Television choices: Grief stricken designer seeks answers of a reflective kind


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The Independent Culture

TV pick of the week: Black Mirror

Monday 10pm Channel 4

Charlie Brooker is celebrated for satirising television – a Harry Hill for Guardian readers, if you like – but it turns out that he is a rare example of a critic who can also turn artist. In fact, to judge by his Black Mirror series, this rather than journalism is his true metier. Brooker's first new tale of the unexpected (there does seem to be something Roald Dahl-esque about his series) is a modern-day Frankenstein that asks philosphical questions about grief as a bereaved graphic designer (superbly played by Hayley Atwell, bringing much-needed humanity to the dsytopian drama) recreates her recently deceased boyfriend using software that mimics dead people by mining their online history (and, incidentally, providing better sex than the original).

Spiral: State of Terror

Saturday 9pm & 9.55pm BBC4

Now part-produced from these shores ("en association avec BBC Four"), the subtitled French detective drama returns with Captain Laure Berthaud (Caroline Proust) investigating when a body is dumped in woodland by his accomplices. A sub-plot involves the arrest of a Malian immigrant who has been working illegally in Paris for 10 years.

The British Academy Film Awards

Sunday 9pm BBC1

It's Argo vs Lincoln for best film, according to the bookies, with Daniel Day-Lewis ridiculously short odds to take home the Best Actor gong, as Bafta once again pre-empt the Oscars with their own awards, thus harvesting a more star-studded audience than might otherwise have been. Stephen Fry keeps us chuckling along (or not) as MC.

The Railway: Keeping Britain on Track

Tuesday 9pm BBC2

A timely new documentary going behind the scenes of the UK's rail network, departs from London's King's Cross station. Here, platform staff search for late drivers to keep trains running on time, while ticket-desk staff bear the brunt of passenger ire, and management are on a recruitment drive for the new concourse.

Free Speech

Wednesday 8pm & 1.30am BBC3

The so-called "yoof Question Time" returns with a new presenter, Rick Edwards (Jake Humphrey having left a rising career in the BBC to front BT Vision's football coverage). Long-term unemployment and internet safety are on the menu, as the grime artist Devlin, the entrepreneur Shazia Awan and the leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood face the studio interrogation.

Hugh's Fish Fight: Save Our Seas

Thursday 9pm Channel 4

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall dons his diving gear to inspect the lifeless ocean floor after a trawler has passed dredging for scallops, and widens an admirable campaign that has already got the EU looking again at its outrageous practice of discards. "This time we're going global," says St Hugh, as he visits the Isle of Man.

The Beatles' Please Please Me – Remaking a Classic

Friday 9pm & 12.30am BBC4

On the 50th anniversary of the 12-hour session at Abbey Road, which resulted in the Beatles' iconic album Please Please Me, the likes of Stereophonics, Graham Coxon, Joss Stone and Mick Hucknall attempt to record the same songs, in the same timescale, in the same studio. The ubiquitous Stuart Maconie presents the results.