Intrepid TV expert Julia Raeside forages among the autumn schedules for the tastiest small-screen snacks.
There is no better time for television than autumn. The wretched sun can give it a rest now because the only plans I have for the foreseeable involve central heating and staying the hell away from the sky. This month sees the launch of Grayson Perry’s new TV and art project, in which he takes a look at questions of identity.
If Who Are You? (Channel 4) is anything like the artist’s other TV presenting stints it’ll be fascinating stuff. He travels around the UK, meeting a cross-section of people and interviewing them about their identity. Then he goes back to the drawing board, literally, and produces a portrait of them.
Subjects in this series include former MP Chris Huhne (whom Perry met on the day of Huhne’s release from prison) and reality TV success story Rylan Clark. The series will coincide with an exhibition of the finished artworks at London’s National Portrait Gallery.
The greatest thing about Perry is his ability to communicate. He’s a natural in front of the camera, seemingly rolling ideas around his brain and coming up with often profound thoughts while the lens drinks him in. He can get real ideas across without either patronising or bamboozling you with overly wordy art-speak. And unlike so many folk who work in TV, he really likes people.
I’m also cautiously excited about the return of Peaky Blinders to BBC One this month. The period drama set in Victorian Birmingham’s gangland was the best-looking show on TV last year but it lacked substance and depth of character. Not to mention a few basic teething troubles – lads, that is NOT a Birmingham accent. But this new series boasts the addition of Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley, a dialect coach (!) and a brilliant director called Colm McCarthy, who has worked magic on shows like Endeavour and Sherlock.
Cillian Murphy returns as troubled gang lord Tommy Shelby while the redoubtable Helen McCrory is back as Aunt Pol, the power behind the throne. It’s particularly nice to see a woman in a period drama who is allowed to do more than merely simper in restrictive undergarments.
So bad it’s good…
If you haven’t yet given up on Carrie Mathison and her desperate pursuit of Brody, the fourth season of Homeland comes to Channel 4 this month. And it gets even more ludicrous than last season pretty quickly. Our pill-popping jazz detective, now Brody-less (Damian Lewis is not in this series), is sent to the Middle East where they put her in charge of the drone strikes. So that’ll be fine then. (Clue: it’s not fine.) Your enjoyment of this depends on how camp you like your spy thrillers. If the answer is very, knock yourself out. You’ve still got the excellent Mandy Patinkin as Saul to keep things on a sort-of even keel. Otherwise, it’s the usual batshit mix of frantic hair-pulling, ugly crying (no one ugly-cries better than Clare Danes) and truly unbelievable plotting.
Julia loves TV and writes about it for the Guardian and other people. She also enjoys talking on the radio which she mostly does for the BBC.