Think back to 1985. Margaret Thatcher was in power; there was no internet; uh, people had stupid hairstyles and wore legwarmers and stuff. And, up until October of that year, there was no such thing as Neighbours. Unthinkable, isn't it? The residents of Erinsborough have entwined themselves into the fabric of British life to an extent that is remarkable for a homegrown soap, let alone for one set thousands of miles away. This is all a long-winded way of saying that Neighbours is 20 years old this week, and there's a special 'best of' style reunion edition on Tuesday (at the usual Neighbours times of 1.40pm and 5.35pm) for all you addicts out there. No
Kylie Charlene, sadly - she must still be trapped in Brisbane, long a black hole for Neighbours exiles. In Neighbours, no-one dies; they "go to Brisbane" instead. There's a good essay on the history of the show here. And how could we not link to this?
Neighbours as a programme seems curiously immune to change; in 20 years, the sets, the hairstyles, the storylines and the interchangeable pretty blonde people have remained more or less interchangeable. If someone from 1985 were to be found frozen in a glacier and subsequently reanimated, they could be shown the latest episode of Neighbours without feeling the slightest touch of culture shock. Lost (Wed 10pm C4) or Race Swap (Mon 10pm Five) might present more of a challenge to the recently-defrosted brain.
Speaking of entities who resist change, the intriguing-sounding Hidden Lives: Middle-Aged Mummies' Boys (Mon 9pm Five) profiles those individuals for whom the thought of living without home-cooked food, a free laundry service, paid-for utility bills, transport on demand, free lodgings, and no untrustworthy flatmates or unscrupulous landlords is just too hard to bear, and, frankly, when put like that, it's hard to disagree. Actually, having to clear parties and late nights and to-ings and fro-ings with parents sucks quite a lot. Enough to justify spending £500 per month on a cupboard in Clapham? We think so. We'll be watching Middle-Aged Mummies' Boys to see if the subjects live up to their nerdy, oddball reputation, however.
Someone who could not be described as a homebody is Kim, the woman in Shock Docs: My 100,000 Lovers (Mon 11.05pm Five). 100,000? One hundred thousand?! Wow. Even given a period of sexual activity of 50 years, that still works out at over 5 a day. It puts serial shagger David Blunkett in the shade, although his affair probably caused more trouble than Kim's 100,000 altogether; watch the terrestrial debut of A Very Social Secretary (Thur 9pm C4) for a biting portrait of a cunning, foolish man who got in over his head. It's refreshingly unsympathetic to everyone involved.
C4 are trotting out two new foodie programmes this week: sit and slaver in front of your TV first at Hugh Wotsit-Thingummybob's View From River Cottage (Wed 8pm C4) - he deserves applause for his supermarket-free life, although it's hard to imagine how he manages without M&S Millionaire's Shortbread, extra-virgin olive oil and Cadbury's Crunchy Dairy Milk - then at Jamie's Great Escape (Wed 8.30pm C4), as the thick-tongued one pootles off to Italy on a televised version of one of those bourgeois gastro-holidays that are always advertised in Sunday supplements. What new things there are to say about Italian food we're not entirely sure, especially given the River Café overkill of a few years back. We're sure Jamie will unearth some new, exciting prodotti della cucina italiana for us, with or without gratuitous footage the 'loveable' overgrown kid himself riding around on scooters and waving at peasants.
Trinny and Susannah are back! Huzzah! This week, a group of divorcees feel the rough edge of the elegant pair's tongues. This is one of those formats that, like How Clean Is Your House?, will never run out of steam - and long may they both continue. There's a second series of The Thick Of It (Thur 10.30pm BBC4) - Yes, Minister by another name, with more swearing; rejoice that it's back on our screens, yea, verily.
Just when you thought every possible iteration of cop show/detective drama had been tried, along comes Numb3rs, about an FBI agent with a maths-genius brother who helps him solve crimes. Implausible? Check. Glam? Check. Too clever by half? Check. Entertaining? We hope so. How can it fail to be?