YOU would not want to be a stripper in 1963. While I would never seek to limit the horizons of any Herald reader given access to a time travel machine, I am going to take a punt that their first port of call would not be a draughty Soho club during the Big Freeze.
Such was the lot of one unfortunate young woman in Call the Midwife (BBC1, Sunday, 8pm. Nadine was pregnant and had been hiding her condition under a ratty mink coat for longer than you might have thought possible. But now her “Venus in Furs” act was failing to impress the club’s hard-faced madam, who insisted Nadine fill Eve of Eden’s slot. “You can have ten bob extra if you go on with her python,” she hissed.
Nadine thought she would rather take her chances with the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House in Poplar, east London. Good call. There is nothing those gals cannot sort out with a hot water bottle and a dab of Germolene. One suspects the bubonic plague would have amounted to no more than a nasty rash had they been around at the time.
Heidi Thomas’s drama works because it delivers harsh truths about how rotten life used to be in the “good old days” at the same time as giving off a comforting glow of humanity. Sometimes it takes too rosy a view of things, as in the Christmas special. The seventh series introduces a new midwife, Lucille, a young black woman from the West Indies. It presumably won’t be long before Lucille encounters some of the grislier attitudes of the time, and it is to be hoped no punches are pulled then.
When news of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction (Netflix) broke, the value of shares in the streaming service jumped. Such is the power of David Letterman. It has been three years since his last US show and his pulling power has not diminished, judging by the first guest, one Barack Obama.
Letterman, rocking a white beard, was asked by Obama if he had a staff to go with the Old Testament look. It was that kind of cosy chat, sharpened at times with talk of the civil rights struggle and the state of the presidency today (no names mentioned). The most revealing moments came when the former president spoke about his daughters, and in particular dropping one of them, Malia, off at college for the first time. “It was like open heart surgery, man,” said dad unto dad.
Andrew Graham-Dixon turned detective in Stealing Van Gogh (BBC2, Wednesday, 9pm) and, my goodness, he was enjoying himself. “I’m an art historian,” he gasped while introducing the real-life tale of the 2002 theft of two paintings from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, “I don’t often get mixed up in organised crime.” Later he told us that he did not routinely concern himself with the activities of the Camorra crime clan (who turned out to have the paintings) and that it was not every day he found himself in the back of a police car. We get it, Andrew. Anyone would think he was desperately trying to liven up a documentary that, despite the racy subject matter, felt stretched at an hour.
How are we coping with Kiri (Channel 4, Wednesday, 9pm)? The penultimate episode was as gruelling as every other in Jack Thorne’s drama about an abducted foster child and the social worker (played by Sarah Lancashire) being accused of negligence by the media, her bosses and just about everyone else who gets within shouting, or punching, distance.
What goes on behind the closed doors of seemingly respectable homes was the order of the day this week as attention turned to the prospective adopters. Thorne appears to be giving viewers a hard steer in a particular direction as to who is the culprit but, given his last offering, National Treasure, I wouldn’t bet against there being surprises to come. Lancashire has been terrific as always, but mention in despatches too for Lia Williams as the tiger mother out to get justice for Kiri, and Wunmi Mosaku as the indomitable detective inspector.
If there is any justice left in the world (though I strongly suspect Andrew Graham-Dixon has snaffled the lot), Kiri should feature in next year’s National Television Awards (ITV, Tuesday, 8pm). This year’s bash, televised live, was given two-and-a-half hours of prime-time TV. It could have been a crashing bore – most awards shows are – but the mix of genial host Dermot O’Leary, clips from popular programmes and the fact that it was live and unpredictable made the time fly by.
There was a good gag at the start featuring Piers Morgan being dropped in as a last-minute replacement for O’Leary. It was almost as bonkers as 
jump-the-shark Doctor Foster bagging best drama, making a third series all but inevitable. As they say down Poplar way, “Gawd help the NHS”.