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Mark Peters

 

There's no denying that Leonardo da Vinci was a bit of a brain box. He was a dab hand with a paint brush, too. And thanks to new historical fantasy series Da Vinci's Demons (Fox Movies Premium, tonight at 10pm) we now also know the young artist and inventor was arrogant, childishly annoying - and British!

The series, a pet project of David S. Goyer ( FlashForward, The Dark Knight trilogy) follows the untold, and somewhat unknown, story of the boffin during his early years in Renaissance Florence. Da Vinci jumps around like a squirrel on Ritalin; one minute he's inventing flying machines, the next he's painting a masterpiece. There's time for a quick puff on the opium pipe and a sword fight before he's ready to bed the next beautiful woman, all before the cows come home. Rather than focusing on the compelling genius of one of history's most gifted minds, Da Vinci's Demons reinvents him as a swashbuckling MacGyver, a mischievous action hero who is likely to have art historians pulling their hair out. Mostly taking itself far too seriously, and with of-the-times laddish overacting (tone down those cheeky British accents, chaps), the script reveals early on that "all history is a lie", giving free reign for the exploration of every conceivable "what if?". Throw in a few scenes of wacky humour, with enough nudges and winks to make a Carry On film proud, and the plot skips around with so little cohesion that, at times, you have to wonder whether even the real da Vinci would have been able to grasp a hold of it.

If, like Leo, you've been too busy playing with your toys then you may have missed the return of Game of Thrones to our screens. Series three is already under way (HBO, Saturdays at 9pm) and it's decapitating-business as usual in Westeros, as death and destruction continue to lurk around every corner. There have been additions to the already immense and talented cast (including former Bond girl Diana Rigg, as the acerbic Queen of Thorns) but it's left to Tyrion Lannister (the wonderful Peter Dinklage) to steal the show from the bounty of breasts on display in this week's episode. Game of Thrones is back to its thrilling best. Blood will certainly be spilt.

We doubt even da Vinci could save some of the failing family businesses featured in the second series of Alex Polizzi: The Fixer (right; BBC Knowledge, Tuesday at 9.50pm). That unfortunate task is left to Polizzi, who is back to rescue more small companies from the brink of collapse. A successful British hotelier who trained at Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental, Polizzi is never one to mince words, and turns her attention this week to an out-of-date and out-of-fashion curtain shop in east London. As always with these shows (and there is, apparently, an inexhaustible supply), there's a little brutal honesty (from Polizzi), a few tears of frustration (from the family), some back and forth arguing (from all), a much-needed makeover and, finally, some satisfied smiles all round.

Happy viewing.

 

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