WHAT do we need from television in days like these? Laughs. When do we want them? Now! I would suggest we take to the streets with this chant, but that would be contrary to social distancing advice so let’s park the idea and crack on.

Bob Hope turned out to be the source of much needed snorts this week. You are surprised by that, and I understand why given he was usually as funny as an infected verruca. The American comic turned up in Miss World 1970: Beauty Queens and Bedlam (BBC, Monday). Hannah Berryman’s firecracker of a documentary told the story of a night to remember at the Albert Hall, when feminists stormed the stage during the live broadcast of the beauty pageant.

The archive footage of the competition was watch through the fingers stuff, particularly the moment when the “girls” were asked to turn and show their backsides. To think this was considered mainstream family entertainment. We heard from contestants and protesters (feminist and anti-apartheid) and the host, Michael Aspel, who was still calling women “girls”.

The funniest moment came when we saw Hope working his way through a sneery, aggressive, sexist routine only for flour bombs to come raining down on him. He was the picture of outrage, mixed with more than a little fear.

Divorce drama The Split (BBC1, Tuesday) came to an end with lots of tears before bedtime, most of them coming from poor Nathan (Stephen Mangan) after he found out about his wife Hannah’s infidelity. He had cheated on her, she cheated back, and they decided to call the whole thing off. Abi Morgan’s drama was silly but moreish, its blend of home interiors porn and soapy storyline hard to resist. Like Nathan, then Hannah, one did feel guilty afterwards. Especially those of us who binge-watched it.

Penance (Channel 5, Tuesday-Thursday, above) did not so much flirt with absurdity as ask to marry it in the first five minutes. Julie Graham played Rosalie, a mum who had lost her son while he was backpacking in Thailand. Rosalie and her daughter sought help at a bereavement support group, where they met Jed (Nico Mirallegro). Before you could say, “Come on, would any of this really happen?” he was being welcomed into the bosom of the family as the daughter’s new boyfriend and giving mum some very fruity looks besides.

It was spectacularly far-fetched, the kind of drama that comes complete with priests (in this case Art Malik) warning of terrible events to come. Neil Morrissey, playing the dad, wandered in and out of the story, always looking vaguely surprised to find himself there. The saving grace, as so often, was Graham.

The week’s big television event was the arrival of Belgravia (STV, Sunday). Widely hailed as the new Downton because it is written by the same cove, Julian Fellowes, and crammed full of upstairs downstairs class warfare,and lovely big houses, it got off to a promising start with that old standby, the emergence of a surprise child who will change everything.

Tamsin Greig and Harriet Walter led a strong female-dominated cast, and there’s a promising rivalry between Greig’s character and her daughter-in-law (Alice Eve). Set in the nineteenth century, all the female characters are wearing the curtains while the men have mutton chops the size of lambs. Take my card my good man, I shall be calling again.

The Repair Shop (BBC1, Wednesday) is living the dream of daytime programmes everywhere. A word of mouth hit, the show in which punters bring beloved but bust heirlooms for experts to fix is part Antiques Roadshow with a faint shimmer of Pipkins, the children’s TV programme in which puppets were brought to life.

It was so successful in its daytime slot it has been moved to primetime on Wednesday, up against Location, Location, Location.

The secrets of its success are hiding in plain sight: a warm as toast host in Jay Blades, experts who know their stuff, and great stories behind the objects. In the first episode two sisters brought in the pump organ their mother had brought from Jamaica when she emigrated to the UK. Baggage was meant to be kept to a minimum so it obviously meant a lot to her. The expert cleaned it up and got it working again, and as one of the sisters started playing there was not a dry eye in the house.

Beat that, Phil and Kirstie.

New sitcom Kate and Koji (STV, Wednesday), being the story of the friendship between an asylum seeker and a grumpy old mare of a seaside cafe owner, could have gone horribly wrong in a Mind Your Language kind of way.

But it’s written by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins (Drop the Dead Donkey, Outnumbered), stars Brenda Blethyn as the tea dispensing horror Kate, and it’s a hoot.