TONY ON TV: Ratings war hots up in battle to lure viewers

Mr Selfridge. ITV1
Mr Selfridge. ITV1

THE New Year is only a few weeks old and TV’s battle lines to capture the most viewers for the next few months has already been drawn up.

On one side there’s a short engagement of Sunday evening quality drama while the following day, starting next Monday, TV heavyweight Jeremy Paxman presents ‘Britain’s Great War’ -- a four-part landmark history series of how the First World War affected the lives of the British people and created what we know as modern Britain -- launching the BBC’s biggest and most ambitious season to commemorate the centenary of World War One.

Unlike the WW1 observances which will go on nationally and locally throughout the year, the Sunday evening drama fest only last a few weeks as BBC pitches more pain and pethidine in a third series of ‘Call the Midwife’ as the nuns and midwives move into new premises.

This is followed by a stylish updating of Dumas’ swashbuckling classic ‘The Musketeers’ with Peter Capaldi (the new Doctor Who) as a scheming Cardinal Richelieu which goes head-to-head in the 9pm slot against more shopping surprises on ITV 1 in a new series of ‘Mr Selfridge’ with American actor Jeremy Piven reprising his role as the store’s innovative owner.

Audiences have 10 weeks to make their mind up on these two dramas.

Meanwhile, ‘Room 101’ returned on Friday as funnyman Frank Skinner invites three guests to share their pet hates or nightmares in the hope that they’ll be consigned to the bin.

If there was a viewers’ choice, I have a few pet hates that I would like include.

l The pointless bus lane near the Four Ways at Mansfield Woodhouse, supposed to be a time saver, only it’s a time waster.

l BT’s incomprehensible phone bills.

l The rephased traffic lights at the West Notts College junction, slowing down traffic flow even more.

l The ease of online shopping disappearing when you not at home and you have to go to an out-of-town depot or the Sorting Office.

l Emails saying that I have a fortune squirreled away in a Third World bank. If only.