Friday, 27 April 2012

Television Reviews: 27 April

Written by Michael Moran


Something old, something new

Michael Moran settles down with John Le Mesurier and other treats...

Michael-Moran1It's the centenary of John Le Mesurier's birth this month and our pals at the BBC have found him a small corner of the schedule that hasn't sunk under the weight of Titanic coverage.

But if you're anything like me you might be forgiven for overlooking It's All Been Rather Lovely this Friday (27 April, BBC Two at 9pm). In my television bestiary, somewhere below the talent show, and perhaps a rung or two above the reality show, lies the clip show. Almost anyone with a camcorder can persuade a thirddivision comic to rattle off a few bons mots about some old fi lm or TV show they've just been told that they always liked.

If it were merely a concatenation of terrifi c old clips I would hesitate to bring it to your attention. But this one's a delight. Le Mesurier is best known as the urbane but delightfully vague Sergeant Arthur Wilson from Dad's Army. His CV was remarkable, though. He appeared in over 100 films, even popping up as an urbane but delightfully vague Ancient Roman doctor in Ben-Hur.

We witness Michael Palin's uncannily accurate impersonation of the great man. We're also reminded of the fact that Le Mesurier was actually a very fi ne dramatic actor, when he could be bothered. And we hear about the time that the much-loved character actor was mistaken for Daphne du Maurier. Further, we're offered an insight into a love life that might, in any other hands, have been described as turbulent. Perhaps it was Le Mesurier's ineffable diffidence that led to him twice being cuckolded by close friends, but that old-fashioned, stiff-upper-lip attitude kept a lid on the torment for all concerned.

Newish channel Really has a brand-new series: fluffy US comedy-drama Hart Of Dixie (Monday at 8pm). Rachel Bilson stars as a smart young New York doctor who has, by some slightly fanciful plot mechanics, found herself in a GP's practice in rural Alabama. It's Sweet Home Alabama meets Doc Hollywood, delivered in the style of Sex And The City. The show has one of those first-person voiceovers that you think is there just to set the scene, but carries on more or less throughout. It is, of course, fl annel, but it's the likeable sort of fl annel one might fi nd quite comforting. Impressionist shows have two hurdles to negotiate. First, the mimics have to be at least good enough for audiences not to need to be told who's being impersonated. Second, the material has to sustain the show once the novelty of the impression has worn off.

Channel 4's Very Important People (Friday at 9.30pm) scores on both points. New faces Morgana Robinson and Terry Mynott brilliantly send up celebrities as diverse as Natalie Cassidy, Frankie Boyle and Bear Grylls. It is, I must advise you, quite unnecessarily sweary. As much as the voices were supposed to be my something borrowed, Very Important People is something blue.

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