NOW that we are all confined to barracks I predict an outbreak of travel envy. Here we are, stuck indoors, but out there in television land people are still venturing to spectacular locations, eating fabulous food and enjoying themselves. Swines.

Let us give thanks, then, for Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul (BBC2, Friday). The third in the series after Santiago and Rome, the programme brings together celebrities of all faiths and none. Staying in basic accommodation (complete with interestingly stained mattresses), carrying heavy backpacks and trekking through rough terrain, it was not the kind of trip that made a body think, “Wish I was there.”

Adrian Chiles is the sort of leader. Waiting outside the airport in Belgrade he did not know who his fellow pilgrims would be. “Ideally I’d have six nuns come out.” He got Edwina Currie instead, plus assorted others including Scots TV presenter Amar Latif, Pauline McLynn (Mrs Doyle from Father Ted), Fatima Whitbread, and Dom Joly.

With it being the start of the journey, everyone was on their best behaviour which made for dull viewing at times. Their observations about faith tended towards the banal, and I have a feeling at the end of this three part series we will all be fairly happy if we never see the inside of another church again.

But there were some profoundly moving moments, as when Currie toured a concentration camp, most of it carefully preserved, in Serbia. If I had been in charge, she said, I would have burned the place to the ground and built a garden.

Putin: A Russian Spy Story (Channel 4, Monday) was a gripping account of how a boy born in a Leningrad slum became the most powerful man in Russia, a tsar of all he surveys. The bones of the Russian president’s story are fairly well known, but this three-parter brings together stunning archive footage, talking heads who know what they are talking about, and the words of the man himself.

The central argument, that the key to understanding Putin is his background as a spy, was solid and convincing. As one of his opponents, Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has survived two poisonings, put it: “Vladimir Putin’s background is the Soviet KGB, one of the most repressive organisations in the history of humanity. He’s doing what he was taught to do. Manipulate, lie, recruit, repress.”

The Salisbury poisonings rose to the surface now and then, presumably flagging up more detailed examinations to come. Given Putin’s impact near and far, and the fact he has changed the constitution to allow him to stay in office as long as he wants, this series is essential viewing.

With perfect timing for these glum times the consummate sitcom Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4, Friday) returned.

The set up of Robert Popper’s comedy is simplicity itself. Every week, two Jewish sons return to their parents’ London home for Shabbat dinner. The evening is frequently interrupted by next door neighbour Jim and his dog. Otherwise, the boys (Simon Bird, Tom Rosenthal) bicker, mum (Tamsin Greig) fusses, and dad (Paul Ritter), prone to overheating, takes his shirt off. This time there was something new on the scene: an old caravan, bought by dad because, “I went in one when I was a boy”. Oh, and Jim has a new dog. Suburban comedy at its best.

New kid on the comedy block was animated comedy Duncanville (Channel 4, Friday).

The tale of a suburban teen is very Simpsons (unsurprising since it was created by two of its producers) with echoes of Futurama. While it doesn’t have the same gag rate as Homer and co, it boasts co-creator Amy “Parks and Recreation” Poehler and Ty “Modern Family” Burrell as Duncan’s parents. Two episodes in, I will give it another look, but with the market in animated comedy so crowded Duncanville has a fight on its hands to build an audience.

The Nest (BBC1, Sunday, above) continued the noble tradition in television drama of having a lovely big hoose at its centre. This one, by the side of a loch no less, belonged to Dan and Emily (Martin Compston and Sophie Rundle) a couple who had everything except what they longed for – a child. Into their lives came troubled teenager Kaya, who offered to be a surrogate for £50,000. It would be the daftest move imaginable for Dan and Emily to go ahead, so of course they do.

As a believable premise for a drama, it was a big ask, but there were some equally sized talents at work here, from writer Nicole Taylor (Wild Rose, Three Girls) to Compston as the self-made man who comes from the same mean streets as Kaya. There are hidden depths in Dan, in all of them, particularly that curiously silent brother-in-law.

Glasgow scrubs up well, coming across as a city where wealth and poverty make uneasy neighbours. These writers and their crazy notions, eh?