TV pick of the week: Substitutes take spins while regulars go missing
TV pick of the week: The Thick of It
Saturday 9.45pm BBC2
Armando Iannucci finally tackles the Coalition – but how will his beloved sitcom fare without Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) and MP Nicola Murray (Rebecca Front), now in opposition? Worry not, Tucker and Murray feature – but not until next week – and tonight's opener doesn't exactly miss them. Vincent Franklin (Twenty Twelve) is a fine Tucker substitute as Number 10's director of communications, Roger Allam is splendidly crumpled as Peter Mannion MP, the senior Coalition partner at DoSac, there's dependable support from Joanna Scanlan and James Smith, and some juicy neologisms, such as "snuff politics" and "ear piss". The unnamed Coalition partners (the Lib Dems, we may assume) are "the inbetweeners".
Sunday 9pm ITV1
Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters) does well in the dual role of nice but penniless teacher John and nastily feckless head of a family business Johnny – doppelgangers whose paths cross in the pub one night. The setting is 1952, in the run up to the Queen's Coronation, in Charles Sturridge's adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel – last filmed with Alec Guinness in 1958.
Monday 9pm ITV1
ITV's run of new drama series continues with Helen McCrory as Julie, an unhappily married wedding caterer at a country house hotel. Given to mouthing the words of the matrimonial vows as she looks on from the wings – and envying anyone with a life still before them – it's only a matter of time before ripping the clothes off a handsome young colleague...
Tuesday 10pm BBC4
This unlikely, semi-subtitled fish-out-of-water comedy rests on the wonderfully fleshy, deadpan features of Steven Van Zandt. As befits an ex-Sopranos actor, Van Zandt plays New York mobster Frankie the Fixer, who, in need of FBI witness protection, chooses Lilyhammer in Norway because he liked the look of it from television coverage of the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Dead Good Job
Wednesday 9pm BBC2
A dead bad title for a series about undertakers, and featuring the usual varied cross-section, from a 120-year-old Manchester firm catering to traditionalists to a niche Leicester company that specialises in transporting dead bikers in motorcycle hearses. Meanwhile in Brick Lane, Muslim mourners are less worried by fancy trimmings than by a speedy interment.
Thursday 9pm Channel 4
Individuals allow a group of 50 strangers to observe their lives for a week, following them around and invading their homes, as the crowd displays wisdom (or not) in helping them make potentially life-changing decisions. Somehow the format works, as 48-year-old dairy farmer Ian gets the ball rolling, deciding whether or not to sell up and start a new life.
Friday 9.30pm & 10pm Sky1
The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd stars in his own self-penned semi-autobiographical comedy about growing up in the Ireland of the Eighties – and it's a cracker (actually it was developed from a short he made for Sky's Little Crackers). O'Dowd plays Martin, the grown-up invisible friend of his own 12-year-old self, and it's fresh, funny and very well acted.
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