EUROVISION SONG CONTEST 2017, BBC1, Saturday, 8pm
OVER the past couple of years I have started to tune in and watch this. I do it “ironically”, of course.
But wait: given that we get comfy on the sofa, stack the coffee table with glorious junk food, mini sausage rolls and gin, and then mercilessly mock everyone who dares set foot on stage, I think I might genuinely enjoy it. Perhaps there’s no cool irony involved anymore? Actually, I can hardly wait for tonight! Maybe we’ll also get a bucket of barbecue chicken wings… Brexit adds some extra spice to the proceedings tonight.
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For once, we can prise the Brexit debate away from its awful seriousness and, for just a couple of hours, make it light-hearted: will the rest of Europe gang up on poor wee Britain? Or will Eurosceptic countries award it some sly supportive points? Or has the gin already gone to my head?
But let’s not pretend there isn’t politics involved. This year’s hosts, Ukraine, have banned the Russian contestant. Eurovision has always been a place to trade insults behind the glittery front of frothy, silly pop music.
WALKS WITH MY DOG, C4, Saturday, 8pm
IF the gaudy display of Eurovision makes you feel nauseous you can find shelter over on Channel 4. This new series is peaceful, warm and serene, with a collection of celebrities taking their dogs on their favourite walks and inviting you to wander along with them.
Being celebrities, they can usually afford nice houses out in the country so this allows for some lovely scenery and local history, whereas my walks with my dog involve going past Spar and Tesco Express and, if we’re lucky, stopping at a doggy-friendly coffee shop where we’ll sit and share a croissant.
That’s until the wee bam starts jumping about, upsetting tables and overturning coffee cups and we have to leave, embarrassed.
Not so the good dogs in this show. We see two lovely Labradors go wandering along the gorgeous Cornish coast with Robert Lindsay, while Phil Spencer takes his cocker spaniels out on the marshes in Kent. Who’s a good boy then?
BRITISH ACADEMY TELEVISION AWARDS, BBC1, Sunday, 8pm
HOW refreshing to see someone other than Stephen Fry or Graham Norton presenting this thing. Sue Perkins hosts the awards ceremony, which comes live from London’s Royal Festival Hall, and when you survey the talent packed into the various categories, you’ll wonder how they ever pick the winners.
Of course, not all categories are brimming with sparkling genius. There’s Reality and Constructed Factual, which contains the repetitive First Dates; Soap and Continuing Drama features a nomination for Hollyoaks, and the Entertainment group includes Ant and Dec and the maddeningly restless Michael McIntyre – a man who’s had far too many Haribo.
But let’s not be sour. Let’s look to the real talent. The Drama section will surely be a straight fight between Netflix’s dazzling The Crown and BBC1’s brilliant Happy Valley, and its two stars will also meet in the Best Actress category. I’m in favour of giving everything to Sarah Lancashire and Happy Valley but that’s one of the many reasons why I’m not in charge – although I would make room for the Comedy award to go to the crude and brilliant Camping.
OJ: MADE IN AMERICA, BBC4, Sunday, 9pm
IT wasn’t long ago that the BBC gave us the OJ Simpson tale in American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson. Here, we have the sordid story again, but this time it’s a documentary series from the excellent Storyville strand. Over five episodes we are told the story of the American football star’s spectacular rise and terrible fall. It begins with Simpson reminiscing about his childhood dreams. Growing up in the ghetto, he says he desperately wanted not money but fame.
He wanted people to look at him and say, “Hey there goes OJ!”
Then we cut to footage of him before a judge, looking very small and awkward, and explaining that he does cleaning and disinfecting, and mops floors in the prison gym.
The story of OJ Simpson is well known, but the sheer length of this programme – 450 minutes in total – allows for deeper analysis, and a look at the crucial context of race in America and what it means for the delivery of justice.