Allan Crow on the week’s TV highlights
(Friday, BBC4, 9.00p.m.)
A wee trip back in time to 1987 and the story behind Billy Joel’s historic tour of the USSR - the first Amerian to rock out in the Soviet Union.
It was the era of Glasnost, and the cameras follow Joel as he tries to piece together a tour into unchartered territory just to bring these crazy young Russians the chance to sing the chorus to ‘Uptown Girl’ and wave their lighters through his piano ballads.
And as if that wasn’t enough we get to see the maestro giving it his all with footage of the actual concerts.
A curiousity in the annals of rock history, and one which makes you wonder whatever happened to Billy J anyway.
To round off a musical Friday, BBC4 chucks in another piano man, Barry Manilow, ‘Live At The BBC’ which promises all the hits from the man who made it through the rain.
Never did get the charm of cheesy Mr Manilow ...
Benefits Britain: Life On The Dole
(Monday, Channel5, 9.00 p.m.)
After Channel4’s recent abysmal documentary series on folk living on benefits, I hesitate to dip my toe back into the same waters with C5’s new four-part series.
I fear the worst but hope against hope it will have compassion, understanding and perspective at its very core ...I just doubt it.
(Saturday, stv, 8.30p.n.)
Two years after the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, we get a two-hour documentary on the 2012 celebrations.
The family are wheeled out for inteviews, there are endless clips of Her Maj looking interested at things and waving at people, and lots of shots or cheering crowds who seem to love being waved at.
Now where’s my bunting?
The Abba Years
(Saturday, Channel5, 8.00 p.m.)
It was just a few weeks ago we were knee-deep in Abba retrospectives, and here we are again with another hour devoted to the singing Swedes, who ruled supreme after winning Eurovision.
The story - ach, you know it, and the songs, off by heart.
Perfect pop music which (mostly) still stands the test of time.
(Nightly, BBC1/stv, from 5.00 p.m.)
The tournament has been a joy to watch - goals galore and some stunning performances.
As for the pundits and presenters - just woeful.
Adrian Chiles and the ITV team make your teeth grind, so much so the locals threw stones at their windows. Alas, they missed ...
Meanwhile, the BBC has had some equally dire contributors.
Phil Neville’s droning, monotone analysis put an entire nation to sleep, while Jonathon Pearce’s confusion over the first use of the new goal-line technology had everyone doubled up with laughter - and kept Twitter amused for hours.
The Boy Linkeker’s bid to put Thierry Henry on the spot over the French revolt in 2010 was cringe-inducing - credit for raising the issue but he danced round it as if he was trying to avoid stepping on a dropped packet of tacks.
The broadcasters really have to up their game.
You’ve Been Framed
(Saturday, stv, 7.30 p.m.) Telly stars come and go, entire series are turned into box sets ... and still You’ve Been Framed trundles on.
Harry Hill narrates his way through the ‘‘hilarious’’ clips sent in by viewers of folk prat-falling in the back garden. Hold those sides. They may split ...