Catch up TV review: An Audience with Adele, Empire State of Mind, Unapologetic, Miriam and Alan: Los
An Audience with Adele (ITV Hub)
Adele follows her concert in Los Angeles with a one-off night at the London Palladium, where she regales an audience with a selection of old hits and some new numbers from her album (Easy on Me is, of course, on the playlist). But while there’s joy in hearing her unstoppable vocals belted out live on stage, it’s the stuff in between in song that really makes her such a national treasure, as she answers questions from the stalls with candid cackles and genuinely grounded gratitude. The fact that the people asking the questions are all stars too, and that the questions are no doubt pre-approved, doesn’t diminish her frank attitude and honest answers – whether she’s talking about her she almost got a driving ticket (until the police officer pulling her over was shouted at by his wife) or having a tearful surprise reunion with an old teacher who inspired and encouraged her at a young age. The moment where she has to fix her make-up and gets Alan Carr to stand up on stage and sing one of her songs is worth tuning in for alone.
Empire State of Mind (All 4)
You can’t understand the divided nature of the United Kingdom without understanding the history and legacy of the British Empire. That’s the argument put forward by Sathnam Sanghera in this wonderful documentary, which sees the writer and journalist try to talk to people about this country’s past, from Enoch Powell to debates today about removing union flags and statues in public places. There’s a gamut of viewpoints on display, whether it’s the deaf intolerance of those who think that their national identity is somehow being taken away from them by multiculturalism or the rare, but refreshing, ability for one Scottish writer (who recently found links to slavery in his family’s past) to acknowledge it and try to do something about it. The real history on offer, though, is personal, as Sathnam explores how he made it to Cambridge to study and found his own identity and views shaped by the narrow-minded curriculum and attitudes taught there, albeit unconsciously – and as Sathnam reads out the abusive messages sent to him in response to his book, Empireland, which only emphasis the heart-wrenching importance of the conversation that needs to be had. It’s not a theoretical problem, but a pressingly human one.
Miriam and Alan: Lost in Scotland (All 4)
It’s hard to imagine a better holiday companion than Miriam Margolyes of Alan Cumming. The prospect of travelling round Scotland with both, then, is a promising one, and Channel 4’s travelogue certainly delivers oodles of warm, hammy fun. Margolyes’ family settled in Glasgow, while Cumming’s family hails from the east coast of Scotland. They hope to unearth a family connection through a DNA match, and unveil a newly designed tartan for the pair of them – “Aliam” – and converse with a range of locals while waxing lyrical about returning to their roots. It’s all a bit of sound of fury, signifying nothing – even a trip to the actual Cawdor Castle doesn’t bring much drama to a medley of anticlimactic reveals and encounters – but the duo are genuinely affectionate towards each other, and are having enough fun that it becomes charming in its inconsequence. And, of course, there’s the fun of seeing Alan repeatedly stop somewhere to recite Shakespeare.
Unapologetic (All 4)
After its impressive pilot during Channel 4’s Black to Front day, it’s a delight to see a full series commissioned for this late night talk show presented by Yinka Bokinni and Zeze Millz. The pair are as bold and frank as the title suggests, managing to navigate complex waters with a bright and breezy air, as the programme tackles issues such as racism, relationships, sexuality (particularly in female rap) and parenting. It’s a talk show that actually lets people talk, and the nuance and subtlety that ensues, even when the conversation gets heated, is a remarkable change of tone and pace to the typical wave of talk shows that popular our screens today, which are less concerned with honest exchanges and more about viral skits. In an age of social media abuse and antagonism, it’s a talk show that treats its guests and audience with intelligence – in short, the kind of TV that modern media could with more of.