Rooney, The Great Climate Fight and Taskmaster: TV highlights this week
Here are some of the highlights coming up on TV in the week starting Saturday, November 18, including Rooney, The Great Climate Fight and Taskmaster – The Final.
Kin (Saturday 18/11/23, BBC1, 9.35pm & 10.45pm)
Words by Rachael Popow
The crime drama Kin has already been a big hit in Ireland – outside of major sporting events, the season two finale is the most watched programme of 2023 so far.
Now there’s a chance for British audiences to see what they have been missing out as the first season comes to primetime Saturday night BBC1.
It seems the makers of Kin always had one eye on the international market – the series is a US co-production – but it still keeps its innate sense of place.
Speaking at a press event ahead of the first season premiere, star Aidan Gillen said: “There wasn’t a lot of compromises thrown in there in the script in terms of, you know, ‘We’ve really got to water this down so people outside of Ireland – or outside of Dublin, even – understand it’… It’ll be interesting to see what they make of it, and I think it’s going to be totally fine.”
His presence should tip you off to one of Kin’s big selling points – the cast. As well as Game of Thrones veteran Gillen, there are also roles for Clare Dunne (Herself), Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones), Sam Keeley (The Cured), Emmett J. Scanlan (Peaky Blinders), Maria Doyle Kennedy (Outlander) and newcomer Yasmin Seky.
The series focuses on the Kinsellas, a small crime family who increasingly find themselves at odds with the bigger, more powerful drug cartel run by the Cunninghams.
In the first episode, when the hot-headed son of family boss Frank Kinsella gets into a violent confrontation with one of the Cunninghams’ men, it leads to a retaliation – and a tragedy.
Then there’s a break for the news, before the opening double bill continues. The family are dealing with the fallout from the events of the first episode as one member, Mikey, is torn between joining Jimmy in a quest for revenge and staying out of the fray.
Meanwhile, Frank is worried that the feud is about to escalate into all-out war – and with good reason as the Kinsellas are definitely the underdogs in this battle.
Will their tight bonds enable them to keep going, even when it seems they are outmanoeuvred, outgunned and in danger of being picked off one by one?
As you might expect given the subject matter, the drama can be violent, but Dunne, who plays Amanda Kinsella, insists that the series isn’t glamourising the gangster lifestyle.
She told the Irish Independent: “If there’s one word I would associate with violence in Kin it’s consequences.
“We show a thing of fearing for your life and fearing for your children’s lives, and living in a sense of constant lockdown in your own life. Always looking over your shoulder. When playing Amanda, anytime I get in a car, I’m constantly checking over my shoulder and it’s a really stressful way to live, so I wouldn’t say we’re saying it’s great craic.”
But while it may be stressful for the characters and cast, it’s going to be very compelling for the audience…
I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! (Sunday 19/11/23, ITV1, 9pm)
Words by Sarah Morgan
The rumour mill has been working overtime in recent weeks. Well, it’s always the same whenever the latest run of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is about to begin.
ITV does a decent job of keeping the identities of those taking part a secret, just letting out enough information to whip viewers into a frenzy.
One of the earliest names linked this time around was Nigel Farage. Last month the former Ukip and Brexit Party leader claimed he was giving an offer to participate “very serious consideration.”
He wouldn’t be the first political figure to enter the camp. The likes of Edwina Currie, Lembit Opik and Nadine Dorries have all featured, while former health secretary Matt Hancock came third last year.
The names of ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss and her former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have also been mentioned as possibilities this time around – perhaps ITV could organise a political special. But that’s probably not in the offing for 2023, seeing as the usual array of comedians, presenters, actors and reality TV stars have also been linked.
A spokesperson for the broadcaster was quick to scotch any rumours too, stating: “Any names suggested for I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! are just speculation. We’ll announce our line up in due course.”
What we do know is that Ant and Dec are taking control of the proceedings once again – and let’s face it, their boundless enthusiasm and one-liners can be the most entertaining part of the entire programme; ITV knows it’s onto a winner with the duo because they can lift any flagging production and turn the mundane into quality entertainment – that’s perhaps why, in January, it was revealed they’d signed another three-year deal with the media giant, whose bosses clearly recognise their importance to the station.
Completing the negotiations seemed like the ideal way to celebrate Ant and Dec’s 25th anniversary at ITV too.
“We’re so lucky to host the best entertainment shows in the world,” said Ant at the time. “We absolutely love our shows and we are both extremely happy and very excited to extend our relationship with ITV for another three years.”
Dec jokingly chipped in by saying: “We can’t believe we are reaching 25 years exclusively with ITV. Especially as we are both only turning 30 this year!”
Kevin Lygo, managing director for media and entertainment at ITV, added: “The world of television and streaming is always a much brighter place with Ant and Dec at the centre of it.”
The deal means we can expect to see the duo front more episodes of Limitless Win, Britain’s Got Talent and, of course, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
So, what do we know about the new run of the latter? Well, we’re not expecting any big changes – little has changed format-wise since the debut series back in 2002. What is for certain is that the Bushtucker Trials will continue to send shivers down our spines and upset the stomachs of those taking part – and long may that continue.
Rooney (Monday 20/11/23, Channel 4, 10.15pm)
Words by Richard Jones
After breaking on the scene as a 16-year-old boy wonder with THAT goal for Everton against Arsenal, Wayne Rooney went on to become one of the country’s greatest ever footballers.
However, his glory on the pitch – he was England’s leading goalscorer before recently being usurped by Harry Kane and remains Manchester United’s – his talent and achievements are often overlooked.
That is perhaps down to a combination of sleazy incidents that ensured ‘Wazza’ became tabloid fodder and his often quiet demeanour – off the pitch at least.
Originally shown on Prime Video in 2022, director Matt Smith’s feature-length documentary clearly aims to secure the Liverpudlian’s status as a footballing great (and family man), by providing access to his life and career.
It begins with Rooney in his role as player-manager at Derby County, and ends with his retirement from playing in January 2021.
Born and raised in the Liverpool suburb of Croxteth, Rooney was “brought up to fight”, though he admits to sometimes taking that “too literally”.
Even as a prolific youth player, he was being touted as England’s great new hope, and by the time he was part of his country’s “golden generation”, at the European Championship in 2004, he was still only a teenager.
“I remember at the tournament, at 18, thinking to myself, ‘I’m the best player in the world, there’s no one better than me’”, he says.
“I felt like if we were gonna win the tournament, it’s because of me. If we don’t win it, it’s because of me.”
Rooney’s hulking man-like stature and skill on the pitch made it easy to forget how much of a child he still was when he broke on the scene, and we see him mumbling along at his first ever Everton press conference, aged just 17.
This was around the same time he bought his first house with his childhood sweetheart and future wife, Coleen.
The film charts both the times when Rooney was able to perform to a world-class standard and those when the expectation on his young shoulders all got too much.
And then, there are the off-field controversies.
The film mentions Rooney’s visit to a ‘brothel’ in 2004, and his involvement with an escort.
These situations are remembered by Coleen at their £20m Cheshire home, who says she has forgiven her husband, but that his actions were “not acceptable”.
There are also a few references to how Wayne’s relationship with alcohol played a part, and while some criticisms of his private life are justified, Rooney makes it clear others were based on misconceptions or misunderstandings.
Most interestingly of all, the documentary considers how different Rooney’s terrific but tumultuous career (and life) could have been had he not been hounded by the media, made those mistakes in his personal life, got injured at Euro 2004 Euros or kept secret an injury at the 2006 World Cup secret.
And would he have fared better under the guidance of current England manager Gareth Southgate?
Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Gary Neville, David Moyes and Sven-Göran Eriksson all sing his praises, while Arsene Wenger, who was in the opposite dugout when Rooney scored that goal for Everton against Arsenal in 2002, says: “He’s the biggest English talent I’ve seen here, since I’ve been in England.”
The Great Climate Fight (Tuesday 21/11/23 ,Channel 4, 9.15pm)
If you were about to produce a two-part programme about climate change, who would you approach to present it?
Definitely David Attenborough, probably Liz Bonnin and, more than likely, Chris Packham. So who have Channel 4 gone with? It may surprise some to learn that Grand Designs’ frontman Kevin McCloud, cook Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and retail expert Mary Portas have been entrusted with this short but important series, which is airing on consecutive nights.
They’re all thrilled about it, and it soon becomes clear that while they might not seem to be ideal candidates for the job on paper, the topics covered in each edition fits them like a glove.
“I am armoured and ready for The Big Climate Fight and excited to be part of it,” says McCloud. “Time is running out to halt climate change and rethinking the way our homes are built, heated and refurbished in this country is a win-win: good for the planet, and good for the people who live in them and have to pay the bills.”
“For me, The Big Climate Fight is about hope,” adds Portas. “It’s about acknowledging the challenges we face and coming together, businesses included, to find solutions. I am excited to be part of a series that has the potential to spark a movement for change, and I am confident that together, we can build a brighter, more sustainable future.”
Fearnley-Whittingstall couldn’t agree more: “It’s increasingly obvious that we need to make our world a better, cleaner place in which to live, and our changing climate is at the heart of that challenge, so I am excited to team up with Kevin and Mary to explore how to tackle climate break down.
“It’s clear the world already has many of the solutions – but we need our politicians to show the leadership and courage to implement them. So the three of us will be calling on the UK government to take the decisive actions that will put us on the right road to a stable climate and a better future.”
The Big Climate change is one of a group of shows Channel 4 commissioned to tackle environmental issues; Chris Packham’s Is It Time to Break the Law?, which was broadcast a few weeks ago, is another.
This time the focus is on practical steps that could be taken by governments and big business to ultimately eliminate carbon emissions. The hosts will be consulting some of the world’s most respected climate experts, highlighting areas in which we could do better, while campaigning for change and carrying out eye-catching stunts to draw attention to the cause.
“We are proud to have Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Mary Portas on board as our expert presenters,” says executive producer Will Anderson, while summing up the programme. “Their combined knowledge and expertise make the complex issue of climate change accessible and understandable for all viewers. We hope this series tackles the urgent issue of climate change in a positive and inspiring way.”
Amol Rajan Interviews (Wednesday 22/11/23, BBC Two, 7pm)
Genius is an overused word, especially in sporting circles.
But if there is one person who deserves the label is Ronald Antonio O’Sullivan, the man widely considered as the greatest to have ever picked up a cue.
Nicknamed ‘The Rocket’, Ronnie started playing snooker aged seven and quickly rose to prominence among amateur players, taking first place in a club competition when he was just nine.
He hit his first century break in a match aged 10, took first place in the British Under-16 Championship at 13 and became a professional in 1992, aged just 16.
Since then, he has won the World Championship seven times, a modern-era record he holds jointly with Stephen Hendry, as well as seven Masters and seven UK Championship titles.
O’Sullivan is the only player to have achieved 1,000 century breaks in professional competition, has made the highest number of maximum 147 breaks in professional competition, with 15, and holds the world record for the fastest competitive maximum break, compiled in a time of just five minutes and eight seconds at the 1997 World Championships.
However, these impressive numbers are only half the reason why people find Ronnie so popular and intriguing.
The way the Wordsley-born 47-year-old controls a cue ball, bending it around the angles and using it to pick off every other ball on the table, is hypnotic.
He provides a welcome splash of exhilaration to the sport, both on and off the baize. And when he speaks before or after his matches, you are transfixed, hoping he is going to say something interesting or controversial.
Admittedly, he sometimes goes too far. He was fined £20,000 for head-butting an official at the 1996 World Championships and was stripped of his Irish Masters title in 1998 after testing positive for cannabis.
He’s also got into some argy-bargy with long-time rival Ali Carter, has played games wearing no shoes, and refused to complete maximum breaks on the basis that the prize money is insufficient.
In short, O’Sullivan is the cliched complicated genius. While his dad served 18 years in prison for murder, the snooker table became a place of solace and structure, but also of frustration and fury.
Despite his status as the greatest ever player, O’Sullivan often disappoints his large fanbase with an apparent ambivalence to the sport.
“I have carried this sport pretty much for the last 20-30 years,” he said last year.
As well as going for his eighth title at the UK Championship, which gets under way on Saturday in York, feature-length documentary Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything (executive produced by David Beckham) is being released on Prime Video tomorrow.
To mark a big week for the Rocket, Amol Rajan begins a new series of interviews by sitting down with Ronnie and discussing his life and career.
As the interview is being filmed close to transmission, not much is known of the content.
But the University Challenge presenter and journalist will be doing his best to delve into the complicated mind of one of the world’s most talented, charismatic and captivating sportspeople.
Taskmaster – The Final (Thursday 23/11/23, Channel 4, 9pm)
Words by Rachael Popow
Susan Wokoma admits that when she was approached about appearing in the current series of Taskmaster, she had a couple of reservations.
She says: “I was so flattered, but then the fear started. I wasn’t going to do it because I thought, ‘I’m not a stand-up.’
“The only place I’ve ever done stand-up is on The Guilty Feminist podcast but that’s just a five-minute go at it, and it’s very anecdotal… But I haven’t been out on the road or anything, nothing like [fellow contestant] Julian Clary.”
Her other worry was that she lacked the killer instinct needed to do well in the contest. “I don’t really do competitiveness. It’s been a problem and that’s not because I’m an angel – it’s because I do not back myself, not even playing Connect Four.”
However, it turns out she is in very good company in that respect – this might be the least competitive series in Taskmaster history.
Lucy Beaumont admits that she sometimes forgot that it was supposed to be a competition. She says: “Because you do so many [of the tasks] alone, when I had to meet the others for a group tasks, I was like, ‘Oh, I forgot there were other people involved’. Because in the solo ones Alex kept saying ‘against the other contestants’ and I was like, ‘Oh, there’s other people?’”
Susan Perkins is definitely in the ‘it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part’ camp too. She says: “I learned that I have no sense of competitiveness, but within five minutes of starting the task I was laughing. Clearly, I’m not competitive because I just laughed my way through it.
“When you come to the studio and watch yourself you think, ‘What an idiot’, because you should have worked out how to do it much sooner. But I don’t care. I had fun.”
If you want proof that the current crop really aren’t too bothered about taking home the trophy, just look at the live tasks that end each episode. We’ve seen Sue getting herself eliminated to save Julian, and the five of them working as a team in a task where they had to collect balls in a container on their heads, when it was supposed to be every comedian for him or herself.
Luckily, this hasn’t made the series any less enjoyable – just ask the Taskmaster himself, Greg Davies, and his sidekick Alex Horne.
Alex says: “I can tell you one thing that Greg wrote down on his screen at one point during the studio record: ‘This might be my favourite five ever.’”
Still, someone has to win, and tonight we find out who will be walking away with a model of Greg’s head. Now we’ve reached the final, will one of them suddenly display a previously unexpected ruthless streak?
What we do know is that Sam Campbell is about to design a small bikini, Sue forgets about milk, Susan mixes cornflakes and hot sauce, Lucy feeds her young, and Julian gently assaults someone.
Two Doors Down (Friday 24/11/23, BBC1, 9.30pm)
Words by Rachael Popow
It may not get the hype of some other shows, but Two Doors Down has steadily become one of Britain’s biggest sitcoms.
We first met long-suffering Beth, Eric and the residents of Latimer Crescent back in 2013, in what was billed as a one-off Hogmanay special. It proved so popular, that a full series was commissioned, which made its debut in 2016.
Every subsequent series has grown in popularity – the most recent Christmas special attracted its highest audience since the pilot.
So, no wonder Two Doors Down is now making the leap from BBC2 to BBC1. The cast of Jonathan Watson, Arabella Weir, Alex Norton, Elaine C Smith, Jamie Quinn, Kieran Hodgson, Joy McAvoy and Graeme ‘Grado’ Stevely are making the move too. And fans will be glad to spot that this seventh run acts as a homecoming for Doon Mackichan as Cathy.
Regular viewers will know that in the last series, Cathy broke husband Colin’s heart when she left for a new life in Sharm El Sheikh, but it seems both the actress and the character couldn’t stay away.
When her returns was announced, Doon said: “I have missed the Two Doors Down family very much so it’s a genuine delight to see Cathy bring her unique brand of community spirit back to Latimer Crescent. Beth – get a bottle open.”
The current run begins as the neighbours gather at Colin’s house for what is supposed to be a surprise party for his new flame, Anne Marie.
Despite concerns that Gordon is getting a bit overexcited, and Alan’s worries about the smell that’s emanating from Christine’s bag, everyone dutifully gets into their hiding places. However, when Colin opens the door it’s not the birthday girl who walks in but a tanned Cathy.
She’s back to win Colin’s heart all over again – and it seems she’s succeeded when he puts in a call to Anne Marie to say it’s over and she can collect her stuff once he’s put it in black bin bags.
The rest of the neighbours may not be quite as easy to win over – apart from Christine, who’s just happy to have someone else to share her latest health worries with.
Everyone else wants Cathy to know just how much devastation she left in her wake, but when Gordon lets slip that Tinder seemed to heal Colin’s broken heart, will the evening get even more awkward?
Although the latest series is getting off to typically strong start, the return will still be bittersweet for fans, as in August it was announced that the show’s co-writer and co-creator Simon Caryle had died at the age of 48.
The sitcom’s production team paid tribute to him, saying: “We are deeply saddened by this terrible news. Simon was a brilliant, funny, mercurial and magnificent human being. He had a microscopic fascination with what makes funny things funnier and we were so lucky to have known him.
“He was at the centre of all the work we made together and his loss will be felt profoundly by all of us.”