FEBRUARY 24, 2023 is an anniversary no one will be celebrating. It was on this date a year ago that Russian forces invaded Ukraine, despite Vladimir Putin’s assurances.

A war that began in arrogance and deceit soon descended into atrocity as Russian forces targeted civilians, forcing millions to flee for their lives.

As Olly Lambert says in his documentary, Ukraine: The People’s Fight (BBC2, Wednesday, 9pm), the Russians thought the war would be over in weeks, never mind by Christmas. Now just short of a year on, the Russians have dug in for the Ukrainian winter, their losses heavy, morale plunging, and their President coming under pressure at home to stop sending Russian sons to the front. Yet still they bomb.

Lambert had a question: how was this young country managing to resist one of the world’s biggest fighting forces? The answer, or part of it, lies in the title of this outstanding documentary. When the call to arms came, Ukrainian civilians, from architects and teachers to carpet salesmen, answered.

Lambert saw the effects of this for himself when he spent a couple of months on the war’s southern front with a volunteer unit led by a commander named “Hummer”. It was up to Hummer, 15 years a soldier, to take these raw recruits into battle, some of them with only a week’s training behind them.

Battle for the most part consisted of the former civilians firing shells at Russian forces, using coordinates from drones controlled by other volunteers. As we see, it can be a haphazard business, with the unit only having minutes to hit the target before the Russians pinpoint the location and fire back.

HeraldScotland: Build Your Dream Home in the Country, Channel 5Build Your Dream Home in the Country, Channel 5 (Image: free)

Interviewees talk about the effect war has had on them. We see, too, some of the disadvantages of using volunteers, among them a reluctance to always follow orders. But what these former civilians have in dedication to the cause outweighs any disadvantages. Armed with the right weaponry they can be as deadly a force as any professional.

This is where Lambert’s film comes into its own. You can hear any amount of pleas from Ukraine’s president for more and bigger weapons from Nato, but it is seeing the situation on the ground that truly brings the point home. Essential viewing for anyone who wants to know how the war might proceed from here.

You can be forgiven a sense of deja vu while watching No Place Like Home (Channel 5, Wednesday, 9pm). Celebrities taken back to where they grew up, an unfolding of the past, hot and cold running experts to dig for the facts, and yes, a few tears before bedtime besides – how very Who Do You Think You Are. Or is it Back in Time For…, or maybe A House Through Time? Whatever, the formula is a proven winner.

Fern Britton is the first to venture down early memories lane when she heads back to Buckinghamshire. The broadcaster and author grew up in what looks like a series of lovely homes in chocolate box suburbia, but the reality was not that simple. Britton’s father Tony, a film star, left the family when his children were young. It was up to Fern’s mother to keep things going and it was not always easy.


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Various places are picked out for their relevance to Britton’s life, or because they illustrate a wider phenomenon. A stop at the cinema, for example, is the launch pad for a section on the British film industry. Other venues are visited just because there’s a good story attached.

Next week another broadcaster, Victoria Derbyshire, will be heading to Greater Manchester, and later in the six-part series soldier turned TV presenter JJ Chalmers is in Edinburgh.

What are your grand plans for the new year about to arrive? Some of us are aiming for nothing more arduous than getting out of pyjamas and into proper clothes again. Others, however, will have a little more in mind, as can be seen in Build Your Dream Home in the Country (Channel 5, Thursday, 8pm).

There has long been a gap in the property show market for a less highfalutin version of Grand Designs. The Channel 4 programme, fronted by Kevin McCloud, is still the best if you are looking for architect-led innovation, but it’s a bit Waitrose when what is needed is something more Asda. Build Your Dream Home in the Country, fronted by Mark Millar, 30 years plus in the building trade, hopes to fit the slot.

His first stop is Suffolk, where a couple want to rebuild an old timber house as an eco-home. Millar drops dispenses wisdom on everything from the soaring costs of materials to how to put an oak kitchen island together.

It’s nothing groundbreaking, pardon the pun, but Millar is the cheery sort every build needs.