Mad Men

Say what you like about its foreign policy and its attitude to climate change, but the US has given the world some great TV and Mad Men is the latest in the tradition that produced The West Wing, The Sopranos, The Wire etc.

The first episode was screened in the UK last weekend and, if the next 12 are as good as the first, I reckon that's my Sunday evenings sorted out for the next three months.

(It's shown at 10pm (BBC4) and repeated on BBC2 on Tuesday nights at 11.20pm and BBC4 on Thursday nights at 11.00pm.)

Mad Men is the name advertising executives on Madison Avenue gave themselves in the so-called golden era of American consumerism – when the men (and they were all men) who sold the goods were the gods of US commerce.

It was also a time when sexism and racism were as commonplace as smoking and long boozy lunches – all of which are very much in evidence in Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency where the action in Mad Men takes place.

The hero is Don Draper (left), the firm's star copywriter, who in the first episode – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – must come up with a novel way to sell Lucky Strikes in the wake of medical evidence that smoking is damaging to your health.

Created and written by Matthew Weiner, who wrote the last two series of The Sopranos, Mad Men is both great drama and a fascinating insight into a very different era.

It doesn't quite make up for George W Bush, but it's a start…