10pm, Sky One

If you heard that Joe Gilgun, one of the ace faces of the This Is England cast, had co-created a new series with Danny Brocklehurst, one of the most important writers from the Shameless stable, you might assume that the resulting programme would come on like a mix of This Is England and Shameless. And you’d be right.

Mostly, with Brassic, which Brocklehurst has shaped from Gilgun’s original concept and story ideas, this is a good thing. The series, about a group of thieving lads in Lancashire trying to get by without trying too hard or joining the grind of the rat race and actually getting jobs, doesn’t have This Is England’s depth or edge, but it does have some of its affectionate, daft-gang mentality, and whole a lot of Shameless’s loud, lewd, roar. Importantly, though, it also has a little of the tenderness that Shameless could sneak in.

At first, however, as it bounces wildly about screaming and shouting while trying to prove some notion of working class credentials, Brassic just seems to be trying too hard. But it gradually becomes clear this is to an extent intentional. The show takes its pace from its lead character, Vinnie (Gilgun) who – like the actor himself – has bipolar disorder, and it’s in this off kilter balance between the raucous scams and the quiet, reflective moments that it’s most effective.

The series begins at full pelt, with Vinnie and pals driving a stolen car through the country lanes pursued by police, while his racing mind rants out a Trainspotting-like monologue about how he prefers the life he has as “a bipolar thief who lives in the woods” to any middle class existence of “red wine” and “moisturiser.” Scraping by from day to day, Vinnie and his mates live from scrape to scrape and jape to jape: alongside sex dungeons, marijuana, and xenophobic farmers, the main escapade in the opener involves the theft of a Shetland pony, an incident whose consequences will play out over the series.

Meanwhile, as he goes along with these ropey schemes, Vinnie’s closest friend, Dylan (Damien Molony), is increasingly bothered by a vague sense he should be doing something else with his life. Mostly, this is down to his girlfriend, Erin (Michelle Keegan), a young single mother who is working very hard to get out of their dead end town, and make a better life for her and her kid – and rapidly losing patience with his slacking. Among their crew, Dylan is seen as the brains of the bunch, but he’s not entirely sure he could cut it in the wider world, and is torn between Erin’s better instincts, and simply staying put and sinking deeper into the layabout life he and Vinnie have known since they were kids. Complicating matters is the sense of responsibility he has toward Vinnie, whose condition can lead to spirals of trouble.

Brassic gathers a terrific cast, including Steve Evets, Ruth Sheen, Tim Key and – as Vinnie’s perpetually distracted GP – Dominic West. Above all, though, it’s the underlying personal vibe that makes it worth sticking with. Gilgun has drawn much of the material from his personal life, from people he knew growing up and dodgy stories he’s heard (or lived). But it’s the way he weaves his bipolar experience through this stuff that gives his show a particular character. It’s a comedy, and as it zings from high to low it can see the funny side in every situation, but it’s also tough enough to admit mental health is no laughing matter.


Sunday August 18

No Second Chance

11.10pm, Channel 4

The latest addition to Channel 4’s ever-expanding Walter Presents roster of foreign-language drama, this is a rip-snorting French revenge thriller, adapted from Harlen Coben’s 2003 crime novel. Alexandra Lamy stars as the (initially) mild-mannered Dr Alice Lambert, whose comfortable life is shattered when her home is brutally invaded by bad dudes. When she wakes in hospital, she discovers that her husband was killed in the assault – and that their baby daughter has been kidnapped. Receiving little help from the cops, who begin to suspect her of being involved, Alice embarks on a dangerous quest to track down the villains and recover her child, aided by her brooding old flame, Richard (Pascal Elbé.) It’s good pulp, fast and twisty. After this first episode goes out tonight, the entire six-part series will be available to stream on All4.

Monday 19

Rams: Principles Of Good Design

9pm, BBC Four

Not a programme devoted to the aesthetic qualities of the uncastrated male sheep. Rather, the subject is Dieter Rams, the 87-year-old German designer whose work and philosophy – summed up by his mantra “less, but better” – has had a profound influence on the field of product design. Born in 1932, Rams started out as an architect, but it was his three-decade stint as Braun’s chief designer, overseeing the creation of austerely simple, yet instantly understandable devices, that made him a guru for the likes of Apple’s design team. And yet, he says here, he now regrets his chosen career. Based around interviews with Rams, director Gary Hustwit’s film is suitably clear and to the point, but covers lots of ground, including the vital role of good design in creating a sustainable future. Brian Eno contributes a great, fittingly minimal original soundtrack.

Tuesday 20

Kathy Burke's All Woman

10pm, Channel 4

This is the only place in town tonight you’ll get to see Kathy Burke and Samantha Morton together, so don’t miss it. The pair meet to discuss motherhood, the subject under consideration in the second episode of Burke’s series about issues experienced by women today. Attitudes have changed – slightly – but many women still feel the societal pressure of being expected to have children, and the age-old ticking of the biological clock. Burke meets women who are handling it in different ways, from a 24-year old who wants to be sterilised, to a successful financial analyst in her mid-30s, who’s having her eggs frozen so she can delay having kids until later in her career. As for herself, Burke never chose to have kids; her old pal Morton has three, but realises not everyone has the parenting gene, and candidly discusses work and motherhood.

Wednesday 21

Bauhaus 100

9pm, BBC Four

The German art school known as the Bauhaus opened in 1919 and only operated for thirteen years before being forced to close as the Nazi regime stamped out any signs of free thought, “decadent” art and bolshevism. But despite its brief existence, its radical approach has inspired generations of artists and designers – what was once a specific school became a modernist philosophy. BBC Four marks the centenary with three films tonight. The centrepiece, Bauhaus 100 tells the story of the school, which sought to fuse all the arts under its roof, reuniting art, design and industry. Earlier, Anni Albers: A Life In Thread (7.30pm), profiles one of its most significant female students. Later, in Bauhaus Rules (10pm) Vic Reeves unleashes some original Bauhaus teaching techniques on an unsuspecting handful of recent art school graduates, including dance, costumes, and garlic mush.

Friday 23

Mortimer & Whitehouse Go Fishing

8pm, BBC Two

Far out along the mystical borderline between Devon and Cornwall, trouble is brewing. As he settles back by the side of the Upper Tamar Lake, Bob Mortimer notices Paul Whitehouse has a different kind of fishing chair from him. A bigger chair. A padded chair. A better chair. It’s the kind of thing that can ruin a friendship, but, never fear, once we get past the seating arrangements, tonight’s episode is as blissful as ever. The pair are on the trail of the elusive perch, and while they wait for the fish to show, there’s time to contemplate buckets, lack of confidence and bad breath. The next morning, they take to the rain swept high seas in search of the leviathan of the deep. All this, plus a double decker, a cream tea, tomatoes, and an aria from Tosca.


Viceroy’s House

9pm, BBC Four

A TV premiere for this period drama from BBC Films, originally released in cinemas in 2017 to mark the 70th anniversary of the partition of India. It’s history as Downton Abbey spin-off: set in 1947, Hugh Bonneville plays Lord Mountbatten, last Viceroy of India, newly arrived at his sumptuous Delhi residence to oversee the end of the Raj and the transfer to independence. The country’s political divisions gather under his roof in discussions between leaders who hope to see the nation remain intact – Nehru and Gandhi – and Muslim leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who wishes the separate state of Pakistan established after Britain’s withdrawal. As unrest spreads, the tensions play out among Mountbatten’s downstairs staff, in the romance between his Hindu valet, Jeet (Manish Dayal), and Muslim servant Aalia (Huma Qureshi). Gillian Anderson co-stars as Lady Mountbatten.