Television choices: Insights into the reasons behind the riots


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The Independent Culture

TV pick of the week: The Riots: In Their Own Words

Monday 9pm, BBC2

This is the compelling documentary that was pulled a few weeks ago on the order of a judge in a murder trial related to the riots in Birmingham last summer. The men in that case have now been acquitted, and we finally get to see an illuminating account of the whys and wherefores of the widespread unrest of August 2011 – riots that some believe will be repeated this year. Actors play anonymous rioters who were interviewed shortly after the disturbances, giving voice to reasons which range from specific anger at the police shooting of Tottenham resident Mark Duggan to looters' unconscious echoing of Tony Blair's mantra of "education, education, education": "easy money, easy money, easy money..."

Wallander: the Fifth Woman

Saturday 9pm & 9.55pm, BBC4

Find Kenneth Branagh's Wallander too ponderous – and the BBC Henning Mankell adaptations too pompous? Try instead Rolf Lassgard's embodiment of middle-aged world-weariness, in a four-parter (from 2002) in which the Swedish detective becomes obsessed with investigating the murder of an elderly poet, found impaled on spikes beneath a bridge.

Olympics 2012 Closing Ceremony

Sunday 9pm, BBC1

The artistic designer Kim Gavin is going to be hard-pressed to top the reference-packed originality of Danny Boyle's opening ceremony. Entitled A Symphony of British Music, it sounds altogether more predictable – with Adele, Take That, the Who, One Direction and the Spice Girls rumoured – and Boris Johnson handing over to Rio.


Tuesday 9pm, BBC1

A cross-dressing Sean Bean is the sight that opens a new series of Jimmy McGovern's individual dramas – each ending with the chief protagonist in the dock. Bean gives a touching performance as college professor Simon – and his transvestite alter-ego Tracie, who picks up white van man Tony (Graham) during an aggravation-heavy bar crawl.

Death Camp Treblinka Survivor Stories

Wednesday 9pm & 1.30am, BBC4

How Samuel Willenberg and Kalman Taigman escaped from the concentration camp, where more than 800,000 Polish Jews died during the Holocaust. The two men were able to flee during a revolt in 1943, before one of them sought vengeance in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and the other appeared at the 1961 war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann.

Peter Kay Live: the Tour That Didn't Tour – Tour

Thursday 9pm, Channel 4

Channel 4's Funny Fortnight begins with Peter Kay's show at the Manchester Arena that saw Kay return to live performance after a seven-year break. The 30 hours of comedy in the season will include Bad Sugar – from the writers of Peep Show – and new shows from Vic and Bob, Frankie Boyle and the Father Ted creator Arthur Matthews.

In with the Flynns

Friday 9.30pm, BBC1

Return of the Manchester-set sitcom – a remake of the American show, Grounded for Life – and starring Will Mellor and Niky Wardley as a married couple with an extended household of growing children and other relatives. Yet another example of the broad, "inclusive" comedy of Starlings, Mrs Brown's Boys et al – this opener has a burglar trapped in the loo.