Jacques Peretti.
Why does nothing last? The Men Who Made Us Spend on BBC2
By Rachel Cooke - 18 July 15:00

The Men Who Made Us Spend (Saturdays, 9pm) is a fascinating, well-researched series but be warned: it will make you want to punch the nearest wall. Plus: Britain’s Poshest Nannies.

Cave Italia: the Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri. Photo: Getty
Filling the gaps: Outlook on the World Service
By Antonia Quirke - 17 July 16:40

No radio interviewer inserts themself quite so barmily into a dialogue like Matthew Bannister.

Knowledge is power: the winning Leicester team in 1963. Photo: Rex Features
Fingers on buzzers! University Challenge: Class of 2014
By Rachel Cooke - 10 July 15:54

University Challenge, which first aired in 1962, is an institution. Raiding its archive and interviewing students past and present makes for vivid social history.

Centre Court at Wimbledon. Photo: Getty
Thrilling in the name: Wimbledon on BBC Radio 5 Live
By Antonia Quirke - 10 July 11:58

Is it just me or is everyone enjoying saying the word “Kukushkin” rather a lot?

Dystopian future: a still from Bladerunner (1982)
The Bladerunner book: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep on Radio 4
By Antonia Quirke - 04 July 16:00

Jonathan Holloway’s adaptation rightly cherished many things that the film ultimately minimised, in particular the novel’s mourning of the extinction of various animal species.

An installation at the Channel 4 building in London. Photo: Oli Scarff, Getty Images
The Secret Life of Students: a Channel 4 documentary or an episode of Jeremy Kyle?
By Beth Lambert - 04 July 12:49

Channel 4's new documentary series The Secret Life of Students once again fits into their trend of perpetuating stereotypes and vilifying social groups. 

Emma Rigby in Ripper Street. Photo: BBC
Enough is enough: from TV’s “crime porn” to endemic violence, the assault on women has to stop
By Doon Mackichan - 04 July 10:26

Violent images of women onscreen fuel violence against women in society. Actress Doon Mackichan explains why she now has a zero-tolerance policy on taking part in any storylines that use violence against women as entertainment.

Sad-eyed lady: Maggie Gyllenhaal as Nessa Stein
A walking target: The Honourable Woman on BBC2
By Rachel Cooke - 03 July 15:54

Nothing on telly is going to be this good for some time to come.

Jewish and German: Frontkämpfer Lustig
First World War: the losers’ viewpoint
By Robin Lustig - 01 July 10:00

Robin Lustig’s grandfather, a non-practising Jew, fought for Germany during WWI. By 1943 he had no reason to feel sympathy for the country but his cool appraisal of what had led to the earlier conflict is remarkable.

How now: cows in the Cotswold Hills. Photo: Getty
Through my Window with Laurie Lee
By Antonia Quirke - 27 June 11:40

A 1981 archive recording of the Cider With Rosie author looking at the view from his study in Slad, Gloucestershire.

Elevated position: the original Selfridges lifts, now installed at the Museum of London. Photo: Getty
Rebecca Front: “When I’m filming, I feel more relaxed than at almost any other time”
By Rebecca Front - 26 June 15:27

The star of Nighty NightThe Thick of It and Lewis on literary competitiveness, the cameraderie of the make-up truck and learning to cope with lifts. 

Scandi rouge: Norway's Got Talent
Imperial gogglebox: TV is one of Britain’s most successful exports
By James Medd - 26 June 10:00

China is obsessed with Sherlock, Iran loves Top Gear and Azerbaijan has its own Anne Robinson. But these shows are worth much more than money, writes James Medd.

Dawn O'Porter.
I can’t concentrate on football: the World Cup coverage is far too distracting
By Rachel Cooke - 25 June 15:00

The all-male tedium of football pundits makes me wonder if Dawn O’Porter likes football. Her vintage bandeau tops and frocks would knock Alan Shearer’s super-tight pants into a tin hat.

Lots of money: characters from Channel 4's The Auction House
Zebra-stripe pouffes and a big bronze vagina: Channel 4’s The Auction House
By Rachel Cooke - 19 June 15:38

I loathed pretty much every buyer we saw but I was able to keep my disgust in check by thinking of them as upmarket recyclers. 

Carla Bruni. Photo: Getty
Antonia Quirke on radio: Carla Bruni's last tango in Paris
By Antonia Quirke - 19 June 10:37

Oh, Paris. So nostalgic, so mythical. “Do they say that in English – mythical? Ah, yes! So mythical!”

Sinister purpose: Dennis Potter's Brimstone and Treacle
Mark Lawson: Dennis Potter’s message to today’s TV execs – risk everything
By Mark Lawson - 12 June 17:00

How the great TV dramatist and screenwriter was driven by innovation and risk. Plus, bank-breaking art at the RA Summer Exhibition.

The best to you: a woman inspects old-style Corn Flakes packets in a mock-up retro Tesco, Goodwood 2012. Photo: Getty
Chasing the sun: the radio station where it’s always breakfast
By Antonia Quirke - 12 June 10:00

Global Breakfast Radio follows the sun around the world, streaming any local morning show for ten minutes, then moving on. 

Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter films. Image: Warner Bros
Tax breaks for “Britishness” mean we’re exporting a vision of a nation that no longer exists
By Edward Smith - 10 June 11:28

The likes of Sherlock, Doctor Who and Downton Abbey are the UK’s most exported TV shows. They ensure that the image of Britain we project worldwide bears very little relation to the country as it is now.

Rik Mayall. Photo: Getty
Actor, comedian and Young Ones star Rik Mayall has died, aged 56
By Anoosh Chakelian - 09 June 16:50

The iconic comedian has passed away.

The cast of “Orange is the New Black”. Image: Netflix
Caring about Orange is the New Black’s characters will help you past difficult times in series two
By Jenny Landreth - 09 June 15:24

At times clunkily written and contrived, the second series of Netflix’s original drama redeems itself through the depth and variety of its characters.

A Very British Airline.
A Very British Airline on BBC2: Lobsters in the sky with doughnuts
By Rachel Cooke - 06 June 11:30

From the new "bespoke" wardrobes installed in BA's A380s to the recommendation cabin crew do not stow dead bodies in the loo, Rachel Cooke is transfixed by the BBC's bizarre new documentary series.

Don't cry for me: Elaine Paige in full flow performing a song from Evita at the 2012 Olivier awards. Photo: Getty
The day Elaine Paige went quiet
By Antonia Quirke - 05 June 10:00

She had you longing for the days when she would just pipe up, laughing dementedly, or refer to herself in the third person.

Gabriel Byrne as a 1950s pathologist in Quirke is “a feast for the ears and the eyes” despite the turgid plots. Photo: BBC
Perfectly cast but incredibly boring: John Banville’s Quirke on BBC1
By Rachel Cooke - 29 May 15:20

Plus, a two-part documentary on smoking reveals that the habit is on the rise among young people in Britain.

Bearing down: Miliband used the phrase so many times it was like being in a maternity ward. Photo: Getty
Bearing down: how Ed Miliband got tangled up in jargon
By Antonia Quirke - 29 May 10:00

Antonia Quirke reviews World at One on Radio 4.

Marx and Engels with their families, including Karl's daughter Eleanor. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Kapital gains: the short, stirring life of Eleanor Marx
By Antonia Quirke - 23 May 12:07

The elements of Rachel Holmes's biography of Karl Mark's daughter Eleanor that survived the abridger’s pen on Radio 4 were well worth tuning in for.

Southampton University graduate Matthew Hicks plays "Prince Harry" in the show. Photo: Daniel Smith/Fox
Who needs Fox’s fake royal reality show “I Wanna Marry Harry”? The Windsors are the real thing
By Laurie Penny - 22 May 11:03

The British royal family is already the longest-running and most successful reality television series on the planet.

Alan Yentob interviwing Philip Roth for Imagine... The former hasn't quite lost his predliction for including selfies in his programmes. Photo: BBC
Alan Yentob on Philip Roth and Lynn Barber: insightful, funny and generally quite delightful
By Rachel Cooke - 21 May 11:52

Two recent biographical films result in the NS's TV critic Rachel Cooke reappraising her views of Alan Yentob's output.

Reanimator: Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) at work in Penny Dreadful.
Mark Lawson: Penny Dreadful is a bookish thriller for the post-literate age
By Mark Lawson - 21 May 11:51

The lavish budgets and look of new period drama Penny Dreadful so belie the title of that they suggest a new genre: the “million-dollar dreadful”.

The cast of Episodes.
Return to lonely town: Episodes on BBC2
By Rachel Cooke - 19 May 17:00

Given the absence of jokes, tension, consequence - and the presence of Matt LeBlanc - what is there to keep the audience of Episodes on its side?

Dylan Thomas at the Gotham Book Shop in New York in 1952. Photo: Getty
His master's vowels: on listening to Dylan Thomas's voice
By Antonia Quirke - 15 May 11:28

Thirty years after his death, Richard Burton remains one of the very few actors, along with Ralph Fiennes, Viggo Mortensen and Stephen Dil­lane, able to deliver poetry in a high-impact way that also makes them seem like they somehow own it themselves.