It’s a sign of how life moves on for all of us that Jennifer Saunders’ new sitcom should be about a women’s guild in a sleepy Devon village. Perhaps because it’s so far from the madding it-crowd of Ab Fab, Jen has surrounded herself with reliable old chums such as Dawn French playing a bubble-haired schizophrenic, and Joanna Lumley, unrecognisable as a ratchety coffin-dodger whose teeth fail her while chomping on a sponge cake. After one episode, Jam and Jerusalem (BBC1, Fri 24 Nov, 9.30pm 3 stars) has yet to decide whether it’s a sitcom or a comedy drama. If it’s the latter, it should have made at least two or three of its cast slightly less daft and if it’s the former, J&J has largely failed, especially considering that the staid attacks on religious structures and traditions are absolutely obvious.
Also a bit too familiar is the set-up of Strictly Confidential (STV, Thu 16 Nov, 9pm 3 stars), in which Kay Mellor revisits her sex therapy drama Between the Sheets. This is, as they say in the nice papers, a raunchy drama, in which therapist Suranne Jones (ex-Corrie) tries to help out clients (including Nikki Sanderson: ex-Corrie) with their problems while failing to conceive with her own fella and being drawn into a rash of autoerotic asphyxiation suffered by young women. It’s filthy and frank but so clumsily shot that you might start picturing the camera operators wearing blindfolds and gimp masks. And two of the ‘plot’ ‘twists’ could be guessed by the time the opening credits were over.
Tittybangbang (BBC3, Mon 20 Nov, 10.30pm, 2 stars) is back for a second series and I’ve yet to receive a full explanation as to why. Though the latex Tom Cruise impersonation did save it from being the worst 27 minutes of 2006. Channel stablemate Pulling (BBC3, Thu 23 Nov, 10.30pm, 3 stars) has the potential to be something of more substance, though the fluid antics of the opening scene (there’s a clue in the title) might have many pushing the off button. On the eve of her wedding, Donna has such cold feet that she calls the whole thing off. Aided by her two bessy mates (a slapper and a semi-slapper), she plummets headfirst into a life of blokes and booze. Splendid.
Drunken women of the night were the victims of London’s most notorious unsolved murders and Jack Ripper: The First Serial Killer - Revealed (Five, Tue 21 Nov, 8pm, 4 stars) is the umpteenth show to speculate on the killer’s real identity. This one claims to be different as they have enlisted experts in geographical profiling and nabbed some DNA from a shawl which turned up in someone’s attic last year. Judging by the photofit, you can forget royalty or politicians, the real Jack appears to have been Bruce Grobbelaar.
Queen Mother in Love (Channel 4, Thu 23 Nov, 9pm, 2 stars) holds few surprises but you have to trawl your way through a screed of plummy voices and acres of horsey talking heads to discover that the deceased fish-lover was a bit of a catch in her day and really, really didn’t like Wallis Simpson. Astonishing. Finally, no apologies for mentioning Young@Heart (Channel 4, Wed 22 Nov, 9pm, 5 stars) again, especially now that it’s made the leap from More4. Besides, you need a show to be bored with each issue now that the sixth Sopranos series is kipping with the telly fishes.