Television preview

RECOMMENDED VIEWING THIS WEEKEND 21st Century Jet Sat 8pm C4 Performanc e: Henry IV Sat 8.10pm BBC2 Street-Porter's Men Sat 10.45pm C4 On the Road Again Sun 7pm BBC2 Pride and Prejudice Sun 9pm BBC1 The South Bank Show Sun 10.45pm ITV
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Well, ding-dong. Hip, hip-hooray. It's the double wedding of the century (the 18th-century that is) and the happy ending that we've all been waiting for, have we not? The BBC presumes so, anyway, using the average romantic's love of a good wedding to lure viewers into the climactic episode of Pride and Prejudice (Sun BBC1).

Jane gets her Bingley, Eliza gets her Darcy, but not before Barbara Leigh- Hunt, as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, can do her damnedest to cast a chill on the proceedings. Mills and Boon written by a genius indeed.

Nearly as excellent is John Caird's canny boiling down of Shakespeare's two-part Henry IV (Sat BBC2), in which playboy Plantagenet Prince Hal puts down his mug of sack, realises his destiny and helps dad put down a rebellion of grim northerners.

Dominating a cast that includes Ronald Pickup, Paul Eddington, Corin Redgrave, Josette Simon, Elizabeth Spriggs and Jane Horrocks is David Calder as Falstaff. Mind you, there would be something seriously wrong if Falstaff did not dominate Henry IV.

Jonathan Firth is all wrong as Hal, though, pushed off screen by Rufus Sewell in charisma overdrive as Hotspur. It's a testament to Sewell's performance that you fully agree with Falstaff when he comments that, even dead, Hotspur is scary. Needless to say, Shakespeare put it better. By the way - maybe Richard Curtis could confirm - I think I see the genesis of the character Baldrick in Falstaff's sidekick Bardolph - "Lucifer's privy kitchen", as he calls him. Very Rowan Atkinson. Very Blackadder.

If the kids are hogging the Lego, you can always seek solace in 21st Century Jet (Sat C4), a six-part series looking at the design and construction of Boeing's latest passenger jet, the Boeing 777 (a Boeing 666 would be a more interesting marketing challenge).

Street-Porter's Men (Sat C4) wasn't recorded in time for a peek, but it's a neat, off-the-cuff idea given the gal's attitude to TV executives (male, middle-aged, middle-class and mediocre, you might remember). Her first guests are cross-dressing comedian Eddie Izzard and BBC Foreign Affairs Editor John Simpson, "both men who choose to thrive in dangerous environments", according to the press release, "John in Sarajevo, Eddie in heels".

Dame Judi Dench as a subject for The South Bank Show (Sun ITV) might understandably provoke a groan, but I was won over. We follow her preparing for Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, from Day One ("don't you just hate Day One") to the dress rehearsal. There's a great scene when Dench unexpectedly breaks down and starts crying while rehearsing Send in the Clowns. Director Sean Mathias loves the breakdown and wants to incorporate it. What a racket.

And so to On the Road Again (Sun BBC2), in which journalist Simon Dring persuaded the BBC to pay for him to revisit his youth - following the hippy trail from Greece to India. This time Dring's driving, not hitching, and much else has changed since the hash 'n' hepatitis days of the Sixties. My favourite encounter was with a Londoner - a certain first prize in any Ben Elton impersonation contest - driving where the wind takes him on his Norton motorcycle. "Even to Iran?" wonders Dring. "Even to Iran," agrees Ben Elton, looking increasingly dubious.

Comments