This Week’s TV Highlights: The Road to Coronation Street, The Hit Factory, A Gifted Man, 24 Hours in A&E, Wonderland: Young, Bright and On the Right

by Matt D

Apologies for no preview last week but I’ve been very busy and as the Olympics are still dominating the schedules we have a rather thin selection of shows however I still have my five picks which I believe will be suitable for those who have no interest in sports.

The Road to Coronation Street (BBC4, Sun, 9pm)
First up is a welcome re-showing of this 2010 drama which shows how the nation’s longest running TV soap opera was conceived and how it was bought to life by its legendary three lead actresses. Written by long-time Corrie archivist Daran Little The Road to Coronation Street sees David Dawson play Tony Warren the soap’s creator and writer who struggled to get his show off the ground only succeeding when producer Harry Elton saw that the programme would appeal to the working classes.

The main highlight of the drama for me was BAFTA nominated Jesse Wallace who played the fiery Pat Phoenix better known as the actress who would go onto play the iconic Elsie Tanner and as we see the woman we know as Kat Slater is equally at home on the set of the nation’s other favourite soap. Also worth a mention is Lynda Baron who perfectly captured Violet ‘Ena Sharples’ Carson in just a handful of scenes while Jane Horrocks and Celia Imrie also both shone. If you missed it the first time around I would encourage you to watch this warm and witty drama to see how one of our most iconic TV series nearly didn’t make it to the small screen at all.

The Hit Factory: The Stock, Aitken and Waterman Story (ITV1, Mon, 9pm)
Unfortunately a concert celebrating the work of producers and songwriters Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman had to be cancelled due to poor conditions thankfully ITV have put together this hour long trip down music memory lane. Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s reign over the pop charts started in the mid 1980s with Banarama and continued over the next ten years arguably having their greatest successes with Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Rick Astley as well as working with Donna Summer and Cliff Richard. Though the music seems incredibly cheesy by today’s standards there’s no denying that the trio did produce some memorable tunes so I would recommend that you sit back and enjoy this story of success while listening to some great tunes that have provided the soundtrack to some of our childhoods.

A Gifted Man (Watch, Tues, 9pm)
I do feel sorry for UK channels that pick up American shows when they have already been cancelled and A Gifted Man, starting on Watch this week, is a prime example. Though gaining some popularity the ratings for this medical drama starring Patrick Wilson were not convincing enough for CBS to give it a second series. The plot sees Wilson as self-absorbed surgeon Michael Holt who primarily treats rich and powerful clients but it is clear from the offset that he has little to occupy him outside of his work. Michael is one day visited by his ex-wife Anna, played by Jennifer Ehle, who tries to convince him to help out at the free clinic she set up an offer which at first he turns down however he later changes his mind after he discovers that she’d died in a car crash so he was actually talking to her ghost. Though the premise may be a little far-fetched I feel there was still enough action in every episode to justify this series getting another run especially considering the strong performances that come from Wilson, Ehle and Dexter’s Julie Benz as Michael’s spiritual sister. If you’re a fan of shows that have a bit more going on behind the scenes then this is something I feel you would enjoy just don’t get too attached.

24 Hours in A&E (C4, Wed, 9pm)
Personally I feel that Channel 4’s documentary series looking at the work that goes on at King’s College Hospital’s accident and emergency department is one of the best British shows of this year so far. Now in its penultimate week this episode introduces us to nine year old Tino a girl who was found slumped at her school desk and is now so disorientated that she doesn’t even recognise her own mother. As the team at the hospital try to diagnose her it is Consultant Liz’s time to shine as her questions to Tino bring her closer to finding out what is wrong with the youngster. Other compelling stories see 45 year old Karen bought in with a condition that is more serious than it first appears and 11 year old Bailey who has been bought into Kings after being hit by a slow moving car. I think this programme is so great as it focuses on every aspect of human life and if you haven’t seen an episode yet then I urge you to at least check it out before it leaves our screens next week.

Wonderland: Young, Bright and On the Right (BBC2, Thurs, 9pm)
BBC2’s Wonderland strand always focuses on the more outlandish members of the UK population and in this week’s episode looks at two lads in their late teens and early twenties – Oxford student Joe Cooke and Cambridge undergraduate Chris Monk. The two initially appear like pompous old men who realise that their Oxbridge education will be an ideal way to fulfil their political ambitions and join the Tory Party which is the ultimate goal of both guys. As is always the case with Wonderland though both Chris and Joe come from State School backgrounds something that sees them as potential outsiders which means they will have to struggle more to be accepted. Young, Bright and On the Right does confirm some of our preconceived ideas about young Tories however at the same time it challenges some of them and tries to present both sides of the story. Whatever your political views the Wonderland documentaries are always fascinating viewing and to be honest if you’re not a big sports fan then there’s not that many choices for you I’m afraid.

The good news on the horizon is that next week’s preview won’t be thwarted by the Olympic Games and therefore they’ll be much more choice for us fans of proper TV to enjoy.