TV PICKS OF THE WEEK By Lisa Jewell
Make a date or set your DVR for our top telly choices this week – documentaries a-plenty!
Documentary – The Real Marigold Hotel
Wednesday 15 February, 9pm, BBC1
One of the standout successes on BBC2 last year was The Real Marigold Hotel, a multi-part documentary that followed senior celebrities as they tested out India as a potential place to retire. The show, featuring Wayne Sleep, Miriam Margoyles and Bobby George amongst others, was a humorous variation on the movie (though it clearly points out for legal reasons at the start that it is only inspired by the film and has no actual links to it).
Buoyed by the success, the Beeb has brought it back for a second series and upgraded it from BBC2 to BBC1. This time around, the celebs include Lionel Blair, Bill Oddie, Amanda Barrie and Dennis Taylor. Hopefully the chemistry is good between them all as last year’s series was a winner as a travel programme but also because the personalities were fascinating to watch.
Documentary – Notes on Blindness
Thursday 16 February, 9pm, BBC4
This 2016 docudrama follows the story of academic John Hull who went totally blind in 1983, at the age of 45. While attempting to adjust to his new reality, he started recording his thoughts on cassette tape and these went on to be published in a memoir.
Now, the audio forms the basis for this moving documentary, which is shown on BBC4 as part of the Storyville strand. Combining the audio with reconstructions by actors, the film gets inside the mind of Hull and how he deals with not only the physical effects of his blindness but also how feels the loss of his visual memory – quite literally, he feels that his past is also disappearing and he is being cut off in the darkness. There are, however, plenty of uplifting moments in the documentary, particularly the bond between Hull and his wife.
Documentary – Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
Sunday 19 February, 9.30pm, Sky Arts
Originally scheduled for release in May 2017, this HBO documentary was brought forward to January in the States after the deaths of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. It was filmed over the course of 2014-2015 when Fisher was preparing to return to her role of Princess Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and was concerned about leaving her increasingly frail mother Debbie Reynolds behind in LA while she filmed in London.
The mother and daughter lived in adjoining homes on a family compound and the documentary shows how they had both mellowed in later life and reached much more common ground in their relationship. The film, directed by husband and wife team Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens, is a must-see.