In the short term, Annie's Bar (C4) - the House of Windsor brings you the House of Commons - was unlucky in its timing. There have been boasts about how the last-minute production schedule will allow the scriptwriters to respond to recent political developments. So, in the week that 300 MPs had put in for a rise, and the Commons corridors can have been buzzing with talk of little else, it was distinctly underwhelming to be fobbed off with a tiny two-second reference to the issue of the hour.

In a larger sense, though, Ardent Productions may have hit their moment - as politicians slither ungracefully towards the hour of reckoning, viewers will need a sardonic outlet for their mute disgust. Last night's episode ended with a Labour MP staring fixedly as a Tory member takes his ease at the urinal. "What are you staring at?" he is asked. "The next election," he replies darkly.

Clearly, Annie's Bar is prepared to take the piss out of our elected representatives, but it seems to have settled for something well short of outright cari-cature. The opening episode used the shock by-election victory of a naive Tory candidate (implausibly naive, in truth) to introduce viewers to the native fauna of this unique habitat - lissom researchers scraping past the pin-striped paunches of Tory backbenchers, thug-gish whips and scheming ministers, the badly-foxed political journos propping up the members' bar. At times, naturalism, in the shape of some rather stilted local colour, conspires against comedy, as does the decision to give full rein to the thespian ambitions of real MPs - those, at least, who have decided that high office is beyond them.

In one scene, after the new boy has mistakenly supped tea with the enemy, he is hooted at by a clutch of his colleagues: "We do expect you to know the difference between Conservative and Labour," they yell. Austin Mitchell, the enemy in question, stretches out his arms pleadingly: "Tell us, tell us!". This is an interesting spectacle, but not exactly rib-cracking. Edwina Currie's appearance was decidedly stifling, too - a deadening air of charity charades, in a production which needs to be offhand and understated if it is to capture the sense of public performers caught off-camera. The less explicit Annie's Bar is, the better it is, though this may be a problem specific to first episodes, which carry a heavy duty of explanation. As a maiden speech, this wasn't bad at all - a touch nervous here and there, let down occasionally by poor delivery, but showing definite promise.

It was odd that Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld's (BBC2) visit to Texas, spiritual home of the unrestrained ego, should turn out so muted and dull. I am prepared to admit (usually after a brisk massage with a torque-wrench) that the series can be quite watchable, but this was as flat as the landscape in which it found itself, a state where speed-bumps would count as scenery, were speed-bumps not reviled as an unconstitutional Commie plot. Perhaps it was simply that Clarkson had found the one place in the world where his top-fuel, unmuffled loud-mouthing would come across as English reserve.

Jeremy drove a bigfoot truck (which frightened him) and met several red- necks who could outperform him in the swaggering bullshit stakes (which, understandably, startled him), but he never quite turned the key in the programme's ignition.

I had thought that the year could offer no more painful musical experience than the whining infants in Wednesday's Under the Sun. My complacency was immediately punished by the aspiring holiday-camp entertainer in Seasiders (C4), who managed to work his way through "La Bamba" without hitting a single note. For some reason, he accompanied this defiance of statistical probability with a mime of a scuba- diver trying to get an eel out of his wet-suit. The stunned managers, auditio- ning for summer season, struggled to lift their lower jaws back into place. Haven holidaymakers have apparently been spared the misery of being serenaded by this man. Irene Cockcroft's engaging series will follow those who made it.

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Arts and Entertainment


These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London