With all the Olympics coverage lately, you could be forgiven for not realising there’s plenty more going on in the world of TV.
There’s a whole TV guide of alternatives to the Olympics, and we have hand-picked the best.
Things to look out for
With a shiny new venue, and plenty of talent to boot the BBC have an huge presence at this year’s Edinburgh Festival. A lot of shows are being recorded for broadcast later in the year, particularly on radio, but there are some tasters this week to get you started. We’re expecting great things from the two highlights shows. Edinburgh Nights is on BBC Two on the August 13 at 9:30pm and the 20 August at 9:40pm.
It might be said that we focus a lot on TV (okay, but it’s kind of what we do), but it’s worth remembering there are 25 radio stations on Freeview. What better time to get reacquainted with the radio than now? There is certainly more radio airtime devoted to Edinburgh Festival coverage. Catch Loose Ends live from Edinburgh on Saturday 13 August at 6:15pm on BBC Radio 4, and look out for other Edinburgh Festival specials.
BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting many of the most pivotal music events in Edinburgh International Festival. These are every weekday between the 10 and 18 August at 11am. The concerts are incredibly varied, ranging from jazz to opera with everything in between. Don’t forget BBC Radio 3 is still broadcasting the 2016 Proms at times between 7pm and 8pm most evenings. See BBC Radio 3’s schedule. You can also catch up on the whole back catalogue online.
If there is something you’d like to see live at the Edinburgh Festival, the BBC still have free tickets for their upcoming shows. Read our guide with links about how to book.
Elsewhere on TV
Great Canal Journeys is one of the current delights on TV. Watching husband and wife Timothy West and Prunella Scales journeying through the canals of Venice in their new series on Channel 4 is unmissable. As well as their obvious chemistry, you get to see sites that are rarely seen by tourists. Catch this on Channel 4 at 8pm, Wednesday August 17.
Long Lost Family, on ITV at 9pm next Wednesday, is a guaranteed tear-jerker, but the good kind; salty sobs of support, gratitude and praise for humanity – you know the ones. Tune into ITV on Wednesday 18 August to see Val and Marisa Moorhouse from Yorkshire search for their missing son/brother.
Yes, this is meant to be a break from all the sport, but Match of the Day should see Gary Lineker make good on his pledge to present the show in his pants. And that’s worth a watch, Olympics or not, right? For all the usual chat and celebrity panelists, tune into BBC One at 10:30pm on August 13.
If you can’t get enough romance, First Dates continues on Channel 4 at 10pm on August 16. Televising blind dates is a well-worn premise, but this show reinvigorates it with charm, spontaneity, and most of all variety aplenty. Matched and overseen by the Maître D, every coupling has a quirk that are sure to get you hooked before the first break.
The Big Fat Quiz (on at 9pm on Monday August 15), is becoming a reliable franchise for Channel 4. As the saying goes: if something works, adjust it for any occasion. That said, it never fails to say what we’re all thinking. Now they’ve widened the remit to ‘100,000 years of human history’, well, it stands to reason that it will be 99,999 times better than when it was about one. That’s just basic maths. So we’re really looking forward to this offering at Freeview HQ.
If you haven’t caught Barry Humphries’ A Grannie’s Guide to the Modern World you can’t imagine what you’re missing; no really. If we forgive the sections that feel a little contrived, over all there are some absolutely blinding moments with everything from weed to sex very much on the menu for some of Britain’s most open geriatrics. Next on at 10:30pm on August 17.
Box Sets – A Public Service Announcement
You may not realise, but if you’re a Freeview Play viewer, you can enjoy innumerable box sets at the simple touch of a button*. Discover box sets you wouldn’t expect by exploring your Freeview Play; we guarantee there will be something you can binge-watch to your heart’s content (or you run out of programmes – whichever is first).
Particularly popular at the moment are Love Island and classic comedy Black Books, but take a look through the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 players to find the complete range of box sets available this week.
*All smart TVs come with Freeview HD and most come with catch up players and optional Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Even More . . .
Okay, so we know there are ways to watch things other than Freeview. If you have Netflix, Stranger Things has been a summer hit, telling the story of a mystery that is uncovered after a boy vanishes from a small town. The series is full of twists and surprises and well worth a watch.
Meanwhile, on Amazon Prime, the adaptation of the comic book series Preacher starring Dominic Cooper is now available in its entirety. It focuses on a small-town preacher who returns to his father’s church but finds himself overcome by a supernatural power.
ITV are set to switch off all seven of their channels between 9:30am and 10:30am on August 27 in a bid to get people out of their homes and doing something active. This is in partnership with The National Lottery and the British Olympic Association. The aim is to give the general public the opportunity to come together with athletes from the Olympics. Thousands of clubs across the UK will allow people to participate in sports activities free of charge on the day. Get the full story from ITV News.
So while the summer is rightly themed around sports and the outdoors, there is still plenty of great TV out there. Enjoy!