A Very British Airline - 9pm, BBC2
“You cannot put a dead passenger in the toilet. It’s not respectful and they’re not strapped in,” explains one of British Airways’ training staff to a class of would-be cabin crew. How you deal with passenger deaths is one among many subjects new recruits have to master and this new series sifts the drama in their struggles and other parts of the huge BA operation.
There’s John, one of the 5,500 engineers who keep the planes airworthy. There’s marketing boss Frank, who hopes new Airbus 380s will boost the brand. And there are the operations staff juggling planes and flights (“Chippy, we’re going to have to do a swap with the Beirut…”)
It’s an illuminating glimpse behind the scenes. My favourite sequence involved a pampered first-class passenger critiquing a new in-flight menu for our benefit: “The parfait itself delivers an acceptable flavour,” he deadpans. “The brioche is where this is disappointing.” And BA can’t afford to disappoint.
Secret Life of Cats - 9pm, ITV
A litter of furry kittens nuzzling their mum. A blind cat leaping up a tree. A ball-of-wool game. The aaahh factor is turned way up for this look at cats and their world.
Some of us tend to think of them as aloof creatures, but the programme is at pains to prove that cats are not as uncaring as we imagine, with stories of the cat called Basil who saved his owners from a gas leak and the cat who acts as helper and guide to a blind labrador.
The programme coughs up facts like furballs: cats smell 30 times better than we do but red and green appear grey to them; the majority of white cats are deaf; and it’s best to greet cats as they greet family members, with a slow blink. Try it some time.
Dinner at 11 - 10:50pm, C4
“I think David Cameron is going to be the death of this country,” declares an 11-year-old boy. “My role model would probably be Winston Churchill,” offers another. They and half a dozen others have been gathered for an unlikely dinner party: a three-course meal attended only by children of around 11.
It’s an interesting idea, and as you’ll gather from those quotes, these are by no means average children. To be sure of a flowing conversation the producers have selected a bunch of mature, thoughtful, self-possessed kids, each one of whom is humming with star quality. They’re at a great age, too: not yet in the throes of adolescence but starting to get to grips with the adult world, and not short of opinions.
They discuss divorce (“My parents’ marriage is superglue strong”), school bullies (“They blame it on their ADHD”) and politics, and for some we see a glimpse of their home life, too. They feel destined for great things: a Seven Up-style series that checked in on these guys as their lives develop would be amazing.
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