YOU win some you lose some, you lose an Andrew you gain an Andrew. That is the state of play on Sundays now that Andy Marr has left the BBC for LBC and his fellow Scot has put that GB News unpleasantness behind him for The Andrew Neil Show (Channel 4, Sunday). If September new start Laura Kuenssberg wants to fit in she should change her name to Andrew tout suite.
Opening with a gag about beer and curry – “It’s not a party, it’s a work event” – Neil's producers were out to recreate the vibe of the late and much lamented This Week, except it was 6pm and there was no Abbott and Portillo to hand, just a couple of well behaved journalists. For his main meal, Neil had multi-millionaire Jacob Rees-Mogg talking about the cost of living crisis, which was as deliciously ironic as it sounds.
It was good to see a cheeky smile back on Neil’s face. So Channel 4 is not the BBC, but as long as Neil does not have to chat live to Neil Oliver while the studio falls apart, he, and we, should consider it a result.
Lockdown hit Love Life (BBC1, Friday), a comedy drama about the relationship woes of a young New Yorker, made a welcome return for a second series. This time the focus is on Marcus, a book editor played by William Jackson Harper (Chidi from The Good Place). Marcus (black) is married to Emily (white) but meeting Mia (black) at a party makes him look again at his choices. Of course it will end in tears.
Dealing with race head on, this series is edgier than the first. “C’mon Barack,” teases an author who regards Marcus as a safe middleman between black writers and white publishers. But the politics takes second place to the personal stuff, and Harper, an older, wiser, more chilled Chidi, makes a likeable hero. All episodes are on iPlayer should you wish to binge. Gwan, gwan, as Mrs Doyle would advise.
Darren McGarvey's Addictions (BBC Scotland, Tuesday) looked at why, as a nation, we have such trouble saying no to stuff that ruins lives and kills us early doors. First up was alcohol.
It has been almost three years since McGarvey’s last drink. As both an addict and an author, he can talk the talk and walk the walk, whether he is sitting in on a group session or accompanying a doctor on ward rounds.
He could still be shocked, though, as when he met a 53-year-old woman who had been told the next drink could be her last. “What a cruel condition,” said McGarvey, driving home the message again that addiction was not a matter of choice.
It could have been relentlessly bleak but for McGarvey’s sense of humour. My only gripe was that the programme missed an open goal in not having him directly confront an industry that makes billions out of misery. Instead of a sit down with someone from the drinks trade there was a statement read aloud, which was far from good enough. Perhaps the programme makers thought it would be too Watchdog to go toe to toe, but a little righteous anger, well aimed, could have been produced answers worth hearing.
And why no interview with a government minister about there being only one rehab clinic that the NHS will pay for?
Whoever commissioned Britain's Top Takeaways (BBC2, Monday-Thursday) must have been on holiday when the memo went round about the ever growing problem of obesity. Over the course of four nights, purveyors of fish and chips, curries, burgers and other yummy stuff battled to be named number one in their field. The judges were some of those “ordinary families” producers love. “Who needs fancy chefs and food critics to tell us what’s good?” challenged the main host, Sara Cox. While we’re at it who needs nutritionists or gastric band surgery?
The programme made sure to mention all the right-on things such as eco-friendly containers, but this was simply hours of free advertising for fast food, and I wouldn’t be surprised if orders spiked after each programme.
As for those ordinary families, one child said of a dish, “It felt like the flavours were not co-operating.” Look on your works, mighty Master Chef, and despair.
Have you, like me, been rationing the final episodes of Ozark (Netflix)? I’ve been restricting myself to one every couple of days to make the enjoyment last. It’s almost as if fear that without Ozark, Netflix will turn out to be a vast pit of sameness containing nothing I really want to watch. Now you come to mention it …
Or it could be I don’t want to find out the fates of the Byrdes and terrifying but tragic Ruth. Heaven knows none of them has led a life of virtue what with the Mexican drugs cartel malarkey, but ever the optimist I still have hope they will make old bones.
I’m an idiot, I know.