What's on TV tonight: Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, Stargazing Live Australia and Catastrophe
28 March 2017 • 8:59am
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
Tuesday 28 March
Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad
BBC One, 9.00pm “I don’t think I’ve grieved properly,” confesses Rio Ferdinand in this revealing documentary. “Nowhere near. I need help, I know that.” The former Manchester United and England captain lost his wife Rebecca to breast cancer two years ago, aged just 34. Now we follow him on an intensely personal journey as he adjusts to life as a single parent and discovers how other families handle grief. With around 75 men under the age of 50 becoming widowers every day in the UK, the film offers a broader insight into how they cope, as other bereaved young husbands and fathers – including golfer Darren Clarke – share their experiences. Men often face stigma in displaying or discussing their emotions (British males are half as likely to seek counselling as women) so face additional obstacles in moving on. However, Ferdinand, a father-of-three, visits therapists and support groups to explore ways of managing grief. He also looks at what help is available as parents and children try to mould new lives. It’s courageous for a footballer-turned-pundit to open up like this, let alone cry on camera. Ferdinand’s thoughtful odyssey makes for a poignant hour.
Stargazing Live AustraliaBBC Two, 8.00pm Brian Cox and Dara O Briain spend the next three nights gazing at the stars from Down Under. They’re joined by Liz Bonnin and Australian outback astronomer Greg Quicke at the Siding Spring bservatory in New South Wales.
BBC Two, 9.00pm The latest instalment of this documentary series following US law enforcement during the current period of social unrest sees detectives investigating a shooting at an apartment block in Jacksonville, Florida. Numerous people witnessed three gunmen firing more than 50 rounds at a group of 10 people – but no one is willing to talk to the police.
MutinyChannel 4, 9.00pm The game crew of this recreation of the HMS Bounty’s 4,000-mile journey reach the final leg of their trip, towards Timor in Southeast Asia. But as the wind drops so does their speed, leaving the men at risk of severe dehydration.
CatastropheChannel 4, 10.00pm Despite his best efforts so far, Rob (Rob Delaney) has found himself back at his old job at the pharmaceutical company – which he left after being falsely accused of sexual harassment. But there’s worse to come in this brilliant black comedy when Sharon’s (Sharon Horgan) father suffers a stroke.
Fake! The Great Masterpiece ChallengeSky Arts, 8.00pm The ingenuity of art forgery is celebrated, to a certain extent, in this new series in which people are invited to spot fake masterpieces that have been placed in galleries around the country. The opener comes from Manchester Art Gallery with a counterfeit Pre-Raphaelite painting.
Gravity and Me: The Force That Shapes our LivesBBC Four, 9.00pm Physics professor Jim Al-Khalili’s chief attribute is making science understandable, and here he turns his attention to the secrets of gravity. He explores how it can affect our height, weight and the rate at which we age and also where gravity is at its weakest in Britain.
Passions: William Blake by Alison Lapper
Sky Arts, 9.00pm The disabled artist Alison Lapper, a statue of whom sat on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square from 2005-2007, explores why she and so many others are inspired by the seminal poet William Blake.
Youth (2015) ★★★☆☆Film4, 9.00pm Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel escape the past in an alpine hotel in Paolo Sorrentino’s gorgeous but shallow follow-up to The Great Beauty. Caine, as a retired composer visiting a chic alpine spa, is on fine form, investing the role with a moving, sepia-tinted pathos that carries the film through its thinner moments. The shimmering surface of the movie is beguiling, but for depth and exercise, dip elsewhere.
Fight Club (1999) ★★★★☆5STAR, 11.00pm Based on Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, this gripping film directed by David Fincher includes one of Brad Pitt’s most mesmerising performances. He plays salesman Tyler Durden, who, along with Ed Norton’s nameless character, establishes an anti-capitalist network centred on an underground fight club. Its members meet to unleash the primal violent urges kept bottled up during the day.
The Glimmer Man (1996) ★★☆☆☆ITV4, 11.00pm Keenen Ivory Wayans (brother of Damon and Marlon) adds comic relief to this action thriller about two policemen who must put aside their differences when they are assigned to a grisly series of murders. The main draw here should have been Steven Segal, but his expanding girth appears to have slowed down his physical speed and his verbal delivery and the film stacks up as one of his weakest.
Wednesday 29 March
BBC One, 8.00pm
The slo-mo walk to camera. The solemn narration. The portentous soundtrack. And two judges-cum-hosts whose double act is cheesier than a Eighties’ fondue party. It can only mean the return of MasterChef, and seven weeks dedicated to whittling 64 cooks down to one champion. While the ingredients remain unchanged, the recipe has been jazzed up with a few welcome alterations. The first eight hopefuls are faced with a Market Test – effectively a trolleydash for ingredients, from which the chefs are able to cook whatever they wish. The results range from an ambitious Thai dish with pork and lemongrass to the sort of chicken-and-pasta concoction any student worth their salt could whip up. Round two sees the survivors cooking two courses for John Torode and Gregg Wallace, as well as three former finalists. Standout characters include an American interior designer prone to such airy declarations as “the world is my style”, and a travel agent with a taste for clichés (“10 to the dozen”, “cloud nine”). Fortunately, both are better with their whisks than they are with their words. But will either be among the trio who proceed to the quarter-finals?
Incredible Medicine: Dr Weston’s CasebookBBC Two, 9.00pm Dr Gabriel Weston discovers another batch of remarkable stories that have become par for the course for this excellent series, as she hears from a girl whose immune system attacked her own brain.
BenidormITV, 9.00pm This bewilderingly durable sitcom continues its ninth run with Loretta’s (Kate Fitzgerald) luxurious room coveted by Rob (Josh Bolt) and the rest of the Dawsons, while Kenneth (Tony Maudsley) has some making up to do. The X Factor’s George Shelley is tonight’s slightly underwhelming guest star, though others in the series include Uri Geller, Madness and Joan Collins.
The Royal House of Windsor
Channel 4, 9.00pm The Prince of Wales takes centre stage for the final instalment of this very respectable documentary series, as his causes, charities and plans for the monarchy are picked over by assembled experts.
Bare Knuckle Fight ClubChannel 4, 11.05pm The late-night slot is understandable for this gruelling but gripping documentary about a real-life fight club run by Shaun Smith, a former gang enforcer and debt collector who now hopes to stage the country’s biggest-ever bare-knuckle fight – though the police are keeping a keen eye on him.
The Blacklist: RedemptionSky1, 9.00pm James Spader, as the charming and enigmatic lead, was the making of this American crime thriller series, so a spin-off without him seems a risky move. The premise here revolves around mercenary Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) who has now teamed up with his mother, “Scottie” Hargrave (Famke Janssen), and her covert team of operatives who take on jobs that governments won’t touch. The opener finds the pair dealing with a kidnapped CIA agent.
Brian Pern: A TributeBBC Four, 10.00pm It’s perhaps appropriate that the swathe of recent rock deaths should now also include the fictional prog rock superstar Brian Pern – in a Segway accident. We have followed the life of the ageing and deluded rocker – always nicely played by the comedian Simon Day – and his band Thotch, but now this film sees him give a final prophetic interview, while friends recall his work and organise a tribute concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
High-Rise (2015) ★★★★☆
Film4, 9.00pm Ben Wheatley’s film, based on JG Ballard’s novel of the same name, tells the story of a luxury high-rise apartment block, whose hedonistic inhabitants slowly descend into primitive, feral chaos. Starring an insouciant, debonair Tom Hiddleston, it serves up orgiastic mayhem on a silver platter and Wheatley, previously a low-budget cult hero after the likes of Kill List, has upped his craft and ambition.
Gladiator (2000) ★★★★☆More4, 9.00pm This take on the traditional swords-and sandals epic proved that Russell Crowe deserved to be recognised as a mainstream star, and reaffirmed Ridley Scott’s reputation as a first-rate director. Crowe is Maximus, a former Roman general who rebuilds his career as a gladiator. His bid for vengeance against a vile emperor (Joaquin Phoenix) is compelling. Plus there’s a last hurrah from Oliver Reed.
Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995) ★★★★☆TCM, 10.50pm Andy Garcia never seemed to capitalise on his early potential, but he is wonderful as a soft-hearted ex-gangster in this quirky crime drama. He’s called back into the criminal life by his crippled boss (Christopher Walken at his most venomous), and given the job of scaring the new boyfriend of the ex-fiancée of Walken’s simple-minded son and heir.
Thursday 30 March
Channel 4, 9.00pm Walter Presents, Channel 4’s strand showcasing the best of foreign drama, launches an atmospheric six-part thriller about two teenagers who witness a multiple murder in rural Norway. The opening scenes certainly grab the attention and what follows manages to avoid most of the now-familiar tropes of Scandi-noir crime drama thanks to a nicely judged script and fine performances. That said, there are moments in this opening episode that stretch credibility as far as it will go, as the two young witnesses decide to form a pact to keep what they know secret.
Counterbalancing that is a plot that constantly piles on intrigue and, more than anything, a terrific Anneke von der Lippe in the lead role. A big star in her native Norway, von der Lippe won a best actress International Emmy (not quite so illustrious as the US version but still no mean feat) for her entirely sympathetic performance here as Helen Sikkeland, a former Oslo homicide detective whose quiet retirement to a police station in the sticks is shattered when the forces of organised crime chose her village as a locus for murder. The full six-part box set is available to stream after broadcast at channel4.com.
Harry Hill’s Alien Fun CapsuleITV, 8.30pm More Harry Hill hijinks, as he and this week’s guests – Ross Noble, David O’Doherty, Gloria Hunniford and Raleigh Ritchie – judge how funny humans are.
GalapagosBBC One, 9.00pm “Despite everything I’ve heard, nothing could have prepared me for my first glimpse.” So says Liz Bonnin in this fascinating one-off documentary, as she joins an expedition to explore the stunning Galapagos Islands’ weird and wonderful inhabitants, which include pink iguanas.
Prime Suspect 1973ITV, 9.00pm This Prime Suspect prequel has failed to capitalise on the brilliance of the original: though the period detail has been fastidiously recreated, the series has been hobbled by weak performances. Tonight, Jane Tennison (Stefanie Martini) is forced to choose between her career and her family.
Rich House, Poor HouseChannel 5, 9.00pm Where once it was the home of late-night erotica, Channel 5 now has a new pornographic obsession – poverty, with shows such as Benefits by the Sea: Jaywick dominating its schedules. In this prurient new series, rich and poor families swap lives for a week. First up: the Caddys from Bristol trade places with the Williams from Weston-super-Mare. Patrick Smith
BBC Three, from 10.00am The British-Iranian film-maker Ben Zand learns about life in three long-running dictatorships: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Belarus. From enforced beard-shaving to the secret police and the rumoured source of a president’s powers, it’s a tale of the sinister and the bizarre.
The Good FightMore4, 9.00pm A smart spin-off from The Good Wife, this new drama picks up the story a year after that acclaimed series finished. When a huge Ponzi-style financial scam wipes out the savings of Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), it ruins her reputation, as well as that of her lawyer goddaughter, Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie). Pushed out of Lockhart & Lee, they are offered a position at the Chicago firm where Diane’s former colleague Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) works. The script is sharp, with an added urgency given that it was partly rewritten after the the election of Donald Trump.
Coyote Ugly (2000) ★★★☆☆ITV2, 8.00pm Ostensibly a chick flick, this film has enough scenes featuring scantily clad women dancing on bars to turn it into something smuttier (it’s based on the actual Coyote Ugly Saloon in New York). Still, the rags-to-riches plot, about aspiring songwriter Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) pursuing her Big Apple dreams, handsome love interest (Adam Garcia) and ultra-girlie soundtrack mean that it ticks plenty of romcom boxes, too.
Beaches (1988) ★★★☆☆Sky Cinema Greats, 8.00pm As saccharine as they come, Garry Marshall’s Beaches is a tale of enduring friendship between two very different women – one an ambitious Jewish girl from humble beginnings, who grows up to becomes a Broadway star (Bette Midler); the other from a rich family who finds nothing but disappointment (Barbara Hershey). Ideal viewing if you fancy an emotional wallow.
The Bounty (1984) ★★★☆☆
Movies4Men, 9.00pm Roger Donaldson’s revisionist account of the famous 1789 mutiny on HMS Bounty (the fifth version) pays impressive attention to historical accuracy. A baby-faced Mel Gibson plays Fletcher Christian, the lovelorn and reluctant ringleader of the insurrection. With a supporting cast including Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson, it’s a stirring drama.
Friday 31 March
Decline and Fall
BBC One, 9.00pm Rev writer James Wood’s splendid three-part adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s 1928 comic novel is, surprisingly, the first ever TV version. It’s well-timed: filming marked the 50th anniversary of Waugh’s death and this Wodehousian school romp is just the ticket for the Easter holidays. Oxford divinity student Paul Pennyfeather (Jack Whitehall, playing another variation on the posh twit persona that has become his signature) is set for a quiet priestly life when he is unfairly expelled for indecent exposure, having been the victim of a prank by the boisterous Bollinger Club. Our hapless hero seeks gainful employment at a Welsh boarding school, where he finds he’s not a natural disciplinarian of “disruptive oiks”. He soon encounters a wealthy widow, the Honourable Mrs Margot Beste-Chetwynde (Eva Longoria) – the glamorous mother of a pupil. Little does Paul know of the surprises that lie ahead when he agrees to tutor her son over the summer. This is gently satirical, irresistibly knockabout fun, with a star-studded supporting cast that includes David Suchet, Stephen Graham, Vincent Franklin and Douglas Hodge.
Unreported WorldChannel 4, 7.30pm
As Burma’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi faces mounting criticism for failing to bring real freedom to many in the country, Krishnan Guru-Murthy reports from the fractured fledgling democracy.
Judge Rinder’s Crime StoriesITV, 8.00pm; not STV/UTV/Wales Barrister Robert Rinder examines a particularly chilling case tonight: Hollie Gazzard, a 19-year-old hair stylist from Gloucester, was fatally stabbed by her abusive boyfriend in a salon full of customers when she tried to leave him in February 2014.
Lethal WeaponITV, 9.00pm Loose cannon detective Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) comes up against a loose cannon criminal in this week’s instalment of the TV series based on the Eighties cop movie. Murtugh (Damon Wayans) quickly learns that the man is a former Navy Seal suffering from PTSD – and begins to draw parallels with Riggs, who also once served in the military.
Spectacular Spain with Alex PolizziChannel 5, 9.00pm Hotelier and presenter Alex Polizzi heads to Spain for her latest travel series. She begins in the north east, where she witnesses the running of the bulls through the streets of Pamplona, before moving on to Barcelona.
13 Reasons WhyNetflix, from 8.00am The makers of the eagerly anticipated adaptation of Jay Asher’s powerful hit 2007 novel about the hardships of teenage life have promised it will remain faithful to the story. The opener sets the tone of this thoughtful mystery, which follows likeable Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) who returns home from school one day to find a package of cassette tapes recorded by classmate and crush Hannah Baker (the excellent Katherine Langford), which explain why she recently committed suicide.
Carters Get Rich
Sky 1, 8.00pm Sky has a knack of unearthing charming and funny comedies about ordinary people – take Starlings and Stella, for instance. Carters Get Rich is the latest and imagines a suburban family in Milton Keynes who hit the big time when their geeky 11-year-old son Harry (Rio Chambers) designs a kids networking app which is snapped up by brash American tech tycoon Trent Zabrisky (James Van Der Beek).
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) ★★☆☆☆BBC One, 10.35pm; Wales, 11.05pm Johnny Depp plays the charismatic Jack Sparrow for the fourth time, but the appeal of Disney’s franchise is starting to wear thin. He and Geoffrey Rush are joined by Penélope Cruz and Ian McShane. We’re at the mercy of a script with scurvy and a blockbuster you could accuse of languishing in the shallows.
Scent of a Woman (1992) ★★★☆☆W, 10.40pm The film that finally earned Al Pacino an Oscar is a stirring, if hackneyed, tale of a student (Chris O’Donnell) who’s hired to look after a blind ex-army officer (Pacino) over a weekend break in New York City. Its ending may be a tad mawkish but thanks to some wonderfully uplifting scenes – Pacino’s impromptu tango, for instance – this is well worth watching. Chris O’Donnell and Philip Seymour Hoffman co-star.
Shadow Dancer (2012) ★★★★☆BBC Two, 12.05am James Marsh’s spy thriller takes place in Belfast in 1993, where the Troubles are slowly driving towards some kind of partial resolution. Colette (Andrea Riseborough) plays a single mother radicalised by a mixture of anger and guilt over the death of her brother in a paramilitary scuffle. Captured by MI5, Colette is presented with a choice: work as a secret service mole, or face 25 years in prison.
Catherine Gee, Michael Hogan, Simon Horsford, Clive Morgan, Gerard O'Donovan, Patrick Smith, Gabriel Tate and Rachel Ward