The week in TV: Our Changing Planet; Piers Morgan Uncensored; Grace; Ten Percent | Television

Our Changing Planet (BBC One) | iPlayer
Piers Morgan Uncensored TalkTV
Grace ITV | ITV Hub
Ten Percent Amazon Prime

Sometimes you get weeks on television that feel like a rapturous celebration of humankind. Other times, it’s like a bingo card of human horror: stupidity (tick); complacency (yup); greed (got it); imminent self-made global destruction. Full house!

So it comes to BBC One’s two-part climate emergency documentary Our Changing Planet, an ambitious, unprecedented, multi-location eco-research mission, during which regions and projects will be revisited over the course of seven years by the same six conservationist-spirited presenters.

And so it unfolds, with the presenters navigating global trouble spots, and pledging to return to check whether efforts to offset damage are successful. Steve Backshall is in the Maldives, where the ocean is overheating, destroying swathes of coral reefs; Chris Packham is in Iceland, talking of vanishing glaciers. In Cambodia, Ella Al-Shamahi examines how animal trafficking is driving species to extinction, while Ade Adepitan is in drought-ravaged Kenya with orphaned elephants.

For a documentary that hinges on wrong temperatures, there are times when a sense of fire – urgency, passion – seems curiously awol. Only Packham seems galvanised; elsewhere, the dial seems stuck at over-polite/restrained, and the all-important message has all the power of a 20w bulb. Still, how could there not be a humbling magnificence to such a project? Manta rays glide in aquamarine waters like mystical beings; ice caves glisten like hollowed-out ice cubes. You’re left fully aware of the most salient message of the natural world: that we’re damn lucky to live in it.

Talking of unnaturally occurring disasters, who has been put in charge of Donald Trump’s fake tan? During the much-trumpeted interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored, the weeknight centrepiece of freshly launched channel TalkTV, Trump’s complexion is a whole new level of cheeseburger. Morgan, meanwhile, maintains a fetching shade of Retired Colonel pink, especially when he blusteringly drags the conversation to himself (so, always).

TalkTV, overseen by Rebekah Brooks, appears to be Rupert Murdoch’s answer to GB News, as if he looked at that “populist” gravy boat of lost souls, and mused: “What if someone tried a UK version of plain-speaking/‘anti-woke’ grift, but using actual money?”

‘Spread out, like the thinnest scrapings of cheap margarine’: Piers Morgan’s Donald Trump interview on TalkTV. Photograph: TalkTV

There are other shows on TalkTV, hosted by the “cancelled” likes of Sharon Osbourne and Jeremy Kyle. However, Morgan is the main draw, as Andrew Neil was for GB News (alas, fleetingly, like a waft of perfume on an enchanted evening, but let’s not dwell). In his launch show, Morgan blasts off with a frenzy of buzz phrases: “snowflake society”; “island of sanity”. Just as predictably, the targets – Harry and Meghan (“Princess Pinocchio”, declares Morgan, almost as though he doesn’t rate her), vegans, liberals and the like – are placed on a loop.

As for the “explosive” Trump interview, it is spread out, like the thinnest scrapings of cheap margarine, over the first two nights, because booked guest Caitlyn Jenner – oh, the irony! – cancelled. During the interview, Trump opines in his crumbling-strongman way about Putin (apparently, he wouldn’t have dared invade Ukraine in Trump’s time), hedges about running again for presidency (looks probable), and labels Prince Harry “whipped” (no “pussy”, this time, Mr Ex-President?), to Morgan’s panting delight.

The interview is marred by the cult of Piers, Morgan’s egotistical, weirdly needy scrabble to make himself the focus: his cancellation (storming off Good Morning Britain); his friendship and rift with Trump; what Trump really thinks of … (sigh) Piers. Elsewhere, too much airtime is given to whether Trump “stormed out”. In the event, Trump merely shuffles off like an elderly, semi-shaven Chewbacca who needs his afternoon nap. But really, who cares? As demonstrated with his pandemic questioning of politicos, Morgan can be an effective broadcaster, but you wonder if his style best serves as a fiery condiment – the hot pepper sauce to something bland like Good Morning Britain. Along with the new channel as a whole, he needs to beware of delivering yet more Blowhard TV, just with a bigger budget.

Over on ITV there’s the return of Grace. Derived from the Roy Grace novels by Peter James and directed by Julia Ford, it’s created and written by Russell Lewis, who also gave us Endeavour (though those who viewed the 2021 pilot episodes will know we’re a long way from a gentle amble through bygone police procedurals here). Set in Brighton, the series stars John Simm as DSI Roy Grace, with Richie Campbell as his sidekick. In the first episode of series two, Grace delivers an intense misanthropist yarn about snuff movies that at times feels akin to Manhunter-on-Sea.

Richie Campbell, left, as DS Branson, and John Simm as DSI Roy Grace in Grace.
‘A long way from a gentle amble’: Richie Campbell, left, as DS Branson, and John Simm as DSI Roy Grace in Grace. Photograph: ITV

Grace is a world-weary detective who isn’t above consulting mediums. At times, things become overwrought, even silly: scarab beetles shoved into the throats of corpses; crucifixions in gimp masks; brooding meditations on everything from the darknet to dismemberments to the darkness of human nature. The saving grace, as it were, is a strong cast, livened up by Line of Duty’s Craig Parkinson on droll form. Moreover, Brighton looks swish. Think: 1990s Los Angeles during a cold spell. Grace’s scheduling (Sunday evening!) could prove to be a problem, but if Lewis wanted to get as far away from Endeavour as possible, he succeeded.

I’ve been dreading the remake of Netflix’s Call My Agent! (AKA Dix pour cent), the cult French comedy-drama about celebrity mores. Why bother: how could it be as funny, twisted and delicious? However, Ten Percent (Amazon Prime) is a beautifully crafted hoot.

Developed by John Morton, creator of W1A, who also does some of the writing and directing, the eight episodes are set in the fictional Nightingale Hart talent agency, featuring, among others, Jack Davenport, Lydia Leonard, Maggie Steed, Prasanna Puwanarajah and Fola Evans-Akingbola. Hiftu Quasem is a mysterious young stranger, while Tim McInnerny steals scenes as a damp-eyed, vulnerable old duffer who keeps losing his stage mojo.

Prasanna Puwanarajah, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Maggie Steed, Rebecca Humphries, Harry Trevaldwyn, Jack Davenport, Hiftu Quasem and Virani Lydia Leonard in Ten Percent.
Prasanna Puwanarajah, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Maggie Steed, Rebecca Humphries, Harry Trevaldwyn, Jack Davenport, Hiftu Quasem and Virani Lydia Leonard in Ten Percent. Photograph: Amazon

As with the French original, there are myriad celebrity cameos, including Helena Bonham Carter, Olivia Williams, David and Jessica Oyelowo, Dominic West and David Harewood. (Are there any thespians left who could be persuaded not to send themselves up?) There’s a fair degree of overlap with Call My Agent!, but Ten Percent develops its own British flavour, emerging as a dry, witty take on the intersection between actorly ego, human fallibility and air-kissing social whirl. Bravo, darlings, I think we have a hit.

What else I’m watching

It’s the final half-series of the dark, brilliant US white-collar drug-baron drama starring Jason Bateman, Laura Linney and Julia Garner. Do Marty and Wendy survive? Even more pressingly, what will Ruth do?

Shining Girls
Apple TV+

Elisabeth Moss in Shining Girls.
Elisabeth Moss in Shining Girls. Photograph: Apple TV+

Elisabeth Moss stars in, directs and produces this thriller based on Lauren Beukes’s novel about a journalist who finds disturbing murder stories linked to her own vicious assault. An intriguing watch, albeit at times opaque.

Married At First Sight Australia
Don’t judge me for becoming addicted to the Australian version of the reality show where strangers get fake-hitched. With this series now concluded in a flurry of revelations and slap-downs, only time will tell which showmances will survive on Instagram.