“These days, makers of history programmes are burdened by the need to make the past seem modern.” Read on for the verdict on last night’s TV.

Tomorrow’s World: A Horizon Special, BBC2

“A rather odd miscellany that was half a programme about the preconditions for inventive fertility and half just a collection of cheerleading parables of technological optimism… I found it quite impossible to pin down a consistent line of argument in the thing and some of the content was very familiar… Sadly, there’s no imminent sign of a decent replacement for the series of that name, which would have delivered all the information conveyed here in half the time.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

“It was a whirlwind approach; and not one that lent itself to understanding complex areas of science. There was a sense the show was trying too hard to impress, jumping about from experiment to experiment in a bid to capture a younger audience.  Sadly, the rushed format meant the show lacked the gravitas of its Seventies namesake, and there was far too much to take in in just an hour. These days, makers of history programmes are burdened by the need to make the past seem modern.”
Sarah Rainey, Telegraph

“It was a treat to return to the older, perhaps more naïve, values of Tomorrow’s World of yesteryear in this one-off… We met a slew of madcap inventors literally blurring the boundaries of acceptable reality with things they’d cobbled together out of Sellotape, candy-floss machines and handfuls of mud, reminding us that there’s still much to be discovered and much, much reason not to be too miserable about what the future holds.”
Matt Baylis, Daily Express

The Sex Clinic, Channel 4

“If anyone is encouraged to get themselves checked out, or to behave in a way that doesn’t put them in so much danger in the first place, that’s got to be a good thing. But – and it’s a fairly massive but – I still think they’re better off getting themselves checked out not-on-television. Maybe it makes me an old-fashioned prude, but I don’t want to look at Catherine’s genital warts, or Bompinge’s itchy cock.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

“What is the series for? As we visited the sexual-health clinics in London and Birmingham, there was an often uneasy mix of education and entertainment – the characters, the rises and falls, the wrongfooting, served with a backing track of stats on gonorrhea, HIV and genital warts.”
Alex Hardy, The Times

The High Art of the Low Countries, BBC4

“Andrew Graham-Dixon is very good at ekphrasis, that verbal transcription of a painting that television art historians are required to extemporise while standing in front of it… He was on good form in front of familiar masterpieces, including a heartbreaking late Rembrandt portrait of Vermeer’s View of Delft, not actually painted to supply the perfect concluding flourish to a BBC4 documentary about Dutch art, but performing that function very neatly indeed.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

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