TV pick of the week: Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas (TOM HOLLANDER) Picture: Contributed
Dylan Thomas (TOM HOLLANDER) Picture: Contributed
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Dylan Thomas: A Poet In New York

BBC2, Sunday, 9pm

The story begins as he arrives in the Big Apple, en route to Hollywood, where he plans to write an opera with Stravinsky.

The trip west is self-funded, and Thomas needs to raise the cash by taking part in a production of Under Milk Wood at Manhattan’s prestigious Poetry Centre, followed by a tour of talks and readings – a tour which he would never complete.

Listen out for Hollander’s voice. Thomas had a very particular way of speaking, and getting that right proved to be a challenge for the

Rev star.

He listened to countless recordings the poet made of his work, and also spoke to the actor Robert Hardy,

who knew him, to get an idea of

what Thomas sounded like when he wasn’t performing. “Preposterously posh,” was apparently how he was described.

Hollander says: “It’s a sympathetic portrayal of self-destruction and it allows you to get inside him. Tales of self-destruction themselves are often not fun to watch, but it’s here you see the two things at the same time –

you see the poetry and everything

that was greatest about him at the same time as you’re seeing him destroy himself.”


Happy Valley

BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm

It seems the secret to making a successful TV drama in 2014 is a Yorkshire setting. BBC1’s Last Tango In Halifax, Jamaica Inn and now this superb crime drama all take place in the rolling countryside and quaint little villages of Calderdale, proving that it’s anything but grim up north.

Then again, the fact that Happy Valley is written by Sally Wainwright and has Sarah Lancashire in the lead role as Catherine Cawood suggests this series was always going to do well. In tonight’s episode, the search for Ann Gallagher takes an unexpected turn when Kirsten pulls a van over for speeding – and hears muffled sounds coming from the back.

Meanwhile, Catherine’s struggling to shake the feeling that Tommy is near and returns to the deserted house.

From There To Here

BBC1, Thursday, 9pm

Philip Glenister stars in this drama about a man whose life changes forever after he is caught up in the 1996 IRA bomb blast that rocked Manchester.

Escaping serious injury, Daniel comes to the rescue of a single mother and helps her home, realising she lives in the working-class neighbourhood where he grew up, before he was adopted and went on to live a more charmed life.

Now he has it all – wife, kids, his own business – but he is feeling restless after his near-death experience.

Just as in real life, the events play out against the backdrop of Euro 96, when England was united with optimism about “football coming home”.

Manchester, a typical Northern

city which was in the midst of reinventing itself in the face of adversity and massive socio-economic change, was feeling it as much as anywhere, until events conspired to make that summer an unforgettable one for all the wrong reasons.

Glenister says:

“I’ve done so much work in Manchester it’s been an incredibly important and significant city in my career. I hadn’t returned for a few years, since I finished filming Life On Mars, so it’s lovely to be back.”

The Fast Show Special

BBC2, Friday, 10pm

One of the best loved comedy sketch shows of the 1990s is now 20 years old. To celebrate it, and BBC2’s 50th anniversary, the cast have reunited to reflect on the series that launched a dozen catchphrases, from “Scorchio!” and “Jumpers for Goalposts”, to “I was very, very drunk”, and “I’ll get my coat”.

And who could forget that rich gallery of comic characters, including Arthur “Where’s Me Washboard?” Atkinson; Rowley Birkin QC; Ted and Ralph; Competitive Dad; the 13th Duke of Wymbourne (“With my reputation?”), and countless other “Brilliant!” creations.

The series attracted no end of famous followers during its heyday. The much missed John Peel spent many a week singing its praises, while Johnny Depp was such a fan he guest-starred in a “Suits You” sketch.

Look out for Ted and Ralph investigating social media, a veteran crooner with memory problems appearing on Jazz Club (nice), and a Downton Abbey spoof.