There’s an element of slow TV to this. The scene where workmen at Honister slate mine in Cumbria are chiselling off perfectly flat tiles from great hunks of rock is a pleasure to watch – it could happily make an hour’s documentary on BBC4. Or half an hour, anyway.
And that’s about the only activity Tony Robinson doesn’t join in with, as he crosses England from west to east, helping to make gourmet scotch eggs and craft beer as he goes. Fortunately, the have-a-go presenting doesn’t feel too contrived and even if it did, the landscapes are so pole-axingly beautiful it wouldn’t matter. Afternoon sunshine on a broad Cumbrian valley is more or less unbeatable.
Starting at the intriguingly named St Bees, Robinson helps himself to a pebble, which he plans to deliver to the beach at Robin Hood’s Bay on the other side of the country, and sets off, following in the footsteps of coast-to-coast pioneer Alfred Wainwright.
The wry comedian does a line in sarky reportage from his native United States. Having previously taken on the Dirty South, California Stars and the Presidential Grudge Match, tonight he’s turning to country music – exploring its roots and history, and travelling to Nashville, Tennessee and Austin, Texas to compare the music scenes in the two cities.
As ever, his stance on country music – of which he is a fan – is acerbic, and sometimes scathing. Hall has firm tastes of his own, and even performs his self-written song Working Dog to demonstrate how styles differ within the genre.
“I’m now 44,” Frankie Boyle says wearily. “I’ve got a body like a dropped lasagne. Women look at my naked body in the same fearful way that pensioners look at snow.” It’s one pearl among many in the final – and possibly best – episode of the series.
Boyle is on quietly imperious form, getting a big cheer from the audience when he nominates Richard Branson for the room of doom, calling him “a sun-dried Bee Gee”. You couldn’t ask for much more from this kind of show than Boyle batting back and forth with Frank Skinner, but there are also Diane Morgan’s nominations to enjoy, notably “magicians”.
Apart from anything else it allows for a couple of those magic-gone-wrong clips from the internet that bear watching again and again. To be fair, third guest Olympic boxer Nicola Adams doesn’t need to do much more than, like us, enjoy the ride.
Fans of E4’s cult sixth-form sitcom The Inbetweeners are laser-targeted by this feature-length excursion. Written (and executive-produced) by series creators Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, and directed by Ben Palmer, who marshalled series two and three to TV, it simply picks up the show’s much-loved suburban teens – nerdy Will (Simon Bird), lovesick Simon (Joe Thomas), oblivious Neil (Blake Harrison) and mouthy Jay (James Buckley) – and plonks them onto the Greek party town of Malia, where their hormonal insecurities play out against sun, sea and strobe lights.
Although the gross-out is ramped up for the cinema and many of the situations were covered in Kevin & Perry Go Large (not to mentionCarry On Abroad), a heart does beat beneath the laddish antics, and after an apparently finite three TV series, they’ve earned their holiday.
Warning: this film contains a scene where James Franco attempts to lop off his arm with a climbing axe. But get past that and you’ll enjoy what this Danny Boyle flick is really about: the heart-warming true story of a mountaineer reassessing his life after he’s pinned down by a boulder.