THERE are some television writers whose names act like recommendations. Who would not look forward to anything new from Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax) or Peter Bowker (The A Word, World on Fire)?

For many, Jimmy McGovern has more than earned his place on that list. Having started on the Channel 4 soap Brookside in the 1990s, McGovern went on to write dramas including Broken, Accused, The Street, Cracker, and The Lakes.

Just as there might be said to be a McGovern style – humane but uncompromising, rooted in the working class experience – so one thinks of certain actors who slot right into his world.

Time (BBC, Sunday, 9pm; all episodes on iPlayer after) has a cracking cast led by Sean Bean and Stephen Graham. Bean plays Mark, who is going to jail for the first time, with Graham as Eric, one of the prison officers.

From the opening scenes of the prison van going from court to jail the atmosphere crackles with tension. Like Mark, we do not know quite what to expect. Everything is new, bewildering, and menacing. Mark has to work out the rules of this new world, what is possible and what is not – and do it fast.

In one scene, Mark’s parents (Sue Johnston and David Calder) arrive for their first visit. The atmosphere in the visiting room where the prisoners are waiting is upbeat, hopeful. As soon as the visiting period is over the mood plummets. It is as if a light has been switched on and off.

When mum asks how Mark is getting on, he replies: “It’s noisy, it’s boring, the food’s a bit rubbish but apart from that it’s all right. I wish there was more to complain about, I really do.”

He makes it sound like a hotel that would earn a bad review on Trip Advisor. The reality, of course, is something else. Besides being a riveting drama, Time raises the question of what prison is for, or should be for. As Mark’s mother puts it: “You’re in here as punishment son, not for it.”

The year gone hardly wanted for arresting images. Among the more memorable was slave trader Edward Colston’s statue being toppled from its plinth in Bristol and tipped into the water. Statue Wars: One Summer in Bristol (BBC2, Thursday, 9pm) charts what happened next as the debate about the rights and wrongs of the protest gathered pace.

Francis Welch’s riveting, fast-paced film is as much a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the city’s mayor, Marvin Rees, as it is about statues.

Described as “the first directly elected black mayor of a city in Europe”, Rees is a fascinating character, one of the new brand of mayors making their mark in English cities. Growing up a mixed race child from a poor background, he has experienced life in Bristol at the bottom and the top, enough to appreciate that the politics of any issue are rarely as simple as some might want to make out.

As he says of the Colston toppling: “There is something horrific about having a slave trader’s statue in the middle of your city, and yet there are people who feel they are losing a piece of themselves with the statue being hauled down. All those things are true at the same time.”

It proves a long hot summer as sides are taken and the mayor tries to steer his city through demonstrations and counter protests, not to mention Covid.

We get a glimpse of the pressure he is under as an assistant sorts his mail into three piles, one for positive comments, one for negative, and the stuff that needs to be reported to the police. The abuse is shocking.

He is also criticised by those who feel he should be more radical. As another aide puts it while describing a protest outside the council offices, “You’ve got 50 white people calling on a black mayor to apologise for slavery.”

A year after his city made global headlines, Mr Rees announced that the statue would be going on display at the M Shed museum in Bristol. There is to be a public consultation on what happens next. As can be seen in many other cities, including Glasgow, the debate about statues and the legacy of the slave trade is not going away.

The Hotel Inspector (Channel 5, Thursday, 9pm) is back, and boy does Alex Polizzi have her work cut out at the Coach and Horses in South Perrot, Dorset. Yvonne and James, with no experience of running a hotel, are fast running this pub with rooms into the ground.

“There’s no point in me saying anything about this room other than I hate every bit of furniture in it,” says Polizzi early doors.

Matters go downhill from there in an episode featuring a fair bit of tough love on Polizzi’s part. With her “darling” this and “darling” that, the Hotel Inspector can be pretty annoying herself at times, but she knows the trade and gives solid advice.