, me…" Leslie is a visionary, a perfectionist who operates within a self-guffed mushroom cloud of nuclear positivity. The deputy director of Pawnee, Indiana's parks department, she's the sort of ambitious can-do apparatchik who calls a spade a spade, then organises a photo session with the nearest spade, then, warming to the theme, proposes the founding of Spade Day, for which she will, inevitably, dress as a spade. Leslie's hopes, dreams and repellent pastel pencil skirts are at the heart of Parks And Recreation (Wednesday, 10pm, BBC4), the first, glorious series of which arrives this week amid celestial parps of jubilation and the assurance that everything, »

- Sarah Dempster

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Dale Robertson obituary

1 March 2013 4:08 PM, PST

Taciturn hero of film and television westerns

In Hollywood, in the days when men were men, Dale Robertson, who has died aged 89, was considered the epitome of masculinity. In the Clarion Call episode from O Henry's Full House (1952), a giggling, snivelling crook, played by Richard Widmark, whom Robertson, a cop, has come to arrest, keeps calling him "the beeg man". Robertson, an ex-prize fighter, was indeed "beeg" – tall, well-built and ruggedly handsome, with a gravelly voice. He was tough but fair to men, and courteous to ladies, particularly in the many westerns in which he starred in the 1950s, and in his most famous role, that of special investigator Jim Hardie in the TV series Tales of Wells Fargo.

He was born Dayle Lymoine Robertson, in Harrah, Oklahoma, and attended Oklahoma Military Academy, Claremore, where he was named "all around outstanding athlete". During the second world war, he served with Patton's Third Army, »

- Ronald Bergan

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Mary and Martha – review

1 March 2013 4:08 PM, PST

Richard Curtis's story about inaction in the face of malaria may seem unbelievable, but it's no less plausible than the truth

Richard Curtis's drama Mary and Martha (BBC 1) was a 90-minute call to arms in the eminently winnable battle against malaria. Its story of loss, love, guilt, awakening and redemption – while artfully shot, tightly written and well-acted – ultimately served as a vehicle for a handful of familiar and uncomfortable facts about a disease that it is well within our power to eradicate.

Facts such as these: that despite malaria being both curable and preventable, we allow it to claim more than half a million lives a year; that we routinely spend the cost of a life-saving mosquito net on three paper cups of coffee; that the number of lives Britain and the Us have lost in military action since the last world war is minuscule in comparison to »

- Tom Meltzer

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Meet the incredible Mr Goodwin, daredevil extraordinaire

1 March 2013 4:05 PM, PST

TV's finest new risk-taker is more modern Houdini than Jackass. 'I've given my life to locks, handcuffs and rope,' he tells us

Daredevil. The word has ol' time associations: sidecars and Victorian swimming costumes, a man in Raf goggles having sex behind enemy lines, that Ben Affleck film you didn't see. Acts like Jackass, David Blaine and Felix Baumgartner, however, trace a latter-day lineage that prove spectacle and stupidity are not sepia-tinted pursuits. But one man's range of risk-taking outstrips them all.

British-born Jonathan Goodwin's stunt work has seen him buried in bees, attacked by sharks, and burned at the stake. His website describes him as "a cross between Houdini and Superman" and catalogues accomplishments such as free-diving, pain tolerance, as well as "skills hacking" and "impalement arts". Ahead of his new show, The Incredible Mr Goodwin, I'm escorted to meet him at an La hotel, in a »

- Rhik Samadder

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Are Anna & Katy the new Vic & Bob?

1 March 2013 4:05 PM, PST

The UK's funniest new sketch duo are in the surreal lineage of Reeves and Mortimer. But it's been a long road from Edinburgh to Channel 4

Anna Crilly wants to stop talking about French & Saunders. In an edit suite off Oxford Street in central London, her nose wrinkles when I mention the inevitable comparisons that she and comedy partner Katy Wix will draw as female sketch comedians, one brunette (Wix), one blonde (Crilly) with their own show, Anna & Katy. "Let's pretend we've never heard of them," blinks Wix with cod innocence. "Who?"

The pair were practically passed a torch when invited on to French & Saunders's bank holiday Radio 2 show last year. They had nothing to promote at the time, then heard that they'd got the series a few weeks later. The veterans played Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe & Wise for them in open homage, but these new kids on the »

- Julia Raeside

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The Walking Dead: season three, episode 11

1 March 2013 3:00 PM, PST

The Governor is assembling an army, and Andrea is blowing up in everyone's faces. However this ends, it's going to be messy

Spoiler Alert: This blog is for people watching season three of The Walking Dead on FX. Don't read on if you haven't seen episode 11 – and if you've seen later episodes, please do not leave spoilers.

Catch up on Phelim O'Neill's episode 10 blog

I Ain't A Judas

Last week Woodbury Ded-Ex'd a zombie bomb into the grounds of the prison, this week the town's delivery to Rick and friends is something far, far worse – as Andrea comes to visit on her self-righteous lecture tour. Will they survive her teary-eyed stares? Meanwhile, the Governor is raising an army in a decent, low-impact episode that puts the players into position for the carnage yet to come.


The Governor busies himself whipping together an army out of the few able-bodied »

- Phelim O'Neill

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Food Glorious Food serves Simon Cowell his TV comeuppance| Stuart Heritage

1 March 2013 5:08 AM, PST

The flop of Food Glorious Food is not just a disaster for Cowell as this kind of programming is terrestrial TV's bread and butter

So that's it. Food Glorious Food is officially Simon Cowell's least-watched television programme. It was watched by fewer people than the last series of X Factor. It was watched by fewer people than That Dog Can Dance, his spectacularly misjudged Boxing Day canine extravaganza. It was even watched by fewer people than Red or Black, his show where people had to say the words "red" and "black" over and over again until they either won some money or took to self-harming to remind themselves that they still had the ability to feel.

Most damning of all, Food Glorious Food was beaten in the ratings by a BBC1 show where Angela Rippon goes to a hotel, tuts at it and then leaves. Make no mistake, Food Glorious Food was a disaster. »

- Stuart Heritage

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EastEnders star Jessie Wallace wins damages from Reveal magazine

1 March 2013 3:49 AM, PST

Publisher apologises to actor after accepting that claim she had deliberately snubbed her co-star Letitia Dean was untrue

Jessie Wallace has accepted a high court apology and substantial damages from the National Magazine Company for a story in celebrity magazine Reveal that falsely suggested she had deliberately snubbed her EastEnders co-star Letitia Dean.

In a statement read out at the high court in London on Friday by NatMags solicitor Roddy Chisholm-Batten, the Reveal publisher said it accepted that the allegations were untrue and that Wallace and Dean were good in fact friends.

"[NatMags] also accepts that there is no rivalry between the two and that Ms Wallace was delighted at Ms Dean's return to EastEnders last year. It wishes to apologise publicly and unreservedly for any upset and embarrassment that this article has caused Ms Wallace," Chisholm-Batten added.

He also told the court NatMags had agreed to pay damages – understood to »

- Ben Dowell

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Did Simon Cowell lift Bake Off's recipe? | Media Monkey

1 March 2013 3:23 AM, PST

Sue Perkins accuses TV mogul of copying the styling of BBC2 show for Food Glorious Food

If disappointing ratings weren't enough, Simon Cowell has something else to worry about on Food Glorious Food. Presenter Sue Perkins has accused the TV mogul of copying the styling from The Great British Bake Off for his new show. However, the Sun reports that Perkins isn't about to start a "bun-fight" with Cowell: "In a war between me and Simon, I will be doomed to failure. Good luck to them but can we have our bunting back?" Either Cowell has similar tastes to the Bake Off designers, or he's serving up sloppy seconds.

Simon CowellITV channelITV plcTelevision industryThe Great British Bake OffTelevisionFood TVMonkey

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- Monkey

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Have you been watching … Spiral: State of Terror?

1 March 2013 2:30 AM, PST

The BBC4 show is now into its fourth series, and the writing for Spiral's main characters – including TV's most handsome will-they-won't-they pairing – is stronger than it has ever been

Like all long-term relationships, a love affair with a TV show needs to allow both parties to grow while still honouring the things that first brought them together. As Spiral pirouettes through its fourth season, it's doing a pretty good job on both counts. Berthaud's crew still exist in a high-pressure, high-stakes world where even a trip to the bathroom feels like a ticking-bomb scenario. And the lawyers, prosecutors and judges remain in that more-subdued but no-less-dangerous labyrinth of networking, doubledealing and vendettas that would make Machiavelli himself despair. It is this marriage of those two worlds that has made it such a compelling watch since its outset just over seven years ago.

As we begin its fourth term, it is »

- James Donaghy

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Bank of Dave: Fighting the Fat Cats; The Wedding Shop – TV review

1 March 2013 1:53 AM, PST

Dave's back and he's taking on the fat cats. They don't stand a chance

• Bank of Dave on 4Od

• The Wedding Shop on ITV Player

If Dave Fishwick were a perfume – and I think he should be – he would be a heady thing scented with banana (Dave's snack of choice), sold by the pint so that it might be liberally splashed around for the enjoyment of all, with ebullient top notes and just a hint of bullishness underneath. And it would be called "Dave Fishwick Perfume" because Dave is, above all, a straightforward man.

Yes, television's greatest discovery of 2012 is back. The Channel 4 series Bank of Dave followed the attempts of the former DJ, self-made minibus-retailing millionaire and Burnley native to set up his own local bank for local people and businesses now that all the established players are refusing to lend anyone anything, ever. At the start of Bank »

- Lucy Mangan

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TV highlights 01/03/2013

28 February 2013 11:00 PM, PST

Live Athletics | Barenboim And Boulez At The Proms | Live Super League | Mary And Martha | Wild Arabia | The Mentalist | Duck Dynasty

Live Athletics

3.40pm, BBC2

Jonathan Edwards presents live coverage from the opening day of the biennial European Indoor Championships, taking place in Gothenburg for the third time. Team Gb's Olympic champion Jessica Ennis is set to challenge for pentathlon gold, the indoor title being one of the few yet to be claimed by her, with three other gold medals also on offer this evening. Armchair athletes looking for live action from the morning session can find it on the BBC Red Button from 10am. Mark Jones

Barenboim And Boulez At The Proms

7.30pm, BBC4

Daniel Barenboim's conducting of some of his favourite Pierre Boulez pieces was a highlight of the 2012 Proms, and those interpretations are collected here. Barenboim and Boulez have an association dating back nearly half a century, »

- Mark Jones, Andrew Mueller, Jonathan Wright, Martin Skegg, Gwilym Mumford, John Robinson

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Swingtown: box set review

28 February 2013 4:06 PM, PST

Desperate Housewives meets Mad Men in this sex-obsessed drama about the swinging 70s – it's definitely a guilty pleasure

Welcome to Chicago in July 1976 and the splendid suburban home of luxuriantly coiffured and moustachioed airline pilot Tom and his beautiful wife Drina. Tom and Drina are swingers: committed to spreading the word about the whole new universe of sexual freedoms out there. They even have a sex dungeon in the basement ("Down the hall, second door on the left,") should anyone feel in the mood for group sex during one of their many pool parties, and where we glimpse some artfully coy writhing limbs in the pilot episode of this 2008 Us drama.

This is a world where, when an attractive man and woman are in the same room together, it would almost be a crime not to have sex. And it's into this world that their new neighbours, hitherto all-American suburbanites »

- Maxton Walker

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