When Simon Cowell left American Idol, he possibly thought the show couldn’t go on without him and The X Factor would be THE show to win over the American masses.
Sadly for him it didn’t quite work out that way. After three years, US audiences decided they’d fallen out of love with the format and the show was cancelled.
However, in this, the 10th year of Cowell’s UK ratings juggernaut, he has decided to go back to the show that helped boost his coffers.
In a thinly veiled advert for the new run, Sarah-Jane Crawford chats to its creator who is due to take his seat on the judges’ panel for the first time since 2010.
Cowell’s fellow mentors – Louis Walsh, (returning judge) Cheryl, and Mel B will also be worshipping at the altar of Simon, and there are clips of some of his most cherished moments from the show’s history.
There’s a gulf of difference between Al Murray the Pub Landlord, and Al Murray the person.
One of the smartest cookies on the box, he’s got the sort of family history that would make a cracking Who Do You Think You Are?
However, there’s no genealogy here. Instead Al will be presenting his pick of the finest homegrown war films.
Supported by historian Dan Snow, writer Natalie Haynes and film expert Matthew Sweet, they will be chatting about three Michael Caine classics, Zulu, which depicted the 1879 battle of Rorke’s Drift; A Bridge Too Far – Richard Attenborough’s all-star epic about 1944’s Operation Market Garden; and on a lighter note, Escape to Victory, John Huston’s cult 1981 offering in which assorted actors and footballers played soccer against the Nazis.
The quartet consider how cultural attitudes towards aggression and conflict have changed over the decades, and why so many remain fanatical about war stories.
Richard Ayoade has long been one of Blighty’s best kept secrets: a director and comedian whose work on projects like Nathan Barley and Festival kept him busy.
Then The IT Crowd paved the way for directorial offerings like Submarine, and more recently his critically acclaimed offering, The Double.
He’s also rather good at this presenting lark, as past series of Gadget Man have proved.
Now he’s back with a new run of Channel 4’s answer to The Gadget Show – only without those competitions that seem to last 10 minutes.
In episode one he takes on the worst of the British climate, braving a hurricane in a wind tunnel with the help of ’Punslinger’ Tim Vine to assess the best in gust-busting gadgetry.
At the Hemel Hempstead Snow Centre, he and Marcus Brigstocke pressure-test cold-weather technology – with unexpected results.
Richard also gives us a peek at his bespoke survival raft built to withstand a meteorological apocalypse.
Hankies at the ready? Good, then we’ll begin.
This week’s show centres on catering manager and army reservist John Farrell.
A family man from Bootle, he still lives a few streets from where he grew up. John always felt like he didn’t quite fit in with his family, and at 13 discovered the man he thought was his father wasn’t actually his biological dad.
Since becoming a father himself to three daughters, John has realised how important fatherhood is, and has always aimed to better his situation and provide a fantastic life for his offspring.
“When I had children I wanted to be the best man I could,” he explains. “I wanted to be a role model to look up to, in a way all the things I didn’t have.”
Two decades after searching for his dad, an ex-soldier called Cyril Smith, the team attempt to track down John’s long lost family.
Presented by Ella McSweeney, ‘Power In The Blood – The Story of The Irish Thoroughbred’ is a one-hour documentary in association with Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) – the national authority for racing, which will provide a deep insight into Ireland’s most successful international sport and the billion euro Irish thoroughbred industry.
Ireland is a recognised world-leader in thoroughbred breeding and racing and relative to its size, Ireland punches well above its weight, being the largest producer of thoroughbred foals in Europe and the fourth overall in the world. Behind every successful thoroughbred there is a sophisticated industry where the worlds of time-honoured horsemanship and cutting edge science meet to produce some of the fastest horses on the planet.
The film looks into the science and human skills behind the Irish racing industry’s ability to produce so many winners, and visits the world-famous Coolmore Stud and Ballydoyle training facility, The Irish National Stud, Goffs Bloodstock Sales House, Gilltown Stud and The Irish Equine Centre.
Nicolas Cage is Balthazar Blake, a wizard living secretly in New York, concocting a plan of action to prevent his mystical enemy from taking over the city. But it’s a huge task and he can’t complete it alone; so he recruits an ordinary teenager to be his assistant.
While many adults haven’t bought into the film’s view of science, the storyline, nevertheless, doesn’t fail to capture children’s imaginations.
It’s not one of Disney’s best, and will once again leave you hankering for the Disney of old, but it is definitely worth a look – if only for Cage’s sterling performance alone.
Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina
Two children – one in London and the other in Madrid – are visited in the night by a ghostly figure, which they seem to be unconsciously willing into existence.
The children’s parents take very different approaches - while the Spanish boy’s mother turns to the church for help, the English girl’s father turns instead to science.
Don’t come into this expecting fright after fright, as it’s more a psychological drama, but credit where credit is due – it’s a decent script and the acting is excellent (you wouldn’t expect anything less from the likes of Clive Owen, after all).
If you can keep up with Intruders until the final 20 minutes, the ending packs quite a punch and is well worth the wait. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has played a blinder here.
Clive Owen, Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Carice van Houten.
A host of British comedians swap stand-up for the big screen in this entertaining ’mockumentary’.
The film follows three couples vying for the title of Most Original Wedding of the Year.
The Office’s Martin Freeman and Spaced star Jessica Stevenson plan a musical wedding, Peep Show’s Robert Webb and Olivia Colman play naturists who must brave the elements during their nuptials and Stephen Mangan and Meredith MacNeill enjoy a sporting ceremony.
Given the comedic talent on display, this film was never going to be anything other than utterly hilarious.
Director Debbie Isitt encouraged her stellar cast to improvise many of the scenes and it turned out to be an inspired decision.
Even the sight of Robert Webb in his birthday suit doesn’t detract from what is essentially a thoroughly enjoyable British comedy.
Martin Freeman, Jessica Stevenson, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman, Stephen Mangan