Frank Skinner on Muhammad Ali
Ever since Frank Skinner was a little boy and his dad used to wake him up in the middle of the night to creep downstairs and listen to a Cassius Clay fight on the radio, he’s loved the charismatic boxer.
It’s not simply that Muhammad Ali, as he became, brought artistry to the sport of heavyweight boxing that made Skinner such a fan. He was also inspired by Ali’s comedic storytelling (Ali was a born showman) and impressed by his civil rights activism. Skinner starts this affectionate portrait of his hero in Louisville, Kentucky, where Ali was born, and in a series of interviews that come and go with the lightning speed of Ali’s left hook he learns about the champion’s upbringing during segregation in the 50s, his conversion to Islam, his refusal to fight in Vietnam and his catastrophic final fight in 1981.
He never does find out whether Ali really did throw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River in protest against the way white Americans treated him.
Catching a Killer
Documentary about Thames Valley Police’s investigation into the disappearance of 31-year-old mother of three Natalie Hemming on May 1, 2016. The programme has extraordinary access to the officers as they try to work out whether Natalie is alive or dead, and to her family and friends, struggling with the situation unfolding around them, before an arrest is made and the case reaches its heartbreaking conclusion.
There was a point in the second part of this hysterical, chaotic thriller when I wondered whether it’s supposed to be some kind of black comedy. It’s certainly preposterous enough, what with its sinister odd-job man who hallucinates a dead girl and keeps women in cupboards, and an absolutely awful eponymous heroine who bewitches every gormless sap who crosses her path.
The dreadful Paula (played by the excellent Denise Gough) has brought all manner of wickedness down upon herself and her family after she fatefully invited weird James (Tom Hughes) to rid her cellar of rats. He did much more and now stalks her every step, with catastrophic results.
British Jews, German Passports
Brexit has caused a spike in the number of Brits coveting citizenship of EU countries. This thoughtful, poignant doc meets the descendants of Jews who fled the Nazis – and who are now reconciling with heir family’s past by looking into becoming German.
Just Go With It
9pm, Comedy Central
A tried-and-tested pick-up line engulfs a randy plastic surgeon in a tangled web of deceit in this hit-and-miss romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler. Pretending to be unhappily married, Sandler uses a wedding ring as a magnet to draw sympathetic women into no-strings attached sex, yet it repels a young schoolteacher (played by swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker) with whom Sandler is infatuated. A ludicrously contrived series of events (based on a French farce, itself the basis for 1968 Oscar winner Cactus Flower) leads his assistant Jennifer Aniston to pose as his soon-to-be ex-wife on a Hawaiian holiday designed to ease Decker’s mind. Of course Aniston seems better suited to Sandler, perhaps because, as a mother, she’s accustomed to childishness – actually Sandler generates most chemistry with Aniston’s kids (Bailee Madison, Griffin Gluck). Broad comic turns by Nicole Kidman and Nick Swardson only exacerbate the feeling that everyone is just trying too hard for their own good here.