Top five TV picks of the week

Jaquie Brown told herself: Don't offer advice. Photo / Supplied
Jaquie Brown told herself: Don't offer advice. Photo / Supplied

Pick of the week: Keep Calm and Carry On

It's an age-old quest, how to be a good mum and raise a happy, healthy child. There are lots of books on the subject, much conflicting advice and plenty of opportunity for new mums to feel hopeless, unprepared, or just baffled.

In that spirit, TV presenter and new mum Jaquie Brown hopes to shed some light on the experiences of motherhood, without being prescriptive or setting down any rules.

In her candid book, I'm Not Fat: I'm Pregnant, Brown set about entertaining and enlightening other mothers with frank insights about taking charge of a small human after the birth of Leo 18 months ago. She also realised that from the moment you tell people you're pregnant everyone is full of advice - not all of it helpful.

So, in agreeing to create Keep Calm And Carry On she decided there was one rule for herself: Don't offer advice. Instead, she visits many experts - including Plunket nurses, doctors, baby whisperers, family economists and fitness instructors - who offer an array of ideas and tips without being too pointy-headed.

She shows us her "Little Brother" camera footage from her first year of parenthood, shares some contemplations of her own, and tries to zero in on some of the common concerns that new mothers have, such as: Is their baby sleeping enough, crying too much, feeding enough and putting on weight? And are the mothers managing to lose any weight? Bravely, Brown even shows us her post-baby body.

She also takes an often humorous look back at how things were done in past decades. Brushing your nipples with a toothbrush to aid breastfeeding is no longer recommended, and neither is chain smoking as a way to regain your pre-baby figure.

The show combines social history, humour, and a good dollop of sensible questions in a collage of interviews, re-enactments, archival footage, and some revelations about Ms Brown's own worries about her baby's future. But most of all it's about tackling those concerns and cheerily trying to stick to the advice of the show's title.

When: Wednesday, 8pm
Where: TV ONE
What: Mother Brown's new baby

Motoring pick: Richard Hammond's Crash Course

Top Gear's Richard Hammond turns his motorhead skills from fast and expensive cars to machines that are more challenging to operate. In his new series he travels around the US taking crash courses in how to drive everything from the mighty Abrams tank and giant wrecking ball cranes to a tree harvester and the world's most powerful fire engine.

In the first episode he's at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, where he learns to drive the tank. He's put through his paces in the simulator before being let loose in the real thing. And his tank driving test involves him ploughing straight over the top of a 1979 Porsche 928, a car dear to his heart.

When: Wednesday, 7.30pm
Where: BBC Knowledge
What: Learner driver on the loose

Doco pick: Black & White

This two-part documentary series tells the stories of New Zealand's best swimmers and cyclists who are competing at the London Paralympic Games which start on August 29.

Tonight's first part profiles swimmers Cameron Leslie, Sophie Pascoe, Rebecca Dubber and Nikita Howarth, who are part of a strong Kiwi swimming squad. Leslie is one of our brightest medal hopes. Born without fully formed arms or legs, his parents took him to the pool as a toddler and he's been swimming ever since. Now he is the defending Olympic champion in the 150m individual medley. He won in world record time in Beijing - and is determined to retain the title.

When: Thursday, 8.30pm
Where: Prime
What: Meet our paralympic stars

Doco pick: Who Do You Think You Are USA

The second season of the American version of the Brit celeb genealogy show starts with Vanessa Williams, a former Miss USA turned actor (last seen in Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives) tracing her roots back to the Civil War era.

Through trips to archives she discovers that her great-grandfather was one of the first to enlist when the Union Army finally allowed African-Americans to serve, and that he wasn't the last of her ancestors to take up the fight for racial equality.

Upcoming episodes will feature Tim McGraw, Lionel Richie, Steve Buscemi and Gwyneth Paltrow climbing their family trees.

When: Friday 8.30pm
Where: Prime
What: Williams traces her lineage

Drama Pick: The Promise

The British involvement in Palestine and the foundation of modern Israel isn't much remembered, being obscured by the decades of conflict since.

This BBC mini series by politically minded writer-director Peter Kominsky is set both in contemporary Israel, where 18-year-old Erin (Claire Foy) is on a gap year from Britain, and during the post-World War II period when British troops - including Foy's grandfather, who left a diary of his time - attempted to keep the peace as a huge wave of Jewish immigrants arrived from Europe.

Said The Guardian: "The Promise gets to the messy heart of Arab-Israeli politics without becoming a shouty piece of agitprop.

When: Fridays, 8.30pm
Where: Soho
What: Palestine past and present

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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