What’s on TV tonight: Get On Up: The Triumph of Black America, The Dog Academy and more
Thursday 30 March
Get On Up: The Triumph of Black America
BBC Two, 9pm
British actor David Harewood, who rose to global prominence starring in the hit US TV series Homeland, has been living, working and succeeding in America for over a decade now and witnessing “at first hand the extraordinary influence that African-American culture has had on popular culture”.
In this heartfelt two-part series (boxsetted on iPlayer), he explores how black American creatives have had a profound impact on his life and, more widely, broken down the barriers of racism to change the world, and the world of entertainment, for the better. Beginning his deep personal connection to Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, Harewood looks at the careers of the first black American stars – Sammy Davis Jr and Sidney Poitier – who showed that his career was possible. From there he looks back at the pivotal movements – Blaxploitation films, the rise of Berry Gordy’s Motown – when pioneering black American musicians, actors, film-makers and choreographers took on the mainstream and transformed the cultural landscape from the 1960s up to the present day, meeting many of his heroes en route. GO
An intense adaptation of Japanese author Hideo Yokoyama’s hit crime thriller, relocated from Tokyo to Glasgow. Kevin McKidd plays a jobbing detective and Vinette Robinson his wife, with a mysterious past, whose daughter disappears. It’s a tale so tangled that it can be off-putting initially, but it’s worth sticking with for the (boxsetted) long run.
The Dog Academy
Channel 4, 8pm
Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Think again, as experts attempt to retrain some of the worst behaved dogs in Britain, led by Victoria Stilwell of It’s Me or the Dog fame. Tonight’s problematic pooches are a cockapoo that’s tearing its family apart and a chihuahua with aggression issues.
Gordon Ramsay’s Future Food Stars
BBC One, 9pm
Gordon Ramsay’s derivative Apprentice-style cookery challenge returns for a second series, with 12 more of “the UK’s best up-and-coming food and drink entrepreneurs” competing to win an investment of £150,000. Things quickly go awry as the group goes head-to-head, split into two teams, tasked with creating five-star outdoor banquets in Ayrshire.
Jason & Clara: In Memory of Maudie
A deeply affecting film with actor Jason Watkins and his wife Clara Francis telling the story of their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Maudie’s sudden death from sepsis in 2011. More than a decade on, their pain remains palpable, but their determination to raise awareness of the condition is inspiring.
Channel 4, 9pm
Frankie Boyle, Ivo Graham, Jenny Eclair, Kiell Smith-Bynoe and Mae Martin are the comedians enduring various humiliations in pursuit of, as Greg Davies puts it, a “truly worthless” trophy, as the show reaches a remarkable 15th series. Alex Horne is on-hand, as ever, to organise the tasks, which tonight include dancing the best wedding dance ever and unwinding a ball of string.
Live: Vanished: The Hunt for Britain’s Missing People
Channel 5, 9pm
Following a one-off pilot in February about the search for Nicola Bulley in Lancashire, presenter Dan Walker goes on the trail of more people who have gone missing in the UK, with the help of families and friends left behind, police and missing persons charities.
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965, b/w) ★★★★
TCM Movies, 5.35pm
Martin Ritt’s brooding John le Carré adaptation earned Richard Burton his fourth Oscar nomination (one of seven the Welshman didn’t win). He plays Alec Leamas, a British secret agent who is marked out by the East German intelligence service as a potential defector. It’s a gorgeous, chilly and sad piece that seems as fresh today as upon its release, with support from Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner and Cyril Cusack.
Rambo (2008) ★★★
Vietnam, Afghanistan and now Burma: is nowhere on Earth safe from John Rambo and his distinctive (by modern standards, downright problematic) definition of what liberating a country might involve? Yet this fourth outing for Sylvester Stallone’s vengeful machete man works on its own terms – a film that knows what it is and a ready-made fan base to adore it. Here, the ageing warrior has to rescue a group of missionaries.
The Death of Dick Long (2019) ★★★
Daniel Scheinert, one half of recent Oscar-winning director-duo the Daniels, directed this black comedy just a few years before Everything Everywhere All at Once swept the Academy. Zeke (Michael Abbott Jr) and Earl (Andre Hyland) scramble to cover up the dodgy events that led to their friend’s death, but they soon realise that in small-town Alabama, there’s always someone snooping around.
Friday 31 March
Amazon Prime Video
Naomi Alderman’s 2016 novel was an ambitious reset of gender politics, exploring the repercussions of teenage girls across the world developing the power to generate and control electricity. Amazon’s nine-part adaptation is an accomplished and thoughtful combination of high-concept thriller and timely polemic, spanning the globe and deftly juggling numerous storylines and a big cast.
Episode one rests on the shoulders of Ria Zmitrowicz (Three Girls) as Roxy, acknowledged but ostracised illegitimate daughter of Eddie Marsan’s north London gangster; Halle Bush as Allie, an abused foster child struggling to reconcile her new powers with her religious faith; Ted Lasso’s Toheeb Jimoh as Nigerian YouTuber Tunde; and Auli’i Cravalho, the voice of Disney’s Moana who here plays Jos, a disillusioned teenager struggling to be “normal”. Later episodes introduce older women for whom these events offer enthralling, terrifying possibilities: Toni Collette’s Seattle mayor (also Jos’s mother) and Tatiana (Zrinka Cvitesic), the trophy wife of a dictator. The thrill of discovery wrestles with suppression of the unknown in the opening hours as the patriarchy teeters; later on comes the reality. GT
A Kind of Spark
Bursting with charm and intelligence, this 10-part family drama (based on Elle McNicoll’s novel) starts on CBBC on April 17 and follows Addie Darrow (Lola Blue), an autistic teenager whose interest in medieval witch trials first offers escape from bullying peers and later a sense of mission.
BBC One, 8pm
The smash whodunit spinoff has settled on a neat formula to which tonight’s episode cleaves tightly: arcane, borderline-daft case, twinned with mild personal turmoil. This week, Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) tackles a series of arson attempts seemingly linked by the Three Little Pigs fairy tale, while Martha (Sally Bretton) worries over Archie’s (Jamie Bamber) reaction to her rejection.
Great British Menu
BBC Two, 9pm
A total of 32 chefs are now down to just four for the final banquet to celebrate the world of animation and illustration. Gathering at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion (featured in The Snowman), they must rustle up dishes for guests including Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon), Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo) and Aardman co-founder Peter Lord.
Drift: Partners in Crime
Sky Atlantic, 9pm & 10pm
The solidly entertaining odd-couple police thriller continues. Straight arrow Ali (Ken Duken) and wild card Leo (Fabian Busch) come to realise that they are embroiled in a Europe-wide conspiracy as they join the dots between the bridge collapse, the weapons container and yet another close shave.
BBC One, 9.30pm
Simon Callow’s theatre manager is just one of the many obstacles to Wicky (Greg Davies) doing his job (crime-scene cleaner) tonight in this uncertain comedy-drama, when he arrives at a venue where a bloody brawl has interrupted a male strip show.
Late Night Lycett
Channel 4, 10pm
The dauntless Joe Lycett turns to topical chat and comedy in what sounds like a one-man, Birmingham-set blend of Graham Norton, Ant and Dec and The Mash Report. Lycett will be looking back at the week in politics, news and culture with celebrities and relatives, while also offering audience members the opportunity to win some of his own possessions. With equal potential for chaos and brilliance, only Lycett could conceivably pull this off.
Rocketman’s Taron Egerton (see Saturday) stars in this nostalgic gaming-drama based on the true story of American salesman Henk Rogers, who discovered Tetris – the addictive puzzle game created by Soviet engineer Alexey Pajitnov – in 1988. Before Rogers could turn the game into a global phenomenon, however, he had to reckon with the dangerous web of lies and corruption that lurked behind the Iron Curtain. Toby Jones and Roger Allam co-star.
Murder Mystery 2 (2023)
Murder Mystery starred Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston as a perfectly normal couple who get framed for murder while on the holiday of a lifetime. In this no-frills (and few laughs) sequel, the couple are now private detectives on the cusp of launching their own agency when a friend’s abduction lands them at the centre of an international crisis. It’s certainly not the pinnacle of cinema, but Sandler and Aniston’s natural charisma makes it worthwhile.
Pretty Woman (1990) ★★★★
BBC One, 10.40pm
Initially intended as a dark drama about prostitution in 1990s LA, this romcom has been an enduring success, with a spinoff hit West End musical and endlessly quotable material. Millionaire Edward (Richard Gere) takes a wrong turn while borrowing his friend’s Lotus and asks for directions home from call girl Vivian (Julia Roberts). She steers him back to his hotel, he pays her $3,000 to be his escort and, somewhat improbably, they fall in love.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) ★★★
East meets West in the third film in the lean, mean series as Lucas Black steps up as the car enthusiast, here sent to live in Tokyo where he discovers drift racing – a sport where the driver intentionally oversteers – and buddies up with Bow Wow as entrepreneurial youth Twinkie. Moving the action to Japan was a masterstroke, allowing the film-makers to explore the visually impressive city.
Saturday 1 April
BBC One, 9.15pm
Dual timeline thrillers are now so frequent that the truly original take offered by Anthony Horowitz’s spry, richly entertaining whodunit (which premiered last year on BritBox and launches as a boxset on the Beeb tonight) feels both refreshing and playful. Our heroine is Susan Ryeland (Lesley Manville), a publisher whose main client, crime novelist Alan Conway (Conleth Hill), dies with the final book in his bestselling 1950s-set policiers – centred on urbane PI Atticus Pünd (Tim McMullan) – unfinished. As she leafs through the manuscript, she suspects Conway’s death may not only have been suspicious, but foreshadowed in the novel itself.
So begins a double investigation in rural Suffolk, as Susan looks into Conway’s demise and fictional Atticus looks into the death of arrogant landowner Magnus Pye (Lorcan Cranitch). Cranitch is one of several cast doing double duty, with Conway having written many of his acquaintances into the novel in unflattering guises – notably Daniel Mays’s brusque copper being reimagined as the bumbling DI Locke. The whole thing is carried off with a wonderfully light touch, as is characteristic of Horowitz’s narrative flair. GT
Bettany Hughes’ Treasures of the World
Channel 4, 7pm
In the penultimate episode of what has been an absorbing series exploring ancient civilisations, Bettany Hughes is in Oman, where Bronze Age tombs, frankincense harvests and a remarkably advanced irrigation system are the order of the day.
Frank Sinatra: a Man and his Music
BBC Two, from 7.35pm
A couple of seldom-seen concerts are the backbone of tonight’s programming dedicated to Ol’ Blue Eyes, seemingly for no other reason than his position as one of the indisputable all-time musical greats. The opening 1967 TV special sees him joined by guitarist Antonio Carlos Jobim for The Girl from Ipanema and Ella Fitzgerald for some stunning medleys; later comes a spellbinding 1970 London gig ending with timeless croon My Way. Then, a fine Arena profile concludes proceedings at 9.20pm.
Fortress Britain with Alice Roberts
Channel 4, 8pm
Alice Roberts brings her investigations closer to the present day, assessing British preparations for a Nazi land invasion from the Home Guard through to tank traps and concentration camps. These are familiar stories, engagingly told.
Paul O’Grady: 40 Years of Laughter & More
Channel 5, 8.30pm
Following Wednesday’s news that the well-loved presenter had died aged 67, this documentary (originally broadcast in 2017) charts his rise to national hero status, from working-class Wirral comedian to trailblazing drag queen Lily Savage and, more recently, ardent pooch supporter.
Sky Documentaries, 9pm
Perhaps overly reverential, this undeniably entertaining four-part documentary (the full series is available as a boxset tonight) profiles one of the greatest NBA icons of all time, a physical marvel with the on-court brain to back it up. While Shaquille O’Neal is not shy of trumpeting his own greatness, he also addresses the odd personal failing, but there will be few surprises for even casual fans.
The Jonathan Ross Show
Another star-packed evening on ITV1, as Jonathan Ross hosts Ed Sheeran, the popstar seemingly destined to dominate the charts forevermore (here performing new single Eyes Closed), Canadian crooner Michael Bublé, Oscar winner Russell Crowe and singer-turned-actor Lily Allen.
Dark Victory (1939, b/w) ★★★★
BBC Two, 1.30pm
Come to this drama for Bette Davis on star form as a hard-drinking Long Island socialite, cocooned in a lie that her brain surgery has been successful. Stay for the total devastation when she learns that it hasn’t. Conquering fear before total blindness claims her, she’s at her very best opposite silver-screen luminaries George Brent as her doctor and Humphrey Bogart as her stable master, who still holds a torch for her from a distance.
Emily the Criminal (2022) ★★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 8pm
Aubrey Plaza shows true grit in this thriller about a desperate graduate turning to a life of crime. Marred by an assault charge against an ex-boyfriend, Plaza’s Emily is deep in debt when she’s thrown into the cutthroat workplaces of Los Angeles – until she decides to give them up for a credit card fraud ring that promises to pay big. Plaza, who first proved her darkly comic chops in Parks and Recreation then recently in The White Lotus, is superb.
So Long, My Son (2019) ★★★★★
BBC Four, 9pm
Xiaoshuai Wang’s exquisite Chinese family saga is perfect: centred on an epic story of two couples battling through personal troubles and wider, state-imposed suffering, it’s beautifully shot and its characters are expertly formed. Liyun (Yong Mei) and Yaojun (Wang Jingchun) have one son; their best friends (Ai Liya and Xu Cheng) have a child of the same age. But envy and tragedy soon intervene, changing their lives forever.
High Society (1956) ★★★★
BBC Two, 10.55pm
MGM’s glorious musical version of The Philadelphia Story brings together a cast to die for: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Grace Kelly (who was actually the makers’ second choice after Elizabeth Taylor). Cole Porter’s songs have great wit as well as enduring melodies (You’re the Top is a particular standout), while Kelly’s acting talent and mesmerising beauty more than compensates for her inadequacy as a singer.
Film of the Week: La Haine (1995, b/w) ★★★★★
As the streets of Paris continue to be filled with burning rubbish, masked protesters and politicians nervously awaiting yet more mutiny in the face of President Macron’s unpopular pension reforms, what better film to watch at home than Mathieu Kassovitz’s masterpiece? La Haine chronicles a tumultuous day and night in the lives of three friends who live in the poor suburbs (banlieues) of the French capital in the aftermath of a riot sparked by police brutality. There’s Vinz (Vincent Cassel), a Jewish youth with a temper and an obsession with Robert De Niro’s psychopathic character in Taxi Driver; Hubert (Hubert Koundé), an Afro-French boxer and small-time drug dealer; and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui), a North African Muslim who serves as the trio’s peaceful meditator. Each performance is among cinema’s finest: raw and affecting, their anger put into sharper focus by the striking black and white cinematography. The film landed Kassovitz the Best Director prize at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, and sparked debate in France about poverty, racism and immigration. On screen, its influence can be felt in everything from American Beauty to This is England and A Prophet. A film everyone should see.
Sunday 2 April
Simon Reeve’s Return to Cornwall
BBC Two, 9pm
In 2020, Simon Reeve visited glorious Cornwall. It was summer then, the busiest period for Britain’s most popular tourist destination. In this sobering one-off special, Reeve returns during the winter months to find a very different county – grey, empty, and suffering miserably from the cost of living crisis. Reeve pays another visit to the food bank run by Don Gardner, whose appearance on the 2020 programme led to £300,000 worth of donations. He tells Reeve that demand has rocketed due to rising prices outstripping stagnant benefits and wages. A case in point is the Sandy Lodge Hotel, which has had to lay off 20 staff after its electric bill went from £30,000 to £170,000 a year. Some of its rooms are still in use, however. The council have put up locals Kim and Ryan, along with their three children, in a small room after they were made homeless by their landlord.
The housing crisis is particularly acute in Cornwall: house prices and rents are sky high, and much of the meagre supply has been sucked up by Airbnbs and second homes owned by wealthy holidaymakers – meaning many houses lie empty in winter, while actual residents have nowhere to live. It is a stark microcosm of a broken economy. SK
BBC One, 7pm
Tonight’s theme is the wildlife that populates Britain and Ireland’s rivers, ponds, lochs and lakes. There is some stunning footage of Atlantic salmon heroically battling their way upstream, but the most memorable scenes concern creepy crawlies. Brace yourself for giant carnivorous leeches with a penchant for eating baby toads whole.
John Simm’s grizzled detective suspects a case of mistaken identity when a woman is shot through a front door. Was the assassin’s target actually pop star Gaia (Victoria Emslie)? And how is this connected to the discovery of body parts on a Sussex farm? It’s an absorbing series finale, full of devious twists and some fairly implausible turns.
Chasing the Rains
Sky Nature, 8pm
In the great rangelands of northern Kenya, the survival of all life depends on the temperament of the rain. Narrated by Bridgerton’s Adjoa Andoh, this four-part series follows animals as they adapt to drought, including elephant matriarch Anastasia, who must lead her family on an arduous journey to find water.
BBC One, 9pm
The second episode of Steven Knight’s gritty adaptation follows Pip (initially Tom Sweet) as he becomes both a man (Fionn Whitehead) and gentleman. Shalom Brune-Franklin is super as the disaffected Estella, but Olivia Colman’s compelling Miss Havisham is the highlight – all twisted rage and sorrow. Beyond that, it remains rather tepid.
BBC Scotland, 9pm
This new series follows Police Scotland’s Highlands and Islands division as they contend with Britain’s biggest beat. In tonight’s opener, they search for a survivalist who has gone missing in the wilderness and open an investigation into the illegal shooting of two deer. The series will also air on BBC Two at 9pm on Tuesday.
The Olivier Awards 2023
Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham hosts the biggest night in British theatre. The magical stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro leads the awards with nine nominations, while the Best Actor category features Tom Hollander (Patriots) and Paul Mescal (A Streetcar Named Desire). Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer is tipped to scoop Best Actress for legal monologue Prima Facie.
Pete’s Dragon (2016) ★★★★
BBC One, 3pm
Aside from its title and premise, David Lowery’s remake of the 1977 children’s film is largely original, with its own beguiling aura of sunbathed, mud-spattered nostalgia. This take on the tale wows with low-key Spielbergian magic, and not special effects, as one might expect. Bryce Dallas Howard’s forest ranger encounters orphan Pete (Oakes Fegley), who has befriended giant, green dinosaurian doofus Elliott.
Johnny English (2003) ★★
This tired, asinine spy spoof is made somewhat bearable by Rowan Atkinson’s natural comic timing. He plays the eponymous secret agent whose job it is to track down the crown jewels, which he suspects have been stolen by John Malkovich’s sly entrepreneur. Atkinson’s performance, however, is not enough to make us laugh all by itself, and Peter Howitt’s film often repeats the same gag over and over again.
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993) ★★★
Channel 4, 5.40pm
Whoopi Goldberg’s Las Vegas showgirl-turned-nun commits to saving a troubled school in this fun-filled sequel. Persuaded to help the parish (again) by her old friends Sister Mary Patrick (Kathy Najimy) and Sister Mary Lazarus (Mary Wickes), Deloris (Goldberg) soon finds a student crying out for musical attention – played by Grammy-winner Lauryn Hill, here just a year before Fugees’ debut was released.
Children of Men (2006) ★★★★
BBC Two, 10pm
Film-makers seem to like nothing more than an impending apocalypse. Here director Alfonso Cuarón flashes forward to 2027 (scarily, not that distant now) and a world in which the human race has lost the ability to procreate. Disillusioned bureaucrat Clive Owen must help a pregnant refugee flee the repressive British authorities in this taut thriller. Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Chiwetel Ejiofor also impress.
Monday 3 April
Secrets of the Chippendales Murders
BBC Two, 9pm & 9.45pm
A terrestrial showing for this six-part series (previously available on iPlayer) exploring the dark – and surprisingly hairy – underbelly of the 1980s phenomenon that was the Chippendales, famed for shows featuring phalanxes of ripped male strippers, bump ’n’ grind choreography and exuberant audiences.
Tonight’s double bill starts, aptly enough, with a big tease – a 911 call to emergency services about a shooting at the Chippendales’ New York HQ in 1987. Who’s been shot, or by whom, is left dangling, though. Instead, we dive into the salty history of the troupe’s inexorable rise following its founding in Los Angeles in 1979 by a soft-spoken Indian businessman with big dreams. Owner Steve Banerjee was a talented self-publicist, but the phenomenon didn’t really take off until New York producer Nick De Noia got on board in 1980, sowing the seeds for global success and eventual tragedy. What follows is a classic story of greed, envy, excess and betrayal told by those involved – from dancers still beaming at memories of the headiest of times, to money men, police and other chroniclers of this sleazy but compelling tale. GO
Brooke Shields: Pretty Baby
Taking “a galvanising look” at the actress and model who hit global fame in the 1980s, this two-part documentary explores how Shields survived being objectified and sexualised from a young age (her breakthrough role, aged just 11, was playing a child prostitute in the 1978 film Pretty Baby) and went on to wrestle back control of her career and mental health.
Sky Atlantic, 2am & 9pm
Judging by the close of last week’s masterly opener, the final series looks set to be yet another stroke of dramatic genius. Have the kids really got one over on father Logan Roy (Brian Cox) at last? It seems unlikely, but he’ll have to move fast to keep the GoJo deal from stumbling, too.
Strangers on a Plane
Channel 4, 5.30pm
Five gobby strangers sharing a holiday, each trying to prove that they know best how to have fun… Yes, it’s everyone’s idea of the holiday from hell, remade as a competition with each of the contestants treating the others to their idea of a perfect day – and being reviewed and rated on the result. This week’s destination is Benidorm. The Prize? A luxury, er, holiday.
Panorama: Road Wars: Neighbourhood Traffic Chaos
BBC One, 8pm; Wales, 10.40pm
Are plans to get cars off our streets turning neighbour against neighbour? BBC Climate Editor Justin Rowlatt explores the controversy around Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) zones in London, that aimed to reduce traffic and pollution in residential areas but have caused difficulties for drivers and workers.
BBC One, 9pm
Another brilliant edition from the gritty Northern Ireland police drama. Tonight, Grace (Sian Brooke) has a busy time when a bad batch of drugs hits the streets and the McIntyre gang scramble to cover their tracks. Meanwhile, fellow probationer Annie (Katherine Devlin) gets a scare that leaves her unsure who she can trust.
An eventful conclusion to a superb sixth series, which has cleverly managed the tricky introduction of new lead character DCI Jess James (Sinéad Keenan). Tonight, after the discovery of another murder victim, Sunny (Sanjeev Bhaskar) finally gets enough evidence to make an arrest.
Laura (1944, b/w) ★★★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 4.05pm
Otto Preminger, master of film noir, made his name with this adaptation of Vera Caspary’s novel, and, according to some critics, it’s better than Vertigo. A beautiful woman (played by Gene Tierney, though Marlene Dietrich expressed interest in the role) is murdered before the film even begins – yet everyone seems in love with her. A bitter, brilliant thriller that is also an acid-sharp examination of desire.
Call Me By Your Name (2017) ★★★★★
Great! Movies, 9pm
Oliver (Armie Hammer) is an academic in his mid-20s on an Italian field trip. Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is the 17-year-old son of his hosting professor. The story of their summer is the subject of Luca Guadagnino’s critically acclaimed romance, and it’s the bedrock of a film that becomes as therapeutic as sunlight. All that holds the couple back is their caution, plus an understanding that time is fragile.
Herself (2020) ★★★★
BBC Two, 11.15pm
Clare Dunne stars in and writes this empowering story, directed by Mamma Mia!’s Phyllida Lloyd, of a domestic abuse victim who builds a house. Sandra (Dunne) is forced to flee her abusive husband Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson) with her two young daughters, and take up work at a swanky hotel as a cleaner where she’s met with rampant snobbery. Desperate for a family home, she decides to build her own from scratch – without lots of cash.
Tuesday 4 April
BBC One, 10.40pm; NI, 11.40pm
“I’m not usually a p---k, I promise,” laughs Daisy May Cooper’s Costello Jones as she makes a run from a black cab, unable to pay the fare. “Well, sometimes I am.” Cooper plays a writer and single mother trapped below the poverty line in this moving, darkly comic drama, adapted from Cash Carraway’s memoir Skint Estate (Carraway is also behind the series, a co-production between the BBC and HBO, boxsetted from Tuesday). With much of the same swagger and tough spirit that shone through in This Country and Am I Being Unreasonable?, Cooper is a marvel as Costello, a woman just trying to get by without getting bogged down – not an easy feat, when she and her daughter get evicted and she can’t even afford a bag of “posh” crisps from the off licence.
But Rain Dogs isn’t just about Costello. At its heart is the tender platonic relationship between Costello and Selby (Jack Farthing), a wealthy gay man recently released from prison. Newcomer Fleur Tashjian is also excellent as young daughter Iris. It’s an affecting portrait of poverty in modern Britain that avoids the usual tropes – images of food banks, people crying and desperate – to create a humane comedy with real bite. PP
Inside the Factory
BBC Two, 8pm
Jaffa Cakes kick off this returning series, again hosted by Gregg Wallace. The MasterChef judge visits a Manchester factory that churns out 6 million of them each day (and, incredibly, 1.4 billion every year). Elsewhere, Ruth Goodman takes a bite of the history of chocolate.
Love Your Garden
ITV1, 8pm; Wales, 10.45pm; UTV, 11.40pm
Alan Titchmarsh and the team are on the Wirral to create a home oasis for Conrad and Pauline Toohey, who have dedicated their life to helping others. Then, Frances Tophill heads to Cornwall to visit the magnificent Lost Gardens of Heligan, the UK’s only outdoor jungle.
Channel 4, 8pm
Naked Attraction’s Anna Richardson persuades members of the public to get their kit off for slightly more educational purposes in this new series, co-hosted with presenter Yinka Bokinni and Love Island star-cum-A&E doctor Alex George. Tonight, Richardson meets mothers Libby and Lauren, who share moving stories about their difficulties adjusting to their postpartum bodies, both mentally and physically.
Anton & Giovanni’s Adventures in Sicily
BBC One, 9pm
For the final part of their lovely trip around Sicily, Strictly’s Anton Du Beke and Giovanni Pernice are again joined by Pernice’s former winning dancing partner and actress Rose Ayling-Ellis. The trio rustle up homemade pasta before Du Beke meets Pernice’s parents in Palermo.
Long Lost Family: What Happened Next
Over the past 12 years, Long Lost Family has reunited more than 100 people with their relatives. Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell are back with a special edition, as moving as ever, that sees them revisit nine of the families to find out how their lives have changed.
Channel 4, 9pm
The second episode of this madcap reality series, part of Channel 4’s Stand Up to Cancer charity season, sees the 10 celebrities split up around the UK as they try to evade the expert hunters. Nikesh Patel and Nicola Thorp attempt a high-stakes reunion up in the Lake District, while a local vicar is roped into helping James Acaster and Ed Gamble go undercover in Manchester.
Seven Ways From Sundown (1960) ★★★
Harry Keller’s Western is an underrated gem. Assigned to capture charming but deadly outlaw Jim Flood (Barry Sullivan), rookie Texas Ranger Jones (Audie Murphy) and his veteran partner, Sgt Henessy (John McIntire), set out to bring Flood to justice. They find him – but a curiously close relationship between cat and mouse develops. Look out for young cast member Teddy Rooney, son of Mickey and Martha Vickers.
Stardust (2007) ★★★
Set in Victorian England, this spellbinding fantasy tells the story of Tristan (Charlie Cox), who sets out to win the heart of Victoria (Sienna Miller). Promising to catch a “fallen star” in exchange for her hand in marriage, Tristan journeys to a forbidden land where he must battle all manner of terrifying witches and pirates. Pretty to look at and great family fun, but the narrative itself is sadly sparse. Claire Danes and Michelle Pfeiffer also star.
Now Barabbas Was A Robber (1949, b/w) ★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 6.35pm
Director Gordon Parry adapted this prison drama from a play by Liberal politician William Douglas-Home. The starry cast includes Richard Burton, Kenneth More and Richard Todd, with William Hartnell – later the first Doctor Who – as the hard-as-nails screw who keeps the criminals (locked up for everything from theft and bigamy to murder) in line.
Wednesday 5 April
The Good Mothers
This six-part Italian thriller tells the remarkable true story of three women who defied the patriarchs of the ’Ndrangheta, the Calabrian Mafia, by working with the police to bring the longstanding empires down from within. Based on Alex Perry’s book of the same name, Stephen Butchard’s (The Last Kingdom) screenplay is lean and empathetic, while Julian Jarrold (Appropriate Adult) directs with a keen grasp of tension and implied threat.
This story, though, belongs to its leading quartet: Denise Cosco (Gaia Girace), a young woman whose bravery takes her to the point of foolhardiness when she suspects her kingpin father of being behind her mother’s (Micaela Ramazzotti) disappearance; defiant Giuseppina Pesce (Valentina Bellè); Concetta Cacciola (Simona Distefano), relentlessly abused by those meant to protect her; and Anna Colace (Barbara Chichiarelli), the newly appointed public prosecutor. Firebombs are an occupational hazard and the Mafia’s influence infiltrates the local police; Colace’s only vice seems to be collecting snow globes, but even so, her task seems impossible. GT
Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio’s musical comedy returns, hurling its central couple (Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong) into the new setting of Schmicago, which swaps the delirious glee of the first series’ Hollywood Golden Age for the grittier 1960s and 1970s. Expect skits on Cabaret and Sweeney Todd, with a cracking cast (Martin Short, Kristin Chenoweth) giving as much of the old razzle dazzle as they can muster.
Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now
One of Britain’s most intriguing pop stars, loved as much for his persona as his music, Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi here gets the Netflix profile treatment courtesy of Joe Pearlman, who has his own form with empathetic iconoclasm with Bros: After the Screaming Stops. The film follows Capaldi as he works on his second album and discusses his mental health struggles.
The Repair Shop
BBC One, 8pm
More unusual artefacts with profoundly affecting back stories, as the team sets to work restoring a painting of a significant home in the history of Bermuda, a clay imprint of a child’s footprint that had begun to crack and a thermometer which measured extreme temperatures in the Arctic.
Race Across the World
BBC One, 9pm
The effortlessly watchable reality show eliminates one pair this week as the five couples race to the Rocky Mountains, for a checkpoint in Canada’s highest town. Injuries, leadership struggles, budgetary issues and differing priorities form familiar hurdles, although the manner of their negotiation easily retains its sense of surprise and excitement.
A Very British Cult
BBC Three, 9pm
Over the course of an 18-month investigation, Catrin Nye uncovers chilling examples of life coaching gone awry. First, she meets a man whose life fell apart when he hired someone he hoped would help to realise his ambitions – but instead conned him out of thousands.
Robson and Jim’s Fly Fishing Adventure
The shameless cash-in on the adventures of Mortimer and Whitehouse returns for another series – this time with Robson Green and Jim Murray – beginning in the north Wales seaside town of Abersoch, where they hope to fish for bass.
Moonraker (1979) ★★★
The 11th film in the Bond franchise, and the fourth to star Roger Moore as the dapper MI6 agent, involves the theft of a space shuttle. It’s one of the weaker 007 films and at times seems more of a comedy than a tense action adventure, but it’s enjoyably frivolous. Michael Lonsdale plays resident baddy Hugo Drax who pinches the aforementioned space shuttle to help along his plan to wipe out the world’s population.
I Love You, Man (2009) ★★★★
This silly but heartfelt spin on the tried-and-tested wedding comedy is anchored by a typically warm performance from Paul Rudd. He plays Peter, an LA chap who proposes to his girlfriend and finds the happy news overshadowed by a tragic reality: he doesn’t have any male friends. Luckily, he meets Jason Segel’s Sydney, who could be his perfect best man… until it turns out that his bride (Rashida Jones) can’t stand him.
Lynch/Oz (2022) ★★★
Follow the Yellow Brick Road… to Twin Peaks? This documentary considers the impact that The Wizard of Oz had on David Lynch. If it sounds too wacky, it’s not – it’s a nuanced portrait of a director who has perfected the art of dark, twisting tales taking place in seemingly idyllic American cities; much like the trip from Kansas to Oz in Victor Fleming’s 1939 classic. For more Lynch, Mulholland Drive is on Thursday at 11.20pm.
Thursday 6 April
Sky Atlantic, 9pm
A sullen, raven-haired woman dressed entirely in black wakes up on a coach, surrounded by hen-party cheers and big inflatable penises. “Where am I?” she asks one woman in a sexy nurse outfit. “You’re in Margate, babes!” comes the ecstatic reply. It is the kind of droll clash of sensibilities that sums up this six-part comedy: an elegant marriage of dark, sardonic wit and the colourful kitsch of the Kent seaside town.
Based on a 2018 short film written by Sharon Horgan (who remains here as a producer), Dreamland follows the aforementioned Mel (Lily Allen) as she makes an unwelcome return to her hometown. Allen makes for a funny, likeable lead, especially in the scenes where her irreverent “hot mess” drunkenly gate-crashes the all-pink party of uptight pregnant sister Trish (Freema Agyeman). The idea is that, after having two boys, the pink theme will “manifest” a baby girl. What makes the show sing is the vividness of Mel’s dysfunctional family, all of whom are elevated by excellent performances and dialogue that manages to feel both heightened and natural (“What do you need confidence for? You’re not Bradley Walsh!”). It is as delicious and tough as a sweet stick of rock. SK
They are cinema’s unsung heroes: a handful of Brits who, during the 1970s and 1980s, became known as the best stuntmen in the biz. From 100ft drops to doubling for Harrison Ford, this enthralling documentary, which was previously available on BritBox, shares their wealth of jaw-dropping stories. Fittingly, it’s narrated by fellow geezer Ray Winstone.
Steven Yeun and Ali Wong star in this brilliant 10-part comedy about a road rage incident that spirals into an elaborate, long-running feud. It is superbly performed and directed, and perfectly balances the dark and the absurd, the silly and the dramatic.
BBC Two/BBC One Wales, 8pm
Alex Jones presents this touching series, where people are given the chance to reunite with someone significant from their past. Tegan, 21, meets the stranger who saved her life when she fell onto a Tube track. The most affecting, however, is between roadie Lee and his long-lost brother Stephen, who was put up for adoption when he was a baby.
Get On Up: The Triumph of Black America
BBC Two, 9pm; Wales, 9.15pm
Actor David Harewood concludes his exploration of black American culture by charting the rise of hip-hop. Its sound and attitude, he argues, influenced and inspired much more than music, including Spike Lee’s 1989 masterpiece Do the Right Thing. Harewood also reflects on his own career, and how it benefited from the diverse casting of The Wire.
Billy Connolly Does…
The great Billy Connolly reflects on his life and career. This week he talks about his experiences of showbiz and how he’s met everyone from The Beatles to Mick Jagger’s mother. There is also a particularly poignant moment where he reminisces about the atmosphere after presenting Live Aid.
Meet the Richardsons
Newly Bafta-nominated Lucy Beaumont returns alongside her fellow comedian husband Jon Richardson for a fourth series of their (hopefully) fictionalised, bicker-intensive mockumentary. But tonight, there’s another awards ceremony to think about: Lucy heads to the National Comedy Awards in the hope of convincing Alex Horne to book her on Taskmaster. Instead, she mixes him up with Alex Zane.
Apollo 13 (1995) ★★★★★
“Houston, we have a problem.” Director Ron Howard collects some big Hollywood names (Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris) for this meaty account of the peril-stricken 1970 Apollo 13 mission to the Moon. Hanks plays command pilot Jim Lovell, whose crew faces being stranded in space with no oxygen when the ship malfunctions. It’s enduringly compelling and truly nail-biting.
The Miracle of the Bells (1948, b/w) ★★★
BBC Four, 10.45pm
Frank Sinatra plays the priest of an impoverished parish in “Coal Town”, USA – tasked with organising the burial of an actress who tragically dies after making her first and only film. In order to raise interest in the film, and cover the costs of her burial, they decide to ring every church bell in the town for three days. Sinatra was roundly mocked for his performance at the time, and it’s easy to see why. Lee J Cobb co-stars.
Starship Troopers (1997) ★★★★
At first glance, this Oscar-nominated sci-fi action thriller based on Robert A Heinlein’s 1959 novel looks offputtingly silly: in the distant future, a group of high-school friends join the armed forces to do intergalactic war with some malicious insectoid aliens. Humanity is, of course, at risk. But director Paul Verhoeven expertly underpins the whole thing with his bold satirical verve and bloody, no-nonsense action. Fantastic.
Friday 7 April (Good Friday)
Pilgrimage: The Road Through Portugal
BBC Two, 9pm
This fifth series has big boots to fill as last year’s The Road to the Scottish Isles featured a heaven-sent selection of thoughtful personalities (from Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen to Scarlett Moffatt and Monty Panesar) who gelled beautifully. This time, the trek is through Portugal, from Valença on the northern border with Spain to the Catholic shrine at Fatima, made famous last century by a “visitation” from the Virgin Mary.
Between them, the group – actresses Su Pollard and Rita Simons, comedian Nabil Abdulrashid, Paralympic skier Millie Knight, Boyzone’s Shane Lynch, reality TV star Vicky Pattison and maths whizz Bobby Seagull – represent an impressive range of ages, abilities, ethnicities and faith groups. Initially, they seem a not-especially philosophical bunch but, as Abdulrashid points out, that’s the whole point of pilgrimage, to give themselves the time and space to encourage reflection. Earlier, exploring similar ground, is My Life at Easter with Sally Phillips (BBC One, 11.15am) in which the actress meets famous faces to discuss the role Easter has played in their lives, starting with Gyles Brandreth. GO
Boom! Boom! The World vs Boris Becker
Recorded over three years, this documentary centres on the tennis star who became a global sensation after winning Wimbledon, aged just 17, in 1985. There are terrific interviews with McEnroe, Borg, Djokovic, Stich and Becker himself, covering his career, fame and tumultuous personal life.
Tiny Beautiful Things
“My life is a mess. My husband threw me out a few days ago. My daughter hates me. What would I tell my 22-year-old self?” Prepare for a rollercoaster ride of high emotion with Disney+’s boxsetted adaptation of Wild author Cheryl Strayed’s stories about an agony aunt (Kathryn Hahn) whose own life is falling apart.
Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies
Focused on the four original Pink Ladies – Rizzo, Jan, Marty and Frenchy – of Rydell High, this new 10-part (two on Friday, then weekly on Thursdays) prequel series brilliantly channels the spirit of the enduringly popular 1978 teenage musical, mixing the allure of 1950s-inspired stylings and soundtracks with 21st-century attitude and a succession of copacetic song-and-dance numbers.
CBBC’s star-studded, award-winning (a Writers’ Guild Award and, earlier this week, an RTS Award) Dickens update offers much more rewarding viewing than BBC One’s dark spin on Great Expectations. This Easter special finds Dodger (Billy Jenkins), after a robbery gone wrong, facing the worst punishment imaginable.
BBC One, 8pm; NI, 8.30pm
Humphrey (Kris Marshall) must pull himself together to solve a seemingly inexplicable crime – a burglary where all the evidence points to one suspect, yet the suspect was locked up at the time of the crime. It’s baffling, but Zahra Ahmadi’s DS Esther Williams provides a helping hand, bringing a successful opening series of the Death in Paradise spin-off to a heart-warming close.
BBC Two, 8pm
Springtime busyness dominates this week’s edition of the ever-popular show. Monty Don juggles sowing peas and shallots with planting lilies, and also has thrifty tips for petunia lovers. Carol Klein visits Mothecombe Gardens in Devon and Arit Anderson joins a group of carers at a community garden in West Sussex.
Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre (2023)
Amazon Prime Video
Guy Ritchie’s latest caper sees Hugh Grant resume his new persona: cartoonishly OTT bad guy (Paddington 2, anyone?) This centres on Orson (Jason Statham), a spy who is tasked with retrieving a top-secret device that has been stolen by a gang of Ukrainian mobsters. Tracking down “The Handle” takes Orson from Madrid to Cannes, Antalya and Doha, with plenty of comedic, high-stakes chases, fights and near-misses along the way.
Stuart Little 2 (2002) ★★★
Michael J Fox’s pint-sized furry hero returns in this spirited sequel. Stuart (voiced by Fox) has settled into family life, but soon finds himself in trouble when he breaks brother George’s toy plane. Keen to make friends of his own, he meets canary Margalo (Melanie Griffith), who turns out to work for criminal Falcon (James Woods). Along with his reluctant pal Snowbell (Nathan Lane), Stuart must save Margalo – and himself.
The Portable Door (2023) ★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 8pm
Adapted from Tom Holt’s novel, the first in his bestselling JW Wells & Co series, this Aussie fantasy follows Paul Carpenter (Patrick Gibson) and Sophie Pettingel (Sophie Wilde), two interns who land new roles at a mysterious corporation headed by baddies Humphrey Wells (Christoph Waltz) and Dennis Tanner (Sam Neill). The young pair quickly realise their magical workplace isn’t quite what it seems.
The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) ★★★
BBC Two, 10pm
This comedy-drama trades in heart, with a screenplay written, somewhat surprisingly, by Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight. After moving from India to France, Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) decides to open a restaurant. However, Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), whose own eatery is just a few feet away, is having none of it. Their battles eventually give way to friendship; both leads are excellent.
Chris Bennion (CB), Jack Taylor (JT), Veronica Lee (VL), Stephen Kelly (SK), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Poppie Platt (PP) and Gabriel Tate (GT)