They are not past their sell-by date yet, but as the student flatmates of Fresh Meat start their second year (and third series), they are no longer quite so tender. Happily, however, they are still very funny, all the more so for their endearing attempts to seem jaded. “I thought I knew everything, but really I knew nothing,” muses Oregon, thinking back to her first- year self. “Now, I know everything!”
She doesn’t, although she has spent the summer in South America with Vod, who has acquired a boyfriend who speaks no English and whose every utterance has to be translated through Oregon’s gritted teeth. “He says, ‘I love you’…I’d have thought you’d know that one by now, I did that one a LOT.”
Meanwhile, JP (Jack Whitelaw, looking about 35) is still painfully convinced that he’s some kind of ladies’ man, while hopeless Kingsley somehow accidentally is. A misguided party, several inappropriate hook-ups and – of course – no mention whatsoever of anything to do with classes or studying: the university life still proves fertile ground for cringeworthy humour. And a dopey running gag involving Josie, who has transferred to another uni, ends up being far more comical than it should be.
But Fresh Meat’s real strength is in its characters, who are each trying to be something they’re not (apart, perhaps, from Howard, who has accepted his loserdom and will probably end up more successful than them all). Yet they’re all completely recognisable as basically sincere young people just trying to work out who they are.
And speaking of fresh meat… here are the young farmers! Marking its 75th anniversary this year, the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs may have seen its membership shrink from 10,000 to around 3,000, but for those sticking to the land it’s still a vital social outlet, as this comprehensive documentary shows. Like a students’ union, much of its activities seem to involve drinking, but at least the lads and lassies of the SAYFC get stuck into silly competitions first, from pillow fights and tug of war to best-decorated toilet.
Some of the contests are taken deadly seriously, as we see young John Howie swotting up for his bid for the Stockman of the Year trophy. This competitive sport was new to me and turns out to involve contestants looking briefly at a few cows then being able to describe them, accurately and succinctly, to a stern panel who judge whether the stock has been appropriately valued. It actually becomes quite gripping: I think we’ve found the next reality-show format. Some junior producer somewhere is no doubt trying to sign up talent for Celebrity Stockperson as we speak (will Alex James from Blur be able to spot that heifer’s weak hind leg? Can Sue Perkins identify the prime bull of the herd?).
They (and I) should probably leave it to John and his peers, though: these capable young farmers know what they’re doing and if they want to go and act daft afterwards, they’ve earned it.
FRESH MEAT Monday, Channel 4, 10pm
tractors & trophies
Thursday, BBC2, 9pm
CBeebies, tomorrow, 5:25pm
The popular children’s books by Mairi Hedderwick, about a wee girl who lives on a Scottish island, have been adapted for TV with young Glaswegian Cherry Campbell in the lead role. Filmed in the Hebrides, tourism bodies are hoping the nation’s tots go wild for her adventures with her two feisty grannies.
Live from the National Theatre: 50 Years On Stage
Today, BBC2, 9pm
A dramatic treat, as some of the greatest actors in the country perform to celebrate the institution’s anniversary. Broadcast live from London, it will include recreations of its most notable performances as well as archive footage.
The Indian Doctor
Monday-Friday, BBC1, 2:15pm
The cosy 1960s-set series about a doctor who comes from India to practise in the Welsh valleys returns. Sanjeev Bhaskar’s Dr Sharma is settled in now, but change is coming to the mining community.
Today, Channel 4, 9pm
Based on Rosemary Sutcliffe’s classic novel, The Eagle Of The Ninth, this historic adventure story emphasises the realistic elements of life in Roman Britain – and Caledonia, where a Roman soldier goes beyond the wall in search of the infamous lost legion. Channing Tatum stars with Jamie Bell as the slave who becomes his friend.