TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Syndicate 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA Newsagent Frank (Neil Morrissey) has scarpered overseas with his customers’ lottery cash. The lousy swine is currently in a Monaco casino, acting like James Bond. If James Bond sold papers for a living and owned a big Irish wolfhound, that is. He ought to be watching his back, because Keeley (Katherine Rose Morley) isn’t admitting defeat. Despite having no luck with the police, who don’t believe her, or the lottery company, who are essentially incompetent, she’s rallying the rest of the syndicate to take action. And, as we saw in last week’s flash-forward, they’re set to make it to Monte Carlo. They’ll need to find Frank quickly or there won’t be enough money left to buy a packet of bonbons. It looks as though, from here…

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Line of Duty 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA OF THE WEEK “Sometimes you don’t lose, son, you just run out of time,” a defeated Ted (Adrian Dunbar) sighed last week. It certainly feels like time has run out for AC-12 as DCS Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) hovers balefully in the wings, a woman who could make staring through glass partitions into performance art. It’s the end of an era. Jed Mercurio has delivered a blockbuster of a sixth series and the cast — Dunbar especially — have risen to the job of leading us by the nose through his maze of a plot. Now we must learn where that maze leads, and what monster we might confront at the end. The artist formerly known as “H”, now “the fourth man”: who is…

SUNDAY Choices
MONDAY Choices

MONDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Viewpoint 9.00pm ITV DRAMA New series There are some early, uncomfortable (though accidental) real-life parallels at the start of Ed Whitmore’s thriller when a young woman disappears. There are appeals, “Missing” posters and vigils after primary-school teacher Gemma vanishes. But then we lurch into low-key thriller territory as police officer Martin Young (Noel Clarke), who’s suffered a catastrophic failure of confidence after A Bad Thing happened on another case, is brought in to conduct surveillance on Gemma’s boyfriend. Martin takes up his position in the flat of young mum Zoe (No Offence’s Alexandra Roach) on the opposite side of the street. But he quickly compromises himself after he responds to a family emergency, while Zoe seems to have a surveillance mission of her own. Viewpoint is more Front Window than Rear…

The UK at a glance

Liverpool Trial outdoor gig: A crowd of 5,000 people will get the chance to attend a “near-normal” outdoor gig in Liverpool next weekend as part of a government trial. The event at Sefton Park on 2 May will be headlined by the Manchester band Blossoms. The crowd will not have to wear masks or be socially distanced, but will have to take a rapid lateral flow Covid test before arriving at the event; take another test after the gig; and provide contact details to NHS Test and Trace. The concert is one of a series of pilot events, alongside an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium last weekend. However, music industry leaders complained that not enough had been done for events to go ahead; organisers of the 70,000-person Boomtown festival near…

The UK at a glance
Wednesday

Wednesday

DOCUMENTARY Ukraine: the People’s Fight 9.00pm BBC2 Catch up via iPlayer Compared to some recent conflicts, we have seen comparatively little reportage of fighting on the front line of the war in Ukraine. But if you wanted a film-maker to tell that story and capture its human context, you would struggle to find anyone better than Olly Lambert, who has won an Emmy, two Baftas and sundry other awards for such insightful documentaries as Channel 4’s 2013 Dispatches film Syria: Across the Lines and BBC2’s One Day in Gaza in 2019, focusing on ordinary people caught in extraordinary situations. For this film, Lambert spent two months on Ukraine’s southern front, with access to a group of volunteer special forces as they began the drive to retake the port city of Kherson — a campaign…

Thursday

DRAMA The English 9.00pm BBC2 Full series available on iPlayer from today NEW SERIES Emily Blunt doesn’t generally do TV: she’s a movie star. Her last small-screen role was in a 2009 episode of The Simpsons and, like Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown, she has made sure that when she returns to TV, it’s worth it, working here with writer-director Hugo Blick, whose previous credits include The Shadow Line and Black Earth Rising. The result is mesmerising, a dark and weighty western with Blunt as an aristocratic Englishwoman set on revenge. She comes to America in search of the man she blames for the death of her son, but as we meet her — somewhere on the plains of Oklahoma, by a rickety hotel — that quest runs into trouble. Also in trouble is Pawnee…

Thursday
Monday

Monday

DOCUMENTARY Trailblazers: a Rocky Mountain Road Trip 9.00pm BBC2 Catch up via iPlayer NEW SERIES Three celebs head off on an adventure, lightly joshing, highly competitive and trying out new skills. If it sounds like an episode of Gordon, Gino and Fred, don’t be surprised, as this is made by Gordon Ramsay’s production company. But instead, we have Ruby Wax, Scary Spice Mel Brown and Inbetweeners actor Emily Atack pitching up at a remote bar near Cheyenne, Wyoming. They’re following the trail of the astonishing Isabella Bird, an English woman who, in her early 40s, decided to cross the Colorado Rockies in 1873 on her own. Bird’s story is one of rugged endurance (and a hint of romance with a one-eyed outlaw). For our modern travellers, it’s slightly easier, but even if they look like…

TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Who Do You Think You Are? 9.00pm BBC1 (10.35pm Wales) GENEALOGY There are some outings in this series that you’re best not knowing too much about in advance. Part of the pleasure is experiencing the ancestral bolts-from-the-blue as they happen, particularly for this series opener, where comedian Josh Widdicombe gets bolt after bolt — and is enjoyably dumbfounded. “I’m not who I thought I was,” he muses at one stage, his mental furniture shifting to accommodate a fresh set of revelations. At another point he wonders aloud “if this is all a big prank” — very understandable. Widdicombe grew up in a remote Devon village and after chatting to his parents, he starts by investigating a rumour that one of their forebears came from the Barings banking family. It seems a…

EASTER DAY

EASTER DAY

PICK OF THE DAY The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe 9.00pm ITV DRAMA New series The bizarre true story of insurance fraudster John Darwin, who in 2002 faked his own death by staging a kayaking accident off the Durham coast, is dramatised this week in four parts by Chris Lang, creator of the classy Unforgotten. Bedsit landlords John and his wife Anne (Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan) have overinvested and are heading for bankruptcy; to avoid that, he concocts the scheme that will ruin their oblivious sons’ lives. What feels like a clumsy-criminal farce when John lays down his idea the purposes of phase one of my plan, we will need to remind people of my historic love of canoeing”) soon becomes a grim and tawdry tale: he is a seedy, narcissistic manipulator…

MONDAY Choices

MONDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Sherwood 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA New series There may be times watching this masterly drama from writer James Graham when you find yourself needing one of those police display boards with photos on and lines showing the connections between people. It’s complicated. There’s a rich web of characters, each of them fully formed and played by someone who, in other circumstances, might be top of a cast list. Put simply, we’re in a Nottinghamshire mining town, where the community still bears scars of divisions from the miners’ strike of the 1980s. Grudges are held. History matters. “We never forget round ’ere,” says one local. And at a wedding reception Gary (Alun Armstrong) notes that “If looks could kill, we’d have a dozen knives in us back.” Graham is best known for…

Roads must fall

ON DECEMBER 5TH a small group of people carefully removed a sign marking Cassland Road Gardens in London and laid it on the ground. Thus was one corner of the capital purged of its association with an offensive historical figure—John Cass, an early-18th-century slave trader. It was a modest event, noticed by few, which suited the organisers. “It makes more sense to do it this way,” says Toyin Agbetu, a researcher and activist. The other way is more spectacular. Last June a Bristol crowd inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement pulled down a statue of Edward Colston, another slave trader, and rolled it into the harbour. In the same week activists in Glasgow erected alternative street signs, replacing tobacco barons with black heroes. Elsewhere, statues were daubed with paint. Vigilante…

Roads must fall
Sunday

Sunday

SPORT World Cup Football Qatar v Ecuador 3.00pm (kick-off 4pm) BBC1; highlights 10.50pm ITV1 Expect the usual all-singing, all-dancing, more than slightly baffling Opening Ceremony as the 22nd World Cup begins at Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium. And once that flim-flam is out of the way, the host nation play their first match, against Ecuador. It marks the start of one of the most controversial World Cups ever. The spectre of Qatar’s human rights record, its attitude towards same-sex relationships and its treatment of migrant workers hangs over the entire tournament. Questions about all of those are likely to persist, no matter how good the football. And the football could be very good indeed. The 32 teams taking part really do represent the cream of the game; and the winter start (to dodge the punishing temperatures…

FRIDAY Choices

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY This Time with Alan Partridge 9.30pm BBC1 COMEDY Alan has one of his on-air bust-ups: Guardian journalist Dan Milner (played by a big guest star) has dared to criticise This Time for being shallow — the very thought. Alan’s riposte is almost too good, ranting that The Guardian is full of “posh men pretending to be ordinary because they’ve got teenage sons and a messy hallway”. But as usual, it’s his casual asides that deliver the most laughs, his mad digressions about hand-dryers on trains, Hamilton or Spaghetti Junction. You have to love the way he’s always on the brink of self-destructing, a brink he might cross during a segment testing champagne cocktails. Alan sober is a handful; Alan tipsy is a fiasco. The show opens with a set piece, Alan’s…

TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Our Yorkshire Farm 9.00pm Channel 5 DOCUMENTARY For many Our Yorkshire Farm fans, five-year-old Clemmy is a star of the show, with her sunshine face and endless chatter. So they’ll share her mum and dad’s mix of pride and anxiety as she leaves Ravenseat Farm in the Dales for her first day at school. You might remember that last year Amanda and Clive Owen decided to keep Clemmy at home for another year, but now, says Amanda, Clemmy is ready. It’s back to school for all of the younger Owen children who’ve been on the farm for the months of lockdown, helping out and learning along the way. As they spend the last few days of summer together, Clemmy prepares her beloved Tony the pony for her absence, and four-year-old…

SUNDAY Choices

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Grace 8.00pm ITV DRAMA Arthur Darvill is this week’s guest star and he’s playing the kind of wealthy socialite that Columbo would have relished bringing to book in the 1970s. You’ll recognise the type: smug, arrogant and crying out to have his pomposity pricked. But Kit Bishop does differ from those lubricious antagonists in one key respect, as we can’t be certain that he’s murdered his wife Katya. He definitely has motive, with a life insurance policy recently taken out in her name making him look particularly guilty. But as the police team gathers evidence, it quickly becomes apparent that if Bishop did the deed, he’d have needed to be in two places at the same time. Before the two-hour running time is up, expect twists aplenty (some convincing, others ludicrous),…

HOT TV THIS WEEK!

NEW His Dark Materials Sun, 7pm, BBC1 Fantasy drama (box set, iPlayer) Will (Amir Wilson) and Lyra (Dafne Keen) must come to terms with their destinies as the final series of the epic fantasy drama gets under way. Lyra, however, has been kidnapped by her mother, Mrs Coulter (Ruth Wilson), who claims she wants to keep her safe. As Will embarks on a quest to find her, he crosses paths once more with imposing polar bear Iorek Byrnison. Meanwhile, James McAvoy is back as Lyra’s single-minded father Lord Asriel, who’s determined to wage war on the ominous Authority at any cost. P9 Strike LAST IN SERIES! Sunday & Monday, 9pm, BBC1 Drama As Robin and Cormoran continue their investigations into what happened to GP Margot Bamborough, who vanished in 1974, Cormoran secures an interview with serial killer Dennis…

HOT TV THIS WEEK!
WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY H2 O: the Molecule That Made Us 9.00pm BBC4 DOCUMENTARY OF THE WEEK New series Clouds churn. Rivers splash. Deserts bloom. This US series about water is full of dream-like visuals, beautifully filmed. They illustrate a well-crafted story about what the programme calls “Earth’s bloodstream” — the “pulse” of water cycles that human societies have harnessed so successfully, but also to breaking point. Engaging experts talk us through the big picture: a biologist tracks the astonishing lifecycle of a dragonfly that migrates from India to Africa. A Brazilian Earth scientist tracks “aerial rivers” that flow from forests. And a South African botanist illustrates how some plants can “resurrect”: despite drying to the point where their internal tissue is like glass, they can rehydrate and soften back to life, in the…

SATURDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Killing Eve 9.15pm BBC1 DRAMA There has been such an outcry on social media about this final episode that you may already have a rough idea about what happens to Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and Eve (Sandra Oh). But no spoilers here. It has taken a while, but the pair have now accepted — and embraced — their bond. Their scenes together, playing silly games with sweets or teasing each other about being a psychopath, are a delight. That’s not to say there isn’t violence. Eve has toughened up a lot since we first met her and one of the final scenes is very bloody, even though it’s depicted in a stylised way to a disco backbeat. If you’re disappointed by the finale (although it has humour, emotion, death, an unexpected twist…

SATURDAY Choices
SATURDAY Choices

SATURDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Great Garden Revolution 8.15pm C4 GARDENING If your garden is less Chelsea Flower Show and more overgrown wasteland, this is the makeover show for you. Back for a second series, its idea is to inspire us to get out into our gardens and enjoy reconnecting with the natural world, but it’s aimed squarely at the novice. Down-to-earth presenters Joel Bird, Errol Reuben Fernandes and Bruce Kenneth are a cheery lot who don’t baffle us with horticultural science but instead offer wheelbarrow-loads of easy-to-follow tips and guidance. Errol’s masterclass on pruning and propagation make it look a cinch. They start with an “endless sea of gravel and weeds” in Chichester that its owners want to be transformed into an oasis of tranquillity and harmony. There are also film reports from the…

MONDAY Choices

MONDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Springwatch 8.00pm BBC2 NATURE You don’t have to be a naturalist or have a PhD in zoology to enjoy this BBC perennial. As the series demonstrates in its commentary-free “Mindfulness Moments”, there are huge mental-health benefits to watching scenes from nature. Such was the theme of host Chris Packham’s 2021 documentary The Walk That Made Me (which is still on iPlayer). For the next three weeks he and co-host Micheala Strachan will marshal all the wildlife action from their “hide” at Wild Ken Hill in Norfolk (boars, badgers, bees and bats are anticipated), while trying (not) to make each other laugh. Iolo Williams will be back on the Isle of Mull, where eagles both white-tailed and golden are to be found, as he explores a wild meadow that’s home to small…

MONDAY Highlights

Mary Berry’s Ultimate Christmas NEW FOOD 8PM, BBC1 (Scotland, Tuesday) Mary is joined by presenter Rylan and chefs Angela Hartnett and Monica Galetti as she shows us how to make the ultimate Christmas dinner, using recipes she’s honed over 50 years. Mary serves up stilton-and-sage canapés followed by a lemon-and-herb roast turkey with all the trimmings. And if you’ve still got room for dessert, there’s her traditional Christmas pudding and a festive trifle. Mary gives us plenty of tips and tricks to make the whole day easy and fuss-free, but maybe her most challenging task is to convert Rylan into a lover of Brussels sprouts… ★★★★★ NH ● See feature, page 20 QI XL NEW ENTERTAINMENT 9PM, BBC2 Sandi Toksvig hosts a festive edition of the ‘quite interesting’ panel show, as Gyles Brandreth, Aisling Bea and…

MONDAY Highlights
WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Hollington Drive 9.00pm ITV DRAMA The way the lives of the characters in Hollington Drive are painted is clearly a bit silly, but it’s also riveting in the most achingly joyless and tormented way. The misery is precisely rendered by writer Sophie Petzal, director Carolina Giammetta and whoever it was that created those antiseptic, show-home interiors. Even the police station is stark and bare, for heaven’s sake — more OCD than CID. Meanwhile, the ugliness of the story is ticking away nicely. The time bomb still to explode is the secret affair between head teacher Helen (Rachael Stirling) and Gareth (Jonas Armstrong), brooding father of the dead boy. But there’s also the small matter of Theresa (Anna Maxwell Martin) inventing/improvising a story to protect her son, which has led to the…

MONDAY Choices

MONDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY No Return 9.00pm ITV DRAMA New series For the second week running, Sheridan Smith’s face is the picture of anguish as she again plays a character plunged into a nightmare scenario. In Channel 5’s The Teacher, she was an educator thrown into a tailspin following allegations of sexual misconduct. And here Smith faces more agony as Kathy, a Mancunian mum on a family holiday in Turkey who’s left reeling when her 16-year-old son Noah is arrested on suspicion of committing a serious crime. With her on-screen life so full of trauma, we can only hope Smith fills any downtime with yoga and meditation. Because, if this first episode of four is anything to go by, there’s not going to be much let-up for her here. As soon as the Turkish police…

SUNDAY Choices

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Marriage 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA This is such a beautifully strange, low-octane drama. I like the way the theme music comes in via an odd, fractured start with voices shouting “To the side… through the middle…” Like so much of Marriage, it feels disconcerting but right. We’re approaching a crisis in the story as nervy Emma (Nicola Walker) heads off to the work conference that has hung over her and husband Ian (Sean Bean) for a while, because there is something, however unlikely, in the air between her and her boss Jamie, despite the fact he is a total slimeball: Ian suspects something and at some level Emma is tempted. As we cut between the conference and Ian’s rising unease, writer-director Stefan Golaszewski crafts a neat structure so that minutiae and shards…

MONDAY Choices

MONDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Stephen 9.00pm ITV DRAMA New series Thirteen years after 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a racially motivated attack at a south-east London bus stop, his parents were still waiting for justice to be done despite three investigations, six investigating officers and a public inquiry. As his mother Doreen subsequently said about the police’s incompetence and institutionalised racism: “To them it was just another black boy who’d been stabbed.” This sequel to the 1999 Bafta-winning drama The Murder of Stephen Lawrence traces the efforts of DCI Clive Driscoll (a very believable Steve Coogan as a policeman with integrity) to solve a case that “nobody wants to touch with a barge pole” by using what he calls common-sense coppering. No matter how often you’ve heard the details of the case, it’s…

FRIDAY Choices

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Death in Paradise 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA Not much has been made of the shady past of canny Marlon Pryce (Tahj Miles) since he went straight and put on his police uniform. But he’s about to find his loyalties torn when someone he knows from his years as a grifter on the streets of Saint Marie is implicated in the shooting of a successful reggae rap artist known as the Infamous T. As we see in the opening minutes, this former associate of Marlon’s, Layla Carpenter, was at the scene of the crime while in possession of a firearm. And there’s no getting away from the fact that the murder victim has a nasty bullet hole in the centre of his forehead. But are things as clear cut as they initially…

SUNDAY Choices

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Marriage 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA New series You may need to adjust your settings to get the most from Stefan Golaszewski’s new drama. This is no crash-bang domestic soap opera with claws out and sparks flying. It’s a patient, microscopic look at the repressed pain in a suburban marriage and it is brilliantly (sometimes maddeningly) low-key. There are arguments about baked potatoes and discussions of holes in underwear. There’s chat about how much or little things cost. There are enough pauses to fill a Pinter play. But underneath the strained surface of Nicola Walker and Sean Bean’s performances we know there’s a well of agony that never gets talked about. Walker and Bean are terrific as Emma and Ian, with James Bolam adding a grim presence as Emma’s elderly father. In…

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

PICK OF THE DAY wife Call the Mid 8.00pm BB C1 DRAMA Brides-to-be on TV dramas are forever experiencing last-minute hitches, but the run-up to Lucille’s wedding to Cyril proves to be particularly fraught. She gets sloshed at the hen night and sustains an injury that you’d expect to see on a prize-fighter after a 12-round bout. So, with desperate times calling for desperate measures, Dr Turner comes up with an idea for treatment that may leave you squirming (and that’s a big hint, by the way) on the sofa. But what’s uplifting is the sight of everyone rallying round Lucille in her hour of need. And that’s the charming thing about this year’s Christmas special: it’s a real love letter to the idea of community and the bonds that form when family members…

The main stories… …and how they were covered

What happened The dirty dozen Plans for a breakaway “European Super League” (ESL) competition that would have changed the face of European football collapsed in ignominy this week, in the wake of a furious backlash from fans, players and politicians. The £3.45bn venture, drawn up by the 12 biggest clubs in England, Spain and Italy (“the dirty dozen”), was designed to reshape elite European football in the image of North American sports leagues. The Uefa Champions League – currently the continent’s pre-eminent competition – pits clubs that have won top spots in their domestic leagues against each other. So its participants vary every year. But in the ESL, which would have killed off the Champions League, 15 mega teams (the dirty dozen and three others) would have battled it out each year,…

The main stories… …and how they were covered
TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY 9/11: inside the President’s War Room 8.30pm BBC1 DOCUMENTARY OF THE WEEK “An ordinary Tuesday” is how Condoleezza Rice describes the early hours of 11 September 2001. We see President George W Bush going for his morning run at 6.40am, cajoling a reporter to join him. We hear how he had his CIA briefing at 8am — nothing much to note. He recalls how news reached him (he was in Florida) of the first plane striking the North Tower of the World Trade Center; it appeared to be a shocking accident. This superb documentary charts the unfolding crisis, minute by minute. At 9.03am, the second plane hits the South Tower (still horrifying to watch) and the White House Chief of Staff walks on to the stage where the President is…

WE NEED ANSWERS

WE NEED ANSWERS

IT’S a tragedy that’s torn two families apart. Two schoolfriends are behind a closed bedroom door. A shot rings out and one boy is left lying bloody and lifeless on the floor while the other is too traumatised to speak. Three months after their son’s death, Tim and Julie Edwards are still grappling to come to terms with what happened on the afternoon of 5 January. Julie had dropped their son, Joshua (17), at his friend’s house in Centurion that day. Two hours later, she got the news no parent should ever hear. Her child was dead. Now the family is desperately trying to get answers to their many questions. Why was a loaded shotgun in a boy’s room? Why was it pointed at Josh? Why was the trigger pulled? “We wish we knew,”…

WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS

WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS

The Repair Shop • REAL LIFE / 8pm / BBC1 Metalwork expert Dom has his work cut out to fix an old metal roundabout brought in by Stella. Her daughters used to love playing with it and now she hopes her grandchildren will do the same. Symbolising loss and renewed hope, it’s a very special and emotional repair. Elsewhere, master saddle maker Suzie is delighted to be brought an actual saddle by Sara, who bought it while having a Wild West adventure. And as Will fixes a wooden box that’s survived two world wars, the Teddy Bear Ladies transform a little singing bear that means the start of a new life for its owner. JL Building the Dream • PROPERTY / 9pm / More4 NEW Architect Charlie Luxton presents as a new batch of self-builders attempt…

WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Accused: National Treasures on Trial 9.00pm C4 DOCUMENTARY It’s been ten years since Operation Yewtree saw many entertainers and household names put in the frame over allegations of historic sex crimes. While some were convicted, what was the fallout for those who weren’t? Now, Sir Cliff Richard, Paul Gambaccini and Neil Fox, who all faced accusations but were never charged with let alone convicted of any crime, tell their stories in this one-off documentary. Reflecting on the now infamous incident when the BBC filmed as the police searched his home, Richard says they didn’t want “a fact or some truth — they wanted a scoop”. This directly precedes Danny Shaw, former BBC home affairs correspondent, stating that he thought it was in the public interest to report the story…

FRIDAY Choices

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY This Time with Alan Partridge 9.30pm BBC1 (BBC2 in Wales) COMEDY OF THE WEEK We haven’t got far into this week’s show before Alan’s indelible sexism breaks cover. He congratulates co-presenter Jennie on her recent grilling of a politician, then veers off on an ill-advised spiel about why vocal woman are, of course, a good thing: “At the end of the day, hen-pecking works,” Alan (Steve Coogan) explains. “That’s why hens do it.” It’s one of many golden moments of awfulness, as another edition of This Time stumbles onto the airwaves, taking in Alan’s bizarre on-air present to Jennie (Susannah Fielding) and more tense exchanges with reporter Ruth Duggan (Lolly Adefope) and graphics wrangler Simon (Tim Key). I’m sworn to silence on the identity of the final studio guest, but it’s…

Nobel’s legacy

Nobel’s legacy

What happens on 10 December? The date marks the death of Alfred Nobel, the 19th century industrialist who instituted five prizes “to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind” – in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine, literature and the pursuit of peace. Since 1901, the first four prizes have been handed out on that date by the Swedish monarch before the “feast of feasts”, a royal gala banquet in Stockholm; in 1969, another prize, in economics, was added to them in Nobel’s memory to celebrate the 300th birthday of the Swedish central bank. On the same day, the peace prize is awarded in Oslo at a rather less grand celebration. Who was Alfred Nobel? He was a vastly successful chemist, engineer and businessman. Born into…

SUNDAY Choices

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Time 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA OF THE WEEK The first episode of a drama lays out the ground, but often it’s the second that really gets to work on the meat of things. Writer Jimmy McGovern certainly gets into his stride here. With a top-notch cast he delivers scene after scene full of quiet, crushing pain — then the occasional burst of horror for good measure. There are nicely sketched subplots showing how minor characters ended up inside — casualties of violence or poverty or pride. But our main focus is prison officer Eric, now caught in an impossible bind: if he refuses to help the wing’s drug dealers, his son (who is doing time at another prison) could be killed. Stephen Graham gives a numb, dead-eyed performance of a man…

FRIDAY Choices

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY MasterChef 8.30pm BBC1 FOOD Although my taste in food is not the same as Gregg Wallace’s (I’m not really a pudding person), I do agree with him about the standard of cooking on MasterChef this year. It’s been higher than ever. One or two of the home cooks have been serving restaurant-quality food from the very start — and by that, I mean dishes you’d be happy to pay a lot of money for. That’s not to say there haven’t been any disasters. This year’s “chocolate fondant” — as John Torode and Gregg describe the show’s famous culinary landmines — was rack of lamb. They were served undercooked meat with lumps of unrendered fat so many times, they started to cringe whenever anyone said they were doing lamb. However, it’s unlikely…

SUNDAY Choices

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Line of Duty 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA OF THE WEEK Last Sunday left us dangling from the cruellest of cliffhangers. We never saw what happened at the vacant lot where Jo lured Kate for a fateful stand-off with Ryan Pilkington. The screen cut to black and shots were fired. But… but… who died and who survived? My lips are sealed. Tonight’s entire plot is under embargo — and we’ve all seen what happens to rats. But as Ted, Steve and Chloe arrive at the scene, it’s acid ice-queen DCS Patricia Carmichael who takes charge. Deliciously played by Anna Maxwell Martin, Carmichael is quite the piece of work. With her weary tone and glazed smile, she treats Ted like an old has-been even as his time in the job ticks down. “It’s…

Europe at a glance

Dublin Mountbatten apology: Sinn Féin has for the first time apologised for the IRA’s assassination of Lord Mountbatten in 1979. Speaking after the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, a nephew of Mountbatten, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said: “I am sorry that happened”, describing the murder as “heartbreaking”. Mountbatten was on a fishing trip off the coast of Sligo when a bomb tore through his small boat, killing him and three others, including his 14-year-old grandson and a 15-year-old local boy. McDonald’s predecessor, Gerry Adams, had previously expressed regret for the murder, but said that Mountbatten had known the risk of visiting Ireland. Berlin A Green Chancellor?: In a reflection of its growing strength, Germany’s Green party has, for the first time, nominated a candidate to stand as chancellor in September’s…

Europe at a glance
MONDAY Choices

MONDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Innocent 9.00pm ITV DRAMA OF THE WEEK If you’re one of the many viewers mourning Unforgotten, this might help. It, too, comes from the mighty pen of Chris Lang (who co-created this with Matt Arlidge) and uses the same basic idea of multiple characters connected to one appalling murder — though we can’t be sure how — as well as Lang’s brilliance at sketching lives that hold secrets. You may remember the first series, from 2018, which starred Lee Ingleby. Here another protagonist is released from prison when their conviction for murder is overturned. Sally (Katherine Kelly) was a Keswick school teacher accused of killing a student with whom she was said to be having an affair. Now, after five years, new evidence exonerates her and she walks free. Of course,…

Thursday

Thursday

DRAMA The English 9.00pm BBC2 Full series available now on iPlayer Deep wrongs. Old grievances. Sudden betrayals. Where would a half-decent western be without a sprinkling of the above? Hugo Blick certainly crams as many as he can into his more than decent western. We’re getting used to the way each encounter we see, however polite, thrums with potential or actual violence. “Everything’s got a price,” one character warns — the kind of sweeping statement that might not mean much if we weren’t seeing it played out in practice, horribly and often. While Cornelia drives her wagon over the landscape (parts of Spain standing in for Kansas), hoping to return the orphans to their family, she keeps a lookout for bushwhackers. We meet several, including a sweary widow in tinted goggles called Black Eyed…

FRIDAY Choices

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY First Night of the Proms 7.15pm BBC2 MUSIC Verdi’s Requiem feels like the perfect choice to launch the 2022 season. After two years of scaled-back concerts with reduced ensembles on stage, the Royal Albert Hall can now entertain something colossal, a work encompassing death and rebirth, even the wrath of God — belted out by the massed forces of the BBC Symphony Chorus and Crouch End Festival Chorus. No stranger to the First Night (he’s been in charge four times in the past decade), Sakari Oramo conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Also front of stage will be the four soloists: mezzo Jennifer Johnston, tenor Freddie De Tommaso, bass-baritone Kihwan Sim and soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, who bagged the Song Prize in last year’s BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. Clive Myrie…

FRIDAY Choices

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY My Name Is Leon 9.00pm BBC2 DRAMA “You’re a special kid,” an adult tells ten-year-old Leon at one stage in this touching drama adapted from Kit de Waal’s 2016 novel. He certainly is, and newcomer Cole Martin plays him with incredible poise as a child wise beyond his years caught in a strange and upsetting adult world. We join Leon as his baby brother Jake arrives and their mum struggles to cope. The boys have different fathers, both absent, and as Leon tries to take care of the baby, his mother goes on a downward spiral and social services must step in. We’re in Birmingham in the early 1980s when, we gather, child protection could be a dicey business and, while kindly foster-parent Maureen (Monica Dolan) does her best, Leon…

TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Toast of Tinseltown 10.00pm BBC2 SITCOM New series It had to happen. Jobbing actor Steven Toast, worn down by pedant-controlled voiceovers and run-ins with virtually everyone, is finally offered the chance of a lifetime: an audition to appear in a Hollywood film. Matt Berry’s ego-driven antihero has moved from Channel 4, too, after three successful series of Toast of London. But first we find Toast in familiar territory: back in the recording booth, irked by both producer Clem Fandango and a fussy novelist (an awesome cameo that’s a feather in the show’s cap). His agent Jane Plough (Doon Mackichan) has good news, but Toast is so surly and oppositional now that he’s forced to visit an anger management guru called Des Wigwam (Kayvan Novak, who does fine work wherever he…

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Great British Sewing Bee 9.00pm BBC1 CRAFT I bet the remaining contestants won’t want to watch Peaky Blinders again after tonight’s first challenge. This week’s theme is gentlemen’s classics and they are tasked with making a baker boy cap — although there’s no suggestion of sewing a razor blade into the peak. They’ve also got to make a utility jacket, which Joe Lycett assumes must be like a utility room and have a tumble dryer in it. Esme Grant patiently explains that it’s a practical jacket for outdoor types made in tough material and featuring at least three pockets “to keep your sandwiches, compass… and grenades in”. It would be handy if there was one for tissues, too, as there’s one disastrous outfit that makes its creator very weepy. Perhaps…

WEDNESDAY Choices

The main stories……and how they were covered

What happened Cummings’s revenge Boris Johnson came under growing pressure this week to explain how the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat was paid for, amid Labour claims that he was trying to orchestrate a cover-up. It was one of several allegations levelled at the PM: he was also accused by unidentified sources of having screamed last autumn: “No more f**king lockdowns – let the bodies pile high.” The PM’s trouble began when No. 10 sources accused his former aide Dominic Cummings of being behind a series of damaging leaks, including of text messages between the PM and the businessman Sir James Dyson (see page 22). Days later, Cummings hit back with an incendiary blog post in which he denied the charge – and accused the PM of incompetence and impropriety. He claimed…

The main stories……and how they were covered
TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Hemingway 9.00pm BBC4 DOCUMENTARY OF THE WEEK New series The opening shot pans slowly over a handwritten page of one of Ernest Hemingway’s manuscripts, animating the crossings-out and revisions. It’s a vivid way to bring his writing process to life, and because this is a Ken Burns series, there are other neat touches, as well as his subtly edited use of monochrome stills in a way that makes us almost feel we have seen film footage when we haven’t. You don’t need to be a great Hemingway fan to become absorbed in his life story, and it is beautifully told here, digging beneath the myths. When he lived in Paris in the 1920s, for instance, Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, were not in fact penniless, as he later…

WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Extraordinary Twins 9.00pm ITV DOCUMENTARY Programmes about conjoined twins can appear difficult to watch, initially, but this two-parter (concluding tomorrow) is very much worth it, a life-enhancing look at how people — twins, parents, surgeons — adapt to the most extreme challenges. The main focus is a family in Idaho: Nick and Chelsea face an impossible decision over whether to have surgery to separate their twin daughters, joined from the chest down. To help decide, they meet 20-year-old Carmen and Lupita (featured in Channel 4’s excellent Two Sisters, One Body last year), who have remained joined, but also five-year-old twins in California who were successfully separated. Which route is better? There is no right answer. Meanwhile, we follow the risky surgery involved in separating Turkish twins Yigit and Derman at Great…

WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Bay 9.00pm ITV DRAMA The first week in a new job ordinarily involves getting a computer log-in from IT support. Maybe sussing out the office politics. Finding space in the communal fridge. Certainly not mobilising the workforce to help find your missing teenage son, who’s disappeared off the face of the earth. But this is the crisis that DS Jenn Townsend is now facing and, despite a night spent searching the streets of Morecambe, young Conor has yet to turn up. Unsurprisingly, this tense situation has resulted in her stepping back temporarily from the Saif Rahman case. Which is a shame, as the team left in the office has now hit a brick wall. “We’ve got nothing. We’re back at square one,” says a despondent DI Tony Manning, as…

FRIDAY Choices

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Have I Got News for You 9.00pm BBC1 ENTERTAINMENT Panel shows are of-the-moment. They come and go. Yes, a lucky few of them come, go and come back again years later, like Never Mind the Buzzcocks, recently revived by Sky, or (at the less rock’ n’ roll end of things) Blankety Blank, which returned on Saturday to BBC1. But only one series emerged from the early-1990s panel-show boom and has simply kept going ever since, fronted by the same team captains now as it was for series one in 1990. Tonight marks the start of series 62 of Have I Got News for You and at its best the comedy still feels sharp, the satire still has teeth – or perhaps dentures at this point. As RT goes to press there…

TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Rules of the Game 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMANew series Maxine Peake fans are in clover right now. She battled through five hours of Anne and The Real Anne last week and takes the lead in this slippery crime drama that starts with episodes tonight and tomorrow. Peake plays Sam, a sharp-tongued executive at a Cheshire sportswear firm where the workplace is a whirlpool of alcohol, drugs and sexism — as the new HR director, Maya, swiftly gathers on her first day. “If you snort coke and drop a pill, you can almost forget what it’s like to work here,” an underling suggests brightly. Maya (an excellently brittle Rakhee Thakrar) likes to play things by the HR book but that’s not the company way. She starts to wonder about Sam’s role in…

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Newsreader 9.00pm, 9.55pm BBC2 DRAMA New series It must take great skill to make the pussy-bow blouse you’re wearing quiver in disgust, but actress Anna Torv somehow manages it while playing Helen Norville, an Australian news anchor fighting to have her talent recognised at a 1980s commercial TV station. Helen initially appears to be all hairspray and indignation, and in a lesser drama would be painted as a one-note Dynasty-style “superbitch”. But The Newsreader is a classier product, and we soon realise that the power dress is merely the armour Helen must wear to battle both her dyspeptic male boss and her entitled veteran co-host. Much more of an ally is reporter Dale Jennings (Sam Reid) who, thanks to a personal crisis, gets to know the real Helen behind the…

SUNDAY Choices

Biden’s taxing problem

GOVERNMENTS RAISE most of their money by taxing wages, but President Joe Biden has his eyes fixed on the rich, big business and Wall Street. He proposes to fund his $2.7trn infrastructure plan in part by raising the corporate-tax rate from 21% to 28%. And to help pay for more spending on child care and support for parents, he wants to roughly double the top rate of federal tax on capital gains and dividends. For Americans earning more than $1m per year, he would bring levies on capital income into line with the top rate on wage income, which he wants to put up from 37% to 39.6%. That is about double the rate that is currently levied on rich investors, who are only a small fraction of the population…

Biden’s taxing problem
WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Great British Sewing Bee 9.00pm BBC1 CRAFT Someone’s got to win. It is a competition, after all. But the last three amateur sewists — who are all incredibly young — are equally talented and charming, so it’s impossible to choose between them. Even the little films about their family life and how they got into sewing didn’t make it any easier for me to pick a favourite. The theme is celebration and the bridesmaid dresses they make for their first challenge are so lovely that Esme Young announces she’d have them at her wedding… to Boy George. Patrick Grant, meanwhile, is so enamoured with one fabulous festival outfit in the transformation round that he can’t resist modelling it. Thankfully, though, he doesn’t try on the off-the-shoulder gown in the…

WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Before We Die 9.00pm C4 DRAMA OF THE WEEK New series It’s a striking opening for a crime drama: Bristol detective Hannah leads a raid on a drug-fuelled rave and her officers arrest a young dealer, Christian (Patrick Gibson). As he is led away, he sees Hannah. “Mum!” he gasps. “What have you done?” It’s the set-up for a story that will involve Hannah and Christian in more of the kind of high-stakes across-the-lines interplay you won’t find in any parenting manuals. Hannah is played by Lesley Sharp with her air of seen-it-all wisdom and a face that is so magnificently lined and creased it must be a cinematographer’s dream. From the keep-it-in-the-family arrest (a spell in prison follows), we jump forward two years and find Hannah in an affair…

SUNDAY Choices

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Chloe 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA New series Becky (Erin Doherty, most recently seen as Princess Anne in The Crown) has a boring, low-paid job as a temp and lives with her mother, who has early-onset dementia. Lonely and insecure, she yearns for the picture-perfect Instagram life of her former school friend Chloe (Poppy Gilbert), who she follows obsessively on social media. When Chloe suddenly and mysteriously dies, Becky reinvents herself as the confident and worldly Sasha and infiltrates Chloe’s friendship group. But why? Is it to find out what really happened to the friend she idolised, or could it be for some darker, more twisted purpose? Whatever the reason, she does it very cleverly, engineering a “chance” meeting with Chloe’s friend Livia (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and gradually gaining her confidence. Alice Seabright has written…

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

The Rescue ● DOCUMENTARY / Disney+ NEW When a junior football team and their coach became trapped inside a flooded cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in 2018, the daring attempt to rescue them made headlines all over the world. This documentary tells the story from the perspective of the rescuers – ordinary recreational cave divers who turned out to be the only people with the skills and equipment to carry out such a risky mission. Director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi expertly captures the sense of claustrophobia inside the flooded cave, while drawing out the details of the rescue by the incredibly humble heroes. ★★★★★ SP Greta ● FILM / 11.55pm (times vary) / BBC1 (not Scotland)/iPlayer PREMIERE Sweetly innocent out-of-town girl Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) returns a lost handbag she has found on the New York…

WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Great British Sewing Bee 8.00pm BBC1 CRAFT Patrick Grant dressed as Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer — could there be a better Christmas present for Sewing Bee fans? This hilarious fancy-dress outfit is made by the Rev Kate Bottley for the transformation challenge, in the first of two celebrity editions over the holiday fortnight — with Sara Pascoe hosting now Joe Lycett has become Channel 4’s Travel Man. Anneka Rice seems to prefer using a staple gun rather than doing any actual sewing, but then, as she says, “I’m better at building a community centre.” And Ghosts’ Kiell Smith-Bynoe forgets to thread his sewing machine at one point. Antony Cotton, however, has obviously seen the show before because he puts the world’s largest bow on his made-to-measure dress — and…

SATURDAY Choices

SATURDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Promise 9.00pm, 9.55pm BBC4 DRAMA New series A recent hit in France and set in the densely forested Landes region, The Promise is a twisty, involving six-parter from former Spiral showrunner Anne Landois. It begins during the storm that hit Europe over the Christmas period in 1999, as 11-year-old Charlotte Meyer is abducted by a man in a white van and never seen again. Rugged police captain Pierre Castaing (Olivier Marchal) is convinced that Serge Fouquet is guilty and boils with rage when his prime suspect is released. Suspended from duty, Castaing remains obsessed with the case, which takes its toll on his own family. Some years later at Bordeaux’s Juvenile Unit, an empathetic officer called Sarah (Sofia Essaïdi) has to put her Christmas plans on hold when another…

SATURDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway 7.00pm ITV ENTERTAINMENT The most exciting thing about the return of Saturday Night Takeaway isn’t really about Ant and/or Dec being back (are they ever not on TV?); it’s that the live audience is being reinstated. For obvious reasons, it’s been two years since SNT had that extra frisson and vigour, and although it coped without, it hasn’t been the same without an excitable bunch of fans in the studio. Thankfully the regular japes are also returning, including Ant and Dec going undercover as they pull a fast one on Jeremy Clarkson at his farm (no doubt the bleep machine will be in overdrive). Stephen Mulhern is back to preside over more Ant vs Dec, while Fleur East — who’s pulled the short straw…

SATURDAY Choices
THURSDAY Choices

THURSDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Ghosts 8.30pm BBC1 SITCOM It’s always a pleasure to visit Button House and its supernaturally likeable cast of characters. If I had to live inside a sitcom, this is where I’d choose — although “sitcom” might be overstating it. Lately the show has become a light, comic drama full of warmth, but thinner on your actual jokes. The key arrival for this Christmas special is Jennifer Saunders, adding a touch of class as Fanny’s interfering mother in a back story that helps explain why Fanny became such a prickly pear. But the main plot involves a seemingly homeless man pitching his tent in the garden: should Alison and Mike turn him away? The fact that he is called Nick, wears red and has a white beard suggests an answer… It’s all…

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Line of Duty ● DRAMA/9pm/BBC1 Oh, the tension is cranking up now! Kate remains sure that shifty Joanne is not a wrong’un and, while we beg to differ, we do feel sorry for the DCI as her attempts to distance herself from the dodgy goings-on she’s caught up in are not going to plan…Meanwhile, Hastings is dealing with his impending forced retirement by working even harder to solve the murder of Gail Vella. But the highlight is the return of DCS Patricia Carmichael (the brilliant Anna Maxwell Martin), who has some bombshells to deliver…★★★★★ CC ● See feature, page 8 I, Tonya ● FILM/10pm/BBC2 (not NI) As shamed ice skater Tonya Harding, Margot Robbie is electrifying in this brilliant, brutal biopic which earned her an Oscar nomination. Working-class in a middle-class world, Harding wasn’t your typical…

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Great British Sewing Bee 9.00pm BBC1 CRAFT “This is a first for the pattern challenge,” announces Esme Young as she kicks off sports week. It’s also a first for the 11 remaining amateur stitchers because they are being asked to make high-top trainers. Yes, shoes! “I can’t even lace them up — and I’ve got A-levels and everything,” wails one. “I’ve lost my tongue!” shrieks another (the one in her trainers, obviously). After this they must transform netball kits into glamorous daywear and then, for the made-to-measure task, create a jacket for a sporting hero (Florence Griffith Joyner and Tom Daley are popular choices). While they are sewing away, Patrick Grant is effortlessly charming (even when teasing Esme) and Sara Pascoe exercises her brain by coming up with excruciating…

WEDNESDAY Choices

The world at a glance

Suez Canal, Egypt Tanker row: An Egyptian court has impounded the giant container ship that last month blocked the Suez Canal, in a legal tangle over the financial consequences of the accident. The Suez Canal Authority is pursuing the owners of the 220,000-tonne Ever Given for a reported £650m to meet the cost of the salvage operation. The figure also covers compensation for lost transit fees for the six days the canal was blocked, holding up more than 400 vessels. The authority’s head, Lt. General Osama Rabie, said the owners were clearly at fault, but were refusing to pay. “The vessel is now officially impounded,” he told Egypt’s state-run television. “They do not want to pay anything.” Litigation could be complicated, as the Ever Given is owned by a Japanese company,…

The world at a glance
TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Great British Bake Off: the Final 8.00pm C4 FOOD This series of Bake Off has had pleasure running through it like cream in an éclair. Lizzie’s turns of phrase. Jürgen’s 100-step recipes. Giuseppe’s puppy eyes when one of his bakes is about to be judged. Prue’s unlikely double entendres. Chigs’s glasses.It has been as joyful and packed with flour-power as any series I can remember. But tonight our journey with this group of bakers comes to an end. Several of them feel like old friends. Ready made TV personalities, they might perfectly well graduate to presenting the show (or something similar) in future, no worries. Who wouldn’t want to see Lizzie in a regular gig? Or Crystelle? Watch this space. In the final, three bakers don aprons for the…

Friday

Friday

DOCUMENTARY Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing 9pm BBC2 (not Wales, 11pm NI) iPlayer LAST EPISODE “I’m not very well this trip,” coughs Bob Mortimer as he and Paul Whitehouse drive their RV towards Lough Corrib in Ireland to fish for brown trout and bream. He thought he had a chest infection but ended up in hospital soon afterwards. His poor health did not affect his surreal sense of humour, though, and there are wonderful rambling conversations about why there aren’t any snail cobblers and the lyrics for Mary Berry: the Musical as well as the usual more thoughtful musings about life, friendship, getting older and mortality. They also reunite with the “unfailingly polite” Feargal Sharkey, who talks about river pollution before leading a raucous rendition of My Perfect Cousin (a hit for his former band,…

SATURDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Keeping Faith 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA Faith’s life has followed a rocky road for some time now but, as we near the end of this series, it’s as if a devastating earthquake has hit. Her husband Evan (Bradley Freegard) has been arrested for Gail’s murder, although he insists that he did nothing; lover Steve (Mark Lewis Jones) is still missing, despite that faint “Help me” phone message; and Rose (Celia Imrie)… well, she’s being as crazy, devious and vindictive as ever. Matters come to a frightening head at that fabulous clifftop house that Rose has rented. “We all have to deal with living without people we love,” she tells a quavering Faith (Eve Myles) ominously. But to whom is she referring? It’s a very dramatic ending, but there are a few happy…

SATURDAY Choices
SATURDAY Choices

SATURDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Grand National From 2.00pm ITV SPORT Britain’s favourite horse race returns, after an enforced fallow year in 2020. Runners and riders for the Grand National (5.15pm) weren’t confirmed as RT went to press, but it seems there will be a strong favourite in the form of Cloth Cap, trained by Jonjo O’Neill. It scored a good win at Kelso in March, a race that came too late to affect the handicaps here, so it has a weight advantage. The prospect of carrying too many pounds is what’s made the trainers of Tiger Roll — which would otherwise have been going for a third straight National — swerve the contest this time. Armchair punters looking to back a familiar name each way will likely have their cash on 2019…

The UK at a glance

Edinburgh A border with England: Were an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU, there would have to be a physical trade border with England, Nicola Sturgeon conceded this week. However, the First Minister said that she’d try to negotiate agreements that would “keep trade flowing easily”, so that businesses did not “suffer”. Last week, an SNP candidate, Emma Harper, had claimed that a physical border could “create jobs”. Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sturgeon distanced herself from that remark, saying that “nobody in the SNP” is in favour of one. She agreed, however, that owing to EU rules requiring checks on goods, a border was unavoidable. It was, she said, one of the issues raised for Scotland by the “absurdity of Brexit and the Tory Brexit obsession”. Scottish Tory…

The UK at a glance

HOT TV THIS WEEK

LAST IN SERIES! Line of Duty SUNDAY 2 May, 9pm BBC1 Drama Get ready for some seriously frayed nerves and some jaw-dropping curveballs as the crime thriller reaches a dramatic climax! After the shocking revelations of last week, the pressure is on now for Hastings, Kate and Steve to bring the final pieces of the jigsaw together to try to work out who ordered the killing of journalist Gail Vella. But as tension mounts and the stakes get higher, will the elusive ‘Fourth Man’, AKA ‘H’, ever be revealed? FULL STORY P9 Casualty SATURDAY 1 May, 8.20pm BBC1 Drama The ED team are tested this week when teenager Keira is brought in, quickly followed by her nasty, racist mother. Jacob instructs everyone to remain calm and professional, but Jade – secretly shaken by a horrific attack on…

HOT TV THIS WEEK
SUNDAY Choices

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Lakes with Simon Reeve 9.00pm BBC2 DOCUMENTARY OF THE WEEK New series In so many TV documentaries about our countryside, the presenter has a jolly chat with someone and then “has a go” at an artisanal craft or skill. Not Simon Reeve. He clearly has too much respect for what people are doing. So, when he joins Cumbrian youngsters learning how to build a dry-stone wall, an upland sheep farmer releasing two fell ponies into the wild, or a woman running a domestic violence charity in Barrow-in-Furness, he observes, he asks questions and he listens, instead of turning it into an entertaining sequence about himself. Reeve always takes his subject seriously, digging beneath the surface, no matter how grubby it gets. So don’t expect much admiring of views and…

SATURDAY Highlights

That’s My Jam NEW GAME SHOW 9.35PM, BBC1 Mo Gilligan hosts this celebrity music challenge show based on the hit US series fronted by comedy star Jimmy Fallon. The eight-parter sees famous faces from the world of music – including Alesha Dixon (who features in the opener), Jason Derulo, Tom Grennan, Donny Osmond and Salt-N-Pepa – going head-to-head in dance and trivia-based games such as Wheel of Impossible Karaoke, Magic Mic, The Vinyl Countdown and Disco Charades, before facing the mighty DoomBox in the epic endgame called Slay It, Don’t Spray It! All will need to be at the top of their game to succeed showing off their vocal talent and busting some great moves in the studio. It’s going to be fun, fun and more fun! ★★★★★ NC Meet Me in St…

SATURDAY Highlights
SATURDAY Choices

SATURDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Ant and Dec’s Limitless Win 8.30pm ITV GAME SHOW New series It may seem as though Ant and Dec have the Midas touch, but there are some dud quizzes in their back catalogue. Remember PokerFace? Push the Button? Red or Black? None of them lasted long, so it’s no biggie if you don’t. But what of this latest vehicle, which sees contestants climbing an ever-increasing, never-ending ladder of cash? Well, imagine Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? with a huge Blue Peter totaliser and you have some idea as to the gist. Yet what seems initially like a simple system is soon complicated by a torrent of clauses and caveats. There are dials to turn, buttons to press, as well as lifelines to be won and lost. And at times,…

Sunday

Sunday

DRAMA SAS Rogue Heroes 9.00pm BBC1 All episodes available on iPlayer Dominic West joins the party this week, as Cairo spy and master of deception Dudley Clarke. I won’t spoil the surprise when we first meet his character but it’s a delicious entrance and West is clearly enjoying himself. Nobody else could say “And how is this yoouur war?” with quite his Etonian vowels. Clarke’s fakery skills play a key role in the origin story of the SAS: he has already dreamt up a non-existent regiment to fool the Germans. So maybe a real unit would help make the ruse convincing? That’s one strand among many. Writer Steven Knight’s approach to his boys’ own tale is as bouncy as a truck in the desert — a wild ride that could go anywhere. At the heart…

SUNDAY Highlights

Strike DRAMA 9PM, BBC1, iPLAYER (BOX SET) With numerous tantalising leads to follow, Strike (Tom Burke) and Robin (Holliday Grainger) are still struggling to get to the truth about GP Margot Bamborough’s disappearance, They’re also keen to learn exactly how much convicted serial killer Dennis Creed (Kenneth Cranham) knows about her and another missing girl, but first they need to get access to him in Broadmoor. Meanwhile, the sleuths are also distracted by their own heartache, as Strike’s Aunt Joan (Linda Bassett) is fading fast, while a call from his estranged dad upsets him further and poor Robin is frustrated both by her divorce and Strike’s bad behaviour at a dinner party… Concludes tomorrow. ★★★★ CC World Cup Final LIVE FOOTBALL 2PM, BBC1, ITV1 After a month of spectacular goals, on-the-pitch protests and farewells to…

SUNDAY Highlights
WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Bay 9.00pm ITV DRAMA This is as much a family drama as it is a whodunnit, and episode four devotes a fair amount of screen time to affecting funeral scenes that see Saif’s body being washed prior to his burial and mum Mariam (Rina Mahoney) breaking down in grief. Usually, suspects in police procedurals become little more than headshots on an incident board, but the Rahmans now seem like real human beings. And that’s all to The Bay’s credit. As for the investigation — well, we learn that stab victim Jordan Rooney (Conor Lowson) has come to and put Adnan (Michael Karim) in the frame for his attack. Though I think the solution to Saif’s murder will arrive from leftfield. At the moment, the family of girlfriend Molly have…

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Great British Menu: Banquet Special 8.00pm BBC2 FOOD On a mercifully bright and not-too-chilly Sunday in April, Jodrell Bank in Cheshire played host to the GBM’s socially distanced banquet celebrating the UK’s scientific innovations and marking 30 years since Sir Timothy Berners-Lee made the internet freely available to the world. It was the programme’s first ever outdoor banquet, with the food being served to guests in an open-sided marquee that had a view of the Lovell Telescope. The menu is fabulous, obviously, even if Matthew Fort, Oliver Peyton and Rachel Khoo didn’t pick your personal favourite dish. But as well as great cooking there’s been creative presentation. So many clever interpretations of the brief using theatrical props and atmospheric music, although some — Alex Bond’s apple-shaped pre-dessert presented in an…

FRIDAY Choices
FRIDAY Choices

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY This Time with Alan Partridge 9.30pm BBC1 COMEDY OF THE WEEK Steve Coogan has said that he fully expects to keep playing Alan Partridge “in one form or another, till I die”. The great man’s current gig — 30 years on from his beginnings as a spoof sports reporter on Radio 4 — returns for a second series as he again grapples with the demands of not fluffing his lines, insulting the guests or letting his bitterness show on live television, alongside beaming co-host Jennie Gresham (Susannah Fielding). Coogan has teased that in this series we can expect more of the presenters’ private lives running in parallel with the on-screen shambles. No previews were available, but the first series set the bar high, written (by Rob and Neil Gibbons) to…

SUNDAY Choices

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Close to Me 9.00pm C4 DRAMA New series When we first see Jo Harding (Connie Nielsen) she’s unconscious at the bottom of the stairs, bleeding heavily from head wounds. She survives, but has amnesia. But it’s not simply that she can’t recall a password or find her mobile (let’s be honest, that’s normal for many of us). She can’t remember why she fell or anything about the past year — dyeing her hair, arguing with her best friend or the name of her good-looking young gardener. More disturbingly, she’s forgotten some quite major family events. Jo’s apparently solicitous husband Rob (Christopher Eccleston) takes her back home — and of course it’s one of those stunning, isolated, modern places psychological thrillers love (remember the ones in ITV’s Finding Alice and BBC1’s The…

HOW TO LAUNCH IN A CROSSWIND

HOW TO LAUNCH IN A CROSSWIND

When you learn to fly, you are told it is dangerous to launch with the wind beyond 45 degrees off “straight up the slope”. Crosswinds cause turbulence. So why would you launch in a crosswind? In hike-and-fly, you often cannot reach a perfect launch slope. It might have taken hours to get to your chosen peak, and the weather might have changed. The forecast might be wrong. Or you just need to get off the mountain before the rain comes in. If you can do it safely, there’s no reason to restrict yourself to “perfect direction”. But it can be risky to ignore the dangers of the crosswind. So what to do? In this article I’ll show you how to keep yourself safe on a steep slope. Here are 10 steps to help…

Early review of Intel 11th-gen Rocket Lake gives the chip mixed marks

Early review of Intel 11th-gen Rocket Lake gives the chip mixed marks

Intel’s 11th-gen Rocket Lake chip won’t hit shelves until the end of March, but an unexpectedly early review of a retail Core i7-11700K labels the chip as power-hungry and unable to surpass AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X in many tests. The review, written by respected CPU expert Dr. Ian Cutress of Anandtech.com, was based on a Core i7-11700K that is presumably one of the hundreds of CPUs accidentally sold a month before launch by a German retailer. Benchmarks of the chip have been making the rounds ever since, but Cutress is the first experienced journalist to publish a review. Cutress stepped carefully in his story, avoiding mention of any information he had already been given by Intel under embargo during regular briefings for the chip. He said he informed Intel that he had the…

Boxing Day

PICK OF THE DAY A Very British Scandal 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA New series The fabulous A Very English Scandal (in which Hugh Grant played Jeremy Thorpe) is a tough act to follow, and the similar title of this poignant three-part society fable might give the wrong idea. Where that bounced along with a sense of rakish farce, this tells a bleaker story of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, and her notorious 1963 divorce case. Claire Foy is terrific as Margaret, a society beauty who burns brightly in postwar London. On a train, she bumps into louche brute Ian Campbell (Paul Bettany) whose idea of flirting is to compliment her “delicious little stammer”. They start an affair and he whisks her off to crumbling Inveraray Castle, which he will inherit along with the dukedom when his…

Boxing Day
Thursday

Thursday

REALITY Dragons’ Den 8.00pm BBC1 Catch up via iPlayer Will a new year mean new investments? We shall see as the business behemoth returns. The five deal-hungry tycoons — tech titan Peter Jones (the longest-serving Dragon, not to mention the tallest), sustainability champion Deborah Meaden, fashion maverick Touker Suleyman, crafting queen Sara Davies and social media mogul Steven Bartlett — are back to put more fledgeling entrepreneurs through their paces. Young cancer survivor Lucy has an idea to banish the taboo of taking tablets in public. Two childhood friends believe they’ve spotted a gap in the grooming market and pitch a skincare range for men of colour and a husband-and-husband duo present their proposal for fabulous drag queen-fronted fitness classes. Other hopefuls include the inventor of a top-loading travel bag (shame about its unfortunate smell)…

WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY This England 9.00pm Sky Atlantic DRAMA New series Kenneth’s Branagh’s entrance as Boris Johnson is as a conquering hero — the victor by a landslide at the 2019 general election. “Our Prime Minister for the next five years!” yells an acolyte as he arrives at Conservative Party HQ. Well, we all know how that panned out. And that’s the thing about Michael Winterbottom’s relentlessly grim pandemic account: our hindsight and lived experiences really deserve screen credits of their own. It’s also likely to re-ignite feelings of rage about this painful period, as the Johnson presented to us here is as self-serving in private as he appears in public. Failing to pay enough attention to the alarming statistics emerging from Wuhan, he prefers instead to quote Shakespeare ad nauseam. As the PM,…

SATURDAY Choices

SATURDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Secrets She Keeps 9.15pm BBC1 DRAMA The Australian domestic noir picks up two years after Aggie (Laura Carmichael) stole her friend Meghan’s (Jessica De Gouw) baby and pretended he was her own. Aggie’s now in prison waiting to be sentenced for the kidnapping as well as the manslaughter of two other babies. Although she outwardly shows signs of repentance, she’s not the most popular of prisoners and shows a worrying interest in the pregnant inmates. Not surprisingly, the fall-out of this terrible experience continues to affect Meghan and her family — and it’s going to get worse because the whole messy situation is being stirred up by Lorelei (Miranda Frangou), a determined young investigative journalist who is pestering everyone involved for her podcast. Laura Carmichael’s role is the complete…

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Ainsley’s Food We Love • FOOD / 11.35am / ITV Ainsley Harriott’s delicious cookery show continues to be a bright spot in the morning schedules and today he’s dishing up food to enjoy outdoors. First up are barbecued Cypriot lamb chops, cherry tomato skewers and potato salad. Chef Joseph Denison Carey pops in and prepares tagliatelle, inspired by fresh summer flavours. While Celebrity MasterChef finalist Dev Griffin is treated to Ainsley’s sesame and ginger sea bass with Asian noodle salad. Another lovely outing from the chef, complete with his trademark singing and storytelling. ★★★★ ER • See feature, page 12 Zara & Mike • DOCUMENTARY / 9pm / Channel 5 NEW When Mike Tindall was 13 he met the Queen at school in Wakefield, Yorkshire. He couldn’t have imagined then that 20 years later he would…

TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-up Star 10.45pm BBC1 (11.15pm in Northern Ireland) REALITY Ding dong and boom-shaka-laka! The three young MUA (make-up artist) finalists are all, without doubt, extraordinarily skilful make-up artists. Even if you’re someone who reckons anything other than a slick of lip gloss is unnecessary, you can’t fail to be impressed at what they have been able to achieve. Sometimes it’s jaw-dropping. The first of their challenges is to present a live online make-up masterclass to a panel of industry giants. It’s vital they do well at this because beauty vlogs are massive: guest judge Lisa Eldridge (who recently presented BBC2 series Make-up: a Glamorous History) has two million subscribers to her tutorials. There’s also the chance that one of the experts will be impressed enough to…

THURSDAY Choices

THURSDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Diana’s Decades 9.00pm ITV DOCUMENTARY In terms of actual distance, it’s just three miles from Coleherne Court in South Kensington to Westminster Abbey. But for Lady Diana Spencer, it would turn out to be something of a seismic trip as she went from Sloaney playgroup worker to superstar princess. A fairy tale? Well, not exactly, as Diana was upper crust to begin with (as a child she knew the Queen as “Aunt Lilibet”) and, as is recounted again here, her wedding day wasn’t exactly the stuff of dreams. In fact, she was tempted to pull out mere days before saying “I do” after learning of her husband-to-be’s friendship with Camilla Parker Bowles. But this lively new life-and-times of Di doc explores how the royal story being sold to the public…

SUNDAY Choices

SUNDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Girl Before 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA New series If we can take away one message from 2021’s TV dramas, it’s don’t trust a hi-tech house. Finding Alice, Close to Me, Angela Black — all had modern homes where you’re only ever a stumble on the stairs away from disaster. Entire dramas could have been avoided with banisters. Here, we’re at a minimalist pad in north London, rented out by weirdo architect Edward (David Oyelowo). The story unfolds in separate timelines as two women — Jane (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Emma (Jessica Plummer) — decide to move in, despite the strict rules Edward imposes (no books, no pictures, no children). Both women have trauma in their recent past, and Jane gets wind of the fact that Emma’s spell in the house did…

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Avoidance 10.40pm BBC1 SITCOM The “com” part of sitcom gets a bit sidelined tonight, but we’ve reached a point with this likeable show where characters are fleshed out enough for laugh-out-loud moments to feel less essential and more of a bonus. The poignant predicament of Jonathan, with his extreme versions of traits we all know — self-doubt, running away from problems and so on — is only part of the story. We’re also invested in Danielle and Courtney (Mandeep Dhillon and Lisa McGrillis), whose home has been upended by having Jonathan and son to stay. Once again, tonight’s episode levers open the faultlines in their marriage. That subplot has to play second fiddle to Jonathan’s insecurities about not having friends, with nice observations on how brutal WhatsApp groups can be, as…

FRIDAY Choices
FRIDAY Choices

FRIDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Bear and Nicola Adams’s Wild Adventure 9.30pm ITV FACTUAL Nicola Adams has always broken through boundaries, whether as the first woman Olympic gold medal-winning boxer, or as a Strictly contestant: “I told them I want to dance with a woman, and I’m not wearing a dress,” she recalls. But can she keep up with Bear Grylls on a dark, lowering day on Dartmoor? Of course she can. The pair stride purposefully across the moorland, and if they come across a tor, they’ll either rope down it or up it or through it. Adams is scared — “What am I doing up here?” — but she’s resilient and positive, even when eating eggs cooked with hand sanitiser. But it’s in the downtime moments that we learn much more. Grylls isn’t a subtle…

Thursday

Thursday

COMEDY The Love Box in Your Living Room 9.00pm BBC2 Catch up via iPlayer If you haven’t laughed five or six times in the first minute, this flipside history of the BBC may not be for you. Among the sacred cows being rounded up and milked for laughs are Blue Peter, Play for Today, the Fab Four and of course, the Beeb itself. Even dear old Muffin the Mule is fair game. Harry Enfield is chief architect, with old chum Paul Whitehouse never far behind — plus terrific support from Kevin Bishop, Rosie Cavaliero, Simon Greenall and others. A radiophonic Lord Reith begins by teaching the working classes “to say napkin instead of serviette”, while spoof-episodes of Jackanory provide narrative structure, and an Adam Curtis sensibility pervades. The pastiches, especially the musical ones, have a…

‘A forever job? It was just fun!’

RUSSELL T DAVIES Hello, Alison. How are you? ALISON GRAHAM Hello, my dear! I’m very well. Thank you for doing this. I’m very touched. If I end up trying to interview you, you’ll have to shut me up because this isn’t the natural order of things. RTD This should be all about you – no one gives a fig about me. I want to take you back, Alison, to when you were a child. What’s your first television memory? AG I remember Winston Churchill’s funeral [1965]. That’s one of my very first memories. I can see my mum, and I can see the sofa and the little telly – you know those little black-and-white tellies in big cabinets. But then obviously, Pogles’ Wood, The Woodentops, Andy Pandy and The Flowerpot Men were a…

‘A forever job? It was just fun!’

FRIDAY Highlights

Paris to Rome with Bettany Hughes LAST ONE TRAVELOGUE 9PM, CHANNEL 5 On the final leg of her trip, Bettany Hughes is in the Bay of Naples, where, after a drink and a consult of her big map (she reveals that as a teenager she had maps on her walls instead of pop stars), she visits Capri, beloved by artists such as Debussy, John Singer Sargent and, er, Leonardo DiCaprio. Then, after a dip into the glamour of the Amalfi coast, it’s off to Rome, where Bettany gets to channel Audrey Hepburn, not only on a sunset ride through the city on a Vespa but also at the hotel suite where the star stayed while filming Roman Holiday. ★★★★ JP Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out NEW TRAVELOGUE 8PM, CHANNEL 5 Susan and her campervan Helen…

FRIDAY Highlights
TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY The Witchfinder 10.00pm BBC2 SITCOM New series “Decorum! Decorum!” a 17th-century witchfinder mutters to his assistant, a little desperately, as he tries to keep up appearances. And if he reminds you slightly of Alan Partridge as he does so, you should know that this spiky period comedy comes from writer/directors Neil and Rob Gibbons, and stars Tim Key — all Partridge veterans. We’re a long way from local radio here, though. Or are we? Key plays Gideon, a vain, low-level witch-hunter who accuses women and extracts public confessions for village entertainment. He has a professional rival (Daniel Rigby) with whom he vies for the best jobs. (“Yes! A baying mob!” Gideon exclaims, seeing an opportunity.) But his main foil, as the comic brew comes to a rolling boil, is Thomasine (Daisy…

WEDNESDAY Choices

WEDNESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Shetland 9.00pm BBC1 DRAMA As you’ll no doubt have read, this is the final series of Shetland to feature Douglas Henshall, but surely there’s a ready-made replacement in need of promotion? Co-star Alison O’Donnell could easily take over, so let’s start the campaign right here. A Touch of Tosh, anyone? Such talk is for the future, though, because in the here and now, Jimmy Perez is still on the case, with that surprise arrest at the climax of his last investigation cleared up conveniently quickly in tonight’s opening minutes. Though I am starting to worry that he’s forgotten the basics of the job during his time spent suspended. Just witness the moment where Perez and Tosh start looking into the disappearance of a troubled young graphic novelist and are told…

SATURDAY Highlights

SATURDAY Highlights

Alex Scott: The Future of Women’s Football NEW DOCUMENTARY 10.20PM, BBC1 As the England Women’s team gears up for the Euros (Wednesday, 7pm, BBC1), former Arsenal and England player Alex Scott reports on how women’s football is now one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. She speaks to Lionesses captain Leah Williamson and Chelsea Women’s coach Emma Hayes, and in addition to the commercial side of the game, she looks at misogynistic trolling on social media. The insulting hashtag #whocares crops up in relation to women’s football, but Alex’s answer – after being at a game with an attendance of 91,000 at Barcelona’s Nou Camp – is simple: plenty. ★★★★ JP Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow GAME SHOW 7PM, ITV Another game show of old is revived, and this week, it’s Strike It Lucky, which…

FRIDAY

FRIDAY

PICK OF THE DAY DOCUMENTARY He may be the BBC’s man of the moment, but there’s an additional reason why Clive Myrie has been picked to present this history of the nation’s priciest national treasure. As a “child of Empire”, he felt he had no positive connection to the Crown Jewels and has, up until now, never seen them up close. This reaction is, of course, understandable. Aspects of their history evoke feelings of colonial humiliation for many, with the history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, displayed at the front of the crown that was worn by the Queen Mother, being particularly bloody. So Myrie is justified in asking here whether the gems should be regarded as relics from a bygone era or symbols of our country that continue to hold value. To answer…

Friday

GENEALOGY DNA Journey 9.00pm ITV Catch up via ITV Hub Best known for playing the Shipmans in Gavin and Stacey, the final celebrity pairing for this genealogical deep-dive are Larry Lamb and Alison Steadman. Old friends, the actors have great rapport from the off. As they meet historian Subhadra Das, they’re warned that “it’s all going to get a little bit EastEnders at this point” — fitting for Lamb, who spent time on the Square as Archie Mitchell — as Das details a 19th-century love triangle in his family background that would certainly be worthy of an ’Enders plotline. It’s touching to see the pals support each other when the inevitable tears arrive. Alison is unmoved by mention of “Viking residue” in her DNA test, but seems genuinely shocked by unexpected news about a…

Friday
TUESDAY Choices

TUESDAY Choices

PICK OF THE DAY Irma Vep 9.00pm Sky Atlantic DRAMA New series French director Olivier Assayas returns to the subject of his 1996 cult hit, in which Maggie Cheung played a Hong Kong actor remaking a real silent-era French film serial, Les Vampires. Now he’s got more time and a bigger budget to try again. Alicia Vikander plays Mira, an American star who has come to France to play Les Vampires’ evil muse Irma Vep. Mira is smart and professional, but there is a vulnerability to her — especially in relation to her ex, who used to be her assistant — until she puts on Irma’s slinky velvet catsuit, at which point her personality seems to change. Assayas captures brilliantly the general chaos of TV production under a maverick director who’s undergoing a crisis of…