10 TV picks: great escapes

Summer holidays won’t be quite the same for a lot of us this year, so this winning mix of sun, sea, spectacular wildlife (and cycling) is just the ticket to help us get away from it all.

Love Island - ITV2

It is reassuring to know that in a country where the weather is nothing if not unpredictable, there is one sure sign that summer has arrived - ITV2’s Love Island.

TV’s most talked about reality show returned on Monday and will air every day for the next eight weeks.

With a new bunch of singletons hoping to find romance at the Majorca villa, it is Love Island’s first series after an 18-month break because of the pandemic. Let the fun and games begin!

What they say: ‘It works on you like a drug … before the first hour is up, you are hooked.’ The Guardian

Devon and Cornwall - Channel 4

A whistlestop tour of the west country, Channel 4’s Devon and Cornwall is back for a fourth series and it’s a most welcome return.

The show is a wonderful window into Devon and Cornwall’s breathtaking scenery and the lives of the people who live there.

And there’s no better guide than the show’s narrator, St Austell-born John Nettles who now lives on a farm in north Devon. Feelgood TV at its most relaxing.

What they say: ‘Viewers flock to these feelgood stories like gulls around a dropped Cornetto.’ Daily Telegraph

Susan Calman’s Grand Week By The Sea - Channel 5

Susan Calman’s five-part holiday special is the perfect travelogue for our disrupted times.

Streamed across five nights on Channel 5 this week, ending on Friday [2 July], each episode sees the Scottish comic visiting a famous British seaside holiday resort.

From Southend to Blackpool, via Brighton, Great Yarmouth and St Ives, it’s everything you want from a great British holiday by the sea, made all the better by the ebullient Calman and her celebrity guests.

What they say: ‘Most holidaymakers won’t make their own rock or take part in a synchronised swimming performance, but Calman’s enthusiasm is infectious.’ iNews

Impossible Animals - Sky Nature

This globetrotting series reveals how animals not only survive but prosper in the hostile and complex environments in which they live.

Each episode takes a deep dive into one of three different habitats - deserts, rainforests and coast - and the ‘impossible animals’ that live there.

Biologist and presenter Patrick Aryee unravels the mysteries of the ‘rule breakers and mavericks’ that ‘push their bodies to the absolute limit’.

What they say: ‘Patrick Aryee cheerfully briefs us on species with particularly intriguing skills … An eminently successful and enjoyable series.’ Radio Times

Tour de France - ITV4

The schedule and route of the race may have changed but all the thrills and spills of the grand tour remains.

This year’s tour has already featured some incredible stories since it began on Saturday [26 June] and is due to climax on the Paris Champs-Élysées on 18 July.

And ITV4 will be there every pedal of the way with daily live coverage and highlights. Commentary is provided by Ned Boulting and David Millar with presenter Gary Imlach joined by Chris Boardman and Peter Kennaugh back in the studio.

What they say: ‘The world’s premiere cycling event returns [and] the brilliant news for cycling fans is that you can watch this year’s Tour once again for free live on ITV4.’ T3

Darcey Bussell’s Wild Coasts of Scotland - More 4

Dame Darcey Bussell’s trip around the islands of west Scotland was part travelogue and part journey of personal discovery and adventure for the former ballet star.

Bussell explored her Scottish ancestry as she visited the wild coasts of Skye, Uist, Islay and Bute, where her grandfather spent much of his youth.

A glorious look at some of the nation’s most dramatic and beautiful landscapes, Bussell went wild swimming, learned to weave on a traditional loom and did a little bit of dancing, just not the sort you see at the Royal Ballet.

What they say: ‘Bussell was a delightful guide … the perfect, gentle escape, a salve at the end of a busy day. I hope she invites us along for more in future.’ iNews

Expedition with Steve Backshall - Dave

No-one gets away from it all quite like Steve Backshall, and in this series he travels the globe to discover the world’s last unknown places.

The extreme physical challenges make for a breathtaking watch, whether he's river rafting in the Himalayas, jungle trekking in South America or climbing mountains in Oman.

Backshall encounters remarkable people, amazing wildlife and spectacular scenery in this exhilarating - and occasionally terrifying - watch.

What they say: ‘The naturalist ventures into uncharted territory in pursuit of new discoveries. A tremendous adventure … [Backshall] is clearly as brave as heck.’ Radio Times.

Orangutan Jungle School - Sky Nature

Nyaru Menteng in Borneo is a ‘school’ unlike any other.

Because it’s here that orphaned orangutans who have been separated from their mother, displaced by forestation or kept illegally as pets are taught how to fend for themselves.

The observational documentary series, currently airing every night on Sky Nature, is a compelling and heartwarming watch, from the enchanting animals to the extraordinary efforts of the rescue centre’s staff.

What they say: ‘A fascinating insight into the world of this endangered species [and] the extraordinary bonds that they formed with the rescue staff.’ Daily Telegraph

Scotland: A Year in the Wild - Channel 5

Channel 5 spends a year in the wilds of Scotland, following the fortunes of its spectacular array of wildlife.

With a focus that stretches from the Shetlands in the north to the Borders in the south, this four-part series unearths the extraordinary stories of Scotland’s secret wild places.

Each episode focuses on one of the seasons and the particular challenges it brings for white-tailed eagles, highland red deer, grey seals, red squirrels, otters, puffins, orcas and much else besides. A really wild show.

What they say: ‘The photography is beautiful but what’s interesting is learning how clever creatures are.’ Radio Times


The Greek Islands with Julia Bradbury - ITV

And finally, a welcome burst of summer sun courtesy of presenter Julia Bradbury and her six-part exploration of the hidden side of the Greek islands.

Bradbury, whose mother is Greek, has long had an affinity with the islands but has never explored them beyond the well beaten tourist track - until now.

Her adventure takes her to secret beaches and unspoilt countryside, immersing herself in some of the islands’ age-old traditions and sampling the best food and drink the locals have to offer.

What they say: ‘Julia Bradbury embarks on a quest to reconnect with her Greek family heritage … Madly idyllic.’ Radio Times

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