BBC Two, 9pm



Daily Telegraph

Sunday 22 January Television

Returning to HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time since his similarly themed 2018 series Britain’s Biggest Warship, Chris Terrill’s established rapport with the crew pays real dividends in terms of access and honest appraisals of life for some of the 1,600 on board. This floating city is setting off on its first operational voyage, a seven-month journey to the South China Sea; following a moraleboosting trip from the late Queen herself (the series was filmed in 2021), the opening episode takes in the leg to Italy. We meet logistics able seaman Helayna Birkett (one of just 208 women on board), strait-laced second officer of the watch John Hawke (his calendar features “Nuns Having Fun”) and chef Ronnie Lambert, an effortlessly engaging guide to the ship with frank views on eggs, uniform and the troubles that led him to join up – troubles which still dog him, as he is disciplined for going AWOL. Amid the banter there are military exercises, a fire and the attentions of a Russian intelligence ship, necessitating an ostentatious demonstration that, while Britannia may no longer rule the waves, she at least remains a significant presence on them. A fascinating insight to life aboard. Gabriel Tate