What’s on TV tonight: Shrinking, Lockwood & Co and more

Jason Segel and Harrison Ford in Shrinking - Apple TV+
Jason Segel and Harrison Ford in Shrinking - Apple TV+

Friday 27 January

Apple TV+
Another high-quality release from Apple TV+, this comedy from Ted Lasso’s Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein is founded on an enjoyably droll conceit: a therapist who goes rogue and starts telling the truth to his cosseted patients. How I Met Your Mother star Jason Segel (who also gets co-creator/writer credits) is terrific as cognitive behavioural therapist Jimmy Johns, who’s mired in grief following the death of his wife and crippled by fear that his relationship with his daughter is also disintegrating. Pushed to the edge in the face of his self-pitying and self-defeating clients, he cracks and starts pointing out harsh home truths to them – and suddenly his breakthrough rate begins, very entertainingly, to rocket.

The humour gets a lot darker than Lasso at times, but it’s saved by a smart, snappy script that is backed up by excellent acting. Notably from Luke Tennie as Sean, a young war veteran with serious anger issues, but also by Harrison Ford as Jimmy’s concerned but ineffectual by-the-book boss, Paul, and Jessica Williams as their therapist colleague, Gaby. Lukita Maxwell is a strong presence, too, as daughter Alice – a tougher nut to crack than any client. GO

Lockwood & Co
Written and directed by Attack the Block’s Joe Cornish, and set in a world plagued by murderous ghouls, fright-night thrills abound in this lively London-based series about a renegade trio of psychic teenagers who set out to make their name in the competitive world of ghostbusting.

Travel Man: 48 Hours in Salzburg
Channel 4, 8.30pm
Music, art and food – and a singalong cycling The Sound of Music tour – are the chief attractions as Joe Lycett takes comedian Roisin Conaty to the bustling Austrian city of Salzburg for an entertaining break.

Mick Fleetwood & Friends Celebrate Peter Green
Sky Arts, 9pm
The Fleetwood Mac drummer gathered a superb line-up at the London Palladium in 2020 for this terrific tribute to the musical genius of Peter Green, who founded the band and wrote most of its early hits (Albatross, Black Magic Woman, Man of the World) before he was plagued by mental illness. Christine McVie, Noel Gallagher, John Mayall, Pete Townshend, Steven Tyler and Bill Wyman are among the star names involved.

Death in Paradise
BBC One, 9pm
Some island-hopping this week as DS Thomas (Shantol Jackson) heads to neighbouring St Barnabas for the wedding of her best friend. But when murder follows the last-minute appearance of an unexpected guest, the rest of the team are needed to solve a case more baffling than the evidence at first suggests.

Getting Away with Murder(s)
More4, 9pm
David Nicholas Wilkinson’s stark two-part documentary (box-setted on All 4) highlights how tens of thousands of Nazi war criminals escaped any sanction whatsoever. Marking Holocaust Memorial Day, it is a shocking reminder of how easily justice can be swept aside by political expediency and vested interests.

Fantasy Football League
Sky Max, 10pm
An instant hit on its reappearance (after an 18-year absence) in September, Elis James and Matt Lucas are back with another run of the revived football comedy show. Guz Khan and Russell Howard are this week’s guest managers, and Andrew Mensah again plays the “Statto” role of resident footy know-it-all.

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) ★★★★
Amazon Prime Video
Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to collect intelligence on chairman Fred Hampton (played by Daniel Kaluuya, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role). Riveting and devastating, the film’s use of archive footage – particularly that of Hampton’s electric speeches – is fantastic. Directed by Shaka King.

Shotgun Wedding (2022)
Amazon Prime Video 
Queen not only of the pop charts but the cheesy romcom, Jennifer Lopez brings a much-needed dose of flirty charisma to this Amazon offering. Lopez plays Darcy, a bride-to-be who finds her dreams of an idyllic destination wedding to Tom (Transformers’ Josh Duhamel) up in flames – quite literally – when the entire party is taken hostage. The pair unite to save their loved ones, with plenty of hijinks, laughs and dramatic mishaps along the way.

Thelma & Louise (1991) ★★★★★
BBC One, 11.30pm
Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon star as the freewheeling school friends who decide to go on a long trip in this Oscar-winning buddy film, the doyenne of the road movie genre, whose final scene is now iconic – and for good reason. Thelma is the dowdy housewife, Louise the naive free spirit, but the real star is director Ridley Scott, who gives his characters freedom while at the same time winding them into a taut, tragic plot.

The Rhymney Valley, south Wales - Channel 4
The Rhymney Valley, south Wales - Channel 4

Saturday 28 January

The Welsh Valley That Won the Lottery
Channel 4, 6.05pm
With the cost-of-living crisis biting deep, it’s a good time to follow 2021’s The Scottish Island That Won the Lottery with another documentary looking at the impact on a small community of a £3 million Postcode Lottery win. Here the winners are residents of Rhymney, south Wales, a post-industrial town described by narrator Cerys Matthews as “a place where money is tight, but neighbours are close”. They’ll be even closer now, one suspects, especially the nine ticket holders on one street who won £185,000 each (one with two tickets bagged £370,000) with a further 400 or so winning smaller amounts averaging £3,894. For some, like Mary, it’s those small wins that make all the difference – allowing her family a holiday for the first time in 14 years.

Even the bigger winners (one or two real characters among them) are fairly modest when it comes to splashing out. At times it can feel uncomfortably like an hour-long advert for the perks of the Postcode Lottery (there’s little mention of the thousands more locals who didn’t share the win) but it is hard to resist a film about hard-pressed people getting a break when they need it most. GO

Ainsley’s Fantastic Flavours
ITV1, 11.35am
Ainsley Harriott spotlights flavour in his new series, beginning with the spices that go into a mouth-watering Moroccan shakshuka. Meanwhile, guest chef Thuy Pham heads to a market to buy ingredients to make his favourite chicken pho (Vietnamese noodle soup).

Michael McIntyre’s Big Show
BBC One, 8pm
McIntyre’s sparkling mix of big-name guests and rib-tickling antics remains a winner with Saturday night viewers. Tonight, Jonathan Ross hands over his phone for Send to All, Chris and Rosie Ramsey get a rude awakening for Midnight Gameshow, and Nile Rodgers surprises some keen karaoke singers.

Secrets of the Royal Palaces
Channel 5, 8pm
Another fact-packed edition covers the early days of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s romance and the Lady Katherine Grey sex scandal, along with a particularly grisly murder by sulphuric acid, Queen Anne’s architectural legacy and Henry VIII’s sewage problems.

Fight the Power: How Hip-Hop Changed the World
BBC Two, from 9pm; Wales, from 9.45pm
The closing episodes begin in the early 1990s when the politicisation of rap came to a head in the Clinton v Bush battle for the US presidency; then, further analysis of how rap drove social change in the 21st century, including during 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests. Followed by a special Later... with Jools Holland hip-hop retrospective.

Stock Aitken Waterman: Legends of Pop
Channel 5, 9pm
Having laid the foundations last week, the golden years of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman’s 1980s hit factory are recalled in an episode celebrating the chart triumphs of Rick Astley, Mel and Kim, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. Plus, reflections on why many in the music industry begrudged their success. Followed by Stock Aitken Waterman: Greatest Hits at 10.25pm.

Getting Away with Murder(s)
More4, 9pm
The concluding part of David Nicholas Wilkinson’s shocking documentary, about how tens of thousands of Holocaust perpetrators escaped sanction after the war, shifts attention away from Germany to crimes committed in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Czech Republic.

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959, b/w) ★★★★
BBC Two, 1.30pm
George Stevens (Shane)directed this marvellous Oscar-winning adaptation of the 1955 play, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. The film has the same tense, claustrophobic atmosphere, and ability to break your heart as Anne’s famous diary. Millie Perkins plays young Anne, in hiding from the Nazis with her family in occupied Amsterdam; Joseph Schildkraut plays Anne’s father, Otto.

Hustlers (2019) ★★★★
Channel 4, 9pm
Jennifer Lopez has never sold a character quite like she does in Hustlers, where she plays Ramona, the queen of a New York strip club frequented by leering, absurdly wealthy men, who takes new girl Destiny (Constance Wu) under her wing. The pair join up with fellow exotic dancers Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Mercedes (Nope’s Keke Palmer) to spike their clients into spending big. Lewd, loud and flashy, it’s great fun.

Master Cheng (2019) ★★★
BBC Four, 9pm
Before film and TV became obsessed with kitchens – Boiling Point, The Bear, The Menu – Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki gave us this palatable odd-couple drama. Chinese widower Cheng (Chu Pak Hong) relocates to a remote town with son Niu Niu (Lucas Hsuan), where the only apparent meeting place is a roadside cafe run by Sirkka (Anna-Maija Tuokko). Sparks soon fly between Cheng and Sirkka as he wins her over with his cooking.

Jeremy Clarkson - Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce/Shutterstock/Shutterstock
Jeremy Clarkson - Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Sunday 29 January

Jeremy Clarkson: King of Controversy
Channel 5, 9pm
Controversy has long been music to Jeremy Clarkson’s ears; many columns written or jokes delivered on TV by the presenter have seemingly been intended to rub people up the wrong way, safe in the knowledge that his legions of fans would, at least, keep reading and watching.

But after earning widespread condemnation for a recent column in The Sun about the Duchess of Sussex – including by his own daughter, Emily, who wrote on social media that she stood “against everything that my dad wrote about Meghan Markle” – in which he said he hated Markle on a “cellular level” and imagined a scenario where she was “made to parade naked” through Britain’s streets (apparently referencing a scene from Game of Thrones), is Clarkson’s time finally up? It was reported earlier this month that Amazon is “likely” to stop working with him from 2024, once Clarkson’s Farm and The Grand Tour have ended. This entertaining if slightly fluffy one-off documentary looks back at his other most shocking moments, from punching Piers Morgan to causing a diplomatic incident in Argentina over a number plate row. PP

The Andrew Neil Show
Channel 4, 6pm
The veteran broadcaster’s current-affairs show returns for its third season amid ongoing turmoil in British politics that will surely guarantee lively debate: tax havens, constitutional battles between Westminster and Holyrood over gender identity and inflation, to name a few.

World’s Most Secret Hotels
Channel 4, 6.45pm
In this opener, we’re treated to stunning remote retreats in Italy and Wales, plus Cambodia’s eco-friendly Shinta Mani Wild hotel – which, according to Google, will set you back £2,143 per night. What a bargain!

Don Quixote from Birmingham Royal Ballet
BBC Four, 7.45pm
Miguel de Cervante’s influential 15th-century Spanish epic is widely considered the first modern novel. This adaptation from Birmingham Royal Ballet, filmed at the Hippodrome earlier this year, was described by the Telegraph dance critic as an “irresistible, sun-kissed romance”. Momoko Hirata and Mathias Dingman are wonderfully expressive as lovers Kitri and Basilio.

ITV1, 8pm
Up in the northeast, Vera (Brenda Blethyn) gets called out to a lighthouse after the body of a local council officer is found lashed to a sailboat; sadly, this is the last episode with Dr Malcolm Donahue (Paul Kaye) as he leaves for a fresh start in Copenhagen – but, from next week, there’s a new pathologist in town: headstrong Dr Paula Bennett (Sarah Kameela Impey).

Happy Valley
BBC One, 9pm
Sally Wainwright’s fantastic, genre-defining drama reaches its penultimate episode. After Tommy Lee Royce’s (James Norton) dramatic courtroom escape – which son Ryan (Rhys Connah) was there to witness – Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) and the rest of the family batten down the hatches. Ann (Charlie Murphy) is a heartbreaking standout as she finally explains to poor Ryan just what his father is capable of.

The Stasi: Secrets, Lies & British Spies
ITV1, 10.15pm
Julie Etchingham takes a fascinating look at the East German secret police force’s UK operations. Even after the Cold War, there were still scores of informants operating in Britain – and now, 30 years on, many of their identities remain a closely guarded secret. But should they?

The Wooden Horse (1950, b/w) ★★★
BBC Two, 1.15pm
Director Jack Lee hired a crop of amateur actors for this enjoyably stripped-back Second World War film, based on true events. Its Trojan-horse inspired tale of an escape attempt from Stalag Luft III almost feels like a documentary in its realism and scope. Leo Genn plays Peter Howard, who devises a plan to dig their way out using a gymnastic vaulting horse as cover. Much like the film itself, the digging is ponderous but satisfying.

Emma (1996) ★★★★
BBC Two, 2.55pm
Douglas McGrath’s Emma turned Austen’s classic tale of youthful hubris and romantic plotting into a Disney-style romance, complete with Gwyneth Paltrow decked out in bubblegum pastel gowns and a luscious set. Toni Collette is delightful as the vacuous Harriet and a fresh-faced Ewan McGregor is terrific fun as the dashing Frank, but Jeremy Northam’s staid portrayal of Mr Knightley is a little too bloodless for its own good.

Defiance (2008) ★★★
BBC Two, 10pm
Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell star as the Bielski brothers, Jews who escaped from Nazi-occupied Poland and helped to form a partisan army in the forests of Belarus. As well as fighting tooth-and-nail, their aim is to rescue people from the ghettos – but those objectives may not be compatible. Edward Zwick’s direction is crude and moralistic, but it’s saved by the excellent acting from the leads.

Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and Petro Poroshenko in 2014 - Michael Kappeler
Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and Petro Poroshenko in 2014 - Michael Kappeler

Monday 30 January

Putin vs the West
BBC Two, 9pm
Norma Percy, the best-connected documentary producer around, prises open her little black book once more for this three-parter examining how Europe and the US have attempted to contain Vladimir Putin’s ambitions through a combination of flattery, threats and bargaining. David Cameron, Volodymyr Zelensky and François Hollande are among the contributors; there is no Putin (although Percy has interviewed him before), so the Kremlin party line is represented by Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin.

This opening instalment takes us from the reluctant abdication of Putin’s Ukrainian puppet Viktor Yanukovych through to the annexation of Crimea, via a whirligig of summits and meetings filled with trivial treasures (Hollande griping about stale sandwiches), while Putin nurses his paranoia, awaiting the opportunity to strike. The Minsk Agreement that ended hostilities was an unsatisfactory fudge but, as former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko observes, it bought eight years for his country to build its military and economic strength, as well as a preparatory coalition against its primary aggressor. GT

The Last of Us
Sky Atlantic, 2am & 9pm
Nick Offerman takes centre-stage as survivalist Bill in the tender, utterly gripping third episode of this fine dystopian series, adapted from the bestselling video game, telling the backstory of his relationship with Murray Bartlett’s Frank.

Silent Witness
BBC One, 9pm
The final double-bill of the series bogs Jack (David Caves) down in some difficult personal history when an old friend becomes his adversary, while Nikki (Emilia Fox) and the team attempt to negotiate a case involving police officers, all of whom have secrets to conceal.

ITV1, 9pm
A fine cast and the perceptible anger in the script ensures this medical drama never falls into irretrievable sudsiness. Tonight, Helen (Lisa McGrillis) heads to couples therapy alone, Catherine (Lara Pulver) gambles her personal happiness on career progression and Maryam (Parminder Nagra) continues to reckon with the devastating fallout of an earlier error.

Beast from the East: the Big Freeze of 2018
Channel 5, 9pm
Part of the fun of Channel 5’s meteorological documentaries lies in guessing who might be roped in to contribute. As usual there are experts (the BBC’s Tomasz Schafernaker) and those with a professional stake (Countryfile’s Adam Henson), but then there is also Gregg Wallace and EastEnders’ Laila Morse.

The Royals: a History of Scandals
More4, 9pm
Professor Suzannah Lipscomb lends academic rigour to a four-part series with more heft than its red top-baiting title might suggest, as she talks to assembled expert historians to piece together some enjoyably sordid stories of regal misbehaviour. It begins with examples of royal profligacy, from Henry VIII’s Field of Cloth of Gold to the notorious extravagance of the wholly grotesque George IV.

Russia 1985-1999: Traumazone
BBC Four, 10pm
Documentary-maker Adam Curtis’s most coherent and persuasive series for some time dissects the demise of the Soviet Union and the chaos that rose in its wake as oligarchs, politicians and former spooks fought for supremacy. The Russian people – and perhaps democracy itself – paid the price. A superbly assembled first three episodes launch the series, available in full on BBC iPlayer.

First Men in the Moon (1964) ★★★
Film4, 4.05pm
This adaptation by scriptwriter Nigel Kneale of HG Wells’s 1901 novel uses a curious blend of live-action, stop-motion and animation to tell the story of a multinational group of astronauts who land on the Moon, only to discover that the Victorians got there first. Charming, if only for the curiously anachronistic shots of Edward Judd and Martha Hyer on a spaceship in full 1890s dress. Nathan Juran directs.

Dear Elizabeth (2022) ★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 10.40pm
Adapted from Michael Kun’s novel The Locklear Letters (a farcical look at celebrity worship), this warmhearted comedy drama from Scott Abramovitch treads the regularly traversed “loser boy, popular girl” path. It follows unlucky-in-love midlifer Sid Straw’s (Tony Hale) attempts to persuade, over Facebook, his one-time classmate Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games) to attend their school reunion.

Phantom Thread (2017) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 11.15pm
Paul Thomas Anderson’s exquisite work finds Daniel Day-Lewis (in what he’s since declared is his final film) as Reynolds Woodcock, a 1950s couturier with a muse (Vicky Krieps) who’s bad news. Reynolds’s sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville), serves as the third point of their uneasy domestic triangle. The film is an instant classic, with hints of Alfred Hitchcock but a strangeness and comedy all of its own.

Pamela Anderson tells her own story in Netflix's documentary
Pamela Anderson tells her own story in Netflix's documentary

Tuesday 31 January

Pamela, a love story
When anybody is asked about Pamela Anderson, their responses usually reference either Baywatch or “the sex tape”. And, back in the day, she was indeed famous for wearing a swimsuit a few sizes too small on the Californian drama and later for being an early victim of online abuse, when a stolen sex tape featuring Anderson and her husband Tommy Lee, the Mötley Crüe drummer, surfaced on the internet. That event was recently dramatised in the Disney+ miniseries Pam & Tommy – but was made without her input or consent.

In this documentary, Anderson tells her own story. She discusses her reaction to both Pam & Tommy and the tape, recounts how she went from Canadian small-town life to Playboy covers and global stardom, and talks honestly about childhood abuse by a babysitter and her six marriages. After leaving her glamour modelling days behind her, Anderson became an activist for causes including Aids, animal rights and anti-pornography, and recently made her Broadway debut as Roxie in Chicago. Directed by Ryan White (The Keepers), the film also boasts one of her sons as a producer. So it’s a partial view of her life – but an interesting one. VL

Eurovision Song Contest: Handover Ceremony and Draw
BBC Two, 7pm
As the UK steps in to host this year’s competition instead of 2022 winners Ukraine, the BBC starts the countdown to the big event in May with this live semi-final draw and handover to host city Liverpool. AJ Odudu and Rylan present.

Great British Menu
BBC Two, 8pm
Andi Oliver returns with a new series of the culinary competition, which is using Paddington Bear’s 65th birthday for its inspiration. Marmalade sandwiches all round?

Emily Atack: Asking for It?
BBC Two, 9pm
“Every morning I see a man’s penis that I haven’t asked to see,” is the shocking opener to the actress and comedian’s documentary examining sexual harassment via social media. She discusses victim blaming and explains why she is part of a campaign to make “online flashing” a crime.

Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild
Channel 5, 9pm
Ben Fogle meets more people who have chosen to live off grid, this week in Tuscany, where British couple George and Sophie live in the stunning Casentinesi Forest national park with their two young children. As ever, the affable Fogle mucks in, helping with the couple’s farmhouse renovation, making pizza and collecting honey.

Blood Money: The Curse of Brink’s-Mat Robbery
Channel 5, 10pm
In 1983, armed robbers broke into a Heathrow security depot and made off with three tons of pure gold worth £26 million. Some of the robbers have never been caught, and much of the gold remains unrecovered. Police officers and witnesses reveal the inside story; the “curse” in the title refers to the deaths by shooting of several men who were allegedly involved in the crime. The BBC is dramatising the heist in The Gold, set to be released this spring, starring Hugh Bonneville and Dominic Cooper.

Casa Susanna: Storyville
BBC Four, 10pm
Sébastien Lifshitz’s engaging film charts the history of a pioneering resort in upstate New York where, in the 1950s and 1960s, men who were members of the “national sorority of crossdressers” could meet freely. Two of them, Diane and Kate, now both 80 and living as women, describe the “good times” they had there.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) ★★★★
Following the death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, there were questions about whether this Marvel sequel would ever get made. Thankfully, it doesn’t just replace Boseman’s King T’Challa, but instead sets up the film as a moving study of grief, as his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and mother Queen Ramonda (an Oscar-nominated Angela Bassett) come to terms with the loss. Plenty of action and blue-mutant baddies, too.

Mad Max (1979) ★★★★
ITV4, 9pm
Improbable car stunts and pile-ups ensue as “Mad” Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) attempts to police a dystopian Australia, where biker gangs rape and pillage at will, while keeping his young family safe from harm. Director George Miller’s vision was “a silent movie with sound” and he drew inspiration for the film’s injuries from his time as a doctor in Sydney. Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne and Steve Bisley also star.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 11.45pm
Céline Sciamma’s sensual, slow-burning lesbian romance captivated critics, including at Cannes, where it scooped Best Screenplay. Set in 18th-century France, the film follows strong-willed painter Marianne (Noémie Merlan) as she’s commissioned to paint the portrait of a young aristocratic bride-to-be, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). What ensues is a gripping, beautiful story of forbidden love.

BBC Four delves into the world of moss - Lawrence Chalet/BBC
BBC Four delves into the world of moss - Lawrence Chalet/BBC

Wednesday 1 February

The Magical World of Moss
BBC Four, 9pm
You might think a lowly and neglected plant regarded as little more than a nuisance in Britain doesn’t really deserve a whole hour to itself. But as revealed in this spectacularly shot, wonderfully wide-ranging and surprisingly engaging film, moss is one of the most ancient life-forms on Earth, one of the first to emerge from the primordial soup of our planet’s evolutionary beginnings, and fundamental to much of the plant life that followed. With more than 25,000 species recorded, it also seems capable of surviving just about anywhere. Mainly because it has no need for roots and can draw nourishment from whatever environment it finds itself in, whether that be bare volcanic rock, searing deserts or ice.

A talent for dormancy helps too: one contributor from the British Antarctic Survey explains how a sample he took from an ice core sprang back to life after 1,500 years trapped in a glacier. Absorbing as all this is, it’s the photography that really stands out – from close-ups revealing the intricacy and endless variety of these plants, to spectacular panoramic views of the more remote parts of the world that only they can inhabit. GO

Gunther’s Millions
Meet Gunther, the world’s richest dog. A lovely German Shepherd with an even lovelier $400 million (£325 m) trust fund, 27 staff and several luxurious homes. This terrific documentary focuses on the canine’s canny guardians, who for decades have managed the extravagant lifestyle afforded by a fortune inherited from a German countess.

Sort Your Life Out
BBC One, 9pm
This week, Stacey Solomon helps a South Yorkshire family clear their house of a mountain of unwanted items (2,137 toys, 452 books, 13 guitars, 61 mugs and 1,274 tools) and rescues £2,000 of forgotten cash and cheques discovered amid the mess.

The Catch
Channel 5, 9pm
The dark thriller continues as, still reeling from what he found on the boat, fisherman Ed (Jason Watkins) confides in Bob (Ian Pirie), who tells him that he has CCTV footage revealing who was behind the sabotage. Desperately in need of back-up, Ed calls in some friends from his time in the Navy.

Amanda Owen’s Farming Lives
More4, 9pm
Amanda Owen visits modest Castle Farm in south Wales which, following a revamp in the middle of the pandemic, now supports four families. She finds out how they have diversified the farm to meet new and increased demand, supplying the local community via a farm shop, and how their “unique” milkshake machine pulls in a serving of much-needed extra revenue.

Building Britain’s Superhomes
Channel 4, 10pm
The first in a two-parter following Nottingham’s foul-mouthed yet fascinating Guy Phoenix, who’s been – with no design training – building blingtastic mega-palaces for the super-rich for 25 years. “People come to me because they know they’ll get big and f---ing luxury,” he roars. Here he opens the doors on a number of his eye-poppingly opulent current projects.

Fortunes of War
BBC Four, from 10pm
The opening four episodes of Alan Plater’s sweeping 1987 adaptation of Olivia Manning’s novels, following the wartime fortunes of British Council expats Guy and Harriet Pringle (an impossibly young-looking Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson), get a welcome repeat tonight.

Minority Report (2002) ★★★★
Film4, 9pm
The brilliance of Steven Spielberg and the hard-edged sci-fi of Philip K Dick prove to be a perfect match in this superb futuristic thriller. Tom Cruise plays John Anderton, the chief of a “PreCrime” department, which arrests people for crimes that a team of “precogs” foresee that they intend to commit. Anderton’s loyalty to the system is put under strain when he is identified as the potential killer of a man that he’s never met.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) ★★
5STAR, 9pm
Guy Ritchie’s laddish spin on the legend of King Arthur has much of his characteristic macho-bravado; his Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is a tough orphan raised on the streets of Londinium by criminals (this is the director behind Snatch, after all) whose fate leads him to pull the Excalibur sword from the stone, exposing his mystical birthright and setting him up to defeat his tyrannical uncle Vortigern (Jude Law).

Young Adult (2011) ★★★★
BBC Three, 11pm
Jason Reitman’s wickedly dark comedy (by Diablo Cody, who also collaborated with him for Juno and Jennifer’s Body) flips the romcom on its head by giving us a modern, alcoholic, self-centred heroine – who is all too human. Charlize Theron is Mavis Gary, a divorced writer who moves back to her hometown to win back her high-school sweetheart… who just happens to be happily married.

Helena Bonham Carter plays Crossroads stalwart Noele Gordon - ITVX
Helena Bonham Carter plays Crossroads stalwart Noele Gordon - ITVX

Thursday 2 February

After Years and Years and It’s a Sin, Russell T Davies probably deserved a break from state-of-the-nation polemics and, for all that this three-part biopic of Crossroads star Noele Gordon has points to make about misogyny, workplace politics and society’s depressing tendency to label women as “bossy” or “difficult”, Nolly is above all fantastic fun. This is in no small part down to Helena Bonham Carter, having a ball as the imperious beating heart of the much loved, easily lampooned ITV soap, whose unexplained sacking as motel matriarch Meg Mortimer in 1981 was met with widespread astonishment. Over three episodes, we follow her attempts to find out how and why Meg is to be written out, and if there can be life after soap.

Con O’Neill and Augustus Prew lend excellent support as Nolly’s slippery producer and affectionate co-star respectively, and Davies’s wit and insight ensure that a seemingly minor story is given real weight and a character to care about. Gordon, for example, was both the first woman to interview a British prime minister and the first woman in the world to appear on colour television, but she also nursed grief and romantic disappointment behind the formidable veneer. GT

Modern Wheels or Classic Steals
BBC iPlayer
Another arrival from Dave, this 20-episode series follows racing driver Rebecca Jackson and owner of the now-closed London Motor Museum, Elo, as they advise punters about the right car for them.

Dragons’ Den
BBC One, 8pm
A local shopping app, fish-skin handbags, a pre-emptive alarm system for vans and a personalised bank card are among the head spinning pitches facing Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Sara Davies, Steven Bartlett and Touker Suleyman.

The Apprentice
BBC One, 9pm
Branding and advertising skills are both showcased and ruthlessly exposed as the series approaches its halfway point, with the candidates pitching a new electric motorbike to industry experts. Egos intrude, creative vanity balloons and, yes, one of them is going to get fired.

The Murder of Rachel Nickell
ITV1, 9pm
The brutal 1992 killing of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common is not a subject left alone for long by television; most recently, Channel 4’s Deceit scrutinised the police’s botched honey trap operation that incorrectly identified Colin Stagg as the killer. This absorbing film looks at the case through the eyes of Dr Angela Gallop, whose forensics team finally cracked the case some 15 years later in spite of shoddy police work having seen few DNA samples retained.

Grayson Perry’s Full English
Channel 4, 9pm
Thanks to his enduring interest in people rather than the clichés, Full English stands very comfortably alongside Grayson Perry’s other three-part series in its useful, empathetic interrogation of identity and modern life. This second episode follows Perry and van driver Kirk as they traverse the Midlands, from a halal tea room in the Peak District to an Afro-Caribbean community centre in West Bromwich, in search of perspectives on Englishness from their ethnically diverse populations. Once again, his findings are enlightening, surprising and rather moving.

The Directors
Sky Arts, 11pm
Startling to think that this always instructive show could have reached the halfway point of its eighth series without profiling the mighty Orson Welles, but tonight the man behind Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons and numerous magnificent follies gets his due.

The Imitation Game (2014) ★★★★
BBC Four, 9pm
Director Morten Tyldum portrays the life and work of mathematician Alan Turing across three time-frames: his school years, his stint breaking codes at Bletchley Park, and post-war, during the persecution he would suffer until his death. Benedict Cumberbatch is a compelling Turing, opening a window into the genius’s mental torment and difficult personality. However, the film disappointingly omits much of the homophobic abuse Turing suffered.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) ★★★★★
Film4, 9pm
Steven Spielberg directs this groundbreaking adventure about a disparate group of people who make contact with aliens. Richard Dreyfuss gives a memorable performance as a father who becomes obsessed by the image of a mountain which turns out to be a landing site. Even today, its sinewy storytelling and gorgeous, effects-driven imagery make for an eerie, memorably spectacular film.

Babel (2006) ★★★★
Sky Cinema Greats, 10pm
This engrossing, multi-narrative drama tells the interrelated stories of a handful of people, in Morocco, Japan, Mexico and America, who are all bound by a fateful shot fired by a playful Moroccan boy. It’s about the difficulties of communicating; alas, the film itself is communicated in a rather jumbled fashion. But the Tokyo sequence is excellent, and Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett provide doses of much-needed star power.

Natascha McElhone as Bella Ainsworth - ITV
Natascha McElhone as Bella Ainsworth - ITV

Friday 3 February

Hotel Portofino
ITV1, 9pm
There is a chance that you may have already paid a visit to Hotel Portofino; it has, after all, been available on BritBox for just over a year. If not, the period drama makes its big ITV1 debut tonight, welcoming new guests with its handsome, if largely uninspiring, marriage of shows such as Downton Abbey and The Durrells.

We open on the Italian Riviera in 1926, where the unflappable Bella Ainsworth (Natascha McElhone) has just opened the titular hotel; presented as a home away from home for English visitors. There is the usual gulf between guests and staff. On one side you have humble cook Betty (Elizabeth Carling), who frets about the state of foreign potatoes (“Olive oil! Whatever next?!”); while on the other you have guests such as Lucy Akhurst’s Julia Drummond-Ward, a cartoon snob for whom nothing is good enough. Bella also has a son called Lucian (Oliver Dench), who is haunted by memories from the First World War. This opening episode does a fine job of planting the seeds of the six-part series: scandalous affairs, dangerous blackmail, class divides, and all with the rise of Italian fascism bubbling away in the background. It is trite, but perfectly watchable. SK

Dear Edward
Apple TV+
This shiny 10-part drama explores the fallout from a plane crash in which every passenger except Edward, a 12 year-old boy played by Colin O’Brien, dies. It’s an interesting idea, although it is let down by flat characters and a tediously cloying tone. The first three episodes are available from today.

Your Honor
The patchy first series of this American drama saw Bryan Cranston’s Michael, a judge, cover up his son’s killing of a mafia kingpin’s child. In a neat parallel, this second series branches out from his own son’s murder, following Michael as he descends into the depths of organised crime. These first three episodes are fairly ponderous, but Cranston is superb.

Kevin Sinfield: Going The Extra Mile
BBC Two, 7pm; Wales, 7.30pm
In 2020, Kevin Sinfield ran seven marathons in seven days to raise money for motor neurone disease charities, in honour of his former rugby league teammate Rob Burrow, who has the condition. Here, BBC Breakfast follows the England Rugby Union team’s defence coach as he embarks on two more challenges for charity, including a gruelling 101-mile run.

Amol Rajan Interviews Bill Gates
BBC Two, 7.30pm; Wales, 8pm
Journalist Amol Rajan travels to Kenya for an interview with technology giant Bill Gates. The official theme is Gates’s philanthropic work in fighting disease and climate change, but the chat is at its most interesting when Gates is pressed on the subject of conspiracy theories, the ethics of extreme wealth and historical affairs.

Travel Man: 48 Hours In Marseille
Channel 4, 8.30pm
The next stop in Joe Lycett’s joyous, bite-sized travel show is the French city of Marseille. He is joined by comedian Asim Chaudhry, from BBC sitcom People Just Do Nothing, who enjoys the delights of falling over a lot in du Prado, one of the most famous skateparks in the world.

Death in Paradise
BBC One, 9pm
This week’s episode is a Russian doll of murder suspects. Construction mogul Vincent (Craig Stein) is found stabbed to death, but Ralph Little’s DI Parker has doubts that the woman who was caught red-handed is the killer. And Commissioner Patterson (Don Warrington) meets his long-lost daughter (Genesis Lynea).

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) ★★★★
BBC Three, 8pm
Jon M Chu’s rollickingly fun film was Hollywood’s first all-Asian studio production in 25 years,  and was rightly hailed as a watershed moment for the representation of Asian-Americans. It’s a wonderful romcom in which Constance Wu plays Rachel, a New Yorker who suddenly has her hands full when she discovers that her boyfriend’s parents are among the richest people in Singapore. Henry Golding and Michelle Yeoh also star.

Father Stu (2022) ★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 8pm
Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg star in this ill-fated father-and-son drama, directed by Gibson’s long-term girlfriend Rosalind Ross. Wahlberg plays the real-life Stuart Long, an amateur boxer from Montana who followed a rocky path to becoming a Catholic priest, while also succumbing to a rare degenerative muscle disease. Gibson plays his alcoholic father, Bill. Malcolm McDowell and Teresa Ruiz co-star.

Vice (2018) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 11.05pm
Adam McKay’s fantastic film (his follow-up to 2015’s The Big Short) about the former US Vice President Dick Cheney is a Molotov cocktail of biopic, documentary and black comedy, with a thrillingly short fuse. It spans the half-century from Cheney’s drink-driving conviction at the age of 21 to his heart transplant at 71; he is brilliantly played by Christian Bale, whose face is reshaped by eerily plausible prosthetics.

Television previewers

Jack Taylor (JT), Catherine Gee (CG), Veronica Lee (VL), Stephen Kelly (SK), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Chris Bennion (CB), Rachel Ward (RW), Poppie Platt (PP) and Gabriel Tate (GT)