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PAUL WHITELAW: Spotlight on the ugly side of sport

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Paul takes a look at programmes highlighting the dismal depths of the world of sport this week, with Floodlights taking on the scandal of abuse in football, while The Truth About Nike and Adidas investigates the environmental impact of those huge brands.

Floodlights – Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm

The former professional footballer Andy Woodward is a victim of child sexual abuse. Six years ago, he bravely went public about his life-shattering ordeal. Woodward’s abuser was the football coach and self-styled ‘star-maker’ Barry Bennell, a manipulative serial predator who exploited his status to prey upon more than 100 vulnerable children. He got away with his crimes for years. This powerful standalone drama recounts Woodward’s story. Floodlights is angering, heart-breaking, an uncomfortable watch. It has to be. There is no other way of addressing a heinous scandal that implicates an entire institution. An important piece of television, it exposes the insidious methods of abusers while dealing sensitively with the enduring trauma of their victims.

The Truth About Nike and Adidas: Dispatches – Monday, Channel 4, 8:30pm

The Truth About Nike & Adidas: Darcy Thomas looks into the environmental impact of the trainer industry.

The latest edition of Channel 4’s long-running and justly lauded current affairs strand tackles the big brand trainer industry and its supposed commitment to sustainability. Your investigative reporter is the actor/writer Darcy Thomas, a self-confessed trainer aficionado. He’s troubled by a growing amount of research highlighting the trainer industry’s negative impact on the environment. It is widely thought to be one of the world’s largest polluters, but funnily enough it tends to keep quiet about that. More than 25 billion pairs of trainers are manufactured every year. That amounts to three per person in the world. Thomas travels to the Maldives to find out what’s really going on with the likes of Nike and Adidas.

Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood – Monday, BBC One, 9pm

Joe Wicks on the impact of his parents’ mental health issues on his own childhood.

Charismatic fitness coach Joe Wicks became something of a national hero during the first lockdown, when his hugely popular ‘P.E. with Joe’ YouTube videos helped children to remain fit and healthy. In this candid documentary, Wicks turns his attention to mental health. During the pandemic, he received thousands of messages from parents who opened up about their mental health issues. They were all understandably worried about how this may impact on their children. Wicks understood implicitly. He was raised by a mum with OCD, anxiety and an eating disorder, and a dad who struggled with depression and heroin addiction. So he sets out to discover what can be done to better support families going through similar situations.

Beat the Chasers – Monday to Friday, STV, 9pm

Pam Duncanson and Bradley Walsh in Beat the Chasers.<br />(C) ITV Plc.

Anne “The Governess” Hegerty had to bow out of the latest series of this Chase spin-off after being tested positive for COVID, so she’s been temporarily replaced by top Australian chaser Issa “The Supernerd” Schultz. He’s a genial addition to the team. The Chase in all its forms is an irresistible quiz, precisely because it’s so simple and straightforward. There’s no messing about, they just get on with it. And Bradley Walsh, of course, is Britain’s best living gameshow host (face facts, Ross Kemp). He’s entirely at home in his shiny-floored crucible of cheeky gags, banter and trivia. Forsyth and Monkhouse, where e’er they may be, will doubtless be nodding in approval at his mastery of the craft.

Elon Musk: Superhero or Supervillain? – Monday, Channel 4, 9pm

Tesla CEO Elon Musk.                                                                                            Photo by Ringo H W Chiu/AP/Shutterstock.





Now there’s a question that no one with an ounce of perspicacity has to think about twice. But Musk is in the news again due to his $44bn acquisition of Twitter, so that’s why this documentary exists. Preview copies weren’t available, but I do know that it features interviews with people who have worked alongside the controversial tech tycoon, who is part of a small group of insanely wealthy men with a powerful global reach exceeding that of most governments. We also hear from people who have locked horns with his companies. Musk is obviously an ‘interesting’ figure, I can’t deny that, so this programme will hopefully shed some light upon whatever it is that makes him tick.

The Airport: Back in the Skies – Monday, BBC One, 10:40pm

Jeremy Spake at Heathrow Airport as it attempts to get back on its feet post Covid.

1990s docusoap titan Jeremy Spake was the breakout star of BBC One’s Airport. Since then he’s become a professional aviation expert. In this belated sequel, Spake returns to his old stomping ground of Heathrow Airport as it attempts to establish some semblance of normality following the gradual lifting of Covid restrictions. He’s dismayed to discover that an entire terminal has been mothballed. There simply aren’t enough flights to justify its existence. “It literally looks like an apocalypse has happened,” he sighs, “there’s literally no one here.” But it’s not all doom and gloom. New opportunities are arriving at Heathrow. Spake, who knows his airborne onions, remains optimistic about the future of an industry that he clearly cares about deeply.

Inside No. 9 – Wednesday, BBC Two, 10pm

Inside No.9 serves up a particularly bleak episode of strange humour this week.

A perennial ‘problem’ with previewing Inside No. 9 is that the show’s very nature precludes one from providing anything more than a very vague synopsis. But I can never resist recommending it. This instalment is particularly strange and bleak. A woman (Daisy Haggard) is kidnapped by a disquieting fool (Daniel Mays). His ransom demand is £1.3 million, a vast fortune that can be readily accessed by the victim’s awful hedge fund manager husband (Reece Shearsmith). A split screen technique is used throughout. There are creepy masks. And that’s all I can tell you with regards to the plot and presentation. It’s not top tier Inside No. 9, the nihilistic tone is borderline unpleasant, but at least it’s never predictable.

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