Plenty of TV magic to enjoy this week

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Whatever the results of the General Election, and the aims and achievements of well-meaning politicians, there will always be the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’

These extremes of ‘enjoying it’ and ‘wanting it’ are sharply documented with two contrasting programmes currently being screened on Channel 4.

On Monday, C4 turns its back on its first “warts and all” series in Birmingham to head to the north-east as Benefits Street drops in on Stockton-on-Tees to meet a whole new community facing hard times.

Fast forward two days and C4 upgrades viewers to first class in The World’s Most Expensive Foods (Wednesday).

This two-part look at the new breed of super-rich, jet-setters and what they eat and drink - whether it’s at their gated mansion or cruising at 40,000 feet in their £60 million private jet - makes motorway refreshments seem like a giveaway.

So, if you are ready to join the high life, you won’t mind shelling out £325 for a single cup of Kopi Luwak coffee to a glass of 1811 cognac at £5,000, although there’s no mention of what it would cost during “happy hour.”

This modern-day surreal world was contrasted with one from the early 19th century in the story of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, BBC1’s new seven-part series taking over the Poldark slot.

This ambitious adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s 800-page fantasy novel gives a different edge to the Sunday night line-up, taking viewers back to a time when the two men of the title (Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan) tried to bring magic back to England with spectacular results.

Such an outcome is also hoped for with the UK’s entry into the maddest song competition on Earth, also known as the Eurovision Song Contest, which dominates the Saturday night schedule on BBC1, with apt commentary by Graham Norton.

The home team of Electro Velvet (musical duo Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas) with their song Still In Love With You are hoping to beat 26 other entries and recapture the title that was last held by the UK in 1997 when Katrina and the Waves belted out Love Shine a Light.

And for the diehards, BBC4 is screening Eurovision at 60 this Friday, a look back at six decades of the contest’s highs and lows.

n Now that Sicilian crimebuster Inspector Montalbano is taking a rest on BBC4, fans of Luca Zingaretti, can catch up with the busy actor in one of his many other roles in Adriano Olivetti: La Forza Di Un Sogno (The Power of a Dream), now available on the Odyssey DVD label, priced £12.99.

Zingaretti, who has played scores of roles during a varied career, gives a tour-de-force performance in the title role as the Italian engineer, politician, industrialist and social reformer who turned his family’s company into a global brand. Co-starring in this 90-minute release of the acclaimed mini-series is Stefania Rocca (The Talented Mr Ripley) as Karen Bates, a woman with whom the married Adriano develops a complex relationship.