“A straightforward, narratively simple story that, thankfully, just about avoids feeling like a history lesson”

Lawmen: Bass Reeves

Lawmen: Bass Reeves, Paramount+

“David Oyelowo has much to get his teeth into. He is wonderful at layering fury, despair, hope and misery over Bass’s core – which is, as Lynn puts it after watching him pray over a victim’s body while Lynn strips the killers’ corpses, that of ‘the most earnest man I have ever met’. The western is such a storied form that there are many familiar tropes. But the rare point of view and the care taken with the story, to say nothing of its basis in real-life achievements, save it.”
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian

“There are no bells and whistles here. Lawmen: Bass Reeves is an old school western designed to appeal to those who want an uncomplicated, not too preachy, morally sound story of good cops and bad robbers that could have been made largely the same way 10 years ago. Creator and writer Chad Feehan (Ray Donovan) has opted to tell a straightforward, narratively simple story that, thankfully, just about avoids feeling like a history lesson.”
Emily Baker, The i

Kennedy, Sinatra and the Mafia, Channel 4

“The programme does nothing big or clever with its format, alternating between talking heads and archive footage (although even bog-standard celluloid showing New York and Las Vegas in the 40s, 50s and early 60s is something you can’t see too often). And it needn’t: the twisting, steadily intensifying story is a corker.”
Jack Seale, The Guardian

“Sometimes the commentary strayed from fact to what feels like fiction – did Sinatra and Kennedy really experience their first meeting as a ‘thunderbolt’, as Kaplan suggests? Does the Mob focus skew the emphasis, as when biographer Robbyn Swan claimed that the star’s career came to a halt ‘because the world began to notice that he was associated with organised crime’ and no other reasons? It’s difficult to know the answer to these questions without doing more research. But it’s the sign of a decent documentary that it leaves you wanting to go and find out more.”
Anita Singh, The Telegraph

“So after weeks of humiliation and being told by a woman with a Liz Truss hairdo that he was a ‘weasel-faced c***’ with ‘moobs’, Matt Hancock made it to the last three but was beaten by the singer Gareth Gates, the runner-up in Pop Idol 2002. Gates had shown resilience, courage and seemed an all-round decent chap (Danielle Lloyd was the other runner-up). In fairness, Hancock put up an impressive fight and took the personal taunts, debasement and trench foot on the chin. But the experts noted that he just couldn’t suppress the smart alec attitude with his superiors. He couldn’t stop being Matt Hancock.”
Carol Midgley, The Times

“Rarely has a man’s opinion of himself been so at odds with the opinions of everyone else on Earth. So there was a special joy in watching this show all the way to the end, to discover that Hancock was beaten in the final by Gareth Gates. This hasn’t been a vintage series; the yelling and posturing sometimes threatened to tip into panto, and the other contestants were mostly forgettable. But for the joy of seeing the best man win – and the worst man lose – the final was a treat.”
Anita Singh, The Telegraph

“The emotional heft of these wildlife stories makes Planet Earth III utterly compelling. At the same time, we’re able to marvel at the beauty of the landscape shots. That heat haze over the Namib looked as though it was painted in watercolours.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail