It’s a year since Victoria Wood died, just months after a cancer diagnosis she shared only with those closest to her. The subsequent shock and public outpouring of sadness were keen and heartfelt.
This six-part series feels like a proper tribute to a truly great and irreplaceable comic talent, and gives an indication of the sheer breadth of her work. She did so much! The first episode is presented, fittingly, by possibly her closest collaborator, Julie Walters, who’s joined by some of Wood’s other co-stars and friends – Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston, Richard E Grant, Anne Reid and Maxine Peake.
There’s a riot of clips of Wood at her best, including the heartbreaking (and heartbreakingly funny) The Channel Swimmer, featuring Wood as the lonely, sad and neglected Chrissie. There are, of course, bits from the peerless Acorn Antiques, and behind-the-scenes photos from Victoria Wood’s personal archive.
Theatreland’s annual prize night is getting its first prime time showing on ITV as the likes of Glenda Jackson, Sheridan Smith, Ian McKellen and Tom Hollander battle it out for individual awards alongside the Larry O statuettes for the year’s best plays, musicals, operas and dance shows. Comic Jason Manford hosts from the Royal Albert Hall alongside performances from Gary Barlow, Amber Riley and not one but two Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals (you lucky things) to complement the actual gong-giving’s greasepaint and gush.
“She’s going to slaughter me,” whispers one team captain as he watches Cherish Finden carefully weighing individual eclairs to see if they are precisely the same size. “We’re screwed!” says another as her ruler comes out. He’s right. The critiques of this challenge – making 72 petits gâteaux – are exceptionally harsh. Actually Benoit Blin doesn’t have to say a word. His grimaces say it all.
So it’s no wonder the spirit levels, scalpels and strengthening dowels come out when the chefs are asked to make a five-tier wedding cake. Some are so spectacular they probably require a degree in architecture and nerves of steel to create them.
This animated fairy tale casts an intoxicating spell. Steeped in Irish myth, it tells an enchanting, folklore-inspired story about a young boy named Ben (voiced by David Rawle), who lives on a tiny island off the coast of Ireland. During the first couple of scenes, we discover that Ben resents his little sister, Saoirse (Lucy O’Connell), since her birth coincided with the sudden disappearance of their mother. After Saoirse falls ill, however, Ben tries to be a better brother, accompanying her on a fantastical, cross-country journey that involves a fearsome owl-witch and a trio of instrument-wielding fairies.
All of this plays out as a child-friendly adventure, but at the same time it also functions as a moving – and occasionally heartbreaking – exploration of grief and loss. Combining beautiful animation with a haunting score, it’s a gorgeous piece of work that deserves to be celebrated.
The first five intoxicating series of this fabulous drama about the advertising world in 1960s New York are available to binge on Netflix. Expect chain smoking, whiskey drinking, and astonishing sexism – oh, and the beautiful creation that is Jon Hamm.