Television choices: The sounds that blew away Britain's post-war blues

  • @GerardVGilbert

TV pick of the week: Trad Jazz Britannia

Friday 9pm & 1.40am BBC4

Between Glenn Miller and the Beatles – and politely ignoring rock'n'roll (and less politely, modern jazz) – traditional jazz invigorated a generation of teenagers in pinched, post-war Britain with the exuberant sound of New Orleans.

Helped by its association with the burgeoning CND movement, and chart hits such as Acker Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore", homegrown jazz began to dominate until four mop-tops emerged from Liverpool.

This short (by the standards of the series) but sweet history of the genre includes footage from the 1960 Beaulieu Jazz Festival, which turned into a riot between traditionalists and moderns, and Barber expressing his distaste for the term "trad" – "a suitable name for a soap powder, but not for music".

Doctor Who

Saturday 7pm BBC1

"A universe without the Doctor... there will be consequences." Yes, things are getting serious as we reach the Steven Moffat-scripted finale, "The Name of the Doctor". New monsters are introduced, along with some old friends and foes, and the Doctor's "biggest secret" is revealed. The clue's in the title. Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman star.

The Man Who Shot Beautiful Women

Sunday 9pm & 2.30am BBC4

"Sex drove me to the arts," is a typically candid quote from Erwin Blumenfeld, a German Jew and Dadaist who had never been paid for taking a photograph until his mid-forties, when he arrived in New York and took Vogue by storm with his stunning "psychological portraiture". But what drove him to suicide in 1969 Rome?

The Somme: Secret Tunnel Wars

Monday 9pm & 3am BBC4

Anyone who has read Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong will be acquainted with the tunnelling that went on beneath British and German trenches during the First World War, with the object of detonating huge mines. The historian Peter Barton and a team of archaeologists navigate tunnels constructed beneath the Somme battlefield in 1916.

The Last Days of Anne Boleyn

Thursday 9pm BBC2

The fall of Henry VIII's second wife in the early months of 1536 was as rapid as it was brutal – and was triggered by the miscarriage she suffered on the same day that, weirdly enough (Henry thought it weird), Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, passed away. David Starkey and Hilary Mantel are among the history heavyweights investigating Anne Boleyn's demise.


Wednesday 9pm BBC2

The freshly minted Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, adds his pennyworth (well, clerics aren't paid as much as City workers) to the final part of this well-informed overview of the banking crisis. The programme investigates the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), which, it is estimated, will cost the industry £25bn once it is finally settled.

Town with Nicholas Crane

Tuesday 9pm BBC2

The return of the television geographer and "adventurer" and his urban offshoot of Coast, looking at four more towns and reasons for their survival. He begins in the port of Oban in Argyll and Bute, examining the town's surprising role in the Cold War, visiting one of Scotland's oldest whisky distilleries and visiting the local artist John Lowrie Morrison.