What’s on this weekend? From David Copperfield to American Dirt

Your guide to what’s worth seeing and reading this weekend

Dev Patel in The Personal History of David Copperfield
(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

The Week’s best film, TV, book and live show on this weekend, with excerpts from the top reviews.

TELEVISION: Win the Wilderness: Alaska

Executive producer Nic Patten for Broadcast Now

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“Our last few days were spent on a frantic tour of various remote locations, clutching cans of bear spray and – speaking for myself – huddled up to our armed local guides. In a land where even wet cotton can prove lethal, safety was always the first thing on the agenda – and this was further underlined when a bear wandered into the couples’ wilderness camp days before we started…In addition to the normal checks and balances, we felt it necessary to make sure that everything the couples did had been thoroughly road-tested by senior members of production. In reality, this meant cherished highlights such as two nights sleeping on a sandbank, walking a mosquito-riddled navigation test three times and, after getting stuck in the mud on a remote trail with no reception, deciding whether it was best to get out of the car or passively wait to see what came out of the woods.”

BBC Two, 9pm on Sunday 26 January

MOVIE: The Personal History of David Copperfield

Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian

“Armando Iannucci’s terrifically likeable, genial adaptation of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield taps into the author’s humanity and optimism, if perhaps at the expense of the novel’s darker side…I found myself thinking of George Orwell’s comment on Dickens: ‘The wolf is at the door, but he is wagging his tail.’ There is a driving force of hopeful tailwag energy here, and a relish for the drama and absurdity, the larger-than-life characters and the pure, almost dreamlike craziness of everything that’s going on…But everything rattles and zings like a pinball machine, and it’s a bracing, entertaining, richly satisfying experience.”

Released Friday 24 January

BOOK: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Lauren Groff for The New York Times

“A few pages into reading Jeanine Cummins’s third novel, American Dirt, I found myself so terrified that I had to pace my house…weeks after finishing it, the novel remains alive in me. When I think of the migrants at the border, suffering and desperate, I think of Lydia and Luca, and feel something close to bodily pain. American Dirt was written with good intentions, and like all deeply felt books, it calls its imagined ghosts into the reader’s real flesh.”

Published 21 January

STAGE: Les Misérables

Fergus Morgan for The Stage

“Do you hear the people sing? Well, they are singing in the West End again. When Les Misérables originally opened 35 years ago, the reviewers famously dismissed it as dreadful and doomed to fail. A record-breaking run, a multi-award-winning movie adaptation and an awful lot of humble pie later, they are back to cast their critical eyes over it again. And most of them acknowledge it’s a classic. The story has taken on new resonance in recent years…Connor and Powell’s production is darker and grittier, too. Yes, the original, 35 year-old version has vanished, but make no mistake: Les Mis is back to stay.”

Booking at the Sondheim Theatre, London until October 2020

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