Television choices: Suburban spy drama snoops on Soviet sleepers in DC


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The Independent Culture

TV pick of the week: The Americans

Saturday 10pm ITV

Inspired by the FBI's 2010 exposure of the Russian "sleeper" cell that included Anna Chapman, this new US drama relocates the action to the Cold War of Ronald Reagan's presidency. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell play a married "American" couple living with their children in suburban Washington, who are in fact KGB officers who juggle family life with – you know – kidnapping Soviet double-agents and storing them in the garage. Things get sticky when an FBI spy-catcher (Noah Emmerich) happens to move next door, and what sounds like an unholy mix of Desperate Housewives and Homeland works well thanks to strong performances, tight writing and an evocative Eighties soft-rock soundtrack.

Spying on Hitler's Army: the Secret Recordings

Sunday 8pm Channel 4

After defeat in 1945, German soldiers claimed ignorance of the Holocaust – blaming atrocities on the SS. A recent discovery of recordings made in bugged PoW camps tells a different story – of Germans of all ranks either participating or aware of what was going on. This fascinating documentary has actors speaking their chilling words.

The People's Coronation with David Dimbleby

Monday 9pm BBC1

Dimbleby's father, Richard Dimbleby, presented the television coverage of the Queen's Coronation in 1953. On its 60th anniversary, Dimbleby Jr taps into people's memories of the day, including his own (as a teenager) and an ex-Fleet Street snapper who captured the definitive image of the new monarch.

The Unspeakable Crime: Rape

Tuesday 10.35pm BBC1

The way the police deal with victims of rape was changed by a damning 1982 Panorama report – and just how much is laid out in this documentary following two rape cases being processed by St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Manchester. The centre dealt with over 1,200 cases last year, including that of Juliet, raped in alley while drunk.

Bobby Womack: Across 110th Street

Friday 9pm & 1.55am BBC4

The soul star – now experiencing an Indian summer thanks to Damon Albarn and Gorillaz – recalls being a gospel prodigy discovered by Sam Cooke, and working with Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and the Stones, before drugs and the death of his son seemed to send him into decline. Ronnie Wood is among the contributors.

David Walliams: Snapshot in Time

Thursday 9pm ITV

"The more adulation you got the camper you became," says David Walliams of his first taste of audience appreciation – at school in Reigate, aged 11, playing a lady. Walliams now reunites his middle-aged fellow cast members, two of whom live in Australia – "as far as possible away from me", quips Walliams, somewhat solipsistically.

D-Day: As It Happens

Wednesday 9pm Channel 4

The Normandy landings are brought to life in real-time across television, mobile devices and the web, following the seven participants – including a paratrooper, a submariner and a nurse – over the 5th and 6th June 1944 ("Not all them have a good time," says Channel 4). Peter Snow anchors the two programmes, with help from ex-Army and Navy servicemen.