What we're watching on TV

Gideon Bannister (TIM KEY) and Thomasine Gooch (DAISY MAY COOPER) in BBC's The Witchfinder.

Gideon Bannister (Tim Key) and Thomasine Gooch (Daisy May Cooper) in BBC's The Witchfinder. - Credit: BBC/Baby Cow Productions

Witchfinder, all episodes on BBC iPlayer now 

Are you poor? Do you have a few female mates? Have you recently quarrelled with someone? Do you have a remarkable birthmark or mole? Are you considered stubborn? Has your neighbour found it difficult to conceive? Have you broken any of the rules in the bible? 

If some/any of the above apply – maybe you’re a witch? Certainly you may have been considered for a trial in the mid-1600s had you aroused suspicion. 

The Beeb’s newest sitcom, Witchfinder, taps into the fervour and frenzy of Puritanical Britain, when it seemed like any woman who looked at someone the wrong way could be liable for burning at the stake, or dunking in the nearest river. 

Written by Alan Partridge alumni and available to stream in its entirety now on iPlayer, I’m still not 100 per cent sure how I feel about this one – especially because the production team decided to film what is an East Anglian tale (namechecking multiple places in the region), down in Chichester and the south east. 

I’d imagined it as being some modern-day Blackadder. But alas, although there’s some dark humour, the script, for me, fell a bit flat – and that’s despite featuring the brilliant Daisy May Cooper and Tim Key in the leading roles.  

But, if you’re interested (like I was) in hearing local place names get a shout out, and seeing the BBC’s depiction of some of the murkiest days in East Anglian history, it’s worth a look-in.  

Most Read

The tale begins in a small village where would-be witchfinder Gideon Bannister is chomping at the bit to make his mark in one of society’s most macabre professions. 

Upon finding the Witchfinder General’s right hand man dead, Bannister (Key) proceeds to take charge of gobby, street smart Thomasine Gooch (Cooper), removing her from the village witch trial on a promise to deliver her to Matthew Hopkins himself. 

It’s a fine line to walk, making this kind of subject matter funny. Women being tried and murdered for the most trivial of things. But Witchfinder does tread carefully, poking fun at the ill-informed yokels so agitated by talk of the devil they’ll do whatever these men in their cloaks and wide-brimmed hats tell them to. 

The duo pass through the eerie Dedham Vale – with Bannister (who clearly isn’t really made for this witch finding lark) getting spooked by the proliferation of bodies hanging in the woods. 

Along the way, en route to Essex, Bannister will find the finger of suspicion firmly pointed in his direction too. 

It won’t make you belly laugh. But it’s easy watching.  

Is it Cake? S1. Mikey Day in episode 5 of Is it Cake? S1. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Is it Cake? S1. Mikey Day in episode 5 - Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Is it Cake? All episodes on Netflix now 

I’ll watch anything to do with cooking. And especially if it involves cake! From Great British Bake Off, to Bake Off The Professionals, Cake Wars, Zumbo’s Just Desserts....the list goes on. 

Imagine my delectation, therefore, when I saw the recent launch of Is it Cake? 

A slick, dark American studio provides a glossy backdrop to the rainbow of creations the series’ contestants conjure from their imaginations – each of them designed to be so realistic you’d never be able to tell they’re edible. Hence the title. 

Comedian, actor and Saturday Night Live writer Mikey Day fronts the show where each week three of the bakers are shown a feast of objects, with the pressure on to decide which of them is cake. Whoever guesses right first is given dibs on the subjects, picking one to transform into their own cake. From tiki-style cocktails in coconuts, to handbags, a pile of vegetables, a bucket of sand, and shells. 

A panel of experts (not really experts) must then try to find the cakey imposters in a series of ‘line-ups’.  

The winner lands £5k, and a chance to winner another five if they can correctly guess between two objects, which is cake, and which is cash. 

So...er, there’s a lot of guessing. But for me that’s part of the fun. You can play along at home. It’s truly amazing what you can do with a bunch of sugar, flour, butter and fondant. 

The Resident

The Resident - Credit: © 2020 Fox Media LLC

The Resident, Disney+, Series 5 streaming on Wednesdays and all previous series available to watch

I discovered this show in lockdown as a kind of happy accident, channel-hopping with shut-in boredom. And it fed straight into my American medical drama addiction. 

Season five of the show is streaming now, with all other episodes available to find variously on Disney+, Prime and Now TV. 

It’s got everything you’d need and expect from this kind of show. Weird and wonderful illnesses to be diagnosed. Jeopardy. Romance...Bromance. 

I highly recommend watching from the beginning to see all the relationships grow, including show frontrunners resident Dr Hawkins (Matt Czuchry) and his intern Dr Pravesh (Manish Dayal). 

The stellar cast includes Bruce Greenwood as Dr Bell, Jane Leeves as Dr Voss, and the eminently likeable (usually) Morris Chestnut as evil Dr Kain. 

In season five a lot has happened. A shock death (there will be tears) leads to a five-year flash-forward where so much has changed.  

A key cast member is looking for a new love after devastating heartbreak. One of the hospital’s top nurses Irving is now a doctor. One doctor must continue to conceal her son’s existence. And Dr Pravesh is leading the show. 

It’s a dramatic ride – one you’ll want to get on board with.