On TV, March 12-18: including Antiques Roadshow Detectives and Black Work

by Fiona Rae / 10 March, 2016
There's a lot of sleuthing going on.
Antiques Roadshow Detectives, Saturday.
Antiques Roadshow Detectives, Saturday.

SATURDAY MARCH 12


Country Calendar (TV1, 7.00pm). In its 50th year, Country Calendar heads into a huge 40-episode season with a visit to the historic Kereru Station in Hawke’s Bay. The enormous sheep farm, whose story was told in Mary Shanahan and Grant Sheehan’s 2015 book Kereru Station: Two Sisters’ Legacy, gives away its profits every year to Hawke’s Bay charities and community organisations.

Antiques Roadshow Detectives (Choice TV, 7.30pm). When Antiques Roadshow just isn’t enough, here’s a spin-off series in which Fiona Bruce and the experts go sleuthing into the origin and authenticity of family heirlooms. Meanwhile, Antiques Roadshow (Prime, Sunday, 7.30pm) is not in its usual country pile this week – the team are in the world’s first and oldest surviving railway roundhouse, which is in Derby, the birthplace of the Industrial Revo­lution. Finds include a pair of Clarice Cliff bookends won in a pub darts tournament and a portrait by a renowned British artist painted on a fragment of a pillowcase inside a POW camp.

Black Work, Sunday.
Black Work, Sunday.

SUNDAY MARCH 13


Black Work (TV1, 9.25pm). The borders between television and film have never been more porous, and British crime series Black Work boasts a new star in screen writing who has just been nominated for an Oscar.
Matt Charman, a 36-year-old writer and playwright, has gone from West Sussex to Hollywood with his script for Bridge of Spies, directed by Steven Spielberg. Charman’s previous film work includes Suite Française and for ­tele­­v­ision Our Zoo, which screened here last year.
Black Work, then, is a tense, intriguing story that explores the opaque morality of undercover work and the effect on family and friends of living two lives. The fact that it is anchored by the marvellous Sheridan Smith is all the better. She’s quickly reached national treasure status in the UK for her portrayals of Ronnie Biggs’ wife Charmian, cancer sufferer Lisa Lynch, and Cilla Black, but here she gets to create a character of her own – a PC whose detective husband is killed while undercover.
“It was different to anything I’ve done before,” Smith told the Express. “Jo Gillespie is strong and tough, but goes through so much turmoil and mental torment.”
When Jo’s husband, Ryan (Kenny Doughty), is killed, she discovers just how much he was keeping secret: that he was not in London three days a week for three years “training officers”, he was taking antidepressants, and the family car was bugged capturing conversations between her and another cop (Matthew McNulty) with whom she was on the verge of an affair. Awkward.
Although she is just a police constable, her desperation to know the truth leads her down a dangerous rabbit hole. “She’s only just starting out and she doesn’t realise how clever she is, and that’s the journey she goes on as she tries to figure things out.”
Black Work is “not like your usual police drama”, she says, because Jo is not supposed to be investigating – she is told by her boss (Douglas Henshall) to leave the hunt for Ryan’s killer to her fellow officers. But “she trusted the police force to look after its own family and now she’s not sure of anything,” says Smith.
The rogue investigation does mean that she isn’t in uniform for most of the series – and she gets some action scenes, running around on the moors and driving a car. “I was thrilled to play a police officer speeding off and chasing people.”

MONDAY MARCH 14


Cam’s Kai (Maori, 7.30pm). Maori Television has a raft of new and returning shows this week, starting with this food series presented by MasterChef contestant Cameron Petley. We’re expecting lots of wild boar and seafood. Also in the food vein, a new season of cooking competition Marae Kai Masters begins on Wednesday (8.30pm); this year it’s taking place in the lovely Bay of Islands. The awesomely named Game of Bros (Thursday, 8.00pm) is a competition of a different sort – 12 tane compete in traditional games for the title of ultimate warrior. Sports discussion shows The Big Hit and Play return (Monday, 8.00pm and 8.30pm) as do current affairs shows Native Affairs and Media Take (Tuesday, 8.00pm and 10.15pm). Finally, The Palace (Thursday, 8.30pm) follows dance sensation Parris Goebel and her crew as they prepare for the World Hip-Hop Dance Championships.

Beauty & the Beast (The Zone, Sky 009, 7.30pm). The soapy supernatural series has been keeping another excellent Kiwi actor busy overseas – Go Girls’ Jay Ryan has been Vincent “the beast” Keller since 2012, although the series is about to go into its fourth and final season this year. Here’s season three, in which Vincent and Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) move in together and are happy. Just kidding! They get involved in the search for some bad guys who are conducting human experiments.

The Syndicate (Vibe, Sky 006, 8.30pm). Kay Mellor’s fairly broad drama series introduces a new set of group lottery winners, but instead of a supermarket or a hospital, season three goes a bit Downton and is set in a crumbling stately home. Anthony Andrews and Alice Krige are the debt-ridden Lord and Lady, and it’s the staff who find themselves in the money. There are some terrific performances that pull the characters out of stereotype, particularly Lenny Henry, who plays the autistic gardener, as well as Stella’s Elizabeth Berring­ton, and – well, well – Cara Theobold, who was Ivy Stuart in Downton Abbey.

Capital (UKTV, Sky 007, 9.30pm). Nice to see something contemporary from the BBC and this three-part drama series has the very zeitgeisty themes of property prices, the financial crisis, immigration, radical Islam and celebrity. It’s an adaptation of John Lanchester’s novel about the residents of a once-average street in London that is now enjoying multimillion-pound house prices. Everyone receives a postcard with the legend “We want what you have”, which brings them shakily together. The brilliant Toby Jones plays a banker, and the cast also features Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey), Gemma Jones (who is also appearing in Prime’s Unforgotten) and Adeel Akhtar (Utopia and The Night Manager).

Law & Order: SVU, Tuesday.
Law & Order: SVU, Tuesday.

TUESDAY MARCH 15


Law & Order: SVU (TV3, 9.25pm). Last week it was the NCIS/NCIS: New Orleans crossover episodes, this week, SVU and Chicago P.D. are in each other’s backyards when Voight and the Chicago cops turn up in New York to work with SVU on a child pornography case. On Wednesday’s Chicago P.D. (TV3, 9.30pm), Benson, Rollins and Amaro are in Chicago to wrap up it up. Whether or not the crossover was a whim on the part of creator Dick Wolf, it was a ratings success for the long-running SVU and a boost for his relatively new Chicago P.D. Presumably, one day, Wolf will combine Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and his newest show, Chicago Med, into one big mega-procedural.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 16


Fair Go (TV1, 7.30pm). They’re back! But the big question is: after standing around in the TVNZ atrium last year, will Pippa and Gordon get a proper studio for the show’s 39th year? We sincerely hope so, otherwise we might have to write a strongly worded letter to, er, Fair Go. Regardless, welcome back to the show that does a real public service.

Dog Squad (TV1, 8.00pm). From A Dog’s Show to Wonder Dogs to Barbara Woodhouse and her “Walkies!”, everyone loves a dog show, either because we actually like dogs or enjoy avoiding the need to own one. On that note, here’s season seven of the show about the dogs that catch the bad guys, and it’s not the only dog show this week. Star Paws: The Rise of Superstar Pets (TV1, Tuesday, 9.30pm) is a UK documentary featuring the owners, agents and lawyers of animal “stars” that appear in ads.

THURSDAY MARCH 17


Alan Carr: Chatty Man (TV1, 9.35pm). He used to seem like Graham Norton’s slightly cheaper (and drunker) cousin, but Alan Carr has made it work for 15 seasons already and just signed one of those “golden handcuffs” (oo, er, missus) deals with Channel 4 until 2017. The new season comes to us two weeks after the UK and begins with guests Matthew Perry, Phillip Schofield and Caitlin Moran (and the cast of Raised by Wolves, Moran’s autobiographical comedy series), plus Manchester art-rockers the 1975 perform.

FRIDAY MARCH 18


Storage: Flog the Lot! (TV1, 7.30pm). The British answer to Storage Wars et al, which means same junk, different accents. Is it just us, or should these guys hook up with the Hoarding: Buried Alive (TV2, Wednesday, 9.30pm) peeps?

Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure, Thursday.
Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure, Thursday.

DOCUMENTARIES


She’s gazed in wonder at the Northern Lights, journeyed up the Nile, gone on a Greek odyssey and searched for Noah’s Ark. Now the actress who famously played a New Avenger, a time-travelling alien and a drunk, drug-addled fashion editor is on an epic rail journey.

Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure (Prime, Thursday, 8.30pm) is a three-part series covering more than 10,000km from China to Moscow. Just as well Lumley is a charming travel companion. In the first episode, she begins in her childhood home of Hong Kong before boarding a bullet train to Beijing. As an illustration of how much China has changed, she takes a ride in the latest Rolls-Royce with a property developer, and in a strange contrast, visits a Chairman Mao-themed restaurant.

“This country is a paradox,” she says, “you can buy a Prada handbag, but you’re not allowed to access Google.” Not one for whitewashing, Lumley doesn’t ignore the history of Tiananmen Square and China’s occupation of Tibet, but there is also the Forbidden City at which to marvel, and a meeting with an elderly woman who knew one of the last emperor’s concubines.

At the Beijing Railway Station, she boards the Trans-Siberian Express for a five-hour trip to Datong, where there are famous giant carved buddhas. The next stop is a dawn visit to the Great Wall of China with an English expert before the train journey into Mongolia, which includes a four-hour border stop in which the train wheels are changed to fit Mongolia’s wider rails.

Next week: nomads, ­Genghis Khan, gold, Mongolian throat singers and the one person immune to her charm. Fabulous.

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