The nights are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air, and the shops have been full of Halloween merchandise for what feels like months. It can only mean one thing _ it’s time for a new series of Autumnwatch.
Some cynics may be wondering if the team have finally run out of wildlife to observe, but Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games are here to remind us why the change of seasons is always fascinating, as wildlife get ready for the challenges of winter.
This year, they’re coming to us from a location on the Lancashire coast, and the first episode finds them observing barn owls, starling and otters. And just in case that doesn’t sound dramatic enough, there’s also a report on the red deer rut, which sees stags fighting for their right to mate.
As the first episode of this eye-opening series proved, these days, going into domestic service doesn’t just mean keeping the silver adequately polished.
Britain’s posh employers have a wide array of requirements, and in some cases they need help ensuring their stately pile doesn’t have to be broken up.
This week, cameras take a trip to Bryngwyn Hall in Wales, which has a colourful history – it was inherited by Major General Arthur Sandbach after his brother met a grizzly end while lion hunting in Somaliland.
But the job of ensuring that it has a bright future has fallen to Lady Auriol Linlithgow, who took charge in 1986, and has worked hard to restore the house to its former glory. Now, she’s looking for a new recruit to join her team, but can she find someone who’ll slot in with her very particular existing team?
Meanwhile, Detmar Blow, widower of fashion icon Isabella, is trying to secure the future of his Gloucestershire stately home, while Carina Evans in Henley-on-Thames wants someone who can take over most of her domestic duties, with one very big exception.
Back in 2004, Channel 4 brought us a Cutting Edge documentary about Francis Fulford, the impressively foul-mouthed lord of the 3,000-acre Great Fulford estate in rural Devon.
In among the swearing, viewers were given some insight into the problems of maintaining the land and ancient manor house that had been in his family for more than 800 years.
Now, BBC Three is returning to Britain’s most chaotic family of aristocrats to see how the new generation of Fulfords – Arthur, Matilda, Humphrey and Edmund - are dealing with the same pressures.
It’s clear that maintenance is still a problem as Edmund falls foul of the hole in the wall, but eldest son and heir Arthur has come up with a plan to raise cash to keep the house in one piece (and, no, it’s not inviting a camera crew to move in for a new reality show.)
But will his siblings be convinced that giving tours of the house, is a better potential money-spinner than just holding a car boot sale?
Daniel Craig stars as an unnamed drug dealer, but unlike those around him, he doesn’t crave power or notoriety.
Instead, his ambition is to earn as much money as possible with the least amount of hassle. The film opens with the nameless businessman explaining how his complicated deals take place and how he’s planning an early retirement.
However, as we enter his murky world, we learn the peaceful existence he loves is about to be shattered when his boss Jimmy hands him an assignment to track down the daughter of crime kingpin Eddie Temple.
This is good – even if just to catch some of Craig’s earlier work if all you’re familiar with is his Bond performances and the films he’s made since taking up the 007 mantle.
Daniel Craig, Michael Gambon, Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, Sienna Miller.
As an aspiring (and fairly unsuccessful) painter himself, Adolf Hitler had strong views on what he liked when it came to art. But unlike most critics, he actually set out to destroy the works he despised.
BBC One’s flagship cultural strand returns with a two-part special looking at the Third Reich’s campaign against modern art, which the Fuhrer believed to be degenerate, either because it decadent, attacked German ’ideals’ or simply demonstrated what he thought was a lack of artistic skill.
The Nazis displayed hundreds of these works in a 1937 exhibition – which attracted over a million visitors in the first six weeks, suggesting not everyone was as appalled by them as Hitler – and it was assumed that many were subsequently destroyed.
However, in 2012 a treasure trove of paintings was unearthed in the flat of the reclusive Cornelius Gurlitt, son of art dealer to the Nazis Hildebrand Gurlitt, providing a new insight into the secret world of the collectors who set out to save these modern masterpieces.
Hortense, a well-educated black woman, decides to trace the mother who gave her up for adoption – and discovers she’s white, working-class Cynthia.
Initially, Cynthia denies that she could have given birth to a mixed-race child. However, she eventually admits they could be mum and daughter, and a bond grows between them – but there are fireworks when Cynthia introduces Hortense to the rest of her troubled family, who have been keeping a few more secrets of their own.
It’s arguably director Mike Leigh’s best film, neatly sidestepping the heavy-handed hectoring and caricatures than can crop up in some of his other work.
Although it’s not a light-hearted offering by any stretch of the imagination, it offers a moving, honest portrait of a troubled family.
The acting is top notch – stars Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste were both deservedly nominated for Oscars, and Timothy Spall (star of Leigh’s latest film Mr Turner) is also excellent as Cynthia’s kindly, more affluent brother.
Brenda Blethyn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Timothy Spall, Phyllis Logan