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Television choices: Five-year term with film crew gets authentic view of strife


TV pick of the week


Thursday 9pm Channel 4

Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, 9 Songs, The Killer Inside Me, The Trip) is consistently one of Britain's most innovative and varied directors, and his new venture – an exercise in real-time film-making – was shot over five years. It's a look at the effects of a sentence on a prisoner's family, and John Simm plays Ian, jailed for an unspecified offence (some sort of theft is implied), while Shirley Henderson plays his wife. Their children are portrayed by real-life, non-professional siblings from Norfolk, the Kirks, visibly growing up over the course of the largely improvised drama, which was partly filmed in their own family home. Winterbottom suceeds in his aims, with a poetic realism reminiscent of Ken Loach at his best.

I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

Sunday 9pm ITV1

Where would you rather be – attending the Commons or eating raw shark's brain in the Queensland rainforest? If rumours are true, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries reckons on the latter, joining a cast list that also apparently includes Trinny and Susannah, Kate Middleton's burlesque artiste cousin and ex-darts champion Eric Bristow.

Full English

Monday 10.50pm Channel 4

A welcome British attempt to replicate the style of US animated series such as Family Guy and American Dad, created and written by Trey Parker fans Jack and Harry Williams, and illustrated by Gerald Scarfe's son, Alex. The story evolves around a Homer Simpson-esque father, call-centre drudge Edgar, and his family – and is voiced by Darren Boyd and Kayvan Novak.

The Mind Reader: Unlocking My Voice

Tuesday 10.35pm BBC1

A year in the making, this Panorama special follows doctors and scientists' almost miraculous efforts to help a group of severely brain-injured patients communicate with the outside world. Fergus Walsh's report includes footage of the moment someone regarded as vegetative for more than a decade is able to answer a series of questions.

The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance

Saturday 9pm BBC1

The annual concert of remembrance from the Royal Albert Hall this year coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. Before the dropping of thousands of poppies, there is rousing military band music as well as performances from Rod Stewart, Alexandra Burke, Russell Watson, Laura Wright and the Military Wives.

The Hour

Wednesday 9pm BBC2

It's 1957 as Abi Morgan's period newsroom drama returns for a sure-footed second series, and the BBC has a brash upstart rival, ITV, which is trying to lure Hector Madden, as are various Soho gangsters. Peter Capaldi as the new Head of News is a welcome addition to a cast that is again headed by Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw and Anna Chancellor.

Children in Need 2012

Friday 7.30pm BBC1

The news that Jimmy Saville was allowed no involvement with Children in Need has been one piece of good news recently. But back to tonight – there's a special Doctor Who preview and "mini-sode", Ann Widdecombe and Russell Grant in a ballroom best-of-the-worst dance-off, One Direction, Girls Aloud, various Olympians, and Aled Jones and a cast of 2,500 child singers.