Parkinson (ITV1)

Dancing On Ice (ITV1)

Planet Earth (BBC1)

ONCE upon a time a Prime Minster appearing on Parkinson would have been a big deal, a TV event equivalent to the Queen and Prince Charles doing The Generation Game.

These days viewers are more cynical, seeing such an appearance as another part of the political spin cycle and opportunity to win headlines away from newly-elected leaders of other parties.

Michael Parkinson said in his introduction that this was a "very special show". It wasn't. The only newsworthy aspect was signposted in advance, fed to the media to give the programme loads of free publicity.

Parkie in his later years is no Paxman or Frost. The interview wasn't an opportunity to probe the Blair years in No 10. He was more interested in Blair's early musical career.

The God and war remark that earned all the headlines was an accident rather than the result of an intense interrogation. Even when Parkie pointed out that the PM had been called a liar and a warmonger, he did it in a nice, inoffensive way. Running the country was relegated to the same level as asking the other guest, Kevin Spacey, about running the Old Vic theatre.

And the PM wasn't about to tell when he was leaving office. He dodged questions about that after admitting that he had "waited so long to avoid answering them".

If politicians want to get noticed they'd do better going into the Big Brother house - now Blair on all fours pretending to be a cat would be something worth watching - or, better still, sign up for Dancing On Ice.

ITV has banished thoughts of their Celebrity Wrestling flop with the triumph of this celebrities on ice show which ended this weekend.

It was quite a Saturday night on the box with Gaynor Faye and partner Dan winning Dancing On Ice; Chris Fountain upset (but not crying in public because his mum had told him not to) at being knocked out of Just The Two Of Us; and a totally insane song performed by a rapper backed by girls in school uniform became the UK Eurovision Song Contest entry in BBC1's Making Your Mind Up.

No wonder Blair seemed boring. A few years ago Planet Earth, like the PM on Parkie, would have been a bigger deal. Now, we're used to beautifully photographed wildlife and natural history series getting ever closer to their subjects.

This is the BBC Natural History Unit's most ambitious project yet, "celebrating planet Earth in all its astonishing beauty". Pictures of tobogganing polar bear cubs, flocks of millions of birds, migrating caribou, elephants swimming and baboons wading through water were stunning.

But the dramatic music and David Attenborough's solemn narration come dangerously close to parody. And was it a good idea to begin with emperor penguins so soon after the astonishing cinema documentary March Of The Penguins covering much the same subject?

The sight of three million caribou migrating across the Arctic tundra was truly amazing without being told that "here nature stages one of her greatest dramas".

The makers must have raked up the air miles as the best way to appreciate many of the spectacular scenes is from the air. You may need to have a sick bag handy if you're not keen on flying.

The Trial

York Theatre Royal

BANK clerk Joseph K is suddenly arrested and made to defend himself against the charges. One little problem, though, no-one will tell him what those charges are.

Franz Kafka's work - in Steven Berkoff's gritty and darkly humorous adaptation - offered York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre plenty of material with which to work in its latest production in the main house.

Sarah Brigham's slick and stylish production got it just right, bringing out the best in the 50 or so young actors populating Catherine Chapman's effective setting of stairs, platforms and curtains.

This multi-levelled design helped bring out the nightmarish quality of Joseph K's situation as he fights his way through bureaucracy and paperwork in a bid to prove his innocence.

Brigham delivered crowd scenes of conviction, with the Chorus ensuring that everyone in the large cast had something to do.

Fighting his way through the chaos and confusion was Tom Wright's perplexed Joseph K in a totally natural, confused performance that's perfect for the role.

With good audiences for four performances last week, the Youth Theatre proved a valuable main house addition to the Theatre Royal programme. I look forward to their return.

Steve Pratt