“We have done something very special this year!” announces John Torode as 2017’s first batch of contestants nervously await a grilling. “We’ve built you a market!”
The “market” turns out to be a room next door, full of ingredients – a pantry, in other words, the domestic feel of which lulls the amateur cooks into playing safe. Several fall back on homely staples using the Italian carbohydrate that Torode calls “purse tar”. But there are some innovations for him and Gregg Wallace to chew on: one chef christens his chicken poached in too much wine “Rioja coq”, while the second challenge sees three guest judges faced with the ground-breaking textural mangle that is custard ravioli.
Those guest tasters are last year’s finalists and, if champion Jane Devonshire won our hearts through humility and pluck, now she’s required to be a hard but fair critic. She’s brilliant at that, too. Jack Seale
Now and then a documentary jemmies open a door into a hidden world you had no idea existed. So it is with this superb film that takes us on a visceral journey into the shady sub-culture of bare-knuckle boxing bouts.
Our guide is promoter Shaun Smith, a former drug dealers’ enforcer from Liverpool who resembles Paul Hollywood’s beefy brother. “I don’t want [the sport] in the shadows, I want it in the limelight,” he tells us, and it’s a measure of the film’s subtle touch that we find ourselves rooting for Shaun as his bouts start to take off.
But boy, are they brutal. Teeth are smashed and blood spilt as massive men hurl fists at each other until one gives up. Film-maker Ed Perkins does a fine job of profiling the fighters, with dozens of well-observed scenes that show their motivation, guilt and pain.
The saddest sees champion man-mountain James “Gypsy Boy” McCrory berate his mother for not looking after his trophies: “Only thing I’ve ever been good at,” he sighs. David Butcher
Every episode of this new thriller is a multilingual event. It’s a rolling feast of French, English, Swedish and tribal Sami, but without ever feeling as awkward as that sounds. And just as the mining town of Kiruna has suffered geological ructions, there are cracks appearing in the central pairing. Now hunting a serial killer, the prickly, sleep-deprived French cop Kahina is losing patience with defensive half-Sami prosecutor Anders. It’s a fascinating relationship in an unending nightmare or, given the title, daymare. And a breakthrough by Anders leads to a tense, thrillingly filmed climax. Mark Braxton
Clique is a new six-part drama set at a university. Holly (Synnove Karlsen) and Georgia (The Fall actress Aisling Franciosi) have just started the so-called best years of their lives at Edinburgh University but are soon drawn into an elite clique of alpha girls led by lecturer Jude McDermid (Louise Brealey as a much scarier character than Molly Hooper in Sherlock…). It’s a glossy, genuinely intriguing drama which hooks you in with its beautiful, strange, secretive characters.
Based on JG Ballard’s 1975 novel, this dystopian satire takes place in a swanky, towering apartment block. There, we find Dr Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston), a well-spoken bachelor who, at the start of the film, has just moved in. While he is satisfied with life in the high-rise, many of his neighbours are unhappy, protesting that they aren’t receiving the same standard of living as those on the upper floors and their frustration leads to a violent, building-wide conflict. Before long the complex devolves into a chaotic, murderous wasteland; unfortunately it all feels too sudden and from this point onwards the story becomes increasingly messy and disjointed. It’s hard to care about any of the characters as director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) keeps us at a distance, but on the plus side the film looks fantastic and is blessed with a terrific cast that includes Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller. Still, it’s Hiddleston who shines as the charming, self-contained Laing.
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