Alison Rowat's TV preview: Alan Carr's Adventures with Agatha Christie; Wonderland; Sky High Club
The Radio Times described Sky High Club: Scotland and Beyond (BBC Scotland, Monday, Wednesday, 10.30pm; BBC Three, Thursday, 8pm, 8.30pm) as “a non-fictional version of The High Life”. Oh, dearie me!
Maybe it was the Scottish connection that prompted the comparison. It certainly wasn’t staff relations. From what I recall of the late and much lamented Alan Cumming/Forbes Masson comedy, the cabin crew on Air Scotia were horrible to each other.
On the real-life Loganair – “the UK’s largest regional airline” – the gang could scarcely be nicer. Either they are Oscar-worthy actors on the quiet, or genuinely pleasant sorts.
There is Robbie the captain. He lives in Edinburgh while his girlfriend, Kirsten, is ground crew on Shetland. Shannon and Karolina, cabin crew, met at primary school and have been besties ever since. The jokers of the pack. “She’s the Joey to my Chandler,” says Shannon.
Omar is from Gran Canaria and is a Leo. First officer James, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, came late to being a pilot and managed to change the industry for the better with a pioneering campaign to reform recruitment rules (that’s a longer story I’ll let him tell).
Like many a BBC Three workplace reality show, Sky High Club tears along in half hour portions, the director does like a slo-mo shot, and there is party music throughout. With ten episodes there is plenty of time for the various story seeds planted in the first instalment to grow. Will Robbie and Kirsten ever be in the same postcode for long? Will James be as successful with his next campaign? And can Omar ever learn to love a sausage roll?
There is no mystery surrounding what Alan Carr’s Adventures with Agatha Christie (More 4, Sunday, 9pm) is about. Maybe you could track down the make of vintage car the comedian tootles around in while charting the author’s life and career.
Carr has been hooked on Christie since he first read her, at age 13, on a family holiday in Devon. Though his main aim here is having a laugh, he clearly knows his Christie back to front. It’s enough to endear him to a theatre audience made up of ladies who like to dress as Miss Marple, and the various actors and experts he interviews along the way. There are clips galore from Christie adaptations on the small screen and big.
One of the themes explored by Carr is the importance of village life in the Marple stories. To this end he talks to the Reverend Richard Coles (yes, him again, see earlier review) about his experiences of rural living and how appearances can be deceptive. In one parish Coles went to there was a murder in the first week.
The Rev is good, too, on how Christie, with her long running characters, blazed a trail for other crime writers. “You wouldn’t have had Jack Reacher without Miss Marple.”
Carr also looks at the part played by poison in Christie’s killings. He meets a food historian who holds parties where the guests eat, drink and are merry, then find out if what they’ve enjoyed was poisoned or not. It’s all just good fun. I think.
There is much rummaging in the dressing up box as Carr plays roles ranging from a downstairs maid to a country copper with a Captain Birds Eye accent. I think Christie would have liked Carr.
Still on matters literary I can highly recommend Wonderland (Sky Arts, free to view, Thursday, 7pm). This four part series on children’s authors in the so-called “golden age” looks at the often tragic reality behind the classic stories. Among those featured are Kenneth Grahame, AA Milne, JM Barrie, Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, and Beatrix Potter.
What a lot of darkness lies within the worlds of wonder they created.
One of the more familiar tales is that of the troubled relationship between AA Milne and his son, the model for Christopher Robin.
There was an excellent movie made about this, Goodbye Christopher Robin, from which clips are taken. Young Christopher could not escape from the shadow of his father’s creation, and when he went away to school he was teased mercilessly. He never forgave his father. Yet as we hear from some first-rate contributors, there is more to the Milne story than just a boy with hurt feelings.
Written, directed and produced by Adrian Munsey, these beautifully shot and illustrated films will have you revisiting the classics and reading them with fresh wonder.
If for some reason you missed The Newsreader all six episodes are on iPlayer. The drama set in an Aussie TV station in the 1980s is one of the year’s best finds, with a second series on the way. Bring on the big hair.