Reformation: Europe’s Holy War review – A compelling history lesson from Dr David Starkey | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV

Reformation: Europe’s Holy War review – A compelling history lesson from Dr David Starkey | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV

BBC

Who wouldn’t love a history lesson from Dr David Starkey?

This man knows how to tell a story.

He laces his TV lectures with the language and preoccupations of the day, making it relevant and highly watchable.

That said, my expectations were rather low for Reformation: Europe’s Holy War (BBC2, Tuesday) which sounded, for all its learning and erudition, like a weighty tome that could cause you a lasting injury if you dropped it on your big toe.

But within moments, Starkey was spraying around terms such as “jihad”, “twitter storm”, “Remainers”, and “Brexiteers”.

OK, you have my undivided attention.

Twitter will be put aside for an hour.

The one-off documentary was made to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the doors of All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg.

You didn’t know? Shocking.

Schoolboys (and girls) must also have sniggered at “95 Theses”, a hefty list of religious points for discussion, down the years.

None of that here, although Starkey never misses a chance for levity, or at least a lightness of touch in what would otherwise have been a tedious, dry journey from the early 16th century.

In the end it was utterly compelling.

You can keep the melodramatic splutterings of Doctor Foster, Liar and thrillers told backwards such as Rellik.

This film was gripping stuff, with all the the drama of Wolf Hall.

Yes, it was actually about something.

Dr David StarkeyGETTY

Starkey called one of Luther’s pamphlets a ‘tabloid sermon’

Why have we never had a Thomas More TV drama, or even one on Martin Luther?

All right, so he’s a dead German cleric, but he undoubtedly helped to change the course of European history, and definitely saw the persuasiveness of the printed word.

Starkey even called one of Luther’s pamphlets a “tabloid sermon”.

The film closed with an extraordinary pay-off line from Starkey as he discussed the trial of Sir Thomas More.

The historian said the case, which ended in More’s execution, involved King Henry VIII and his prosecutor essentially putting the case of “national parliamentary sovereignty”.

Where have we heard that before? Does this mean the mad and bad Henry VIII was the first Brexiteer, in breaking away from Rome?

Even if he’s not, Twitter storms have been ignited with less. 

Doctor FosterBBC

DOCTOR FOSTER: Everyone needs to stay alive for the next series

One certainly erupted over the finale of Doctor Foster (BBC1, Tuesday).

Yet again, writers are incapable of doing proper endings.

Why? Everyone needs to stay alive for the next series.

They can’t do endings, but they’re masters of the anti-climax nowadays.

Mike Bartlett’s script was littered with them.

Will Gemma run her ex down as he walks along the road? No.

Will Gemma, armed with scissors, cut him to bits as she opens the door? Ah, no.

Will she throw him on to the dual-carriageway? Of course not.

Will he throw her on to the road? No, she’s a bigger star.

Or will he commit suicide, and will she not murder him again? No, and yes.

And why is there so much driving?

Has anyone checked the carbon footprint?

Was that actually a nasty diesel?

She was in and out of that Hyundai like a posh advert: “The car you have when you’re a well-heeled psychopath… with ample boot space for a lethal doctor’s bag.”

If there is another series, can it all be set on public transport, please?

Doctor FosterBBC

Writers are incapable of doing proper endings

They could shout at each other from either end of the No. 26 to Parminster, which in itself, sounds like a  well-established stair-lift manufacturer.

Admittedly, though, it’s not quite as bad as Baselricky in the “sitcom” The Wright Way.

Actor Bertie Carvel did the heavy-lifting “harrowing” in this episode.

He’d been learning from an expert.

Carvel was apparently after a “more complex, less two-dimensional” character this time.

This meant that he spent most of the episode collapsing into tears, like everything was his fault.

Or was it hers? No one can remember any more.

He should do some more driving perhaps “Where’s my blasted Hyundai? I can sob – and steer!”

At the end (spoiler alert) son Tom went missing having improbably failed to run away to social services for two series, or call Child Line.

It’s thought he got on a bus to Baselricky, where he will be met with a sympathetic team from BBC Action Line who will plead with him to return to the series to reprise his well-honed “anguish” and “disbelief”.

He has a fine career ahead in BBC “thrillers”.

There was a lot of distraction to be had from Chris & Kem: Straight Outta Love Island (ITV2, Sunday & Monday).

Sincerest apologies for not watching the second episode, but I had a stack of grime to catch-up on.

I don’t know either, but I’m youth signalling.

Chris and Kem are two likely lads from Love Island who have appeared in the quickest spin-off show in ITV2 history.

It’s a small sample admittedly.

They have a certain amount of charm, a Jacuzzi of confidence and a huge social media following.

There’s every likelihood that they will soon be running for high political office.

Finally, the award for last week’s most unintended hilarious interview goes to Good Morning Britain (ITV, Tuesday).

It goes jointly to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid who pressed on regardless when faced with a heavily festive Mariah Carey, complete with a Christmas tree, from the US, but oblivious to the Las Vegas shooting hours earlier. She’d clearly been too busy arranging the baubles.

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