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This week's TV reviews
4:42pm Wednesday 16th January 2013 in Reviews
The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV1, 9.45pm)
Hard to believe it's more than 25 years since a fresh-faced researcher in a snappy suit stood in front of a TV camera for the first time and presented The Last Resort.
In an age when Bananarama were storming the charts, and The Untouchables were busting blocks at the movies, that low-budget Channel 4 chat show was a breath of fresh air.
This was the era when cosy teatime chat show hosts such as Terry Wogan and Russell Harty welcomed celebrities to plug their latest song, movie or book, but didn't like to make a fuss about things.
Ross, on the other hand, had followed the lead of American chat-show hosts such as David Letterman, and knew that being more brassy in your delivery wasn't a bad thing.
In 2013, many of Ross's peers have either retired or shuffled off this mortal coil, which makes him the grand daddy of the British talk-show circuit.
Okay, many have tried to usurp him as the king of chat.
Motormouth DJ Johnny Vaughan had a good go with his short-lived series, Here's Johnny, while Danny Baker also had a fine stab.
Sad to say that in a genre dominated by blokes, ladies such as Davina McCall and Gaby Roslin saw their chat shows axed after just one series.
One of the few serious contenders is Graham Norton, who not only took over Ross's Friday night chat show when he left the BBC, but also his Saturday morning Radio 2 show (what would millions of us do on a weekend morning without Norton's Grill Graham?).
When Ross made his Channel 4 chat show debut all those years ago, Bradford-born Kimberley Walsh, like many six-year-olds in 1987, was a girl with big dreams, hoping that one day she'd hit the big time.
However, unlike millions who let that dream slip away for a life of domestic drudgery (can you tell it's statistically the most depressing week of the year?), Walsh saw that dream come true in 2002 when she won a place on ITV1's Popstars: The Rivals.
Girls Aloud left the competition standing, and went on to achieve 20 consecutive top 10 singles, four of which went to number one in the UK.
Forget Love Machines; Kimberley, Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding and Nicola Roberts were hit machines, turning out foot-tapping smash after smash.
With over 4.3 million singles sales in the United Kingdom alone, they became the UK's biggest-selling girl group of the current century.
Ms Walsh will no doubt be discussing her time with the group in this week's show; her starring role in Shrek the Musical as Princess Fiona, and the most recent series of Strictly Come Dancing, in which she reached the final.
Expect a certain amount of flirtation from Jonathan, and even if Kimberly is not your cup of tea, there's always a chat and performance from Nutty Boys/Men Madness to ensure your Saturday night goes with a bang.
Saturday Animal Antics (BBC One, 5,30pm) I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue panelist and former member of the Goodies Tim Brooke-Taylor plays anchorman in this rib-tickling spoof news show, in which he's joined by co-host Sparky the dog (talk about a newshound), to bring us all the latest stories from the animal kingdom.
Together, Brooke-Taylor and Sparky (played by stand-up comedian Matthew Crosby) present a series of clips featuring crazy cats, potty pooches and various other beasts behaving badly, giving the footage a (fictional) perspective and sending up newsreaders along the way.
In the style of a genuine news report, they offer differing perspectives as they analyse the stories behind their bizarre headlines.
The host said of the series, "When I was presented with the idea of this show I thought 'this sounds good'. Believe me it's much, much better than that. The only problem I have is being upstaged by very, very funny animals".
NCIS (Five, 7.55pm)
Viewers of a certain age may go a little misty eyed at the mention of the name Ralph Waite.
As John Walton, the head of beloved TV family The Waltons, he became synonymous with the American Depression, and what life was like in a bygone era.
In 1992, he also attracted a new following thanks to his work in Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston smash The Bodyguard, where he gave a top turn as a seasoned hero's dad - so it's little wonder he was snapped up to play Gibbs's old man in this show.
The Naval-gazing crime buster revisits his home town to investigate an assault that left one marine dead and another badly injured.
Can his estranged father help him to identify the assailant? Very possibly. Prime suspect is a local man whose daughter was dating the survivor of the attack, but as ever with NCIS nothing is as it first seems.
World Without End (Channel 4, 9pm)
The sequel to 2010's critically acclaimed historical epic The Pillars of the Earth gains momentum in this week's second instalment, following the devastating effects of the bridge collapse in the medieval town of Kingsbridge last week.
Trainee medic Caris helps the walking wounded, while the townsfolk count their losses - and Godwyn argues that the disaster is a divine sign that the town should return to stricter ways. Merthin, however, is adamant that all is not lost - and suggests the bridge be rebuilt with stone. But the newly appointed Lord of Wigleigh, Ralph, has other ideas, and remains intent on carrying out Queen Isabella's order to cease construction.
Godwyn, meanwhile, has his sights set firmly on becoming the new prior - eager to enjoy the power that comes along with the role.
Cynthia Nixon, Peter Firth, Charlotte Riley and Rupert Evans are among the impressive cast of this outstanding drama.
Borgen (BBC Four, 9pm)
As the Danish drama reaches its halfway point, spin doctor Kasper leans on PM Birgitte, hoping to persuade her to employ some rather underhand tactics as the government prepares to negotiate the environmental element of the new reform package.
Understandably stressed, her new responsibilities begin to take their toll, and it's her children who end up suffering.
Meanwhile, Katrine receives a job offer, but finds it goes against her personal beliefs. As if all that wasn't enough, the next edition follows straight after - and sees the right wing heighten the internal strife among the coalition partners by submitting a bill which lowers the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12.
With many among her party supporting the move, it seems Birgitte is in a minority within her own parliament.
Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen and Pilou Asbaek are among the terrific cast of this tense slice of political life.
Take Me Out: The Gossip (ITV2, 9.45pm)
Last week's edition of Take Me Out saw none other than fireman Sam competing.
Okay, so it was another fireman called Sam, not a bizarre children's TV crossover edition, but it's still worth remarking upon - and catching up with the events of his date this evening.
On this weekly companion show, we find out what his date, holiday rep Georgia, really thought of him - and whether there's a chance they'll be meeting up again. We also hear from the other couples, including comic-book enthusiast Dan and Blackpool beauty Danni, and sailor Troy and his date, the vintage-loving Naomi.
Zoe Hardman and Mark Wright are on-hand to hear all, as the pairs dish the dirt on one another. Granted, after the 75 minute-long main show on ITV1, this makes two full hours of prime-time telly dedicated purely to the wonder that is Take Me Out - but really, is that a bad thing?
Sunday Time Team (Channel 4, 5.25pm) After almost 20 years on the box, Tony Robinson's hit archaeology show will soon be history itself; so here's a slice of TV history that should also appeal to our Antipodean cousins and folk who love the Latitude Festival.
It centres on Hektor Rous, son of the sixth Earl of Stradbroke, who is keen to piece together the mysterious history of the family's Tudor country home. Though Hektor had managed the des res from the other side of the world, in 2004 he moved from Melbourne, hoping to rebuild the estate's fortunes. He did a good job too, establishing events such as the Latitude Festival, and staging the Grand Henham Steam Rally, and the Wings and Wheels Festival.
There's no shortage of intriguing stories buried in its past, such as the tale of a drunken butler who set fire to Henham Hall's wine cellar in 1773. Can Tony and the team piece together the family home's history, and find out if the butler did it?
The Hotel (Channel 4, 8pm)
As an eccentric hotel manager, the key comparison that can be made to Mark Jenkins, owner of the Grosvenor Hotel, is the one and only Basil Fawlty.
A self exposed technophobe and un-accepting of the modern age, the quirky hotel owner is followed on his quest to bring the Grosvenor into the 21st century.
With finances as rocky as the white cliffs of Dover, Jenkins vouches to beat the recession, and in full Fawlty Towers fashion this is easier said than done.
This week the Grosvenor bares all at what should be the hottest money-spinning event of the season: Ladies' Night. But with only two days to go, manager Mark and events boss Christian are still on the hunt for the star-turn: strippers.
Meanwhile, the inspector Mark called in to help reverse the business's fortunes returns to check on efforts to upgrade the hotel.
At least the official is on hand to provide some well needed solutions to the chaos of Ladies' Night.
Mr Selfridge (ITV1, 9pm)
You might think period dramas have been done to death (and you might be right after the Downton Christmas special), and after the success of the nation's beloved show it's hard to believe anything else could compare.
So what is it that places Mr Selfridge in a league of its own? Is it that it's a carefully engineered narrative, following the tale of the retail tycoon Harry Selfridge, or is it the carnage caused by his womanising antics and risqué approach to sexualising retail? Who knows, but it proves to be compelling TV whatever the reason.
This week we see Harry and Ellen in the midst of their love affair; Harry, inspired by how she delicately applies make-up, pledges to bring cosmetics to the forefront of retail. Rosalie is insistent 'to come out' into London Society.
However, it might not be possible to formally launch into Society with an American father; the English have pretty strict rules, it is 1909 after all.
The Magaluf Weekender (ITV2, 10pm)
Possibly inspired by the success of the BBC's Sun Sex & Suspicious Parents, this fly-on-the-wall documentary follows the holiday antics of youngsters and reps in the notorious resort of Magaluf.
For many it is their first holiday away from their parents, and the freedom and raging hormones can be seen going to their head; especially as there are fixed cameras everywhere from the poolside, bars and even in the bedrooms.
Checking into the hotel this week are childhood pals from North London Gianni, Josh and Danny, who are raring to go and find a love match for the night.
Joining them are trainee beauticians Hannah and Christie who are also intending to have the weekend of a life-time. As the alcohol flows freely you soon find out among this lot that anything goes...
Celebrity Big Brother's Bit on the Side (Five, 10pm)
It's fast becoming the case that the main reason to watch Celeb BB, is so we can keep pace with its companion show.
Sure, the show itself is good - but the highlight of the viewing night throughout its duration is this studio-based discussion programme, in which host Emma Willis is joined by a range of guests from Big Brother's past as well as the wider world of showbiz.
She's aided in her quest to debate the burning issues from the earlier show by co-hosts Jamie East and Alice Levine who talk to members of the studio audience, and hear from their guests about the latest developments from the country's most famous bungalow.
This year's Celeb BB has been full of more twists and turns than ever before, and they always seem to come to light via Bit on the Side, making this the place to be to catch all the gossip.