This week's TV: the English church, Jamaica's sugar trade and more

By mattelton, 14 March 2012 - 12:12pm

This week's
TV & radio
14 – 21 March

Pick of the week
Empire
Monday 19 March, 9pm BBC One

Continuing his tour of the British Empire, Jeremy Paxman this week turns his attention to Jamaica and its notorious sugar trade. The country's plantations made wealthy landowners even wealthier, but relied on scores of African slaves to do so. From there, TV's wryest presenter heads off to Calcutta and Hong Kong to explore the story of later, but equally controversial, global trades.
 

Who Do You Think You Are?
Various times throughout the week
Another diverse set of classic episodes to enjoy this week, kicking off with Carol Vorderman's hunt for the truth behind family legends of Queen Victoria and the Nobel prize (Thursday 9pm, Yesterday). There are also three visits to the 2010 series (feels like only yesterday), featuring Bruce Forsyth (Monday 1pm/4pm/pm, Blighty) Rupert Everett (1pm/4pm/9pm, Blighty) and Dervla Kirwan (also 1pm/4pm/9pm, Blighty).  
 
How God Made the English
Saturday 17 March, 8pm BBC Two
It's not quite up there with Channel 4's infamous BodyShock series of documentaries - The Girl With Eight Limbs, anyone? - but as TV titles go, this one certainly grabs the attention. Its content, exploring how the British identity has been shaped by the church and the state across the course of generations, is rather more sober, but it's appealingly presented by Oxford University's Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Upstairs Downstairs
Sunday 18 March, 9pm BBC One
I've got a bit of a soft spot for this series. It's often overcooked, and criticisms persist about the historical accuracy of some its finer details, but taken as a period soap it's brilliant. This week, a servants' ball causes a change of heart for one of the downstairs staff, while Alex Kingston's excellent Dr Blanche Mottershead - surely runner-up for 2012's best TV character name, second only to Camilla Cholomondely-Browne - no doubt offers some cutting words of worldy wisdom.
Words | Matt Elton

 

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