The Promised Land Sun 7.20pm BBC2
How to Be Prime Minister Sun 8.10pm BBC2
The Legacy of Reginald Perrin Sun 8.30pm BBC1
Erotic Tales Sun 11.35pm C4
What a godsend the Harold Wilson/Idi Amin revelation has been to How to Be Prime Minister (Sun BBC2), Michael Cockerell's guide to the top job, which might otherwise have been buried beneath quite a strong weekend of television. Joe Haines's disclosure that Wilson wanted Amin assassinated made most newspaper front pages in midweek, and third item down on Wednesday's BBC Nine O'Clock News. You can't buy pre-publicity like that.
The rest holds little that is relevatory. Cockerell knows his parliamentary onions and has good access - but don't we all know that PMs are lonely in office, get little sleep and fall in love with the Queen (except Margaret Thatcher, of course)? Still, this is a jolly enough affair and contains nice little insider observations - such as how to "lurk" (hang round the PM in the hope of getting a quick word) and the existence of "old stripey", the blue and yellow dispatch box containing the juiciest security information.
Jim Callaghan was in power when the BBC first transmitted The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin, a series which saw the full flowering of Leonard Rossiter's anarchic comic genius. Today's middle classes would probably give their collective right arms for the sort of routine, stress-free, job-for-life (with the little woman back home) culture against which Reggie Perrin rebelled. In hindsight, he can be seen as a proto-Thatcherite - riding roughshod over "society" and stultified British business practices.
The Legacy of Reginald Perrin (Sun BBC1), re-uniting most of the original cast, is not so much a comedy as a collection of catchphrases - a liturgy for the sort of people who will be buying the accompanying BBC book. So we get CJ saying "I didn't get where I am today by doing whatever, whatever ...", David Harris-Jones's "super ... sorry", Geoffrey Palmer's Jimmy and his "cock-up on the catering front", and so on. Without Rossiter to bounce off, there's precious little reason for this lot - except, of course, that writer David Nobbs has found one, and has them gathered for the reading of Reggie's will.
There are two very good documentaries this weekend. Richard Gordon and Carma Hinton's Fine Cut film The Gate of Heavenly Peace (Sat BBC2) looks at the birth and early strangulation of the democracy movement in China. Documenting the build-up to events in Tiananmen Square in 1989, they give a startling picture of the haphazard, opportunistic nature of revolution. The Promised Land (Sun BBC2) tells of the biggest peace-time exodus of Americans ever - the movement of 5 million African Americans from the Deep South to the industrial cities of the north between 1940 and 1970. The first film, Any Place But Here, paints a distressing picture of the mixture of feudalism and apartheid (called "Jim Crow") that existed in Mississippi in the Twenties and Thirties.
Erotic Tales (Sun C4) is a new series of six dramas trying to walk that fine line between pornography and erotica - if indeed one accepts such differentials. The series starts with Susan Seidelman's Oscar-nominated The Dutch Master, about a New York dental hygienist (the sweetly appealing Mira Sorvino - such subjective judgements are necessary in this field) who develops a strange fascination with a an old Dutch painting and the David Ginola lookalike at the centre of the canvas. Hey, it worked for me.Reuse content