IT’S incredible how much is packed into these episodes.

As he makes his way west across Russia, Simon Reeve gives us leeches, lions, and a waitress who worships a cardboard cut-out of Putin – and before you enter her cafe you must wipe your feet on a Stars and Stripes doormat.

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Alongside the wackier elements of modern Russia we also visit Crimea and hear Russians insist how right and wonderful it was to take the land back (it was originally a gift from Khrushchev).

If Russia is feeling defensive and prickly, there is something we can all agree on: their incalculable sacrifice during the Second World War. The millions of dead are honoured each year in processions all over Russia where relatives carry photos of their ancestors in a huge parade known as The Immortal Regiment. Some might wince at how bombastic the Russians are about their role in the war but no-one can deny they’ve got the right to be proud. Whether Putin is using this emotion to his advantage is another matter.


EVERYONE is still talking about Grenfell. Now that the initial shock and horror has abated, we can look at the technical details. We all know how easily they can start (everyone remembers those scary public information films from the 1980s about burning Christmas trees or smouldering cigarettes) but we don’t seem to understand how a fire, such as Grenfell, could have spread so fast.

This is a one-off special of the programme which asks these basic questions: how do fires in the home start and what makes them spread. While that may seem a bit too much like a school lesson for some people, the show also looks at the legal issues, and asks what the fire safety rules for landlords and councils are, and what remedies are there when these rules are broken?