Television choices of the week: The Iraq War shows us how the West was wrong on terror


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The Independent Culture

The Iraq War

Wednesday 9pm BBC2

"I had taken the view that we needed to re-make the Middle East," says Tony Blair, one of the big players in the 2003 invasion of Iraq that left that benighted nation "re-made". This insider account of how the Allies won the war, but lost what could loosely be termed "the peace", comes from the Brook-Lapping team behind The Death of Yugoslavia and other authoritative recent-history series. Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and all Iraq's post-war prime ministers are witnesses, as this opener asks how the West got it so wrong concerning WMDs (trusting a money-grabbing journalist, for starters) and revealing how, post-9/11, Iraqi diplomats signed up to President Bush's "war on terror", only be over-ruled by Saddam. More fool him.

David Bowie – Five Years

Saturday 9.20pm BBC2

"He's good at stealing," says ex-Spiders from Mars bassist Trevor Bolder, in this revealing Bowie-documentary about five pivotal years in the sponge-like performer's career, transforming from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke and beyond. Rick Wakeman reprising his Hunky Dory piano licks is among many highlights of a film spilling with unseen footage.

Clare Balding's Secrets of a Suffragette

Sunday 8pm Channel 4

In June 1913, votes-for-women activist Emily Wilding Davison was fatally injured when she stepped in front of George V's horse during the Epsom Derby. The shocking moment was captured on three newsreel cameras – but was it a suicidal gesture or a protest gone wrong? Clare Balding and forensic experts analyse the footage.

The Queen: a Passion for Horses

Monday 9pm BBC1

Clare Balding again, and some more royal horses, albeit this time in happier circumstances. The now ubiquitous presenter follows a year in the life of the Queen's racing stables, from the births of foals at Sandringham to race day at this year's Newbury, demonstrating Her Maj's equine expertise and deep involvement.

The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England

Friday 9pm BBC2

In a vivid new series, Dr Ian Mortimer takes us into the Tudor mind-set, and into their brutish lives, starting with the huge majority of poor people and their dark, cold and smoky abodes. Sheep outnumbered people, the countryside was to be feared not idealised, and the average wage could keep a man in beer but not roast chicken.

Playhouse Presents: Psychobitches

Thursday 9pm & 12.30am Sky Arts 1

Rebecca Front returns as the psychiatrist bringing therapy to some of history's most famous women – this time in a full series. Samantha Spiro as an annoying Audrey Hepburn is a highlight, and I liked Julia Davis as Sylvia Plath channelling her inner Pam Ayres, and Sharon Horgan's Eva Peron struggling to deal with feelings of grandiosity.


Tuesday 10pm Channel 4

The last ever episode, as Anne-Marie Duff returns to the show that made her famous and Frank (David Threlfall) delivers his final soliloquy – this time from a prison cell. "I miss the simple things," he says. "Drugs, alcohol, being able to drop the soap in the shower with impunity." But there's no welcome home in The Jockey – just a bill for an unpaid tab.