Television choices: Inbetweeners reunited in comedy and cowardice


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The Independent Culture

TV pick of the week: Chickens

Thursday 9.30pm Sky 1

"The world has no room for cowards," Robert Louis Stevenson maintained. Sky's new comedy does, though, as it follows three loathed (their house is emblazoned with "Just Die" and "Coward Cottage") draft-dodging chickens who have, quite wisely, ducked out of the carnage of the First World War. The trio of cowards, played by Inbetweeners stars Simon Bird and Joe Thomas, who also, jointly, wrote this, and Jonny Sweet, gel nicely together in this undemanding satire. "If you were really keen to help, you would have killed yourself to raise moral," yells a crone at Simon Bird's flat-footed Cecil, who is knitting for the war effort. Bird, Sweet and Thomas are all adept comic actors, and the wonderful Emma Fryer cameos, too.

Top of the Lake

Saturday 9.10pm BBC2

The final episode of Jane Campion's crime drama has Matt wanting to "confess" to Robin. Is it a trap? Johnno thinks so. The first "twist" is beautifully handled. However, the unveiling of the main culprit is a little less convincing. Elisabeth Moss and Peter Mullan have been terrific in this bleak examination of grief and abuse.


Sunday 9pm Channel 4

Channel 4 has taken a beating recently, but Tony Grisoni's fiercely intelligent Southcliffe is the best drama it has shown in a fair while. The last instalment moves forward a year and focuses on Rory Kinnear's damaged reporter, who has received a threatening letter, and Eddie Marsan and Shirley Henderson's grief-stricken couple. Haunting television.

Dreaming the Impossible: Unbuilt Britain

Monday 9pm & 2.30am BBC4

"Behind nearly every one of these triumphs is an untold drama," pronounces Dr Olivia Horsfall Turner, who charts structures and buildings that didn't quite cut it. "This is where the story begins," she booms five minutes in. Didn't the story before? Anyway, she explores plans for a channel tunnel in the 19th century.

King Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons

Tuesday 9pm & 2.30am BBC4

We've reached 924, and the historian Michael Wood is enthusing about King Aethelstan, "the most powerful ruler Britain has seen since the Romans". Information is scarce – it's the Dark Ages, after all – but Wood makes the most of the faded scrolls and manuscripts at his disposal. An interesting look at a little-known period.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Wednesday 9pm BBC1

This week it's England's second greatest goalscorer, Gary Lineker, and he proves an uncomplicated soul from an average family, which isn't ideal for a genealogy show. Lineker, the son of a market trader, knows little about his roots, but he soon discovers there's a "law writer" on his mother's side and a chicken thief. Prepare yourself for a "fowl play" pun.

King of Hollywood: Inventing David Geffen

Friday 9pm PBS America

"One way or another he would outsmart-you, or out-yell you…" claims Cher about Geffen in this documentary, charting the music mogul's progress from his modest childhood to conquering the music industry. Tom Hanks and Elton John pay homage to this huge ego who freely admits to faking his university career. Chutzpah...