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Mark Peters

 

Are we living in an age of increasing paranoia? It seems that every day we are being told of a new danger to fear, that someone, everyone, is out to get us. Terrorists, the US government, purveyors of contaminated food, priests, internet con men, children's television presenters; who can you trust? Certainly not the mayor of Toronto! While you may be eyeing that cup of tea made by your own dear grandmother with suspicion, these times of heightened distrust and secrecy do make for entertaining television.

Unlike the modern-day intelligence technology heavy Spooks and Homeland, new spy suspense thriller The Americans (Fox, Tuesday at 9.50pm) harks back to the good ol' cloak-and-dagger days of cold-war espionage, when surveillance would consist of no more than a guy on a park bench pretending to read a newspaper while talking into his lapel. Created by former CIA agent Joe Weisberg, The Americans focuses on Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), covert KGB agents living as an all-American couple with two (unsuspecting) children in apple-pie suburbihell.

Set in Washington in 1981, the Jennings, who have been gathering classified information since the mid-1960s, employ the old-school spy tricks of elaborate (and comical) disguises and sleeping with the enemy. But as the era of the Reagan presidency begins, and with it an unyielding stance against the Soviet Union, they are constantly on the brink of being discovered. When an FBI agent becomes their next-door neighbour, the tension escalates and Philip finds himself on the verge of defecting. His "wife", though, remains a resolute, committed commie.

Despite the pace of the plot, and it does rattle along, it's this back and forth relationship that propels the show. Rhys plays the conflicted patriot superbly, but it's Russell's caring mom-cum-deadly cold-blooded seductress ("You never had anyone stick a finger up your a**?") that stands out. We all like a good anti-hero, and with flashbacks to their younger selves only serving to amplify the empathy, it's sometimes difficult to know who "the enemy" truly is.

The show makes great use of the 80s' questionable fashion and music (there's some steamy action set to Phil Collins' In the Air Tonight) but not so much that it becomes a nostalgia trip detracting from the storyline. It's all good cat and mouse fun but, if I were you, I wouldn't trust anything you read in a magazine.

In the fickle world of high fashion, where one day you're Gaga and the next you're a Kardashian, it's amazing that designer drama reality show Project Runway (above; TLC, Saturday at 9pm) is celebrating its 10th anniversary. In the cutthroat world of … err … sewing, a fresh crop of budding designers, under the watchful eye of fashion consultant Tim "Make it Work" Gunn - the show's true star - battle and bitch to be the last woman standing on the red carpet. Hosted once again by supermodel Heidi Klum, alongside judges Nina Garcia and Michael Kors, season 10 launches with a live runway show in the middle of New York's Times Square, as 16 contestants are given one day and US$100 to tailor an outfit and reveal the talent hidden up their sleeves.

Like 99 per cent of fashion, it seems to be a load of old chic, but hey, what do I know? I am currently rocking a baby-blue safari suit with penny loafers, and looking pretty damn fine.

While he may not be considered in vogue per se, natural history presenter David Attenborough could make even a rummage through my pants drawer sound utterly fascinating. So, as you'd expect, a journey with the "king of narrators" to the most mesmerising mountain range in the world is nothing to be sniffed at (The Himalayas; BBC Knowledge, Thursday at 8.55pm).

Stretching more than 3,200 kilometres across Asia, this wall of rock and snow is not always the bleak, inhospitable wilderness it appears to be; the mountains support an amazing amount of wildlife. From the snow leopards (right) in Pakistan, we follow the seasons from west to east, encountering mountaineering monkeys and geese gloriously jet streaming over Everest. From the harsh plains of the Tibetan Plateau to the tropical Shangri-La of Yunnan province, Attenborough never fails to capture the wonder of the gifts nature has bestowed on the world.

Sir David is one man you really can trust.

 

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