NEARLY failed to meet the deadline for this week’s TV review. There I was, minding my own business after spying on an ancient Druid ceremony in the hills near Inverness when, michty me, I fell through a hole in the space-time continuum. Life’s an astrophysical glitch sometimes, is it not?

If you believe that you will adore Outlander (More 4, Thursday, 9pm). Adapted from the novels by Diana Gabaldon, the time-travelling historical romance is only now making its debut on council telly after years on cable. It opens as the Second World War ends, with posh English sort Claire Randall (Catriona Balfe) and her husband journeying to Scotland on a second honeymoon. The first sign that they are a long way from home is the blood of a black cockerel daubed on the hotel door. Today that would probably merit a strong letter from VisitScotland, but back then it was merely a sign that the town was marking St Oran’s day. We knew all this because between gabby locals and Claire’s husband being an Oxford history professor, the first episode was hoaching with exposition.

The efforts to impose some reason on the tale of a 20th century nurse who finds herself in the 18th century Highlands was sweet but entirely unnecessary. The charm of Outlander is its wired to the moon daftness. It is surprisingly raunchy, too. “Why,” says Mr Randall to a frisky Mrs Randall while on a visit to some castle ruins, “I do believe you’ve left your undergarments at home.” If Scottish history was this steamy no wonder they didn’t teach us it at school. I’ll be back next week to see what else Claire might have forgotten to don. Let us pray it is not her vest.

Loading article content

Another dame made her debut in Gypsy (Netflix). Jean Holloway (Naomi Watts) is a therapist in New York. It is Jean’s lot in life to spend the day listening to folk whining about first world problems before going home to her big house in the ‘burbs. Jean has it all, but, well, you know, she’s bored, so she decides to become surreptitiously involved in her clients’ lives to see their problems from a different angle. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey), Gypsy is as hip and gorgeous as a new handbag from Barneys, and with all the psychobabble it sometimes feels just as empty, but Watts is terrific.

John Patrick Crichton Stuart, the third Marquess of Bute and the subject of The Richest Scot in the Empire (BBC2 Scotland, Thursday, 9pm) had no need of a New York analyst. With an annual income of £150,000 in the 19th century – £15 million today – the Marquess got his kicks splashing the cash on fabulous buildings such as Mount Stuart house on Bute. Les Wilson’s handsome film was packed with detail but at an hour long it was like taking a tour of a very large stately home: enjoyable enough, but after 20 minutes one was longing for the cafe to hove into view.

Still, there are worse things than being slightly bored. The Week the Landlords Moved In (BBC1, Wednesday, 9pm), made the blood boil. “Some people are saving up for their first house,” said Mark, one of the landlords of the title, “I’ve got 40”. Mark and his dad moved into Linda’s flat to see what it was like. Linda is 66, has arthritis, and works three jobs. For a two bed flat in Essex she pays £950 a month. Too scared to ask for repairs to be done for fear of losing her home, the place was cold and dilapidated. Mark was mortified to the point of tears, while his dad was narked that Linda had not reported any problems. All concerned did the right thing in the end, but the trouble with such programmes is the real rogues among landlords would never take part.

Catchphrase: Celebrity Special (Saturday, ITV, 6.25pm) is part of a long tradition of ITV game shows that are so flat out bonkers they require the IQ of Stephen Hawking to fathom. Yes, 3-2-1 and Dusty Bin, we mean you. Each round of Catchphrase features a series of pictures that spell out a well known saying. So, for example, the same character in lots of different wedding photos denotes “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” A skoosh, right?

Not if you were Lorraine Kelly, Ashley Banjo (Diversity) or Jake Caruso (Benidorm). One round featured a chap in a boilersuit pointing to ropes (“Showing someone the ropes”). Lorraine buzzed. “Is he a gas engineer?” Yes Lorraine, people up and down the country are forever saying to each other “Is he a gas engineer?” Mercifully, it didn’t take long until they were all cooking with gas and racking up pounds for charity. Host Stephen Mulhern’s mind clearly entered another dimension long ago, otherwise he would have been screaming the place down. Handy thing, time travelling.