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
Laurie Penny on the Windsors: Who needs Fox’s fake royal reality show “I Wanna Marry Harry”?
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.

When did The Archers go all Eastenders?
By Antonia Quirke - 07 May 11:48

Sean O’Connor, the new editor of The Archers recently promised to deliver storylines that are “Shakespearean”, although this one seemed more like something out of Albert Square.

Small town justice: Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley
Lancashire in Yorkshire: Happy Valley, BBC1
By Rachel Cooke - 06 May 13:49

The territory Sally Wainwright has made her own isn’t rarefied, arty or self-consciously gritty and relevant. 

Social housing in Rochdale. Photo: Getty
Television masochism: the housing crisis hits our screens
By Anoosh Chakelian - 06 May 9:30

Wednesday night’s current double helping of sadomasochistic ‘property problem porn’ with BBC Two’s Under Offer: Estate Agents on the Job followed by Channel 4’s How to Get a Council House is the latest in the genre of resentment television.

Rupert Everett in Soho. Photograph: William Baker/Channel 4
Rupert Everett’s prostitution documentary, Love for Sale, seeks fantasy not reality
By Meghan Murphy - 05 May 17:58

In reality, prostitution is not the world’s oldest profession – it is one of the world’s oldest oppressions. 

Going to the chapel: the cast of Four Weddings and a Funeral, 1994
I feel it in my fingers: The Reunion on Radio 4
By Antonia Quirke - 30 April 13:05

An edition of The Reunion reunited cast and crew of Four Weddings and a Funeral, 20 years on.

Tom Hollander as Rev Adam Smallbone. Photo: BBC/Big Talk/Handle with Prayer Ltd/Mark Johnson
Praising at the altar of Rev: why does a religious sitcom work so well for atheists?
By Jenny Landreth - 29 April 11:02

Rev is most definitely a sitcom about a vicar, and isn’t afraid to get into matters of prayer and the Bible. Somehow, it presents a nuanced view of faith while still being funny.

The cast of Derek, from left to right: Kev (David Earl), Hannah (Kerry Godliman), Derek (Ricky Gervais), Vicky (Holli Dempsey), Dougie (Karl Pilkington). Photo: Netflix/Channel 4
Fresh from baiting the disabled, Ricky Gervais’s “Derek” takes aim at the elderly
By Jenny Landreth - 28 April 9:25

Ricky Gervais wrote Derek, and he’s decided it’s not offensive – so it can’t be, can it?

Moor than enough: Joss (Sean Harris) in Jamaica Inn. Photo: Robert Viglasky/BBC
Jamaica Inn: yet another gloomy period drama, or a gem worth sticking with?
By Rachel Cooke - 24 April 12:07

Television dramas are so gloomy lately that you can barely make anything out. “Pass me the night-vision goggles!” you think, as you squint at the screen.

Some of the midwives and patients from the fifth series of One Born Every Minute. Photo: Phil Fisk
One Born Every Minute is the opium of the masses
By Myriam Francois-Cerrah - 22 April 15:25

Like millions of others, I love Channel 4’s maternity documentary. But it is feeding us an overly rosy view of an NHS suffering from staff shortages and cutbacks.

Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in Fargo. Photo: Channel 4/MGM
Sympathy for a wife-murderer: a feminist killjoy review of Fargo
By Rebecca Reilly-Cooper - 22 April 10:34

The television adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ film exhibits an uncomfortable attitude to violence against women.

Stay classy: Wake up London’s Vanessa Bafoe
Capital punishment: the launch of London Live
By Rachel Cooke - 17 April 15:39

There can’t be a human being alive who would willingly sit through most of the new station’s original output.

Puff piece: solo piping at the Highland Games in Dunoon. Photo: Getty
Better with the sound turned low: BBC Radio Orkney’s Pipeline
By Antonia Quirke - 17 April 14:48

Highlights from day one of the Northern Meeting solo bagpipe competition. 

Christina Hendricks as Joan and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men. Photo: ©Lionsgate
The final series of Mad Men: how to end a golden age TV show
By India Ross - 16 April 12:06

However it ends, the climax of Mad Men will be perhaps television's most influential ending.