17 January 2017 | 2 °C

TV Troll: Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone

By Jo Last edited 132 months ago
TV Troll: Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone
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January is, as every primary school kid knows, named after Janus, the double-headed Roman god of gates, doors, beginnings and endings. It's appropriate, then, that this month will see so many of both; we mourn the passing of Lost (Wed 10pm C4) and Rome, and rejoice at the phoenix-like rise of ER (Mon 10pm C4) and Desperate Housewives (currently being trailered on C4). Neither individually will be really sufficient to fill the gap left by the magnificent, genre-busting, jaw-dropping Lost - all unbelievers and snooty critics and even dear sainted Charlie, look, just piss off and allow us to obsess about just what the hell is down the bleeding hatch in peace please, kthx - but together they'll go some way to alleviating our withdrawal symptoms. Dessie Housewives in particular should be a real treat; the last series was a wonderful mix of murder, Machiavelli and Martha Stuart, and finished in time-honoured cliffhanger way, with Freaky Boy drawing a bead on his biological father's lover, waiting the return of said father so he could revenge himself for the assumed murder of his adoptive father. Phew.

Tonight's big event is the début of Life On Mars (Mon 8pm BBC1), a time-travelling cop show extravaganza. Hopefully it'll be a bit better than that sounds; horrible memories of Quantum Leap and The Bill are welling up like vomit, so we'll just have to see. We're a lot, lot more excited about The Thick Of It (Mon 10pm BBC2) arriving on terrestrial. It's award-winning, and, more importantly, foul-mouthed, cruel, cynical, and utterly bloody fantastic. We'd love to know just how accurate its portrayal of life in Westminster is - or perhaps we're better off in blissful ignorance ...

A couple more London-centric shows for you: Tales From The Palaces (Mon 8pm BBC2) looks at the inner workings of the Tower of London and the palace at Kew, and sounds like lovely educational chicken soup programming; Disappearing London (Tue 7.30pm ITV1) is a vehicle for Suggs to wander round our beloved city chatting with eccentrics and poking in the secret, sheltered nooks and crannies stuffed full of weirdness that make this city such a joy to live in.

A recurring theme of the week is religion, and the bad things its followers sometimes do. Now, TV Troll gave up believing in gods (except the Norse pantheon, of course, because they are so bloody cool) and flying spaghetti monsters a long time ago, and as such, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we'd agree utterly with whatever Richard Dawkins, self-appointed high priest of atheism, has to say. Well, to be fair, we agree with a lot of it, but from what we've heard about The Root Of All Evil? (Mon 8pm C4), he may go a leeeeeetle far, even for us secular groupies (in a nutshell: religion makes good people do bad things, like kill other people). It's bound to be discussed even more in tomorrow's papers. Then, as a sobering reminder that witch-hunts are more often than not wild goose chases, but by god can they ever be harmful to the targets, watch When Satan Comes To Town (Wed 9pm BBC2), about the hysteria caused in Rochdale over a supposed Satanist coven, and the damage caused to the children at the centre of it all.

There's some class warfare on Tuesday with Whose Britain Is It Anyway; hands up if you're one of the 1% of Britons who owns 70% of our green and intermittently pleasant land. Anyone? No? And you thought that the days of landless peasants and fatcat feudal lords were over. Watch Marie Antoinette: Her Intimate Story (Fri 9pm BBC2) for some ideas on how to deal with uppity, greedy royals. Yes, we know she was probably at heart a decent person who was as much a victim of inbuilt class prejudice and set ways of thinking as any horny-handed son of the soil, but still, the thunk of the guillotine resounds ever so pleasingly across the centuries. Let's hope the Windsors watch this, shiver, and decide to be a bit more discreet about their living arrangements in future. You never know, it could happen.

Is it cool to admit to liking Red Dwarf again? Apart from the last seasons (the ones with Kochanski in), which shat all over the cherished legacy of the original serieseses with gleeful abandon. Well, if Red Dwarf was, as has been said many times, "Steptoe and Son in space", then we reckon the new comedy Hyperdrive (Wed 10pm BBC2) looks more like The Office in space - with a bit of luck, that is. As long as it's not My Hero in space, we should be safe enough. The pilot episode is about the crew's efforts to get businesses to move to the "Peterborough enterprise zone"; good luck with that one! Oh yes, and the ship they're all on is called HMS Camden Lock. Too, too cute. If you're in the mood for more spacy sci-fi after that, the Sunday tea-time adaptation of Johnny And The Bomb (Sun 5.35pm BBC1) ought to set you up nicely for the week ahead. Terry Pratchett adaptations on telly - well, there haven't really been any, which, considering he's sold more books than Pete Burns has had cosmetic surgical operations, is a bit weird. How about live-action, lavish productions of the entire Discworld series, BBC? Pleeeeease?

There's an eviction on Friday's Celebrity Big Brother (Fri 9pm C4); let's hope it's one of the saner ones who goes (Faria, she's boring, she can leave), leaving us to gape in wonder as actual Paris Hilton lookalike Chantelle bares her soul, Jodie Marsh whinges, and Michael Barrymore gets curiouser by the minute. Then watch ITV's attempt to steal Strictly Ice Dancing's thunder on Saturday when Dancing On Ice (Sat 6.30pm/9.40pm ITV1) slides into town. Torvill and Dean (cue that clip again) will be whipping a load of vaguely familiar people into shape, although we think it's a bit greedy of David Seaman to go for gold again after he won SID last year. Can he do it again? Yes, unless someone goes all Tonya Harding on his ass, that is. Watch your back, David. Watch TV, fellow trolls! It'll make everything better. Promise.

Last Updated 09 January 2006

David

"The Thick of it" has been on 'terrestrial' for ages on BBC 4, which is available on Digital Terrestrial. I think you meant to say that it's finally on analogue

David (but different from the

No Terry Pratchett television adaptations? What about Wyrd Sisters or Soul Music? Or doesn't animation count?

Jo

David #1: Sorry, you're right - my bad. It's hard to remember that digital is indeed terrestrial, although as the waves are carried by magic air fairies from transmitter to TV, I think it's an unclear sort of area. Um, yeah.

David #2: I vaguely knew the animations existed but can't remember them ever being on the telly. A live-action teatime serial is a good start if you're as much of a Pratchett fan as I am! :)

Robert Carnegie

"Truckers" has been model-animated. The book presents big themes to little people - better than Philip Pullman, possibly - and the religion and politics may have been downplayed in the show, but the joke about the "steering committee" was kept in, which is all I wanted really. ITV dramatised "Johnny and the Dead".

Several have been on BBC radio, too, as reading or drama. These come back on BBC 7. Of course lots haven't been done...

In "Radio Times" Terry Pratchett says he loves to see adaptations of his work, especially when they are actually made, and he sometimes even recognises text that he in fact wrote. But given a hypothetical "Gormenghast"-scale effort to do justice to Discworld on screen, how the hell does television do a footnote? (Okay, a scene elsewhere of fifteen seconds maybe... in "Up Pompeii" Willie Rushton occasionally butted in as a Jovial super-narrator...)

Jo

@Robert: Good points all. My god, a Gormenghast-style Dicsworld adaptation would be nerdgasm material indeed - but what are the chances? Plus the legions of rabid Pratchett fans would, no doubt, dispute every single casting decision (as happened with the Hitchhiker's film).

I'd forgotten about the Truckers adaptation - it was brilliant.

Pendostanets

Pendostanets!