Anyone doubting that the show formerly known as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is exportable beyond the United States – and who missed last year’s one-off Australian instalment – need tune in no further than the four-part Queer Eye special, filmed in Tokyo and Yokohama. Which also upends the notion that the concept wouldn’t work in a country with a strong, even rigid, sense of its own culture. That, however, is precisely why Queer Eye: We’re in Japan! works so well, the “heroes” of each episode all feeling bound in some way to follow cast-iron rules rather than their neglected desires. Netflix must have known they were onto a winner when the Fab Five arrived to splash some colour and pizazz all over the life of one of the most deserving, self-effacing characters ever likely to grace a screen. Yoko Sakuma, in her late 50s, runs a hospice in memory of her sister, a cancer victim. Having given up every room in her house next door to help the hospice expand, Sakuma, paying her own needs no regard, was in the habit of sleeping on the floor, under a table. And that’s a long way from the elegance of her idol, Audrey Hepburn. Cue Tan France , Antoni Porowski , Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness and Bobby Berk – with their expertise in fashion, wine and food, lifestyle and culture, personal grooming, and design, respectively – who, with the help of Japanese model and singer Kiko Mizuhara as tour and social etiquette guide, joyfully transform Sakuma and Kumachan House almost beyond recognition. Similarly blessed by the tactful, empathetic quintet are a female manga artist with no self-confidence; a gay man working in marketing who feels obliged to conceal his sexuality; and a cripplingly shy radio director who longs to restore the spark to his marriage – and who wants “to change from a rock to a psychedelic flower”. Party like it’s 1967! HBO’s His Dark Materials is an enjoyable, respectful rendition of Philip Pullman’s beloved novels If the makers of His Dark Materials felt any major pressure to deliver an out-of-the-park rendition of one of the most cherished epic fantasy trilogies ever published, it doesn’t show in the finished product. Co-producers HBO and the BBC clearly had fun while respecting novelist Philip Pullman’s acclaimed work, bringing magic to a sumptuous vision of a steampunk Victorian England, complete with metal airships and talking animals – among them snow leopard, monkey, hawk, pine marten and moth – known as daemons, which symbolise human souls (something only the main cast members seem to have). Jiminy Cricket: rebooted. Like an eight-part Aesop’s Fables with CGI, His Dark Materials poses assorted philosophical and moral questions that certain among us would prefer were not asked. Life and death, academic freedom, the follies of organised religion and the demise of God, they say, are subjects that have no place in a work supposedly aimed at young, impressionable minds. But Gulliver’s Travels wasn’t really a children’s entertainment either. Perhaps they’re confused by the central role of Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen, 14, whose life will never be the same again), a bloody-minded, argumentative orphan girl brought up in an Oxford college and determined to be an explorer like her uncle, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy). But Lyra, though she doesn’t realise it, is “a child with a great destiny”, as foretold in a prophecy familiar to the witches of the northern wilderness, who know a thing or two. Viewers looking for a post- Game of Thrones world to inhabit should chart a course for HBO or HBO Go on Tuesdays at 10am (repeats at 10pm on HBO) and sign up for this cerebral adventure … with angry armoured polar bears.