Sky Atlantic, Monday


Handmade: Britain’s Top Woodworker

Channel 4, Thursday


It’s the show everyone is talking about, by which I don’t mean Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker, even though it had its moments. (Will Chantelle finish her ‘bulrush bed’ in time? Will she? 

It’s the show that’s now up there with The Sopranos, The Wire, The West Wing, even Poldark, and it’s back for a third season. Do you like socks? If so, it’ll blow them off, it is so insanely excellent.

This is the first episode in this season. SuccessionYou have picked up exactly where you left off. (I’m assuming you’re up to speed. OK, quickly: the series is about a media conglomerate, Waystar Royco, the ageing patriarch boss – Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox – and his fascinatingly dysfunctional family, who are all wrestling for control.)

I’m sure someone is writing a thesis somewhere on Roman Roy’s (the potty-mouthed youngest son, played by Kieran Culkin, above with Sarah Snook) relationship with Gerri Kellman

I’m sure someone is writing a thesis somewhere on Roman Roy’s (the potty-mouthed youngest son, played by Kieran Culkin, above with Sarah Snook) relationship with Gerri Kellman

We are back at the beginning, where we left off. The one where Logan’s son, Kendall Roy, known in this house as ‘The Saddest Most Lost Boy on Earth’, publicly eviscerated his father instead of taking the rap for the cruise-ship scandal. 

We saw a small smile play on Logan’s lips as he witnessed this. Because Kendall had finally earned his respect by betraying him? Or because he was relishing a full-on family battle? 

It would seem the latter. I think our clue came at the end of this episode, when he roared his intention to go ‘FULL-ON F****** BEAST!’

At the outset, Kendall (Jeremy Strong, who has found infinite ways to play ‘haunted’) foetally curls up in a bath but gets a grip and is thereafter high on adrenaline and self-importance. 

When he talks to his lawyer or his communications people, it is so painful to watch, you do so through your fingers while cringing and going: ‘Please God, no.’ He leaves the press conference with Awkward Cousin Greg, an innocent corrupted, in tow. 

‘No comment, no comment, no comment,’ Greg tells the waiting crowd until Karolina, Waystar’s head of PR, says: ‘Don’t keep saying, “No comment.” Just don’t comment.’

Succession is, at its core, a tragedy. The children of an empty person scrabble for the power that they mistakenly believe to be affection. It is also funny. Kendall appoints Greg as his Twitter manager. 

Greg: ‘The Pope is following you!’ Kendall: ‘The real Pope?’ Pause. Greg: ‘No… a pope.’

The writing is amazing. Logan is forced to resign from his position as CEO. He will still be in charge of the company’s affairs. Karl, Waystar’s chief financial officer, volunteers. Logan says to him: ‘Karl, if your hands are clean, it’s only because your whorehouse does manicures.’

If I had written this line, I would have died happy.

The performances and characterisation are flawless. As it stands, I’m sure someone is writing a thesis somewhere on Roman Roy’s (the potty-mouthed youngest son, played by Kieran Culkin) relationship with Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron), the company’s general counsel. (What is it about?) It could be oedipal. 

Shiv (Sarah Snook), Shiv, the daughter, may not be the smartest, but she, like her siblings has a deep need to impress her dad. She is always strategising with her husband, Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), who is wonderfully oleaginous, but I’ve become quite fond of him. Is he starting to realize how bankrupt his marriage really is?

I am also fond of Logan’s oldest son, Connor (Alan Ruck), from his first marriage, who has removed himself by living in a fantasy land.

It’s packed with everything you might want, including, I suppose, the satisfaction of seeing super-wealthy people suffering. I have to tell you, I’ve seen five of the nine episodes and every one is thrilling. 

Watch next week for what I will call the ‘Greg and the watch’ episode. Meanwhile if, this week, you didn’t have to retrieve your socks from the other side of the room, I’d be most surprised.

There are many variations of The Great British Bake Off. Some of them even worked. I love Sewing Bee. I also like the pottery one with The Crying Man. 

But Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker? Where will it end? Barmaid: Britain’s Best Pint Puller?

Mel Giedroyc presents it. It slavishly follows Bake Off’s formula, with a technical problem, a star woodenworker of the Week, drone shots, and so on. 

I don’t know where they get the contestants from but one said: ‘Making refined joints is not my forte.’ But isn’t that what woodwork is? If it weren’t for that, it would all be doorstops.

This week’s main challenge was to make a bed in just two days. It was not very exciting. ‘I’m planning to take a saw and cut some wood now,’ said one contestant. There were technical staff on hand but we weren’t told under what circumstances they might help. 

Meanwhile, the judges – architect Alex de Rijke and furniture-maker Helen Welch – appeared stiff and uncomfortable and gave off no warmth whatsoever.

I don’t know what the ‘Big Build’ challenge will be next week. Perhaps a barrel with a bottom that felt like it was scraping?