Desperate Housewives

Top 11 Box Sets you need to own today

From smash hits such as Breaking Bad to family favourite Downton Abbey, we round up the Box Sets that will keep any self-respecting TV binge-watcher busy over the winter months

War on Wisteria Lane: 'Housewives' star claims she was hit and then

On screen, the cast of Desperate Housewives gossip, sleep around, and peer enviously at neighbours over their impeccable white picket fences. But the real drama begins when the director shouts "cut!" and they return to their highly strung lives away from Wisteria Lane.

Channel 4 puts TV archives online

Channel 4 is to become the first UK broadcaster to make its back catalogue of programmes available to watch for free on its website, it was announced.

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Last Night's Television: Desperate Housewives, Channel 4
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"The moment will come when we ask ourselves, 'Where did the time go?'" said the Valium-voiced Mary Alice at the beginning of last night's Desperate Housewives, dispensing another of the tranquillising banalities that are the series's stock in trade. For devoted followers of the programme, I think that moment will have come sooner than they expected when it became clear that an awful lot has been going on while we've been away. Lynette's tearaway boys now tower over her and can drive her car, Bree is well on her way to transforming herself into Martha Stewart, and Gabrielle, one hardly dares write the words, is looking a little plump and tugging a tubby daughter around behind her. "Where did the past five years go?" you ask yourself, and the answer is into the bin. Wisteria Lane needed a real jolt, one imagines the writers must have felt, and hitting the narrative chronology hard with a sledgehammer was what they came up with to do the trick. Cue some rather neat time-lapse editing in which our heroines walk out of five years ago into today, and into circumstances that their older selves would never have dreamt of.

Friends like these: The BBC is hoping that its new series 'Mutual

The new Cold Feet: it's one of those holy grails of the schedules. After numerous not very successful attempts to follow in the comedy-drama's footsteps (Hearts and Bones, Big Bad World or Metropolis, anyone?), maybe this time the commissioners have unearthed that holiest of holies – the middle-class serial that mirrors the lives of its viewers. Mutual Friends certainly has more than a touch of Mike Bullen's hit show, which ran for five seasons from 1997, about it.

Cultural Life: Wendy Cope, Poet

In recent months, I've read two outstanding books: Evening in the Palace of Reason by James Gaines (about J S Bach and Frederick the Great); and John Armstrong's Love, Life, Goethe, which is both a biography and superior self-help book. I also read Madame Bovary (never got round to it before), and have just begun A Hidden Life, by my friend Adèle Geras. And I've been dipping into the new Selected Poems by Michael Hofmann, one of my favourite living poets.