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10 comfort TV picks

With the clocks now gone back and the evenings drawing in, it’s time to seek out a little comfort TV.

So in these 10 TV picks we highlight ‘comfort TV’ in all its various guises, from sitcom to drama, panel shows to the great outdoors, four-legged friends to four-wheeled mayhem.

Question Team - Dave

Richard Ayoade is our master of ceremonies for the series which turns the traditional panel show on its head by asking the contestants to come up with the rounds themselves.

So it’s double the fun as we watch each week’s panel of comedians get to grips with the unexpected and entirely unpredictable challenges brought along by their fellow comics.

Midway through its first run on Dave, guests so far have included Bob Mortimer, Katherine Ryan and James Acaster. Top marks all round.

What they say: ‘They’re having so much genuine fun it’s pretty infectious … Nonsensical frippery beautifully balanced by Richard Ayoade’s trademark brand of dry insouciance.’ Chortle


Portrait Artist of the Year - Sky Arts

Eight series in and Sky’s search for a star portrait artist is as picture perfect as ever.

Presenters Joan Bakewell and Stephen Mangan return as amateur and professional artists battle it out to impress the judges and win a £10,000 commission for the Scottish National Gallery.

Alexa Chung, Ian Hislop, Kelly Macdonald and Nish Kumar are among the celebrities taking the famous subject’s chair in this new series. In the comfort TV stakes, this is high art.

What they say: ‘As engaging as ever [and] far spikier and more surprising than a day spent in the genteel environs of Battersea Arts Centre would suggest.’ iNews

Matt Baker: Our Farm in the Dales - More4

If it’s feelgood outdoors escapism that you are after then Matt Baker’s documentary series about life on his family’s organic sheep farm is a proper treat.

Our Farm in the Dales, which has just returned for a second series on More4, follows the presenter as he returned to his parents’ Durham farm on which he grew up to help secure its future.

The first series, which aired earlier this year, was More4’s biggest commission to date and such was its success that it has already been commissioned for a third series and a Christmas special.

‘A bucolic slice of farming life with a hint of melancholy … A stress-busting treat.’ iNews

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Dalgliesh - Channel 5

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned whodunnit to completely immerse yourself in and PD James’ Inspector Dalgliesh Mysteries are up there with the very best.

Now the much-loved mysteries have been brought to the screen by Channel 5 with Bertie Carvel taking the lead role previously filled by Roy Marsden and Martin Shaw.

The new series kicks off with a 1970s set two-part adaptation of James’ fourth Dalgliesh story, Shroud for a Nightingale, beginning on Channel 5 on Thursday 4 November. Intensely absorbing.

What they say: ‘Carvel’s Dalgliesh fascinates; not brooding or haunted but complex and occupying the screen at all times in the subtlest way.’ Radio Times


The Pet Show - ITV

Having won acclaim and big audiences with Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs, ITV’s new series is a weekly celebration of the nation’s love of animals.

Presenters Dermot O’Leary and Joanna Page are joined each week by a host of special guests including biologist Patrick Aryee offering insight, anecdotes and advice.

The series also sees celebrities bringing along their own beloved pooches to take part in an agility course and ‘Best in Show’ competition. Two legs good, four legs even better.

What they say: ‘A love letter to our pets.’ Radio Times

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Sandylands - Gold

All-star seaside sitcom Sandylands is every bit as fun as a trip to the beach (but a lot less straightforward).

Sanjeev Bhaskar stars as amusement arcade owner Les Vegas who fakes his own death to get rich off the back of his life insurance payout.

Just back for a second series on Gold, Sandlylands co-stars David Walliams, Sophie Thomson, Simon Bird, Tracy-Ann Oberman and Natalie Dew as Les’s daughter, Emily, who returns home after her father’s ‘death’ only to find out it's rather more complicated.

What they say: ‘A stellar cast, razor-sharp writing and originality in spades.’ TV Times

Prue’s Great Garden Plot - More4

Prue Leith is of course a familiar face to Channel 4 viewers and currently seen every week on The Great British Bake Off (a lip-smacking serving of comfort TV in its own right).

But this More4 series shows a different side to the Bake Off judge as she sets about making sense of the garden in the new home she has just moved into with her husband John.

It’s not just any old garden, though. A two-acre rubbish tip full of rubble, rusting buildings and overgrown vegetation. But will their grand plans turn into a dog’s dinner?

What they say: ‘Prue is the most enormous fun … and nowhere is that better showcased than in Prue's Great Garden Plot.’ Daily Mail


The White Lotus - Sky Atlantic

It’s an odd sort of comfort TV, you might think, that begins with a dead body being loaded onto a plane. And yet this piercing satire about guests at a luxurious Hawaiian hotel is also the perfect flight of fantasy as autumn turns to winter.

Maybe it’s all that sumptuous Maui scenery, maybe it’s the spectacle of the ultra-entitled coming apart at the seams, or maybe it’s just the plain old thought of going abroad for a holiday again.

But mostly its creator Mike White’s pitch perfect script brought to life by a fabulous ensemble cast. A blackly comic drama that is seriously entertaining.

What they say: ‘A self-made hell in paradise. Delicious.’ The Times


Gordon, Gino and Fred: Road Trip - ITV

It’s been three years since Gordon Ramsay, Gino D’Acampo and Fred Sirieix first hit the road together for ITV.

The hilarious escapades of the tasty trio have proved hugely popular, taking them to Greece, America, France, Italy and Scotland.

And there are plenty more epic trips to come after ITV commissioned two more series and another brace of Christmas specials. A winning recipe that combines eye-opening exploits, amazing food … and a lot of laughs.

What they say: ‘ITV’s best new trio since Zippy, Bungle and George … These naked chefs are a real gas.’ Daily Mirror


A Year in Provence with Carol Drinkwater - Channel 5

A welcome ray of sunshine in the darker days ahead, actress and author Carol Drinkwater shares her love of southern France where she made her home 35 years ago.

The former All Creatures Great and Small star restored a derelict olive farm with her husband, film producer Michel Noll, and in this new Channel 5 series she takes viewers on a personal journey around Provence.

It’s a sumptuous treat from the glamorous Riviera to historic Marseille, a Mediterranean feast for the eyes.

What they say: ‘Carol Drinkwater is a jolly soul who embraces Provencal life with tremendous gusto … Glorious escapism.’ Radio Times

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