Alison Rowat's TV review: The Holiday; Rock Till We Drop; Your Body Uncovered with Kate Garraway; Writing with Fire: Storyville

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Jill Halfpenny as Kate, Owen McDonnell as Sean and Siobhan Hewlett as Rowan in The Holiday. PA Photo/Channel 5/Chalkboard/Clapperboard/Mark Cassar
Jill Halfpenny as Kate, Owen McDonnell as Sean and Siobhan Hewlett as Rowan in The Holiday. PA Photo/Channel 5/Chalkboard/Clapperboard/Mark Cassar

DESPITE the sunny title, there was a chill in the air at the start of The Holiday (Channel 5, Tuesday-Friday). No wonder. The setting for the tale was that circle of middle class hell known as the villa holiday with friends. A week in the Bates Motel would only be half as hairy.

Still, there is no telling some people. Kate (Jill Halfpenny) and her brood needed this break in Malta. So what if they seemed happy enough on the drive there. If you looked closely, like everyone else en vacances, they were hoaching with secrets. All the viewer had to do was pull up a patio chair and over the course of four nights watch them spill out.

To begin with, hell was other people’s sulky/noisy/accident prone/ smartphone-obsessed children. The husbands were not much better, and the women, gal pals from university, were scratchy with each other.

As dramatic good fortune would have it, Kate was a detective and had brought her own mystery with her. To wit: was her hubby Sean (Owen McDonnell) having an affair? As the holiday progressed, Kate’s caseload grew to the point where she might as well have stayed at work in Blighty. Ah, but then she would not be there to solve the mystery of the fire that bookended each episode.

Halfpenny did her usual terrific turn and kept the silliness the right side of credible. Well done Malta for looking blooming gorgeous.

Two programmes from the file marked “What the heck were the commissioning editors thinking of?” Rock Till We Drop (BBC1, Tuesday) had smiley-smiley Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet and Lady Leshurr (grime star, m’lud) putting together two bands to play at the Isle of Wight Festival. The twist? The rockers had to be over 64. (Why 64? Something to do with the Beatles song? I must have nodded off if/when they explained that bit. I’m at that age.)

“Why do I want to do this?” Martin asked no-one in particular. Anyone who shouted “for the money” at the telly should be ashamed of themselves. No, new/old romantic Martin was all about giving these wannabe rockers a second chance. They had wanted to live the dream, just like he had in Spandau, but for one reason or other their way had been blocked.

Cue the auditions of 60/70/80/90-somethings, the X-Factor style back stories, the tears in Martin’s twinkly eyes and Lady Leshurr’s endless enthusiasm for everything and everybody. The entire package was either horribly patronising or heart-warming, depending on your mood. Next week we are promised rock star tantrums and fallings out. There may be life in this old dog of an idea yet.

Your Body Uncovered with Kate Garraway (BBC2, Wednesday) was a sort-of good idea, but only in theory. Using the augmented reality technology as per Your Home Made Perfect/Your Garden Made Perfect, people with health complaints had the chance to see inside their bodies while consultants explained what was what.

The first case was Hilda who was suffering from fibroids. A horrible thing to happen to a nice woman. As she prepared herself for the vision to come, Garraway supplied the match commentary. “I’ll be next door watching as Hilda comes face to face with her fibroids for the first time," she gasped.

Now, it is one thing to see what a Velux window might look like in your kitchen, and another to be confronted with a swollen uterus magnified to the size of a car engine.

Later, viewers sat in on the op as the fibroids were removed, few details spared. It was quite satisfying in a grisly sort of way, but also quite mad. While all for educating people about their bodies this came across as a gimmick too far.

Writing with Fire: Storyville (BBC4, Wednesday) was a documentary about the newspaper Khabar Lahariya in Uttar Pradesh. The all-women staff were much like newspaper folk the world over, embracing the new digital age while having a good old moan about it.

That was where the similarities ended. The reporters here were Dalit, or “untouchables”, and they went about their business in a place where violence against women, and killing journalists in general, was not uncommon. When they were done with the day and night job they went home to look after their families.

This was back to basics reporting in the best sense, with a journalist turning up with a notebook, and in this case a smartphone, and asking questions until they got answers. As they worked on stories ranging from rape to mining disasters, the fearlessness of these women was astonishing. Despite it all, including some seriously vicious trolls, they got results and racked up the hits. Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh’s outstanding film is in the running for an Oscar next month. We wish them luck.

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