10 ‘people watching’ TV picks

The theme of these 10 TV picks is ‘people watching’, from people starting a new life to looking for a new partner, from people at the top of their game to far outside their comfort zone, from people travelling the world to people … watching people on TV.

First Dates - Channel 4

It’s the show, said one reviewer, that spreads ‘fine dining, true love and hurt feelings in roughly equal measure. Funny, cringeworthy and beguiling, you have to watch the first half through splayed fingers but by the end you’re always a little in love with everyone’.

And that is absolutely the essence of why First Dates is so adored by its audience and is now into its 15th series on Channel 4.

A bunch of couples meet for the first time over dinner, their every move captured by dozens of cameras and crew before they are interviewed together and asked if they would like to see each other again. This is one date we will never tire of.

What they say: ‘There is something enormously tender and cheering and heartwarming about the whole thing … Just great, wholesome TV.’ The Guardian

Escape to the Farm with Kate Humble - Channel 5

Many of us talk about swapping the urban grind for a new life in the country, but Kate Humble has gone and done it.

Now the wildlife and science presenter has invited the cameras onto her working farm in remote Monmouthshire for the first time.

And just as the title suggests, it’s absolute escapism at its feel good best with high drama, beautiful landscape and lots - and lots - of animals.

What they say: ‘The televisual equivalent of kicking off one’s muddy Wellingtons and slipping into a warm bath.’ Daily Telegraph

The Jonathan Ross Show - ITV

In an ever-changing world it is reassuring to know that some things stay the same and that includes the return of Jonathan Ross.

The king of Saturday night chat is back, welcoming a whole host of celebrity guests onto his sofa for the 16th series of The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV.

And it’s also something of a landmark for Ross and his eponymous show, the 10th year since it began in 2011. An evergreen Saturday night treat.

What they say: ‘A new run of his much-loved chat show … Jonathan Ross is Mr Saturday Night on ITV.’ Heat

Boswell and Johnson’s Scottish Road Trip - Sky Arts

A travelogue with a literary twist, comedian Frank Skinner and Scottish crime writer Denise Mina recreate a 1773 trip taken by Samuel Johnson, creator of the first great English dictionary, and his friend James Boswell, to the Hebrides.

Skinner has long been fascinated by Johnson and the pair make for a winning double act, occasionally indulging in the dress - and the transport - of the time, traveling by carriage, horse and boat.

They visit extraordinary places, sample fabulous cuisine and share excerpts from Boswell and Johnson’s published accounts of their journey together. A most enlightening and enjoyable adventure.

What they say: ‘Skinner’s dry quips and Mina’s twinkle-eyed enthusiasm are a pleasurable combination, as tasty as an Arbroath smokie.’ Financial Times


Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip - Channel 4

Grayson Perry’s three-part documentary series sees the award-winning artist and social commentator travel across the US in pursuit of a ‘hopeful story about the American dream’.

Clad in brightly coloured leathers astride a motorbike built especially for the series, Perry explores some of the country’s biggest fault lines - race, class, money and identity - while making art at the same time.

Never afraid to say the unsayable, Perry interviews people from all backgrounds at a time when the country can seem more divided than ever. With the nation about to go to the polls, it is an absorbing and timely trip.

What they say: ‘Excellent, engrossing, complex … a fascinating portrait of a country in political meltdown.’ Sunday Times

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted - National Geographic

Gordon Ramsay is away from the kitchen and out of his comfort zone as he travels the world in search of amazing adventures and culinary inspiration.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted is exactly that, a globe-trotting adventure taking in some of the world’s most exotic and remote locations, from Alaska to New Zealand, Norway to Peru, Hawaii to the mountains of Morocco.

Getting to know his hosts and their culture, Ramsay tries his hand at everything from bull racing and reindeer herding to trying to catch a fish with a bow and arrow. A feast for the eyes.

What they say: ‘Joyous and exuberant … a true love letter to foods of the world.’ Forbes

John Bishop’s Great Whale Rescue - ITV

This is John Bishop as viewers have never seen him before, on an extraordinary real-life Free Willy story helping to transport two beluga whales halfway around the world.

Bishop was an integral part of the mission to take Little White and Little Grey from performing tricks in a Shanghai marine park to the world’s first beluga sanctuary in Iceland.

It is an emotional journey for everyone involved, viewers included, and one which the Liverpool comedian will never forget.

What they say: ‘Perilous hiccups and edge-of-your-seat moments … An absorbing and emotional journey.’ iNews

The Wedding Fixer - W

Anyone who has ever been involved in organising a wedding will know how inordinately complicated and stress-inducing it can be. And that’s just arranging the seating plan.

So thank goodness for Sarah Haywood, wedding planner extraordinaire, who is on hand in this W series to rescue couples whose planning for their dream day is rapidly turning into their worst nightmare.

Everyone loves a wedding and The Wedding Fixer is a fascinating insight into everything that can go right - and wrong - in the lead-up to the big day.

What they say: ‘Sarah Haywood knows only too well how emotions can spiral out of control when there’s an explosive cocktail of fairytale expectations, feuding family members and money.’ Daily Mail


Dinner Date - ITVBe

It’s nerve-wracking enough going on a first date, but having to cook for them as well takes it to a whole new level.

Now into its 10th series, ITV’s Dinner Date gives one lucky person the chance to find love over three meals cooked by a blind date in their own home.

Winningly narrated by Natalie Casey, it’s very funny and totally relatable for anyone who’s ever tried to impress a potential partner with their home cooking. Utterly moreish.

What they say: ‘On one level it's a tender exploration of the human need for connection. On another, it's compelling to watch two people with absolutely nothing in common, manfully chewing shrivelled beef in a deathly silence.’ The Guardian

Gogglebox: Celebrity Special for SU2C - Channel 4

No list of ‘people watching’ shows could be complete without mention of Channel 4’s Gogglebox.

The ultimate people watching show, this Friday’s edition is particularly special, the annual programme to support the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) appeal.

Mo Gilligan and Babatunde Aleshe will be among the famous faces taking part, followed on Channel 4 by an SU2C edition of The Last Leg.

What they say: ‘Celebs in tears are always a key part of these Stand Up to Cancer specials … A mix of telly highlights and poignant real-life accounts.’ Radio Times

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