This Week’s TV Highlights: Starlings, 56 Up, Silk, 24 Hours in A & E, Tales from Television Centre

by Matt D

After the big Britain’s Got Talent heavy week, which ends with Saturday’s final, this coming week’s TV is a mixture of new drama and documentary.

Starlings (Sky 1, Sun, 8pm)
After efforts such as The Cafe, Mount Pleasant and most notably Stella it seems that Sky One is continuing its production of home-grown comedy drama with strong female characters in Starlings which stars Leslie Sharp as the matriarch of a large Derbyshire-based brood. Sharp plays Jan Starling a mother of three who lives with her electrician husband Terry, played by Downton Abbey’s Brendan Coyle, as well as other members of their extended family. The series has been co-written by Phoenix Nights’ Steve Edge and Peep Show’s Matt ‘Super Hans’ King who both star the former as Jan’s nephew while the latter plays Terry’s long-lost brother both of them also staying with the Starling family.

With a cast of familiar faces and a playful script plus some great shots of the Derbyshire town of Matlock Starlings seemed destined to be aired on Sunday nights as a cosy, almost familiar show that won’t tax the brain too much. Let’s just hope that Sky keeps making programmes like which utilises both the best British talent in both writing and acting to the fullest effect.

56 Up (ITV1, Mon, 9pm)
In 2005 Channel 4 voted Michael Apted’s ‘Up’ series the greatest documentary of all time which this ambitious programme more than deserved as it has followed a group of people since they were all seven in 1964. Now as they reach middle age the majority of them are fairly content with their lot of life and most of them are now grandparents with their families having grown since we last me them. The big draw for 56 Up is that Peter Davies is returning after having dropped out of the processed following 28 Up where he was a discontented teacher whose criticisms of Margaret Thatcher’s government meant he was forced to resign from his position after a tabloid campaign. The Up series has always been utterly fascinating as it paints a picture of different lives across the decades which makes us see the differences between what we think when were are young and what the realities are when we grow up.

Silk (BBC1, Tues, 9pm)
One of last year’s best drama series in my opinion Silk ended too soon and is only sticking around here for another six episodes so make the most of it while you can. The first series saw barrister Martha Costello, the always excellent Maxine Peake, achieve her dream of becoming a QC and as we return for series two we see former rival Clive is now searing that he is now her junior. This episode also introduces Frances Barber as rival QC Caroline Warwick dubbed Lady Macbeth of the bench by her colleagues with the highlights here being the sparring between two of the UK’s finest actresses. However stealing the show once again is the ubiquitous Neil Stuke as Head Clerk Billy once again trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes in order to save the firm. A brilliantly written drama, by former barrister Peter Moffat, Silk shows exactly the quality of programme we can produce here in the UK it’s just a shame we don’t get more episodes.

24 Hours in A & E (C4, Wed, 9pm)
Channel 4 had a great year for fly-on-the-wall documentaries last year with Educating Essex gaining cult status it was the gripping 24 Hours in A & E which was, in my opinion at least, slightly better. The second series sticks in the accident and emergency department of King’s College Hospital and discovers how critical the hours after an accident can be in saving someone’s life. That is particularly evident in this episode as two cyclists come in with critical injuries that both have sustained under slightly different circumstances. There’s Christopher who hit a log while on his way to work and now has blood on his brain while Sara swerved down a path to avoid hitting someone eventually hitting the ground without a helmet. The programme is edited together to create intriguing stories with a similar theme while being completely in awe of the hospital staff as they go about their day-to-day lives we learn more about their backstory and how they feel about the patients they treat.

Tales of Television Centre (BBC4, Thurs, 9pm)
As more and more of the BBC’s production is moved away from its famous home it seems a very apt time to air TV historian Richard Marson’s documentary about BBC Television Centre. The film gathers together nearly 50 talking heads who all have anecdotes about feeling homesick, dining in the famous canteen and the more saucy tales of sex in the dressing room and smoking naughty cigarettes before hosting children’s TV shows. There are clips here from shows produced over the years including The Good Life, Top of the Pops and Z Cars while contributions come from the likes of David Attenborough, Barry Norman, Angela Rippon, Terry Wogan and most importantly some of the original members of Pan’s People. This is pure nostalgia however there are a few revelations here that will chatter the innocence of our favourite childhood shows but more than that it will give younger viewers a history of a hallowed institution which is seen as a prehistoric in this day and age.

What do you think of my choices? Are there any shows you think I should be watching? Leave Your Comments Below.