Alan Whicker’s Journey of a Lifetime, BBC2

Did we like it?
Half a century ago, a man with a voice almost as whiney as the odious Robert Peston and the sartorial style of City spiv became a TV legend. And this excellent opener to a four-part series helped us understand why.

What was good about it?
• Whicker churned out hours of entertaining feature material – a lot was insubstantial nonsence (the road with houses numbered in a strange order, for example) but there were some rare treasures.
• The archive clips showed a world that was very different – so many things were a wonder and celebrities had mystique rather than omniprescence.
• The John Paul Getty footage in which the billionaire opened up about his lack of warmth was the highlight. And Whicker must be applauded for remarking: ““Your spectacular success as a businessman has only been equalled by what seems to be your abysmal failure as a husband.”
• Our eyebrows got some good exercise, shooting upwards whenever Whicker came out with some flagrant self-aggrandising statement (every few minutes). This man – “neat and not noticeably shy” – is not the sort to hide his light under a bushel.

What was bad about it?
• Whicker’s adoration of the rich and famous, which bordered on – and sometimes definitely was – ingratiation.
• Whicker’s salmon pink sweater was an eyesore.
• Whicker’s commentary was what made him famous. But lines such as “Not even nostalgia is as good as it used to be” don’t seem very special to our ears.

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