Candy Cabs (BBC1, 9pm)
Smugglers (ITV1, 9pm)
Filthy Cities (BBC2, 9pm)
Campus (C4, 10pm)

COMPARISONS with Carry On Cabby are inevitable. Both that entry in the British film series and Candy Cabs are about all-female taxi companies.

But the Carry On comedy looks positively subtle next to the clunky humour and yukky heart-warming drama of Candy Cabs.

“Anyone fancy a tart,” asks Claire Sweeney’s Amanda as she takes round nibbles at a social do. “Or a quiche?,” she adds just in case you didn’t get the joke.

By this time we’ve already cremated Shazza, whose coffin enters the fiery furnace to the tune of Sex Bomb.

Shazza was planning to open Candy Cabs with friends Jackie (Jo Joyner, on leave from EastEnders) and Elaine (Lisa Millett). They decide to press on regardless with the plan despite the sudden death of their business partner in a supermarket.

“Who drops dead in Asda by the reduced bread section?” they ask.

As Jackie points out, “See what happens when you try to save money.”

Candy Cabs is populated by a strong female cast – Melanie Hill and I’d Do Anything Nancy winner Jodie Prenger among them – who don’t so much have characters to play as stereotypes and all them are bad judges of men. There isn’t a happy marriage among them.

Shazza’s husband, newly returned from somewhere sunny (played by Paul Kaye with a deeper tan than Madge in Benidorm) doesn’t even recognise his daughter. He tries to console another girl in the bar before being pointed in the direction of his offspring.

It’s not surprise that by the end of the first episode – spoiler alert – he’s claiming Shazza left her share of the cab company to him.

The cast are enthusiastic and shout a lot, perhaps to disguise the awfulness of the dialogue. Do I care enough to watch episode two? No. And would I ever order a cab from this bunch of women? An equally emphatic no – although as last time I looked I was a man so they would not take me as a fare anyway.

THINK of smugglers and what comes to mind? Maybe blokes dressed in stripy jumpers and long boots, secretly bringing contraband into Britain via the coast of Cornwall?

Those days are long gone. Smuggling is now a far more hi-tech affair. According to the new documentary series Smugglers, the UK is the prime destination for smuggled cigarettes and the leading consumer of cocaine in Europe. With 12,000 miles of coastline, the country’s borders are difficult to police but relatively easy to breach.

The programme reveals how organised gangs continually change their smuggling techniques, leaving the authorities with a long list of problems – and those on the front line admit they know they’re only capturing a small number of offenders and that many more get away scot-free.

HISTORIAN Dan Snow goes on a unique journey through the squalid grime of the past, beginning by visiting 14th Century London in Filthy Cities. With the use of computer generated images, he’ll be peeling back the layers of London’s streets to a time more than 700 years ago, when they will be unrecognisable to us. He’ll be quite literally stepping into the shoes of a medieval muck-raker to shift six tonnes of filth and excrement.

Of course it wouldn’t be right for the show not to touch upon the Black Death epidemic and, in his bid to immerse himself in all things medieval, Dan investigates the remains of a plague victim.

IF you’ve been feeling somewhat bereft since the demise of Green Wing, then fret no more. C4’s new series Campus shares many of the same writers and, following the successful broadcast of a pilot edition last year, has already been described as the natural successor to the hospital-set sitcom’s crown as the most surreal comedy on telly.

Campus is set in the hapless surroundings of Kirke University, a chronically mediocre establishment whose vicechancellor, Jonty de Wolfe, is fiercely determined to improve its reputation. He’ll stop at nothing to pimp the place up, from faking the names of former alumni and kidnapping prodigies, to launching a range of perfumes known as Eau de Kirke.