“The sort of programme that takes you by surprise simply by dint of its heartfelt tenderness”


“As ever with these flashing-for-charity specials, it was the youngest dancers who professed to be most ashamed of their bodies. The older ones were mostly happy to get it all out for anyone watching, though former topless model Linda Lusardi was unexpectedly coy. It’s the personal stories, though, that matter most. The X Factor singer Jake choked up as he remembered his brother Oliver, who died of bone cancer at just 19. ‘He had no life at all,’ Jake said, ‘he didn’t get to do anything.’ Amid all the larking, it was a moment of genuine emotion.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail

“The Real Full Monty on Ice is the sort of series that sounds ludicrous on paper: a bunch of celebrities come together, dance, bond and strip on live TV in the name of cancer charities. Oh, and this year they’ve got to do all that on a freezing cold ice rink. The reality, however, is the sort of programme that takes you by surprise simply by dint of its heartfelt tenderness.”
Sarah Hughes, The i

“Even though this show is in aid of a most excellent cause (raising awareness of cancer and the need to self-check), you couldn’t persuade me to strip naked on an ice rink on ITV for £1 million (OK, maybe you could. Call my agent. Oh damn — I don’t have one). But imagine the ice burns. The chafing! And consider what the, er, coldness does to the human body.”
Carol Midgley, The Times

Tiny Pretty Things, Netflix

“Overall, it’s fun. A comic-book story with a grim modern edge is about right for our current headspace. You can fast-forward through the dance bits or the narrative bits as taste dictates and probably improve your viewing experience. But I hope the sweat expended by the youngsters in uniformly excellent performances brings them all every kind of success.”
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian

Tiny Pretty Things is the perfect show for the beginning of the Christmas break: an addictive, over-the-top delight.

Sarah Hughes, The i

Hospital, BBC2

“If BBC cameras are allowed to film on condition that awkward questions will not be asked, this un-journalistic pact should be made clear from the outset. Shows like these are quick to praise the NHS for working miracles when treatments succeed. When it goes wrong, and a trip to the ward proves deadly, TV has a duty to ask why.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail

The Joy of Painting: Winter Specials, BBC4

“Part of the reason for [Bob] Ross’s posthumous revival is being recognised as an unwitting pioneer of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), which gives the listener a relaxing tingling sensation and sends them off to sleep. Seriously. There is a burgeoning online market in this stuff. Anyway, Ross, who died 25 years ago aged 52, is an excellent teacher and a welcome throwback to gentler times. Watching him create a wintry mountain range is a perfect portal to tranquillity.”
Carol Midgley, The Times