Love at First Sight Sat 10pm BBC2
Ballykissangel Sun 7.30pm BBC1
Timewatch Sun 7.30pm BBC2
Ruby Wax Meets... Sun 10pm BBC1
In 1963 we had the Profumo Affair and That Was the Week That Was. In 1996, we have The Scott Report and Scott of the Arms Antics (Sat C4). Profumo was capable of being summarised by a News of the World headline; the Scott Inquiry into arms-to-Iraq takes a tortuous two-or-so hours of satire/ explication from the best brains in medialand.
The satirical end of these affairs can be awfully smug - one section of the establishment commenting on another (forget Henry Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize; surely satire died when Cambridge undergraduates took it up for a living). Scott of the Arms Antics is a sort of variety cabaret: comedy - in the form of Rory Bremner and some Yes, Minister-style badinage between civil servants - documentary reconstructions of the Inquiry, and Paul Foot in an armchair, looking less the Ancient Mariner and more the Jackanory presenter. Linking it all together is a commentary from Sheena McDonald, dressed in a black number out of the Scottish Widows advert.
Over on BBC2, Beeban Kidron's Love at First Sight (Sat) will get you in the mood for Valentine's Day, with its tales of eyes locking across passing escalators, army officers going AWOL for the love of each other, and the desperate bloke flyposting Manhattan because he failed to say anything to the girl opposite him on the subway train. Strangely - although it rings true - the overwhelming sensation of true love is that of comfort, rather than rapture or lust. A genuinely interesting and poetic, rather than scientifically reductionist (imagine Horizon on love), stab at a subject usually dressed up in pink ribbons.
Five minutes into Ballykissangel (Sun BBC1), we know that Stephen Tompkinson and Dervla Kirwan have been made for each other. He's the new, English priest to a rural Irish community, and she's the local innkeeper's daughter and convinced anti-cleric. There'll be adversity before bedtime, then, but not too much - Kieran Prendiville's new Sunday evening drama is not there to stir anyone out of their slippers. It's a nice showcase for the Irish countryside, and just about every Irish character actor whose name you can't remember. It Shouldn't Happen to a Priest would be a better title. Or All of God's Creatures Great and Small.
Talking about a meeting of soulmates, at the end of Ruby Wax Meets... (Sun BBC1), Ruby and Roseanne are wrapped in each other's arms in Roseanne's bathtub - clothed, you might be glad to hear. Along the way, we say Hello! to Roseanne's mansion (lots of wood panelling), and we meet husband number three, Roseanne's former bodyguard. Six foot something, and that's just across the shoulders, he likes hunting - but in this company, he looks more like a bunny caught in car headlights.
Jonathan Miller's film for Timewatch (Sun BBC2) this week reminds us that the poor were always with us, and never more so than in mid-Victorian London. Actors speak the words of this vox-pop survey, part of one conducted by the founder of Punch, Henry Mayhew. Professions that have long since disappeared are represented here, including a purveyor of false eyes, a "running patterner" and a "pure finder" - "pure" being the tanning industry's name for dog turds, which tanners found use for. If the past is another country, then 1850s London reminds one of nothing more than present-day Calcutta.Reuse content