“As smiley a final of a talent show as you could ask for, with a joyful camaraderie”

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Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker, Channel 4

“The show won me over after I nearly switched off during a boring technical challenge halfway through…It was also as smiley a final of a talent show as you could ask for, with a joyful camaraderie. Misti, who is transgender, turned her triumph into a message of inclusivity. “You can be whatever you want in this life and you can succeed. And be happy!” Once upon a time talent shows such as The Apprentice were full of sniping and rancour; now their job is to spread the spirit of hugs and positivity. A bit soppy perhaps, but who’s going to argue?” 
James Jackson, The Times

”It is impossible to get excited about somebody else’s hexagonal ring beam. Handmade has many of the elements of Bake Off, and suffers by comparison. Bake Off is relentlessly colourful and upbeat. This wasn’t always the case in Handmade.Halfway through the main challenge the contestants were taken to an open-sided tent, where they had to make a marquetry image of a nearby bridge. It was so cold Radha brought a blanket, a hot water bottle and handwarmers. Rain fell steadily outside as we watched them cutting up little pieces of wood with a scalpel. Even if they know nothing about cookery, the average viewer can drool over a dozen muffins or a chocolate gateau. If you find yourself drooling over a mortice and tenon joint or a well-turned piece of dowelling, you should probably seek medical attention.”
Roland White, Daily Mail

Wirecard: A Billion Euro Lie, Sky Documentaries

“The directors, Benji and Jono Bergmann, told the story through talking heads, which meant that visually it felt a bit lacking. There was no voice-over, only the testimonies of people involved, from company employees to investigators. The majority of staff, a former executive insisted, assumed that they were working for a legitimate enterprise and couldn’t believe what they heard. “It’s a German company. Germans don’t do this sort of thing,” said one. That same belief may explain the unwillingness of authorities to investigate.The film kept the story simple. By the end, Wirecard’s CEO was in custody and its COO was on the run. There was a reminder in the postscript that thousands of small investors lost their life savings; it may have read like a Hollywood thriller at times, but the rise and fall of Wirecard had real-world consequences.”
Anita Singh, The Telegraph

“These stories are chilling because they show that either the people in charge of our financial systems are heinously corrupt or that there is simply chaos in a system that should be watertight. How could Germany, of all places, be blind to such fraud and corruption?The only comfort was that Wirecard did eventually get its just deserts, even if it took too long to rescue the life savings of many small investors — the company went bust in 2020 with its Steve Jobs arrested (Braun denies wrongdoing) and the main culprit, Braun’s right-hand man Jan Marsalek, one of Europe’s most wanted fugitives. However well you do the crime, there is always someone smarter than you. Viewed that way, the film is a vital cautionary tale for our times.”
James Jackson, The Times

‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas, Apple TV +

“It is an extraordinary portrait of a man who is convinced he cannot be wrong, who will always position himself – at least in his own mind – as the persecuted victim struggling to do right. There is no empathy, no walking a mile in another’s shoes, no conception of himself as a bully nor any entertainment of the concept that his rights might end where another person’s – or an entire neighbourhood’s – begin. Beautifully laid out by Read, it is the perfect story for our increasingly polarised times; an era where the victory goes to he who shouts loudest rather than to the best argument, or towards the outcome with the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people.”
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian

Taskmaster, Channel 4

“Taskmaster is one of those shows which holds you hostage and makes you laugh against your will. You sit there thinking it is just silly, and then — without warning — the laughter of the contestants becomes infectious.” 
Roland White, Daily Mail

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