HOW to get a picture of Elvis in his coffin. Not a task that has troubled many journalists. But then not many of us have had the singular experience of working for the National Enquirer, the subject of Scandalous! The Tabloid that Changed America (BBC4, Wednesday).

Part of the Storyville strand, Mark Landsman’s typically classy and comprehensive film largely confined itself to America and one title, but its lessons went wider. This was a cautionary tale of what happens when kids, in this case journalists with too much money behind them, were let loose in the sweet shop.

The kids were just silly at first, with their stories about UFOs and dogs and psychics and medical curiosities. As many former reporters said, times were great: money no object, travel all over the world. Sometimes, you even got to show the posh lot in the mainstream media how it was done. Who was the first on to OJ and who found a key piece of evidence after a three-month search? Not the New York Times, but the Enquirer.

Then a new proprietor came along, quality took a dive and dreadful mistakes were made. The newspaper that had thought itself fearless went into bat for the rich and powerful, ultimately becoming the plaything of Donald Trump. In the end, the mainstream media turned on it, exposing the rot within. They “out-Enquired the Enquirer” as one former hack put it.

By then, according to some interviewees, the entire media had been tarnished by the Enquirer’s actions. It seemed a pretty heavy charge to lay at the feet of one paper, but you knew what was meant. The pendulum swung too far towards entertainment and frippery and away from genuine news, and after a time some people could no longer tell what was what. “We can no longer agree on the facts,” said elder statesman of journalism Carl Bernstein and one of the film’s talking heads. “That’s a terrible place to be.”

With new dramas about as rare as repentant tabloid hacks, The Luminaries (BBC1, Sunday, above) ought to have been a precious find. Set in the gold rush days of New Zealand in the 1860s, it had other charms to recommend it, including a pair of star-crossed lovers, former Bond “girl” Eva Green playing a scheming fortune teller, and a mysterious death at its heart.

Should have been right rollicking fun in a Penny Dreadful kind of way, but it was terribly ponderous. For something titled The Luminaries it was a struggle to make out what was going on. Everything was gloomy and lashed with mud. Not a place one wanted to linger.

The School that Tried to End Racism, Channel 4, Thursday) set out to pick apart unconscious bias. To put it another way, everyone knows, or should know, that racism is wrong, but could it be that we are racist without knowing it?

The documentary cameras entered a school in south London that was the first in the UK to try out a programme pioneered in the US. At first the games and discussions were a laugh. “This is the most fun racist game I’ve ever played,” said one 11-year-old.

But then some tough moments came along, not least for the white pupils whose privilege was made only too apparent. Yet it was all done in a caring, careful way, and it was fascinating to see attitudes changing so dramatically. Early days, and three episodes to go, but things look promising.

More cause for celebration with the return of Talking Heads (BBC1, Tuesday). Alan Bennett’s brilliant monologues have been remade with a new cast to cheer us up in these virus times. Between Imelda Staunton’s poisonous letter writer in A Lady of Letters, and Sarah Lancashire as a mother with a shocking secret in An Ordinary Woman, pain and loneliness ran through these first dramas. It ought to have meant tears before bedtime, but Bennett gave us laugh out loud writing besides. That, plus superb performances, make Talking Heads a must see once more.

Anyway, if you wanted unadulterated niceness and cheer there was always The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC1, Wednesday). Why, these contestants even helped out each other out if there was trouble with kilt pleating, or getting feathers to sit just so on a carnival costume, just two of the challenges that separated the winners from the losers in the final. The winner turned out to be 1940s enthusiast Clare, who as well as being a wonderful dressmaker was a hospital doctor besides.

PS Forgot to tell you how the Enquirer got the Elvis photo. At first they had a fake priest with a miniature camera join the queue of mourners. That didn’t work, so they asked one of Elvis’s cousins, who cheerily obliged. The first two attempts were disastrous but third time was a charm. The edition sold seven million copies.

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