*Article first written in May 2019

-Top Gear’s new (old) presenting trio
-George Clooney in Catch-22
-Inside The Bank of England
-Thick Of It boxsets on iPlayer

Top Gear still longs for Jeremy Clarkson. George Clooney’s going nuts in Catch-22. Is Malcolm Tucker out of control actually in control? And a bank wedged in the middle of it all. Here’s what’s been happening on TV the last few weeks.

The New Top Gear
-Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff try to reinvigorate Top Gear, again…

Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff are the next rabbits to be pulled out the BBC’s bottomless hat used to continually shock back to life the aging Top Gear brand. It’s the usual set-up – three blokes going around the world to partake in crazy car challenges.

At its height under the original ‘holy trinity’ of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May Top Gear was pulling in 7 million viewers an episode. These days, with the help of former presenter and Friend’s star Matt LeBlanc, and the new duo of McGuinness and Flintoff, Beeb controllers can expect viewing figures of 2.5 to 3 million.

It just feels with Top Gear that every time they tweek the format all they want to do is create what they originally had. Which is primarily the reason the show is stuck in stasis.

-George Clooney and Christopher Abbot make a crisp remake of Joseph Heller’s famous novel.

“They’re trying to kill me.”
“No one’s trying to kill you.”
“Then why are they shooting at me?”
“They’re shooting at everyone.”
“What difference does that make!?”

Almost 60 years on and still nothing captures the absurdity of war better than Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Its first TV adaption sees George Clooney both behind and in front of the camera directing and playing the crazy eyed Lieutenant (later Colonel and eventually General) Scheisskopf.

Christopher Abbot is lead protagonist and ‘artful dodger’ Yossarian, ducking, diving and quipping his way through World War II.

Channel 4 is halfway through the six episode series with Yossarian already having dodged missions, tried to get discharged from the army and had to listen to the warped theories of First Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder, who see’s war as a growth business.

Inside the Bank of England
-Watching bankers working.

You know it’s summer when the BBC releases its repertoire of mundane documentaries about pottery, root systems and cement making to counteract the fact everyone is outside enjoying the moderately warm, rather breezy and definitely wet British summer.

The latest documentary is even more frustrating in that it endorses bankers. With unprecedented access behind the scenes the first episode reveals step by step how the Bank of England influences inflation by setting the UK’s interest rate. Fascinating…

Thick Of It
-Is Malcolm Tucker actually in control?

Peter Capaldi is an actor of some range considering his two most famous roles to date are as kiddies favourite magician Doctor Who and the office worker’s worst nightmare Malcolm Tucker.

I always flick on a bit of Thick Of It when it comes around, particularly enjoying series 1 and 2 and the disastrous PR campaign waged for the most pathetic MP to ever grace Westminster politics – Hugh Abbot.

Observing Tucker’s glorious management style – screaming in the face of civil servants the phrase ‘you massive gay shite’, or pulling a minister from a meeting set in a glass office and giving him the proverbial in the corridor outside – I wonder if it’s all just part of his evil masterplan? To surround himself with incompetence so only he can control the show.

Philosophical musings from the TV world.


By Harry Jamshidian

Daydreaming scriptwriter and part-time reviewer living in Kingston.