Pat Stacey: 'You could have Mr God Himself on the Late Late Show and it still wouldn't beat Graham Norton'
What to watch this weekend (and what not to)
Pat Stacey on tonight's Hillary Clinton versus Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling chat showdown, and what else is on TV this weekend.
You hardly need reminding that Hillary Clinton is the top guest on The Late Late Show (RTE1, 9.35pm). Both the host and RTE have been plugging it relentlessly since last week — as well as leaking details of the interview to the media and posting clips, which kind of defeats the purpose a little.
When I say “on”, of course, I’m speaking loosely. The interview was pre-recorded almost two weeks ago at Clinton’s home in upstate New York. Nonetheless, a coup for the show. Back in the studio, meanwhile, are Domhnall Gleeson, Dara O Briain, Roz Purcell and the normally reclusive, camera-shy Vogue Williams.
You could have Mr God Himself on, and it still wouldn’t beat The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10.35pm) for sheer fun and entertainment value. There’s an almost ridiculously starry line-up tonight.
Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling are there to talk about Blade Runner 2049; Margot Robbie will be plugging her own latest movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin (in which Gleeson stars) and Reece Witherspoon will be doing the same for her new romcom Home Again.
Incidentally, Norton recently revealed to Stephen Colbert the secret of getting his guests to loosen up (even the frequently taciturn Ford got into the spirit last time he was on): “Liquor them up first!” Sound advice that other hosts could learn from.
While the rest of the BBC is busy celebrating the 50th anniversary of BBC Radio 1, BBC4 cheekily bucks the party line with The Last Pirates (BBC4, 9pm), a lively documentary about the history of the UK’s pirate radio stations, which Radio 1 ultimately put out of business, while at the same time harvesting the best of their talent.
The excellent Rock and Roll (Sky Arts, 9pm) looks at the explosion of disco and dance music from Philadelphia and New York to Brixton. A fabulous collection of talking heads includes Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson and George Clinton.
A rather different aspect of popular music is explored in the all-too-short Unreported World (Channel 4, 7.30pm). Marcel Theroux, older brother (by two years) of Louis, presents an eye-opening film about dissident performers who risk imprisonment or worse by highlighting the country’s human rights abuses in their songs.
Theroux meets rapper N-bomb and punk pioneer Wu Wei, who’s under constant government surveillance. He also visits a company which turns out a stream of anodyne, state-approved boy bands.
The people of the Yorkshire Dales must be fed up by the sight of people off the telly roaming around and waxing lyrical about the scenery for yet another travelogue.
Britain by Bike with Larry and George Lamb (Channel 5, 8pm) features the actor and his radio presenter son doing just that. They try their hands at training sheepdogs, making pork pies and rock climbing, and get to watch a ferret race.
Later . . . with Jools Holland BBC2, 10.30pm? On a Saturday? No, your eyes are not deceiving you; one of the Beeb’s Crown Jools has moved to a different slot for the new series. Guests include Liam Gallagher, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, and the great songwriter Jimmy Webb, who talks about his autobiography and his collaborations with the late Glen Campbell.
When New Yorkers needed solace in the aftermath of 9/11, some turned to what might seem at first an unlikely source, WH Auden’s poem September 1, 1939: “Into this neutral air/ Where blind skyscrapers use/ Their full height to proclaim/ The strength of Collective Man.”
Stop All the Clocks: WH Auden in an Age of Anxiety (BBC2, 10.30pm) asks why Auden still connects with the modern public (his poem Funeral Blues memorably featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral) when so many of his peers have been forgotten.
It’s hard to imagine the writers of Swedish supernatural drama Black Lake (BBC4, 9pm and 9.40pm) didn’t know exactly what they were doing by having the characters continually disobey the golden rules of horror films: don’t wander off alone, don’t enter that dark room when the door swings open, etc.
In tonight’s penultimate brace of episodes, Hanne makes a terrifying discovery in the cellar. See what I mean? No sense.
The guests on The Jonathan Ross Show (UTV/ITV, 9.30pm) seem to grow less interesting by the week: Demi Lovato, Martin Clunes and Holly Willoughby. Still, they’re probably preferable to whoever’s on The Ray D’Arcy Show (RTE1, 10.05pm), back since last week and as unnecessary as ever.
New six-part drama The Last Post (BBC1, 9pm) is a throwback to period dramas of old, featuring stiff-upper-lipped chaps in huge khaki shorts and stiff-drink-swigging wives putting up with the heat, the flies and the pesky peasants during the dying days of the British Empire.
It’s a tale of the Royal Military Police in Aden in 1965 as insurgency against British occupation heats up, although the emphasis is more on sex-fuelled melodrama than history or politics. Stephen Campbell Moore and Jessica Raine star.
Personally, I’d prefer the latest Electric Dreams (Channel 4, 9pm). In this week’s Philip K Dick-inspired story, ‘The Commuter’, Timothy Spall plays a demoralised railway station employ who receives a bizarre request from a passenger (Tuppence Middleton): a ticket to a destination that appears not to exist. Then she suddenly vanishes.
Acceptable Risk (RTE1, 9.30pm) needs to up its game after last week’s bland, uninvolving opener. Sarah (Elaine Cassidy) is warned to drop her investigation into her husband’s death, which just makes her more determined to get to the bottom of it. Can’t say I share her enthusiasm.
In the entertaining Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? (BBC2, 8pm) the three finalists endure a zero-gravity flight in Florida, where they have to load a camera and take a picture while weightless.
The winner is guaranteed a recommendation from Chris Hadfield to any space agencies taking on recruits. Now that’s what you call setting your career goals high.