Television Choices: Economists in conflict over cutting and spending


TV pick of the week

Masters of Money

Monday 9pm BBC2

The argument over whether governments should be cutting back, or spending their way out of the current economic crisis, has yet to be won, but the ideas of John Maynard Keynes have come flying back into fashion since the crash of 2008. Keynes believed in politicians spending their way out of trouble, a view opposed by that other great economist of the Great Depression, Friedrich Hayek – and Keynes and Hayek are the subjects of the first two films in this interesting new series by BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders (Karl Marx is her third subject). But Flanders begins with Keynes – the only economist in the Bloomsbury Set – whose ideas coalesced after watching the beggaring of Germany at the end of the First World War.

The Thick of It

Saturday 9.55pm BBC2

The return of Nicola Murray (Rebecca Front) – now leader of the Opposition – and Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), who considers Murray to be "electoral asbestos... we have to get rid of her". After two years barking profanities at the shadow cabinet, Tucker is bored. "I used to have missed calls piling up like pizza leaflets," he says, looking forlornly at his phone.

Downton Abbey

Sunday 9pm ITV1

Shirley MacLaine makes her grand entrance as the third series of ITV's all-conquering costume drama settles into The X Factor's wake to dominate Sunday nights. The Hollywood legend plays Lady Cora's mother, who is visiting television's most famous stately home for Matthew and Mary's wedding. Only the relationship between the happy couple has hit a sticky patch...


Tuesday 9pm BBC2

Before Neil Oliver gets to the Viking conquest of Britain and Ireland, the archaeologist shows that the eyes of the Norsemen were more firmly fixed on the east – in fact there have been more Viking finds in Russia than in western Europe. Bartering as far east as Istanbul and Baghdad, these islands were the source of only one important commodity in their trading empire – slaves.


Wednesday 10.45pm BBC1

Salman Rushdie talks to Alan Yentob about being condemned to death by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 after writing The Satanic Verses. To coincide with the publication of a memoir about that chapter of his life, Rushdie speaks about the nine years in hiding, being terrified for the life of his young son and hearing of his translators being killed.

The Choir: Sing While You Work

Thursday 9pm BBC2

Having successfully created choirs out of unruly teenagers, shy children and military wives, Gareth Malone now turns his attention to the British workplace – persuading four sets of employees (beginning with Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust) to improve their environments by starting choirs. These will then be pitted against each other.

Parade's End

Friday 9pm BBC2

Tom Stoppard's Ford Madox Ford adaptation has proved compelling but strangely unsatisfying, as the final episode finds Tietjens (Benedict Cumberbatch) in action (the trenches photographed to suggest the war artist Paul Nash). Valentine, meanwhile, is discovering Marie Stopes and Sylvia lining up General Campion (Roger Allam) as a possible future husband.

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