Last Night's Television: Alan Whicker's Journey Of A Lifetime, BBC2

The Apprentice, BBC1

Queens Of British Pop, BBC1

In fact, the dapper conservatism of his dress almost certainly helped, particularly when he found himself reporting from California, a state which, as he pointed out, prided itself on getting to the future several years ahead of the rest of the world. A younger reporter might have been suspected of a proselytising motive in filming hippies dropping acid amid the redwoods or recording the first gay kiss to be screened on British television. But Whicker, impeccably respectable and never flustered, arms folded in bemused inspection, was manifestly a detached observer. And if he didn't get in an on-screen panic about people smoking dope or two men getting married, it implicitly suggested that no one else really need to either. Revisiting a gay pastor he'd first interviewed back in the Seventies – for a programme on California's burgeoning gay-pride movement – Whicker discovered that the man's British friends had first warned him to be on his guard and then, after the programme had gone out, talked tearfully about its impact on them, as the first programme they'd seen in which the normality of homosexuality had been unhysterically acknowledged. The pastor, fluent and articulate, could take some credit for that. But Whicker, one of the least moralising of the old big beasts of television, deserved some too. You only had to imagine how Malcolm Muggeridge might have covered the same story to see how bemused curiosity can be a kind of liberalism in itself.

He hasn't changed much, even if the moustache is whiter than it used to be, and the gait a little stiffer. He's still fond of alliteration (we have, he said, "an insatiable appetite for the goings-on in this lavish, loony place on America's far-out fringe) and he still likes open-topped Rollers (though that may have been a producer, contriving a neat edit between past and present footage). There have though been large changes in California and what you can show on television. Back then the gay kiss was borderline stuff. These days the camera can cheerfully pan over a T-shirt in a boutique window, which would once have led to questions in the House: "Love Sucks. True Love Swallows". The best bits in the series are when you get to see the original interviewees 30 years on, including, in one case, a San Francisco policeman who had made the shift from Stephanie to Steve in the intervening years. But even when there isn't a "now" to justify the "then", the material bears re-inspection. Whicker, during a report on California's gun culture, interviewed an unnerving old dame who proudly recounted the serial fatalities she'd inflicted while defending the cash register in her liquor store. "I shoot 'em twice," she said cheerfully, "If I can't get them in those two, then I quit." Her husband, sitting alongside her with an understandable meekness, was wearing a wig so appalling that it constituted an offensive weapon in itself. I also enjoyed Whicker's question to the executive from the Cryonics Society, who had just sidestepped an inquiry about whether they had Walt Disney on ice. "Are you awaiting any other famous freezees?," he said politely.

Queens of British Pop is also dependent on the pleasures of old telly clips – a breezy and slightly purposeless celebration of pop divas, which didn't appear to be able to distinguish between the genuinely great and influential (Dusty Springfield) and acts who just hit a good wave and knew how to ride it to the beach (Suzi Quatro). It's a little disappointing, really, because they had interviewees who might have delivered something more substantial, from Burt Bacharach to Lulu (admirably unsnippy about appearing only as commentator rather than a subject). The biggest surprise here was John Lydon, on hand to express his enthusiasm for the music of Kate Bush. "Those shrieks and warbles," he said of "Wuthering Heights", "are beautiful beyond belief to me." His mum didn't agree, apparently. "Oh Johnny," she said, "it sounds like a bag of cats." Curiously, they were both right.

"We were looking like complete prats," said Majid in The Apprentice, complaining about the fact that he'd been required to pitch a catering contract at roughly 400 per cent of the going rate. This struck me as rich coming from a man who at some point must have thought to himself "Hmm... what can I do to my real beard to make it look as much like a fake beard as possible?" The greatest mystery now though is not Majid's facial hair, but the meaning of the phrase, "you could certainly bunny off a scratch". Derogatory, I take it, given Sir Alan's expression and clearly something to do with verbosity. Beyond that though I'm lost.

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor