THE best TV shows and documentaries to watch this week, including a new spy drama starring Ben Whishaw and a documentary on an award-winning film on Mexican drug cartels
For this three-part drama based on John Lanchester’s critically acclaimed novel about the haves and have-nots of London’s fevered property market, the BBC has assembled a superb cast led by Toby Jones and Lesley Sharp.
Jones plays investment banker Roger, who is waiting for a huge bonus to help fund his spendthrift wife Arabella (Rachael Stirling) and the renovations of their home on Pepys Road in South London.
An ensemble piece telling the interweaving stories of fellow residents, it includes Quentina the Zimbabwean refugee with a PhD working as a traffic warden (Wunmi Mosaku), local newsagent Ahmed (Adeel Akhtar) and OAP Petunia (Gemma Jones), who has lived her entire life on Pepys Road, and who is now contemplating death in the house in which she was born. Her daughter Mary is played by Lesley Sharp.
Underpinning the comings and goings is the fact the houses on Pepys Road, once within reach of the lower middle classes, are now worth a fortune, pitting newcomers against the old guard.
When anonymous postcards saying ‘We Want What You Have Got’ start dropping through letterboxes, the fun really begins.
Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm
DOCUMENTARY: Stoked Up In Stoke: Fighting Men
A few years ago, young men drifting and in search of a way out of their troubles might have turned to boxing. For Benny and Tim, above, it’s cage fighting and the chance to compete as amateurs in Night Of The Gladiators – in Stoke-on-Trent.
This film follows the fortunes of the young protagonists as they learn the skills of mixed martial arts, find a purpose and try to come to terms with some of the difficult issues that have been a part of their lives, including alcoholism, violence and drug use.
Thursday, BBC3, 9pm
INTERNATIONAL: Storyville: Cartel Land
The terrifying statistics of casualties in Mexico’s drugs war are hard to contemplate but this compelling film – a winner at Sundance this year – reveals the complex world of drug cartels around the Mexican/US border.
Instead of charting the law enforcement efforts or the drugs gangs, Matthew Heineman’s film follows some of the vigilante groups that have sprung up to protect communities sick of uninvestigated brutality in their neighbourhoods. Yet as the influence of the vigilantes’ increases, so too, do questions about their conduct and motives: are these new sheriffs any more reliable than those they have come to usurp?
Monday, BBC4, 10pm
CONSUMER: Tomorrow’s Food
Borrowing part of its title from the science programme of yesteryear, Dara O Briain leads a team – including chef Angela Hartnett and greengrocer Chris Bavin – reporting on developments in the technology surrounding food production, from a fruit and vegetable farm with no soil to the US Army’s efforts to make rations with no expiry date.
Monday, BBC1, 9pm
POP: The Jonathan Ross Show
After five years on pop’s treadmill, One Direction are about to take a break from selling out stadiums, but not before releasing one more album and telling Jonathan Ross all about it and their individual plans. Harry, Niall, Liam and Louis will also sing a couple of songs from Made in the A.M.
Today, STV, 10:40pm