How many conductors can you fit into a single TV show?
We're into the finale of Maestro at the Opera (BBC2) already. Josie Lawrence and Trevor Nelson have been dispensed with, leaving Craig Revel Horwood and Marcus Du Sautoy to battle it out to get to the podium of the Royal Opera House.
So it's off to mentors Paul McGrath (the conductor, not the former footballer) and Michael Rosewell (another conductor) for some final coaching. Plus a few wise words and a demo from conductor Sir Mark Elder. Oh, hello: suddenly Craig and Marcus are off to Tuscany to spend a few days at a famous academy named after another conductor, Georg Solti. After some extra coaching from two more conductors, Jonathan Papp and Anthony Legge, it's back to Covent Garden and McGrath and Rosewell for some last-minute conducting revision, while Sir Mark looks on beknightedly (I know that's not really a word, but you know what I mean).
And then we're in the final contest: Craig v Marcus. And Craig's the winner. Eh? We're still only 25 minutes into an hour-long show. Ah, I see, the rest is about Craig's prize, conducting an act of La Bohème in front of an audience. That means further practice and coaching – from McGrath (or is it Rosewell?) with advice from Sir Mark and artistic director John Copley, plus a few words of encouragement from Sir Someone-or-other (Semyon Bychkov in fact).
God, it's a mess isn't it? As television. Far too baggy and unstructured. There's no sense of excitement about the competition. And there are way too many bloody conductors. It's like they thought: "Who shall we get on our show about conducting? So hard to choose. Oh to hell with it, let's just have them all on, shall we?" Well done Craig, though. I think he does act two of La Bohème rather well. (Ha, like I know!)
Best line in Episodes (BBC2)? Stephen Mangan suggests that perhaps the gift of an Infiniti (Nissan's luxury brand) from Matt LeBlanc isn't enough to forgive him for sleeping with his wife. "What d'you want, a Bentley?" says LeBlanc. "It's not like I fucking killed your wife."
"Maintenance is a breeze. I am so happy that we chose InstantEncore!"