The Real Good Life (ITV1)

Big Ideas That Changed The World (five)

LIVING off the land in a life of self-sufficiency looked such a nice idea when Tom and Barbara Good did it in the BBC comedy series The Good Life. The reality is very different as the three families who've left the rat race to live the good life for the TV cameras found out very quickly. The programme-makers are paying their mortgages for the next year, but that's all the help they're getting and some are obviously ill-equipped to fend for themselves.

Steve and Lisa, who've given up a joint income of £80,000, take it very seriously. Even moving four tons of steaming manure failed to dent their enthusiasm. They sold their possessions at a car boot sale, and then sold the car.

Spending every waking hour together is taking its toll as they're not used to being together 24/7. "I never realised she moaned so much," confessed Steve.

They're doing better than Neil and civil servant Veronica, who confessed that, "I've never planted anything before." While the other two families were busy preparing their plots, this couple had lost the plot by deciding on one last treat. She had her hair done, he drank home brew with his friends. A field trip to Wales for a weekend in a self-sufficiency community proved too much for Neil, although I can't say I'd have liked to be summoned to meals by someone blowing a conch. Give me a dinner gong any time.

Steve and Lisa loved the idea of people building their own houses. Neil complained about the state of the toilets and ordered a meal from a pub because he didn't like the look of the community's food.

The other family, the Smiths, faced a different sort of rebellion. Daughter Lottie, 12, didn't approve of buying two pigs to fatten up and then slaughter for food. "Obviously he's just a murderer," she said of her father.

Steve was squeamish too. After finding 15 slugs nibbling on his plants, he was at a loss what to do with them. "I don't like killing," he said.

Big Ideas That Changed The World, a sort of history of Communism, isn't the type of serious programme that you used to associate with five. It was an even bigger shock to find none other than former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev telling the story.

He offered a clear and concise guide to the rise and fall of Communism in his country, bringing it down to a more personal level by telling how his family was affected by events.

The son of a peasant, he was the first in the family to go to university, where he met his future wife, Raisa, who encouraged him to take his first steps into politics.

Now 74, he told how him being in politics took its toll on her health. "She would still be alive if I hadn't been made President," he said.

John Martyn, Newcastle City Hall

A COOL and charismatic John Martyn and his band played to a theatre only half filled, with a jet black drape as a backdrop. Subtle lighting made the large figure on stage cradling the guitar easy on the eye, while sounds emanating from it were at times ecstasy for the ear.

He made complex chord changes look effortless as he delighted the crowd with songs from his folk, blues and rock repertoire, which goes back over three decades.

Martyn enjoyed light banter with the audience but it was difficult to work out what he was saying - his thick Scottish drawl was almost incomprehensible. His die-hard fans all seemed suitably impressed with his performance, which was peppered with wailing guitar sections and a funky, jumping bass line. It wasn't all jive, though, and some of the slower pieces reminded me a little bit of cocktail bar music.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening, and I particularly liked the acoustic version of I Don't Wanna Know. Most people rose to their feet as Martyn left the stage.

Gavin Havery

Dogs, Mystery Jets, Arctic Monkeys, The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

WHAT a fantastic coup for this small venue to secure these three first-rate bands, two of which are about to explode onto the indie scene and will be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of The Killers and The Kaiser Chiefs.

Mystery Jets have recently supported Bloc Party and The Futureheads. Loosely categorised as indie prog-rock their sound was pleasant but not tuneful or emotional enough to compete in the higher rock and roll stakes.

The Arctic Monkeys are touted as the Northern Libertines, which is wrong - The Libertines have about six great songs in their canon, while these Sheffield teenagers have at least that number at this stage of their career. Fresh from supporting The Coral, their catchy but punchy tunes included I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor, Mardy Bum, Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts. If they can avoid the personal demons that stalk Pete Docherty, these lads will be bigger than The Libertines.

Dogs are arguably the best new band on the indie scene. Having seen them upstage the brilliant Ravonettes in Newcastle recently, there was the worry that the second time wouldn't be as good. The fear was unfounded; they delivered a masterclass in rock and roll. The outstanding singles London Bridge, She's Got A Reason and Tuned To A Different Station never overshadowed the other material. With their first CD release in July, this will be the summer of Dogs.

Ed Waugh