Sunday 30 September
- BBC Two: Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out. "As the man described as having a 'brain the size of Kent' approaches his 50th birthday, this special programme explores the career many dimensions of comedian, actor, director, writer, presenter and documentary maker, Stephen Fry." -- This programme is part of a Stephen Fry weekend, which saw a Saturday night curated by the man who, as I've confessed before, is quite probably my second favourite Brit. The Stephen Fry weekend was originally broadcast on BBC Four, who set up a website with details of (and video excerpts from) the programmes.
Monday 1 October
- BBC Two: James May's 20th Century. "Inventing the Teenager: In the 20th Century the teenager emerged as a separate species. But how? Was it the promise of sex? The power of pop? Or the pull of a 50cc Japanese two-stroke?" -- James May is best known as one of Top Gear's presenters (Top Gear being the BBC's car talkshow centred around tv personality Jeremy Clarkson), but he has recently embarked on a series of programmes looking into inventions and discoveries of the twentieth century.
Tuesday 2 October
- BBC Two: Stephen Fry: HIV and Me. Yep, it's Stephen Fry again. About a year ago, Fry made the very moving and widely acclaimed documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, about the so-called 'bipolar disorder' or manic depression from which he and many others suffer. In this new two-part documentary, he wants to find out how people live with HIV and AIDS in the UK as well as abroad, confronting among other things his own past through a visit to his first love, who later was found HIV positive.
Wednesday 3 October
- BBC Two: Anita Roddick: Life and Times. "Shown in tribute to the late campaigner and Bodyshop founder. In an interview recorded in 2000 Anita Roddick shares memorable moments from her life and career."
- BBC Two: Never Mind the Buzzcocks. The weirdest and funniest music quiz on earth. Many outrageously funny clips to be found on YouTube (search for episodes featuring Amy Winehouse or Preston, for instance.)
- BBC One: ONE Life: The Brick in the Wall Kids. "It's nearly 30 years since Pink Floyd recorded their number one hit The Wall. This is the story of the 13 comprehensive school kids who bunked off classes for the afternoon and recorded the anthem. ONE Life catches up with them at a school reunion and discovers what happened to their lives. Did they need an education and did they get one? How did their school days shape their lives?" -- This sounds really exciting -- at least to a nerd like myself. If you're too young to know what any of this is about, you can read more about Pink Floyd's album The Wall, and the three-part song Another Brick in the Wall, on Wikipedia, and you can watch the famous videoclip of Part two on YouTube (where else?):
Thursday 4 October
- BBC Two: For some time now, Thursday night has been marked out as BBC Two's comedy night (it used to be Friday), advertised last year with the slogan "Pedigree Comedy", and this year quite simply with "Thursdays are Funny". Apart from That Mitchell and Webb Look (which I don't find very funny) two new programmes begin this week: "The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle" (starring Jennifer Saunders, known for her work with Dawn French as well as for nineties comedy hit Absolutely Fabulous), and "The Peter Serafinowicz Show". I'm particularly curious about the latter, as the man with the almost unpronounceable name Peter Serafinowicz is one of the creators of the delightfully funny spoof series Look Around You, which I wrote about before.
Friday 5 October
- BBC Two: The Tudors. "Historical drama series. After French treachery, angry young Henry VIII prepares for war while Cardinal Wolsey conspires for peace. However, affairs closer to home pose potential threats to the king." -- Judging by the trailers I've seen so far on the BBC, this is going to be a very well-made, exciting and even racy new history series. A separate website is devoted to it, which includes background information, pictures, video excerpts and so on. A must-see, especially for first year students!
- BBC Two: QI. Stephen Fry's "Quite Interesting" Quiz. An acquired taste perhaps, but very witty once you get hooked on it!
- BBC One: Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. The UK's most popular talk show, presented by its best-paid host (who, incidentally, can't quite pronounce the 'r', which explains his nickname 'Wossy'). Also well-known for its house band Four Poofs and a Piano. Guests this week include Michelle Pfeiffer, Ewan McGregor and others.
For all of these programmes, remember of course that you have to add one hour to the times listed on the BBC websites.