The glacial Tilda Swinton narrates Galapagos (BBC2, Fri 29 Sep, 9pm) with a voice that would suggest she can barely believe her eyes. I know how she feels. The set of islands just off the coast of South America was denounced by early pioneers as a hell on earth but upon which Darwin revelled in its harsh beauty. These days it has massive, fat iguanas emerging from the sea and male birds whose throats redden and extend when they want to get it on. Many of the Nazis who escaped justice in 1945 fled to the Galapagos’ near neighbour Paraguay, but Nuremberg: The Nazis on Trial (BBC2, Mon 25 Sep, 9pm) tells of the high-profile fascists who stayed behind to face the music. The opener of three focuses on Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect who developed a conscience perhaps just a little too late to save his carcass from spending 20 years in Spandau prison. When he was released he opted to hang out with Holocaust denier David Irving and died of a brain haemorrhage in London in 1981.
Kill Me to Cure Me (Channel 4, Mon 25 Sep, 9pm) also deals with matters of the cranium as we follow the story of Pennsylvanian chap Brett Kehrer who requires surgery to destroy an aneurysm which threatens to kill him at any given second. Unfortunately, the only way to perform the operation is to have the patient cold and dead for around 15 minutes. Any tension is removed by the fact that Brett is on film talking in the past tense about his fears for the op but it’s still a fairly remarkable film. While there’s nothing as extraordinary in Extraordinary People (Five, Mon 25 Sep, 9pm) as the guy who starts floating towards the sky in the opening credits, this episode traces the story of a blind and autistic man who has an utter genius for music. The effect is marginally dashed by Jools Holland getting all groovy about early jazz piano.
David Gillanders: Black and White (BBC2, Sun 24 Sep, 7pm) is an ArtWorks Scotland affair which should have you weeping into your Sunday roast as he targets his award-winning camera lens towards the street children of the Ukraine. While many of them appear happy and playful in between fixes, Gillanders also drops in on them when they are pale and motionless, close to a lonely, nasty death. It makes the images he shoots of Glasgow knife crime seem gentlemanly by contrast. In Jane Eyre (BBC1, Sun 24 Sep, 9pm), the wee lassie from Narnia also cuts a rather sad child figure in the early part of the Beeb’s attempt to follow up the global success of Bleak House. It gets worse when she is made to stand on a chair all day in an all-girls school environment that is more Abu Ghraib than Miss Jean Brodie.
The kudos of Ricky Gervais has never been higher which suggests that it is set to plummet at any moment. Knowing when to quit while he was ahead with The Office, this will surely be the final series of Extras (BBC2, Thu 21 Sep, 9pm) which kicked off sluggishly but is mesmerising here with the help of David Bowie in a musical and lyrical segment which epitomises the claustrophobic torture which Gervais and Stephen Merchant have made their own. The Office: An American Workplace (ITV2, Sun 24 Sep, 10.40pm) trundles into its second series and remains a puzzle to anyone why the thing was created in the first place. Looking forward to Le Bureau though.