TV Choice: David Walliams' Big Swim, Orbit and China: Triumph & TurmoilBy Caroline Cook
March 09, 2012
Every week our square-eyed reporters take a look at what’s on TV – the highlights and the lowlights – and pick what they think you should watch or avoid.
If you missed this last night catch it on the bbc iplayer: David Walliams Big Swim: A Sport Relief Special, BBC One, Thursday, 9pm
A warming story close to home here as comedian David Walliams looks back at his 140-mile swim of the River Thames to raise money for Sport Relief.
I say warming – it is for us, but wasn’t for him, as the Thames is always icy cold. It also made him extremely ill from swallowing manky river water.
David Walliams swims into Reading for Sport Relief
Despite his troubles, the ‘overweight, transvestite comedian’ struck on and on, inspired by the Kenyan children he was raising money for.
There was remarkable public support for him as people in towns like Henley lined the riverbanks cheering him on.
Call me a cynic, but perhaps it was the desire not to talk, while icy cold and dripping wet, to the sort of people who go to watch Wimbledon that was the main reason he ploughed on.
It has to be said, a man suffering from a stomach upset, swimming slowly down a dirty river, is not a thrilling viewing spectacle, so we have a few famous faces, and David himself, talking about it too.
He raised more than £1 million, which deserves a high-five, and he went through Reading, so you might see some local sights.
Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey, BBC One, Sunday, 9pm
This is part two of curly-haired wildlife presenter Kate Humble telling us the story of the earth’s annual trip around the sun and the influence it has on the weather and the tides. She is joined by Dr Helen Czerski to explain the sciency bits.
They’ve already travelled at enormous speed and jumped out of a plane and now, this week, they will visit the part of earth closest to the sun and see some of the fastest snowstorms around.
Recommended for anyone who watches The Only Way is Essex to try to remember what it’s like to use your brain to understand things.
Layer Cake, Channel 5, Sunday, 9pm
Tight-trunked Bond hunk Daniel Craig is an impressively muscular middle-class cocaine producer in this complex British thriller.
A clever science type, he wants to make as much money as he can to retire early and have a great life. So he hatches a big plan involving a massive bag of ecstasy pills.
Unfortunately, his plans are hijacked by a scary crime lord who asks him to hunt down his missing daughter and a rival called The Duke, played by the bloke who is currently setting new standards in ridiculous over-acting as the third Branning brother in EastEnders.
Jamie Foreman only seems to ever play Cockney hard-men, but he does it well enough, despite the comical facial expressions. Be warned, it’s quite confusing, so concentrate.
China: Triumph and Turmoil, Channel 4, Monday, 8pm
China has become a global superpower over the past decade and this programme looks at how that has happened under its Communist government.
It’s an interesting concept as, despite being Communist-led, it’s a largely capitalist economy which makes a huge amount of money.
Documentary-maker Niall Ferguson looks at the extraordinary levels of state control over people’s lives. I had a mate who lived in China, who said one of the strangest things of what is a pretty odd place is that it is socially acceptable to spit on the floor the whole time. Perhaps we’ll find out why.