Telling: Secret History of Our Streets.FREE TO AIR
The Secret History of Our Streets, SBS One, 7.30pm
Charles Booth was a social researcher (and, incidentally, cousin of the children’s book author Beatrix Potter) who in 1866 began a 17-year project to visit every street in London and devise a series of maps colour-coded to denote the social conditions in each street. This documentary focuses on six of the streets visited by Booth and charts the progression of each one during the past 125 years. Refreshingly, interviews with present and former residents of the street – rather than stuffy historians – give colourful context to the now and then.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, ABC1, 8.30pm
Making a welcome return to our screens tonight is the delightful Miss Fisher (Essie Davis), and this first episode back is a doozy. A prostitute is found dead in the locked room of Deputy Commissioner George Sanderson (Neil Melville), who is found unconscious with her in what appears to be an attempted murder-suicide. In search of the truth, Miss Fisher goes undercover as a working girl, a front that requires her to learn a ”fan dance” with the help of fetching instructor Carlos, and adopt a convincing Spanish accent. It’s all great fun and, as always, the sumptuous sets, costumes and music transport you straight back to the roaring ’20s. Stir yourself a dirty martini and it’s almost as if you were there.
Scott & Bailey: series return, ABC1, 9.30pm
Series three of Scott & Bailey starts with a bang when police are called to the home of an elderly couple who haven’t been seen for a while. The woman’s severed head is found at the bottom of the stairs, her body at the top and her bedridden husband malnourished, but alive. As well as investigating gruesome murders, our triumvirate of tough female leads – the titular detectives (Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp) and their chief inspector (Amelia Bullmore) also have issues to deal with on the home front concerning husbands old and new. While it’s refreshing to see a cast of women juggling professional and personal problems with aplomb, the males are barely given lines. Tonight’s disturbing crime is a story arc that will continue throughout this series.
Legends of the Deep: The Giant Squid, Animal Planet, 10.30pm
Yes, this amazing documentary really does contain the first footage of giant squid hunting and feeding in lightless depths hundreds of metres beneath the waves. It’s natural to be sceptical, given Animal Planet’s track record of pseudo-scientific garbage and its current enthusiasm for fake documentaries about mermaids, but the reassuring tones of narrator David Attenborough immediately put all doubt to rest. The documentary follows a Japanese-led scientific expedition to waters near the island of Chichi-jima, 1000kilometres south of Tokyo. When the scientists turn on a lure with flashing lights that mimic those of deep-sea jellyfish, a giant squid comes spearing out of the blackness, tentacles first, to grab at it. It’s an extraordinary sight but one that’s soon topped when the scientists use a smaller species of squid as bait. The giant that obligingly appears grasps the bait and hangs on, gnawing at it while shimmering silver and gold in the lights of the submarine. It’s breathtaking stuff that won’t soon be forgotten.
The Man Who Would Be King (1975), 7Two, 2pm
For more than half a century, the tales and poems of Nobel prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling defined the British Raj. The Man Who Would Be King is one of his most famous novellas about two former British soldiers who seek fame and wealth in a remote part of Afghanistan. Through bloodshed, cunning and good luck, they become kings of a pagan tribe of Kafirs, but even kings need to behave by the local rules and customs. The story is told by an unnamed narrator who, in director John Huston’s big-screen adaptation, is revealed to be Kipling himself. Played by Christopher Plummer with all the gravitas and charisma he can muster, his presence tends to dwarf the two kings, Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine). Sean Connery revels in his part as a madly British hero in a time when heroes didn’t have to do good, but Caine is unsure whether he is in a comedy or a drama. Though old-fashioned and sometimes a little B-grade, The Man Who Would Be King is a rousing entertainment in the Gunga Din style. It is also worth watching to remind us, as does William Dalrymple’s non-fiction novel Return of a King, how Western adventurism in Afghanistan does not always end well.
French Kiss (1995), M Drama/Romance (pay TV), 8.35pm
Kate (Meg Ryan) heads to Paris when her fiance (Timothy Hutton) announces over the phone that he has fallen for a French woman. On the plane, Kate sits next to Luc Teyssier (Kevin Kline), the black sheep of a winemaking family. Though not the hit it should have been on its release, Lawrence Kasdan’s French Kiss is an engaging romantic comedy with two radiant leads. Ryan is at her sparkling, irresistible best and Kevin Kline, once you get past his playing a Frenchman, is delightfully roguish and charming.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.