On TV, February 27-March 4: including The Night Managerby Fiona Rae
A high-class adaptation of the John le Carré thriller comes to TV3.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 27
The Nation (TV3, 9.30am). No more 3D, but there is 3D reporter Phil Vine joining The Nation team of Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower for another year of political analysis and interviews. Maori Television also launches a new current affairs series this week – Kawe Korero: Reporters begins on Tuesday at 11.00pm.
Partners in Crime (Prime, 8.35pm). With ITV closing the final chapter on Poirot and Miss Marple, the BBC was looking to become the new home of Agatha Christie adaptation with this six-part series featuring two of Christie’s lesser-known detectives. It helped that last year, when this screened in the UK, it was the 125th anniversary of Christie’s birth (a three-part adaptation of And Then There Were None also screened), but a second series has not yet been commissioned. It may be that David Walliams – usually seen camping it up in one of his own comedies – lacks a little chemistry with the lovely Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife’s Jenny Lee) as Tommy to her Tuppence. There are two three-part adaptations of Christie novels, The Secret Adversary and N or M? and the excitement-seeking Beresfords have been set in the post-WWII Cold War period rather than the 1920s. They’re ripping yarns (Soviet spies, criminal masterminds, missing scientists) rather than dark mysteries, but eminently watchable with superb costumes and settings.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 28
The Night Manager (TV3, Sunday, 8.30pm). It’s rare these days to see quality television outside the digital ring-fence of pay TV, but TV3 has apparently uttered the correct incantations and sacrificed the right number of chickens to nab six-part BBC series The Night Manager.
As the first John le Carré television adaptation in 25 years, it is eagerly anticipated in the UK, where it will screen just a week before we see it here. It stars Tom Hiddleston who, before he shoplifted the Avengers and Thor movies as the naughty Norse god Loki, was a Lawrence Olivier Award-winning Shakespearean actor.
It also stars our favourite grumpy doctor, Hugh Laurie, who has been stretching his muscles since long-running US series House with roles in Veep and Mr Pip, and here plays villainous arms dealer Richard Roper.
Le Carré’s 1993 post-Cold War novel about an undercover operation to stop the illegal sale of weapons to drug barons in Central America has been updated to the Middle East “where democracy even now is being shot down every time it lifts its head”, says le Carré.
The author is delighted with the changes that Spooks’ writer David Farr has made, in particular casting the “majestically pregnant” Olivia Colman as intelligence operative Angela Burr, who recruits Hiddleston’s Jonathan Pine to infiltrate Roper’s inner circle.
“I dearly wish I had written her into the novel instead of her ponderous husband,” says Le Carré. “But I didn’t. So all I can do is welcome her to the family and thank my lucky stars that the writer and producers had the wit to conjure her into life.”
Le Carré is so chuffed about the series, which is directed by Oscar-winner Susanne Bier, that he makes a cameo appearance in a restaurant scene shot in Mallorca.
The cast is rounded out by the superb Tom Hollander, who is Roper’s fixer Corkoran, and Elizabeth Debicki as Roper’s girlfriend, and catnip for Pine, Jed. British actors David Harewood, Tobias Menzies, Natasha Little and Russell Tovey also appear and the fabulous locations include Roper’s Bond villain-style lair in Mallorca, as well as Switzerland, Morocco and London.
At its heart, the story is about the dynamic between Pine and Roper, the former a lost soul and the latter a corrupted one. “There are moments when Pine teeters on the brink of the dark side,” says Laurie. “At the same time you might wonder whether Roper is teetering too – that somewhere inside he wants to be caught.”
MONDAY FEBRUARY 29
The 88th Annual Academy Awards (Sky Movies Premiere, Sky 030, 2.30pm). Well, what will presenter Chris Rock say about the white people’s Oscars? He’s possibly the only interesting thing about the ceremony this year, which is sure to lavish accolades all over Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant and probably Spotlight, the movie about the Boston Globe investigation into the Catholic Church. If it was up to us, Room would get all the Oscars, but there are a lot of contenders, including long-shot Mad Max: Fury Road. Naturally, Fashion Police will have something to say about the frocks – Melissa Rivers and the team bitch it up on E! (Sky 014), Wednesday, 8.30pm.
House Rules (TV3, 7.30pm tonight and Tuesday). Funny how we thought it would never end, but the final is, er, finally here, although spread over two nights. Does this mean The Block NZ is ready to go again? Only time, and the anguished cries of nearby residents, will tell.
TUESDAY MARCH 1
The Bridge (Rialto, Sky 039, 8.30pm). Skål, Nordic noir fans, it’s the return of Porsche-driving, leather trouser-wearing Swedish copper Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) and a new, deeply disturbing murder mystery. Sadly, Martin Rohde – the Morecambe to Saga’s Wise – is in jail, so Saga is faced with a new partner in crime, played by Thure Lindhardt. There are quite a few emotional challenges for the autistic Saga in season three, including the sudden reappearance of her estranged mother. For more Nordic drama, season two of Danish series The Legacy begins on Sky Arts (Sky 020) on Saturday (8.30pm).
THURSDAY MARCH 3
Kitchen Impossible (TV2, 8.30pm). “Don’t call them contestants,” says Michel Roux Jr. “They’re not competing.” Roux does not like competition cookery shows, at least not since he left MasterChef: The Professionals after a row with the BBC, and in this series, he’s teaching kitchen skills to eight young people with learning disorders. There are kids with autism, Down syndrome and Tourette’s – it was a learning curve for him as well. “I had never encountered them before so it was very hard,” Roux told the Radio Times. “But I adapted. Tourette syndrome, though … absolutely shocked me.” Gordon Ramsay wouldn’t have been shocked, pal.
Trashformers (Choice TV, 8.30pm). Choice goes green with a new line-up that includes Tiny House Nation at 7.30pm; BBC series Trust Me I’m a Doctor, presented by Michael Mosley at 9.30pm; and this “upcycling” show in which designers craft new stuff from junk. They’re quite large bits of rubbish, such as planes, Ferris wheels and buses, so there’s plenty of scope, but the show is framed as a competition so that whichever team makes the item of most value wins. Food telly fans are not neglected, however: there are still plenty of cooking shows on Choice, including Jerusalem on a Plate (Sunday, 5.30pm), in which chef Yotam Ottolenghi explores the flavours and recipes, both Arab and Jewish, of Jerusalem.
Madam Secretary (Prime, 9.35pm). Again with the disappearing planes: in the season-two opener, Téa Leoni’s Elizabeth McCord becomes POTUS when communications are lost with Air Force One over the Pacific. This is how she became Secretary of State in the first place. So is the series now about the first female US President? Eh … well … In a spot of curious topicality, the episode begins with the Vice-President on the golf course hosting a delegation of dignitaries there for “Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership” talks. Morgan Freeman, an executive producer, directs the episode and makes an appearance, and two other well-known actors, Tate Donovan and Eric Stoltz, will also direct episodes during the season. Stoltz also appears as Elizabeth’s brother.
Dark Matter (The Zone, Sky 009, 9.30pm). Canada’s fertile sci-fi industry produces another interesting series full of attractive humans in space. Dark Matter is based on the comic-book written by two former Stargate executive producers about the crew of a space ship who wake up without identities or memories. Lots of twists and turns keep things moving; fan favourite Wil Wheaton has a guest role and a number of former Stargate actors pop up too. While we’re still in the sci-fi zone, new series The Expanse premieres directly before Dark Matter at 8.30pm; it’s adapted from the series of novels by James SA Corey and stars Thomas Jane as a detective in a future where humans have colonised much of our Solar System.
From the country that brought us Benefits Street comes How the Rich Get Hitched (TV1, Tuesday, 9.30pm), a look at people who are spending up to £40,000 – nearly $90,000 in our money – on a wedding dress. The doco features bridal couture designer Caroline Castigliano and her Knightsbridge store, where the medium wealthy and the seriously loaded go for the best that money can buy.
Some come from overseas or are planning weddings on the continent. One such is Iranian socialite Gissa, whose dress is embroidered with 200,000 sequins and 50,000 beads. Another, Katie, is planning a wedding in Spain. Her dress features 250,000 beads. A hotel heiress has a dress made from one of the most expensive silks, although it cost a mere $20,000. Her wedding was at a hotel belonging to the family, of course, but she imported 6000 flowers from the Netherlands and hired a 20-piece brass band and a Victorian carousel.
Wedding planner Bruce Russell also features; he can make pretty much anything happen, and is seen showing a client around the Savoy Hotel in London, where a wedding of 350 guests would set her back about $155,000. Meanwhile, the go-to guy for bling is couture jeweller Andrew Price, who says his creations are “a celebration”.
As for the extravagance, it’s all relative, says Castigliano. “The most important people in your life have come to attend this day. It all comes down to the same thing – it’s what you want to spend money on and what matters to you.”
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