Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.
BBC1 has ‘Africa’. ITV is screening ‘The National Television Awards’. C4 has gone for ‘One Born Every Minute’. And over on BBC4 is a programme every bit as emblematic of its channel’s mission statement as the above three shows are of theirs. But ‘The Model Railway’ Story’ is niche programming to a fault. Even one of the contributors concedes that building model railways is ‘essentially a pointless activity’, and this amounts to an hour-long argument to the contrary. It’s a celebration of the British traditions of superb engineering and scientific advancement. It encourages self-improvement through building things. It’s, er, harmless… In the end, though, whipping up viewers’ enthusiasm for the hobby is a doomed effort, despite the engines of steam’s golden age being objects of beauty even to a casual observer. Of greater interest are the lives of the pioneers – Fabian Society member, pacifist and aesthete Wenman Bassett-Lowke and inveterate inventor Frank Hornby – but this is a fringe affair even by BBC4’s standards.