What's on TV tonight: Unreported World, Dear White People and Beetlejuice
28 April 2017 • 7:17am
What's on TV: the best TV programmes on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Freeview, Freesat, Sky, Virgin, BT Vision, satellite and cable, as chosen by the Telegraph's critics
Friday 28 April
Channel 4, 7.30pm To most of us the Samoan Islands are pinpricks on the globe, a smattering of islands in the southern Pacific famed for their beauty, biodiversity and friendliness, synonymous with dreams of South Seas paradise. But why did these islands’ tiny population of 250,000 (incorporating two distinct nations – Samoa and the US territory of American Samoa) top the world’s obesity and diabetes charts in a survey conducted in 2014? In American Samoa, an astonishing 93 per cent of people were recorded as obese, and one in three as diabetic; independent Samoa’s rates were not far behind. Some researchers put it down to a genetic predisposition among Polynesian peoples, others to a culture that has traditionally equated corpulence with wealth and power. But that doesn’t account for a near doubling of obesity rates over the last five decades, or that during this period these remote Islands have been flooded with unhealthy processed food from abroad and fatty offcuts of meat considered unfit for human consumption elsewhere. Reporter Sophie Morgan and director Patrick Wells set out for a taste of paradise and to discover the truth.
Dear White PeopleNetflix, from 12.01am Based on Justin Simien’s acclaimed 2014 film of the same name, this new satire is set at an Ivy League university, where a group of black students aim to face white privilege on campus. “Having a black vibrator does not count as an interracial relationship,” jokes Samantha White (Logan Browning), a biracial student and host of the college’s subversive radio show titled Dear White People. As a social commentary, it’s clever and effective; as a comedy, it’s tart and funny, bristling with close-to-the-bone one-liners. Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring in Breaking Bad) narrates.
BBC Two, 9.00pm Hammy and hackneyed it may be, but this period drama depicting the early reign of Louis XIV is also good, salacious fun. As its second run continues, the King’s (George Blagden) ongoing affair with Madame de Montediv (Anna Brewster) causes problems with Father Pascal (James Joint).
Brian Johnson’s A Life on the RoadSky Arts, 9.00pm As the frontman of AC/DC, Brian Johnson knows a thing or two about the intense realities of going on tour. In this new series, the 69-year-old hears countless tales of debauchery from veteran artists such as Robert Plant and Nick Mason. First up, though, is The Who’s Roger Daltrey.
Hospital PeopleBBC One, 9.30pm Sian Gibson, brilliant in Peter Kay’s Car Share, works overtime in this NHS mock-doc, elevating the patchy source material. She plays Hilary, the pent-up security boss whose affections for the cheery if inept hospital DJ Ivan Brackenbury she makes no attempt to hide.
Sarah Millican: OutsiderChannel 4, 10.00pm Performing at the Brighton Dome last year, the Geordie stand-up shares her thoughts on her recent move to the countryside, reeling off frank observations that are laden with innuendo. Highlights include picking up sex tips while seeing the doctor about irritable bowel syndrome, and a skit involving her new pet dog.
The Graham Norton ShowBBC One, 10.35pm; N Ireland, 11.05pm On Norton’s sofa tonight are Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer, who discuss their new action-comedy Snatched, and Star Wars actor John Boyega, who’s appearing in Woyzeck at London’s Old Vic.
The Tourist (2010) ★★☆☆☆
Film4, 6.55pm Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck follows his superb The Lives of Others, with a so-so remake of a French thriller. On the train from Paris, Angelina Jolie (who cruises through the film in an absurd ecstasy of preening self-regard) tries to throw pursuers off the trail of her absent lover, a master thief, by taking up with Johnny Depp, a maths teacher, after which they both run around Venice, chased by mobsters.
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005) ★★☆☆☆ITV, 10.40pm It lacks the charm of the original but Sandra Bullock is still incredibly likeable as the FBI agent-turned- beauty queen Gracie Hart. This time she’s forced to team up with a fellow bodyguard (Regina King) who isn’t exactly wild about her, when a beauty queen and master of ceremonies get kidnapped. It’s all too predictable but there are sporadic laughs. William Shatner co-stars.
Beetlejuice (1988) ★★★★☆ITV4, 11.00pm Michael Keaton is an actor of rare versatility (as his triumphant role in Birdman proved). In this cult, Oscar-winning film by Tim Burton, Keaton shines as a con artist ghost called Beetlejuice, who aims to help two other ghosts (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) to scare the obnoxious new residents out of their old house. But he then falls for lovely goth Lydia (Winona Ryder), the family’s daughter.
Saturday 29 April
BBC One, 7.20pm “Regency England – a bit more black than they show in the movies,” observes Bill (Pearl Mackie) in the sci-fi series’ latest episode, Thin Ice, in which issues such as slavery and racism soon make their presence felt. “So was Jesus,” the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) replies. “History is a whitewash.”
The setting is London in 1814; the Time Lord and Bill arrive at the last of the great frost fairs on the Thames, where children and revellers have been mysteriously vanishing under the ice. Could there be a hungry serpent on the prowl? Mixing wry comedy and unexpected pathos, Sarah Dollard’s script consistently soars, part slave-trade allegory, part monster munch. Although ratings have dropped since Capaldi inherited the Tardis – perhaps he’s too cerebral for younger viewers? – he brings gravitas to the role, while his comic timing is as impeccable as his attire. Mackie, when reining in her children’s TV presenter tendencies, is excellent, gaining our empathy through sheer openheartedness (“I’ve never seen anyone die before,” Bill sobs). At times, the budget may look strained this series, but the performances and the scripts have seldom been better.
Take Me OutITV, 6.45pm It may be brash, boorish and nowhere near as good as Blind Date, but Take Me Out still falls into the category of guilty pleasure. Tonight’s would-be Romeos trying to woo a pool of 30 single women include a Croydon bartender and a Swansea prison officer.
Britain’s Got TalentITV, 8.00pm With its likeable chamber of judges, Simon Cowell, David Walliams, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon, this talent show is still the ratings juggernaut it’s always been: its 11th series debuted with 9 million viewers. Expect singers, mind-readers and delusions of grandeur, as the auditions continue.
CasualtyBBC One, 8.10pm The Saturday-night perennial continues with a typically fraught instalment: paramedics Iain Dean (Michael Stevenson) and Jez Andrews (Lloyd Everitt) find Lily Chao (Crystal Ju) unconscious, having been hit by a car.
LA 92: The Riots
National Geographic, 9.00pm Marking the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, this is a searing account of the controversial Rodney King trial and the violent protests that followed, leaving more than 50 people dead. Enlivened by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans’s gripping score, the film adroitly reconstructs the tumultuous days that unfolded in 1992 after four police officers who were caught on tape beating unarmed black motorist Rodney King were acquitted of assault by a predominantly white Simi Valley jury. With the US more conscious than ever of the problems between its police and the black populations that they are supposed to protect and serve, this is both timely and potent.
Don Letts: Dread Meets Punk RockersSky Arts, 9.00pm A diverting film by director Don Letts exploring the links between the roots reggae sounds of his culture and the burgeoning punk scene in London in the Seventies.
All Round to Mrs Brown’sBBC One, 9.20pm The first series of this ramshackle chat-show, presented by Brendan O’Carroll’s foul-mouthed Dublin matriarch, comes to a close in a fusillade of F-words and innuendo. Joining Agnes are West End star Michael Ball and actress Sunetra Sarker, both of whom, you’d hope, know what they’ve let themselves in for.
Boxing: Anthony Joshua v Wladimir KlitschkoSky Box Office, 10.00pm Speaking on last Monday, Anthony Joshua claimed that Wladimir Klitschko was over the hill: “Father Time has caught up with the former champ,” he goaded. But there’s no denying that, at Wembley Stadium, Joshua faces the toughest opponent of his career: the 41-year-old Ukrainian has chalked up 64 wins and 53 knockouts. Joshua, unbeaten in 18 fights since turning pro in 2013, will no doubt be buoyed by the way in which Tyson Fury defeated Klitschko in 2015. Write off Klitschko at your peril, though.
The Ipcress File (1965) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 1.45pm; not NI This adaptation of Len Deighton’s novel is one of the best spy movies of the era, not just because of Michael Caine’s fine turn as counter-espionage agent Harry Palmer. Advertised as “The Thinking Man’s Goldfinger”, it captures the moral ambivalence of espionage, asking whether information is worth a life. Nigel Green also stars.
Carol (2015) ★★★★★Channel 4, 9.00pm Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel is gorgeous, gently groundbreaking, and quite possibly be the saddest thing you’ll ever see. It tells the story of a photographer (Rooney Mara) who has a relationship with an older woman (Cate Blanchett) in New York. It concludes that love is the riskiest but most necessary gamble.
Calvary (2014) ★★★☆☆BBC Two, 9.30pm This tale of a beleaguered provincial Irish priest (played by the excellent Brendan Gleeson) threatened with crucifixion by one of his parishioners is groping for a catharsis it never quite achieves. But John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to The Guard, also starring Chris O’Dowd and Kelly Reilly, is a sincere film about faith and stands up as a determined whodunit.
Sunday 30 April
Line of Duty
BBC One, 9.00pm Jed Mercurio’s deliciously fraught cop-on-cop thriller has provided us with some of the most nerve-shredding TV twists and shocks of 2017 so far, and deservedly pushed this critically acclaimed series into mainstream popularity. Tonight’s nail-biting conclusion promises to keep us gripped. We last saw the demonic – all the more so now she’s had her left hand amputated – DCI Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton) checking herself out of hospital to arrange her husband Nick’s (Lee Ingleby) arrest on suspicion of murder. In order, it seems, to stop him from informing AC-12 that he suspects her of murdering forensic investigator Tim Ifield.
But with AC-12’s Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), Arnott (Martin Compston) and Fleming (Vicky McClure) already breathing down her neck, how can Huntley still hope to escape justice? And what does it all have to do with the clues that emerged last week, reaching all the way back to series one, of a wider conspiracy involving an entire layer of corrupt senior police officers? The answers are as tantalising, explosive and morally ambiguous as anything we’ve seen in Line of Duty before, and guaranteed to keep us in suspense until the very last moment.
Premier League Football: Tottenham Hotspur v ArsenalSky Sports 1, 4.15pm Think back to the final day of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign: Spurs, having looked odds-on to finish second, somehow capitulated against an already-relegated Newcastle United, allowing Arsenal to leapfrog them in the table. That result meant that, yet again, Spurs had been pipped by Arsenal on the last day of a season – remember 2006 when Spurs lost to West Ham after several players became violently ill from food poisoning? In fact, the last time Spurs finished above their neighbours was in 1995. But with Mauricio Pochettino’s side soaring way above Arsenal in the league in second place, surely that run is coming to an end. Victory for Spurs would all but guarantee that.
CountryfileBBC One, 7.00pm Pleasingly, this week is Hedgehog Awareness Week, so Ellie Harrison visits a hedgehog rehab centre set up in Warwickshire.
Escape to Costa RicaChannel 4, 7.00pm Continuing Channel 4’s Man Made Planet season, science writer and explorer Gaia Vince heads to what is now “the happiest, most sustainable country in the world” for this three-part documentary. She learns how, by 2021, Costa Rica will be entirely carbon neutral, running its national grid on the country’s rivers and volcanoes.
ITV, 8.00pm In real life, Lawrence Durrell became a widely celebrated author. But in this latest episode of The Durrells, which is based on his brother Gerald’s accounts of their family’s time living in Corfu, poor Larry (Josh O’Connor), brimming with excitement due to the publication of his latest novel, finds the rest of the family thoroughly disinterested.
The Red TentDrama, 8.00pm The minor Old Testament character of Dinah is given her own story in this star-studded, but rather soapy, TV adaptation of the novel by Anita Diamant. Dinah (Rebecca Ferguson) is the daughter of Leah (Minnie Driver) and Jacob (Iain Glen), raised by the couple and Jacob’s three other wives, along with her brothers (including Joseph, of the Technicolour Dreamcoat). In this first of four parts, Dinah learns of how she was born, in the titular red tent.
GrantchesterITV, 9.00pm The night of cosy TV continues, albeit slightly more murderously, in the latest episode of James Runcie’s period crime drama. One-time Doctor Who Peter Davison guest stars as a bullying local cricket team captain who falls under suspicion after a bout of food poisoning strikes the team.
You’re the Worst5Star, 11.00pm Although a cult hit in the US, this dark comedy is largely unknown over here. It’s frequently crude, repeatedly funny, and yet handles the topic of mental health with deft. Aya Cash and British actor Chris Geere star as a misanthropic couple who have reluctantly given into their mutual attraction. In the second series opener, the pair are living together but, in a bid to avoid being too domestic, spend their time getting drunk.
Forever Young (1992) ★★★☆☆
ITV3, 12.45pm JJ Abrams’ well-written romantic fantasy is a bit on the slushy side but terrifically engaging. With his girlfriend in a coma, a distraught test pilot (Mel Gibson) agrees to be frozen in a cryogenics experiment. But he is forgotten about until two children discover his body 50 years later. Jamie Lee Curtis and a young Elijah Wood provide charming support.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) ★★☆☆☆Channel 4, 8.00pm Michael Bay kicks his cerebrally challenged sci-fi franchise up a notch with a somewhat improved third instalment – it’s still nonsense, and Shia LaBeouf screams a lot, but it sweeps you along. The notion that the entire Apollo moon programme was designed to rescue a crashed Transformer counts, in Bay’s world, for wit.
Drive (2011) ★★★★☆BBC Two, 11.00pm With its glistening cinematography and synthy score, Nicolas Winding Refn’s absorbing thriller about a stuntman turned getaway driver is as chic as they come – a neon-lit pastiche of old-school noir. Our hero (Ryan Gosling) is known only as “The Driver” or “The Kid”. When he encounters a neighbour (Carey Mulligan), his life careers out of control.
Bank Holiday Monday
Little Boy Blue
ITV, 9.00pm Jeff Pope’s skilfully written, four-part factual drama – portraying the murder of innocent schoolboy Rhys Jones in Croxteth, Liverpool, a decade ago – began with a powerful punch last week. Now it follows the Merseyside Police investigation, along with this senseless crime’s impact on a city suffering from recurring gang violence. This second episode finds family and friends attending the 11-year-old’s funeral. There’s not a dry eye in church and chances are, there won’t be for viewers at home either. Meanwhile, a police raid at the home of teenager Kevin Moody (Michael Moran) recovers the gun used in Rhys’ murder. Moody must choose between risking violent retribution for being “a grass” or facing jail time for protecting the killer. However, an unexpected result from forensic tests on the firearm leaves the entire case hanging in the balance.
The cast is superbly led by Stephen Graham as Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly, who headed the investigation. While Rhys’ bereaved parents Melanie and Steve, who gave their full blessing to this production, are affectingly played by Sinéad Keenan and Brían F O’Byrne.
American GodsAmazon Prime, from 12.01am Bryan Fuller’s gory adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s conceptually complex novel – Old Gods that represent culture fight New Gods that embody technology – is a visual feast, an electric neo-noir drama. Burly Ricky Whittle (formerly of Hollyoaks) as ex-con Shadow is the show’s reluctant guide, while Ian McShane is dependably rakish and brilliant as con man Mr Wednesday.
Extreme CakemakersChannel 4, 5.30pm Rufus Hound provides his irreverent humour (think Dave Lamb’s wry commentary on Come Dine with Me) to voice this new series that takes show-stopping sponges to new heights. And quite literally so in this first episode, as stag party organiser Martin requests a life-size lady.
MasterChefBBC One, 7.30pm So bonkers are some of the recipes on MasterChef that sometimes you have to wonder if it’s a spoof episode. So far this series we’ve had pasta ravioli with custard, and a leek ash. Be very afraid, then, for the humble cauliflower in these semi-finals as the nine contestants cook dishes showcasing their favourite ingredients.
Amsterdam: An Art Lovers’ GuideBBC Four, 9.00pm Art historians Dr Janina Ramirez and Alastair Sooke select their must-see sights of three cultural city breaks: Barcelona, St Petersburg and Amsterdam. They begin with the latter, and a tour of its canals. Rather than fight through the crowds at the Rijksmuseum to see Rembrandt’s famous The Night Watch, they instead pick out other treasures. These include Vermeer’s tranquil paintings of domesticity, which Sooke looks at alongside Jan Steen’s contradictory depictions of chaotic debauchery.
The Island with Bear Grylls
Channel 4, 9.00pm After three weeks of island life, the group is sufficiently hangry. When Yorkshire cameraman Phil uses olive oil for the fire rather than food, tempers begin to flare.
The Miranda Hart StoryChannel 5, 9.00pm With her clumsy persona and comedy pratfalls, some might say that Miranda Hart has reinvented slapstick for the 21st century. But Hart can also do heartfelt, as proved in her affecting portrayal of gawky nurse Chummy Noakes in Call the Midwife. This profile examines her career, beginning with performances at the Edinburgh Festival. Rachel Ward
Saving Mr Banks (2013) ★★★★☆BBC One, 8.30pm; Scotland, 10.30pm How did Disney convince PL Travers to relinquish the rights to Mary Poppins? Well, here’s that side of the story. Emma Thompson fits into the role of Travers with a pleasing jigsaw click; as does Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, who tries to thaw her suspicions. The sugar-to-medicine ratio is 15 parts to one, but there’s nothing wrong with true sweetness.
Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) ★★★☆☆BBC Four, 10.00pm In 17th-century Delft, Scarlett Johansson goes to work as a maid but ends up posing for her boss – painter Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth in a big blouse), which doesn’t go down well with his wife. The dialogue and characterisation in this adaptation are rudimentary, but every frame of Edward Serra’s cinematography resembles a Dutch Master.
Margin Call (2011) ★★★★☆BBC Two, 11.00pm JC Chandor assembled a cracking cast, including Jeremy Irons and Kevin Spacey, for his writing-directing debut, which depicts 36 hours at a fictional Wall Street investment bank on the eve of the 2008 economic meltdown. This charged, insightful and well-crafted thriller is gripping as panic spreads through the chain of command.
Tuesday 2 May
Horizon: Why Did I Go Mad?
BBC Two, 9.00pm The last few years have seen Horizon expand its brief from drily academic science treatises to ambitious, accessible popular science. Why Did I Go Mad? is one of its finest efforts yet, exploring the experiences of three people who have suffered psychotic episodes and schizophrenia for many years. Award-winning epidemiologist Dr David Strange experienced his first attack in 1999 when rats scuttled past during a meeting; Rachel Wadingham has been plagued by voices and hallucinations since she saw a monster in the mirror, aged seven; Jackie Dillon has carved out a positive relationship with her 100-plus voices, using them for advice, reassurance and even simple companionship – “I’ve got 24/7 company if I want it,” she reasons. All three test out new therapies rather than rely purely on medication and focus on the causes rather than the symptoms. With everything from childhood trauma to the environment a possible influence, it’s not all good news, but the light this sympathetic documentary casts on a condition terrifying enough to hear about, let alone experience, is invaluable for David, Rachel and Jackie – it deserves a wide audience.
The Bible’s Buried SecretsPBS America, 7.50pm Speculative and inconclusive, but fascinating too, this Nova special investigates the genesis of the Hebrew Bible and with it the concept of monotheism: who wrote it, when and why?
Peter Kay’s Car ShareBBC One, 9.00pm The second series of Peter Kay and co-star Sian Gibson’s warm, witty sitcom comes to an end as John (Kay) calls on his nan for help. After the customary idle chat and acute observations, it ends on an unexpected note – one which makes a third series nigh-on essential.
Tate Britain’s Great British Walks
Sky Arts, 9.00pm Art historian Gus Casely-Hayford accompanies celebrities as they walk in the footsteps of their favourite British artists in this engaging new series. Miriam Margolyes kicks off the series in Cornwall by explaining her love for the work of Alfred Wallis, whose seascapes had a huge impact on British art in the Thirties.
Searching for MadeleineSky1, 10.00pm Sky News’ crime correspondent Martin Brunt revisits the case of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared a decade ago. He analyses the failings of police forces in Portugal and the UK and asks what can be learnt and whether the case can be solved.
British Jews, German PassportsBBC One, 10.45pm; NI, 11.05pm; Scot, 11.45pm Brexit has created a unique dilemma for one demographic, the descendants of those who fled the Nazi Germany. A clause in the German constitution allows them to reclaim German citizenship and therefore retain the benefits of being a citizen of an EU country. This moving documentary follows three British Jews as they wrestle with the dilemma that is as much psychological as practical.
The Break-UpChannel 4, 11.05pm This documentary follows one family over 18 months, as Steve and Terri-Ann, parents to two young children, call in a mediator and attempt to rescue their relationship amid much rancour, infidelity and mistrust.
Richard and Jaco: Life with AutismBBC One, 11.20pm; NI, 11.45pm; Scot, 12.15am Actor Richard Mylan (Waterloo Road) discusses his experiences raising his rugby-loving, dance-obsessed, autistic 11-year-old son and his hopes for the future.
Sausage Party (2016) ★★☆☆
Sky Cinema Premiere, 6.25pm What should have been a shamelessly filthy stoner movie, in which supermarket products fight back against their fate, has been watered down with ill-judged musings on religion, philosophy and race. Co-writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg provide the laughs, but also attempt to give the film a heart – and it doesn’t really deserve one.
A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) ★★☆☆☆Channel 5, 9.00pm Scott Frank’s adaptation of Lawrence Block’s novel is, at times, pointlessly violent. Liam Neeson is on autopilot as an ex-cop who now works as a private investigator. When drug trafficker Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens) hires Neeson to track down the men who murdered his wife, it becomes apparent that this crime is linked to a series of other grisly murders.
The Counsellor (2013) ★★☆☆☆Film4, 11.20pm Ridley Scott’s Cormac McCarthy-penned thriller had all the makings of a classic, not least a fantastic cast including Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem. But it failed to live up to the high expectations surrounding its release. This tale of a million-dollar drug deal gone wrong is marred by a series of long monologues, and never quite takes off.
Wednesday 3 May
Madeleine McCann: 10 Years On
BBC One, 9.00pm Ten years ago today, just over a week before her fourth birthday, Madeleine McCann went missing from the apartment her family were staying in while on holiday in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz. She has not been seen since but, following one of the biggest and most controversial police investigations ever, backed by massive international media coverage, her face became one of the most recognised in the world.
Her parents Kate and Gerry McCann bore the brunt of intense press scrutiny while tirelessly keeping her case in the news. But although a number of people were questioned in separate investigations by Portuguese and British police, no arrests were made. And while sightings of Madeleine have occasionally been claimed, every line of inquiry has come to nothing. No one knows if she is dead or alive, whether those photos are the last her parents will ever see of her, or if, somewhere out there she will be turning 14 next week. Here, BBC reporter Richard Bilton, who has covered the story from the outset, re-examines the evidence and goes in search of some of those questioned in relation to the investigation.
Royal London One-Day Cup Cricket: Hampshire v MiddlesexSky Sports 2, 1.55pm Coverage of the South Group fixture, which takes place at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Both of these teams will be looking to improve on their results of last season, when they finished with identical records of four wins and four losses from their group-stage matches, which meant that they both missed out on places in the quarter-finals.
Trust Me, I’m A VetBBC Two, 8.00pm This factual series takes the format of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor and applies it to our furry friends. In this first episode, filmed at the Royal Veterinary College, the team investigate mineral content in pet food and the best way to keep an animal’s teeth clean.
Second Chance Summer: TuscanyBBC Two, 9.00pm
The sense of jeopardy is high among the Brits trying out life in Tuscany this week. The farm is to host its first big event: a wedding. So naturally, there’s a lot to organise, as well as a language barrier to contend with.
BenidormITV, 9.00pm As we come to the final episode of the comedy drama, a contaminated swimming pool prompts Joyce (Sherrie Hewson) to organise a last-minute trip to the circus. But not everything goes to plan when it turns out that the acts aren’t even available.
Confessions of a Junior DoctorChannel 4, 9.00pm This documentary series following the junior doctors working in Northampton General Hospital has been tough viewing so far, as it lays bare the enormous workload and pressure that rests on those who are there to help us. This week, it gets even more heartbreaking, as we visit the paediatric department and follow third-year doctor Fahim’s first time on the ward.
Britain’s Nuclear Bomb: The Inside StoryBBC Four, 9.00pm In 1956, the British military carried out Operation Grapple X – the first detonation of a megaton hydrogen bomb. It formed part of a series of detonations which took place high in the atmosphere above Christmas Island in the Central Pacific Ocean, and marked Britain as a nuclear superpower. This film combines newly released footage of the atomic bomb tests and interviews with the veterans and scientists who took part in the programme.
Grand Designs New ZealandMore4, 9.00pm The Kiwi edition of Grand Designs returns for a second series. Once again Chris Moller takes on the Kevin McCloud role to follow some of New Zealand’s ambitious builds. He meets Ross Bannan, a builder and self-titled “concreteologist” who is building a towering family home on the cliffs of an Auckland suburb. He’s been at it for 10 years, however, and his poor family are wondering if it’ll ever be finished.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) ★★★★☆
Film4, 6.20pm This is the type of role that suits Russell Crowe best: glowering, muscle-encased hunk in period get-up. In this grand, vivid drama he’s Jack Aubrey, captain of a British frigate in the Napoleonic Wars. Based on Patrick O’Brian’s novels, this film pulls off a rare feat of almost matching its superb source for quality.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) ★★☆☆☆Sky Cinema Premiere, 8.00pm Bryan Singer’s sequel to 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past starts promisingly enough, with Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse, the world’s first mutant, who sets about trying to rid the world of its entire arsenal. However, it’s formulaic, with large-scale digital destruction saving it the hassle of thought, ingenuity or any tightly organised set-pieces.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) ★★★★☆ITV2, 9.00pm Simon Pegg and Nick Frost get their cricket bats ready in this horror romcom. When a zombie apocalypse looms, the usually hapless Shaun (Pegg) takes charge, determined to see his mother (Penelope Wilton), ex-girlfriend, and best friend Danny (Frost) make it to the safety of the local pub. This is Pegg and Frost at their comic best and the laughs come thick and fast.
Thursday 4 May
The Truth About Stress
BBC One, 9.00pm Being “stressed” seems to be the default setting for many, as we rush around, constantly jabbing at our smartphones and complaining about how busy we are, almost wearing it as a badge of honour. Stress has been called the health epidemic of the 21st century and experts believe that it can contribute to life-threatening diseases including diabetes, dementia and types of cancer – with the pressures of constantly connected, 24/7 modern life often held to blame.
Yet is stress inherently bad? Could it help us perform better and even lose weight? This film, part of the BBC’s mental health season, finds Fiona Phillips meeting specialists, exploring the latest scientific research and demonstrating techniques designed to decrease common factors. She investigates the idea that stress in small doses can actually be beneficial if we simply change the way we perceive it. Phillips also speaks candidly about her own experiences and her mechanisms for coping with stress. Alongside three volunteers, she puts herself into high-stress situations to truly understand its meaning – and its power, if we could only turn it to our advantage.
Europa League Football: Manchester United v Celta VigoBT Sport 2, 7.30pm Manchester United face Spanish side Celta Vigo at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final. José Mourinho’s men have, arguably, avoided their toughest challengers, Lyon, and the recent form of young striker Marcus Rashford mean that the Red Devils are favourites to progress through to the final of Europe’s second tier club competition. But Celta should not be underestimated. In ex-Liverpool forward Iago Aspas, they have a man who will be key for them. He has scored five times in this tournament. This is the first time United have reached this stage of this competition, either in its current guise or when it was the Uefa Cup.
The World According to KidsBBC Two, 8.00pm This series in which children tell us what they really think continues with the topic of belief, and the look on a young girl’s face when her peers suggest that the tooth fairy could be her mother may just break your heart. Meanwhile, one 11-year-old believes that he can be a world champion boxer, while another simply believes in cheese.
Joanna Lumley’s Postcards
ITV, 8.30pm Being both relaxed and entertaining, Lumley is perhaps the ideal travelling companion. Here, she recalls her journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, where she drank gold-flaked vodka with an oligarch.
The Last KingdomBBC Two, 9.00pm Our hero Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) is now a battle-hardened warrior as this series – based Bernard Cornwell’s books – comes to a close. There’s been a nice interplay of fact and fantasy so far, which is reaffirmed tonight as Uhtred is flung into war while trying to secure the freedom of King Alfred’s daughter Aethelflaed (Millie Brady).
Born to KillChannel 4, 9.00pm This smart, gripping drama about a teenager with homicidal thoughts begins to unravel in its penultimate episode as Sam (Jack Rowan) comes face to face with his father.
GuerrillaSky Atlantic, 9.00pm This thriller, set against the backdrop of the British Black Panther movement, has its heightened moments and conveys a sickening threat of violence. Marcus (Babou Ceesay) begins to begrudge Jas (Freida Pinto) and Eliette’s (Bella Dayne) friendship, but the group still push on with a risky operation.
BucketBBC Four, 10.00pm We’ll miss Miriam Margolyes as the madcap Mim in this entertaining comedy about the minutiae of female relationships. In the final episode, Fran (Frog Stone) calls time on their trip after her mother (Margolyes) lets a big secret slip.
The Trip to SpainSky Atlantic, 10.00pm Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon recite Shakespeare and impersonate Al Pacino as they travel to La Mancha. But, of course, this is the land of Don Quixote, so there’s also some dressing up and larking around at the Corral de Comedias open-air theatre, too.
Arabesque (1966) ★★★☆☆
Film4, 4.50pm David Pollock (Gregory Peck), an expert in hieroglyphics, is enlisted to decode messages which may be key to a plot to assassinate a Middle Eastern prime minister. As the mission intensifies, Pollock is helped by the enigmatic Yasmin Azir (Sophia Loren). The entire film is an excuse to jet from one stunning location to the next, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
Now You See Me (2013) ★★★☆☆Film4, 9.00pm A group of illusionists (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco) are encouraged to carry out bank heists by a mysterious figure, while remaining ahead of FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), who is desperate to bring them to justice. Director Louis Leterrier tries to mimic the complex plots of films such as Inception, but with less success.
Bronson (2008) ★★★☆☆London Live, 10.00pm A gripping character study of “Britain’s most notorious long-term prisoner”, Charles Bronson, whose bloody bare-knuckle brawls have seen him moved from prison to prison 120 times. Tom Hardy (who now seems to specialise in complex, muscle-bound brawlers – Mad Max) ramps it up with disturbing intensity to delve inside the mind of the tormented personality.
Friday 5 May
Britain Today Tonight
Channel 4, 10.00pm The history of current-affairs spoofery on TV is a chequered one, with both towering peaks – Drop the Dead Donkey, The Day Today – and deep troughs – the largely forgotten Broken News and No Signal. Into the fray strides Kayvan Novak, a formidably talented mimic and performer whose material hasn’t always matched up to his comic gifts. Fonejacker, for example, his E4 crank-caller comedy, never quite reached its potential.
Britain Today Tonight is a timely take on the hysterical brand of news (mis)reporting, complete with venal, cocksure anchor and inept and/or biased reporters with an uncanny habit of seizing the wrong end of the stick in their every encounter with the general public. Each major role is taken by Novak (who also wrote the series) in a confident, impressive showcase both for prosthetic make-up and his own arsenal of accents and personas. Some moments fall flat – the discussion on the gender-pay gap topples from mischief into basic poor taste – but superspook Sir Nicholas Charles attempting to decode yoof speak (“who is LMFAO?”) is a treat and action-man reporter Jon Donovan probably merits a series of his own. Episode two follows.
Sense8Netflix, from 10.00am Visually spectacular, the Wachowskis’s sci-fi epic returns for a second run. The action picks up following the dramatic rescue of Icelandic DJ Riley Blue (Tuppence Middleton) by those with whom she is mentally linked – the so-called “Sense8”, with the group’s foes regrouping as their own flimsy alliances rupture.
One-Day International Cricket: England v IrelandSky Sports 2, 10.30am The first of two ODIs between the sides, staged at the Brightside Ground, Bristol.
Unreported WorldChannel 4, 7.30pm In Senegal, reporter Seyi Rhodes and director Jessica Kelly find another extraordinary story for the last episode of the current affairs series. There, they investigate the phenomenon of competitive wrestling, a means of escape in a country where poverty remains high.
VersaillesBBC Two, 9.00pm The camp historical saga continues, with things not going too well for Princess Palatine (Jessica Clark). She receives a cool reception at the palace and things don’t exactly heat up in the bed of her new husband Philippe (Alexander Vlahos), Louis XIV’s younger brother.
Sky1, 9.00pm A double bill launches this 1619-set drama, which follows Alice (Sophie Rundle), Verity (Niamh Walsh) and Jocelyn (Naomi Battrick), as the first three women to join the male-only colony of Jamestown. The dialogue is slightly soapy, but it looks the part and a cast of British television stalwarts (Jason Flemyng, Dean Lennox Kelly and Sophie Rundle) give it their all.
Hospital PeopleBBC One, 9.30pm Apolitical, benevolent and corny, Tom Binns’s hospital sitcom is the flipside of Jo Brand’s Getting On in almost every way. Tonight sees a local businessman seeks treatment at Brimlington, while DJ Ivan begins to raise money to send a patient to America.
Classic Albums: Carly Simon No SecretsBBC Four, 10.00pm The singer-songwriter is on straight-talking form as she opens up about her life and career as filtered through her 1972 record No Secrets.
The Graham Norton ShowBBC One, 10.35pm; NI, 11.05pm Graham Norton’s sofa will be groaning under the weight of star power, as Diane Keaton, Jessica Chastain and Michael Fassbender discuss their latest films, Hampstead, Miss Sloane and Alien: Covenant respectively. There is also Kevin Bacon discussing his new series, I Love Dick, for Amazon Prime.
It’s Complicated (2009) ★★★☆☆Channel 5, 10.00pm Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep’s flirtatious chemistry is the making of this predictable yet entertaining romcom. Streep stars as Jane, a divorcee who has a fling. The complication is that her new lover is her ex-husband, Jake (Baldwin). A series of comic episodes follow as they try not to get caught in flagrante by their children or Jane’s alternative love interest (Steve Martin).
American Gangster (2007) ★★★★☆
ITV, 10.40pm Denzel Washington is imperious as the Seventies Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas in Ridley Scott’s cocksure crime thriller. Charting Lucas’s domination of the heroin market during the Vietnam War and his investigation by honest cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe), the film features an enthralling final face-off. Cuba Gooding Jr provides ample support.