Trust Me

9pm, BBC One

It was presumably made long before anyone involved, apart from her, knew Jodie Whittaker was going to be the next Doctor Who. But Trust Me, the four-part drama that marks her first appearance since it was announced she’s being handed the Tardis key, has the scent of an in-joke.

For one thing, the series casts her as a woman who pretends to be a doctor, chiming with the bitter gag that will be repeated ad nauseam in monotone by a certain (traditionally male) strain of sci-fi geek: “Yeah, well that’s fitting, see, because, mhuh-mhuh-mhuh, she IS a woman who’s pretending to be a Doctor.” And for another, it casts her as someone who, all the time, feels as though the eyes of the entire world are on her, all watching and waiting for her to mess up.

(So far as Doctor Who goes, I have every faith in Whittaker, who has been consistently good and consistently different in everything I’ve seen her in. After the rut Doctor Who has driven itself into, a female lead could be the shot in the arm it needs; my worries are, eternally, more to do Doctor Who’s writing. And music.)

Written by Dan Sefton, himself a doctor, Trust Me continues the strand of daft-but-watchable midweek thrillers BBC One has been specialising in recently, exemplified by The Replacement, aka, “the mad one with the architects.” It’s not as utterly stupid as that, but it hopes you will agree to park a lot of disbelief and just go along with it.

Whittaker plays Cath Hardacre, a hospital nurse in Sheffield, who is forced out of her job when she attempts to blow the whistle on neglect and bad practice. Embittered, and panicking over how to feed her young daughter, she steals the identity of a doctor friend, Alison, who is handily emigrating to New Zealand. Stealing her old CV and qualifications, Cath passes herself off as Alison and lands a job as a doctor in the busy A&E of a hospital in distant Edinburgh. Amid the rush and pressure, she begins getting away with it by the skin of her teeth, relying on the skills she learned as a nurse, common sense, and a lot of boning up in textbooks and video tutorials. Meanwhile, she reluctantly falls into a relationship with an A&E doctor, all the time knowing the lie she’s living could collapse any minute.

It’s another outing for a dependable old thriller paradox: we’re watching to see when she will be caught, while hoping she won’t, while knowing she should be. Around this, Sefton’s script makes a decent fist of mixing ER-style medical drama with a few pointed comments about the NHS. But he skimps on a few too many details about just how Cath manages to assume her new identity so easily, and there’s a lot of coincidence and convenient behaviour: for one thing, her new boyfriend takes an awfully long time before he thinks to look her up online.

Really, though, the rising stress of Cath’s situation is the whole story – it gets genuinely tense in scenes where she is expected to deal with medical situations beyond her knowledge – and it’s here Whittaker excels. She has lots of moments without dialogue, and she’s excellent at listening, thinking, feeling and reacting, communicating through look and gesture without pantomime. She has that starry quality of being always watchable, and yet she still always seems like a real human being, someone you might bump into on the street, or down in the tube tunnels while hunting Yetis. I trust her.


Secrets Of Silicon Valley

8pm, BBC Two

There’s more mind numbing nonsense about Princess Diana on what used to be Channel 4 tonight, but this troubling two-part documentary by tech writer Jamie Bartlett is a more valuable use of an hour. Visiting Silicon Valley, Bartlett considers how the utopian manifestos with which corporate giants like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Uber and Airbnb sell themselves square with reality, and whether the future they’re building will really be the shiny happy new world they promise. Scrape away the idealistic neo-hippy advertising, Bartlett suggests, and a familiar, particularly brutal, survival-of-the-fittest-capitalism is in operation. Exploring how automation is poised to destroy millions of jobs, from truck drivers to doctors, his essential question is what will be the human cost. Uber talks about their app reducing pollution, but, in Hyderabad, India, he hears from broken drivers who claim the company isn’t always so caring. Elsewhere, a former Facebook executive is building a heavily armed survivalist hideout in the woods, preparing for a coming fracture of society, and a violent anti-tech uprising by the dispossessed.



10pm, Channel 4

There is absolutely no reason why you should remember, but you might remember that, last year, what used to be Channel 4 contemptuously vomited up another reality series, Eden, in which 23 people who wanted to be on television volunteered to be on television together in “a remote Highland forest,” pretending to be cut off from all traces of modern life, unless you counted the shops and houses within easy walking distance. The idea was that they must survive for a year; hilariously, though, in a rare display of shame, Channel 4 stopped broadcasting it after four episodes – only they didn’t tell any of the contestants. Every night this week, we can see what happened to them next, as five brutally edited highlight shows go out. However, I humbly suggest we should stick to the original spirit of the thing and all continue not to watch or care. To this end, I draw to your attention that the fine movie American History X is on ITV4 at the same time tonight. And, tomorrow night, they’ve got Rambo.


In Search Of Arcadia/

Citizen Jane: Battle For The City

9pm/ 10pm, BBC Four

Balm for the brain in this documentary double bill, continuing BBC Four’s Utopia season. In tonight’s soothing first film, art historian Dr Janina Ramirez climbs into a boat with angler John Bailey to explore the 12-mile stretch of the Thames that, in the 17th and 18th centuries, played home to the writers, poets, artists and landscape designers of the Arcadian group. Leaders of a quiet, radical, revolution, they espoused a philosophy of harmony with the landscape and Ramirez examines their ideas through their connections with the river, expressed in creations including Nicholas Poussin’s painting Et In Arcadia Ego; Izaak Walton’s fishing book Compleat Angler; Alexander Pope’s Grotto and Camera Obscura; and, finally, the view from Richmond Hill. It’s followed by an excellent, noisier, documentary on New York City activist and writer Jane Jacobs, and her 1960s grassroots battle against urban planner Robert Moses, who wanted to clean away the historic “messy” neighbourhoods she loved, to replace them with sterile tower blocks. A good night for urban planning nerds.


Andrew Marr’s Making Of Modern Britain

9pm, BBC Four

Unless you count the great double bill that’s on offer from what used to be Channel 4 – some more mind numbing nonsense about Princess Diana, followed by the latest episode of the Eden series that none of us are watching because the excellent 1967 movie version of Quatermass And The Pit is on the Horror Channel tonight at 9pm – there’s nothing new that’s really worth watching tonight. So why not tune in for a repeat for Marr’s six-part documentary, originally show all the way back in 2009. Exploring how the UK changed between the death of Queen Victoria and the end of The Second World War, Marr begins by heading back to the dawn of the 20th century, with the country mourning the Old Queen, bogged down in the Boer War and trying to forget its troubles dahn the music ’all, cor blimey. Meanwhile, the women’s suffrage movement was gearing up, and a motoring revolution was ignited the day Mr Royce met Mr Rolls.




This eight-part comedy-drama focuses on Sam (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old who’s on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, has a fixation on penguins, and badly wants to start dating girls and having sex. This fundamental quest takes up a lot of the plot and, clearly, this show has the potential to be a disaster. There is a distinct unevenness of tone, veering from sickly sweet sentiment – as Sam’s uptight protective mother (Jennifer Jason-Leigh) and hapless, distant dad (Michael Rappaport) struggle to guide him – to the predictable, coarse, humour of any teen let’s-get-laid comedy. All the same, writer-director Robia Rashid does a decent job avoiding some of the most obvious pitfalls, and, although the sitcom stuff feels tired, the depiction of autism and some of the effects it can have on family life is considered, particularly in scenes between Sam and his sister (a marvellous performance by Brigette Lundy-Paine). But there’s little of the real warmth, detail or surprise of the BBC’s The A Word (returning this autumn), with which it shares several similarities.


Performance Live Presents Flood: To The Sea

10pm, BBC Two

A collaboration between the BBC and the Leeds-based theatre company Slung Low, this play was commissioned as part of Hull’s tenure as the UK’s City Of Culture, and being is presented from a floating stage at the city’s Victoria Docks. One day it starts to rain and it doesn’t stop. Out in the North Sea, a fisherman drags up a girl in his net, miraculously alive from the depths of the sea. Is she one of the migrants now washing up on British shores? Or someone sent from somewhere else all together…? Written by award-winning playwright James Phillips, it’s a spin on the Biblical story of a world wiped away by the waves to make way for a new attempt. Set in the aftermath of an apocalyptic tsunami wave that has seen England engulfed by water, Phillips poses a simple question: what if the fleeing masses we see on our TV screens and Twitter feeds, in their flimsy boats and their orange lifejackets, had British accents?


Last week saw the launch of the new Celebrity Big Brother. Faced with this, it seemed a good moment to see if there was anything new kicking around anywhere that might even be worth watching. And so, late in the day, I called up the first episodes of The Last Tycoon (Amazon Prime), the latest doomed attempt at putting F Scott Fitzgerald onscreen.

Fitzgerald died before finishing his novel about a haunted wunderkind producer in 1930s Hollywood, which would be a good place for a cheap gag about how I’ll die before finishing watching this TV series, except the show, while not that great, isn’t that bad – though I still doubt I’ll ever make it to the end. The adaptation takes the book’s unfinished nature as inspiration, an excuse to open things out from Fitzgerald. Rifling Depression-era history and the skeletons in Hollywood’s cupboard, there are intriguing subplots, concerning the attempts by the Nazi government to influence the American film industry; unhappy lowly movie employees turning to the unions; a studio destroying a community built by homeless people nearby, to expand its film lot.

These elements, however, are only background dressing, as the script attempts to flesh out a central drama between Fitzgerald’s main characters: that rising producer, Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer), his phlegmatic, proprietorial studio boss Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer), and Brady’s 19-year-old daughter, Cecelia (Lily Collins), who has a crush on Stahr. Grammer is excellent in the kind of rumbling-then-volcanic bulldozing he does well, but Bomer and Collins fare less well. Like the show itself, they look the part, but there’s not much beneath the surface. There’s an obvious contrast with Mad Men, many of whose production team, including costume and set designers, were recruited to the craft the meticulously dazzling 1930s look. In Mad Men, the hard, eye-popping period detail formed the show’s skull – what made it a masterpiece was the way things unfolded within, like an exploding subconscious.

The series prompted me to dig out Elia Kazan’s 1976 movie version, with a script by Harold Pinter, and Robert De Niro as Stahr. Boasting a staggering cast that sets old Hollywood icons in collision with new wave heroes, the film is a little too conscious of being “a prestige piece.” But time has been kind to it. Just listing the actors is a trip itself: Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis, Jeanne Moreau, Jack Nicholson, Ray Milland, Dana Andrews, Anjelica Huston…And, if it never quite hangs together, it’s filled with great moments, and a certain obliqueness, a hazy drift.

The film has one of De Niro’s greatest scenes. Confronted with a genius alcoholic writer grudgingly working in Hollywood (played by Donald Pleasence), Stahr attempts to explain the wonder of movies, and starts acting out a scene he’s inventing as he goes, pulling magic from thin air. It’s the acting equivalent of a jazz solo. So, yes: Celebrity Big Brother – another good excuse for watching old movies.