Monday 20 January
Diamond Dealers and Cockney Geezers
Channel 4, 10.00pm
Twenty-somethings, and friends since childhood, Judd, Alex and Kallum have taken over running Trotters Jewellers, an independent East End institution for three decades thanks to Judd’s father. Like their clientele of palmists, herbalists and bling aficionados, they’re a little bit “woo”, a little bit “waargh”, and bursting with brash confidence, badinage and silliness. Their wares may not be to everyone’s tastes, but unlike the subjects of many such docusoaps, there’s little sense of pretence or artifice, and their genuine mutual affection, largely concealed behind jibes and gags, is winning enough to suggest that there could be enough mileage for a full series.
This presumed pilot finds the trio bantering with customers, wooing sports stars – in this case, the world flyweight champion boxer Charlie Edwards – and flying to New York to pre-empt trends that may cross the Atlantic. Most intriguing is an Instagram profile that’s the largest of any British jeweller, generating 80 per cent of sales. This is the sort of show where Je t’aime soundtracks their first encounter with a particularly ludicrous timepiece, and Dani Dyer’s arch voice-over manages to undercut and endorse their ambitions at once. GT
Bowls: World Indoor Championships
BBC Two, 1.00pm
The annual tournament continues in Norfolk, with Stewart Anderson and Julie Forrest the reigning open and ladies’ champions. The ladies’ final will be on Thursday, and the open quarter-finals on Friday.
How to Lose Weight Well
Channel 4, 8.00pm
The adventures continue in the world of dieting, as weddings and holidays offer some compelling incentives for several members of the public to lose weight, while Xand van Tulleken and Helen Lawal question the effectiveness of hormone injections, extreme dieting and, er, knitting. GT
BBC One, 9.00pm
The third double-bill begins with Nikki (Emilia Fox) dealing with cases past and present, as a woman’s body discovered on train tracks is found to have historic injuries suggestive of years of abuse – findings which stir traumatic memories for the forensic pathologist herself. GT
This barnstorming revival continues to thrive, as Karen’s mum Heather (Gemma Jones) drops in to check on her daughter’s new relationship with Adam (James Nesbitt), Pete (John Thomson) does jury service and poor cuckolded David (Robert Bathurst) must endure yet more humiliation. GT
999: What’s Your Emergency?
Channel 4, 9.00pm
The focus turns to Northamptonshire for the first in another series of the excellent documentary series, with the county in the midst of a financial crisis, the town’s high streets ailing and violent crime on the increase. GT
Great Film Composers: The Music of the Movies
Sky Arts/NOW TV, 9.00pm
This engaging series makes the case for Jerry Goldsmith, David Shire and John Williams’s importance to the world of film soundtracks, with an honourable mention for Bill Conti’s Theme from Rocky. While Goldsmith’s scores for Alien and The Omen and Shire’s work on paranoid classics such as The Conversation were significant, it’s almost impossible to imagine the era’s big blockbusters – Jaws, Star Wars and Superman – without Williams’s brand of sensitive bombast. Next week, synthesisers. GT
Sky Atlantic/NOW TV, 9.00pm
Richard Price’s taut, classy Stephen King adaptation tightens its grip as Ralph and Yunis (Ben Mendelsohn and Yul Vazquez) take desperate measures to crack their case by meeting with PI Holly Gibney (the excellent Cynthia Erivo), while Jack (Marc Menchaca) has a strange encounter at a remote barn. GT
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) ★★★★★
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” sings a charming Marilyn Monroe in Howard Hawks’s highly entertaining musical comedy, based on the novel by Gigi writer Anita Loos. Lorelei (Monroe) and Dorothy (Jane Russell) are sassy showgirls who embark on an eventful transatlantic cruise to Paris, at the end of which Lorelei intends to marry millionaire Gus (Tommy Noonan). It’s dippy and glamorous fun.
Home Again (2017) ★★★☆☆
Points to Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who both writes and directs here, for coming up with an original romcom plot. Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon), a 40-year-old would-be designer, leaves her husband and moves back to California. When she meets three equally would-be film-makers, she falls for one and invites the trio to move into her home. Professional and personal entanglements soon become thornier and thornier.
Straight Outta Compton (2015) ★★★★☆
Director F Gary Gray’s fire-breathing biopic, which charts the rise and fall of the gangsta rap supergroup N.W.A, is so hot on their music’s power that its more clichéd moments are easy to forgive. The talented cast are led by Corey Hawkins as Dr Dre, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E and O’Shea Jackson Jr – who plays his real-life father, Ice Cube – while Paul Giamatti also stars as music manager Jerry Heller.
Tuesday 21 January
Chris Packham: 7.7 Billion People and Counting
BBC Two, 9.00pm
Climate change is not the only planet-sized issue threatening our future, according to presenter, naturalist and campaigner Chris Packham. There’s another, bigger global catastrophe heading our way and that’s an increase in humanity itself that will see the world’s population hit 10 billion by 2050.
Packham helicopters around (a drone might have been more carbon efficient) such mega-cities as São Paulo in Brazil and Lagos in Nigeria to give a sense of their sprawling vastness, and the degree to which voracious new populations affect the planet: a vicious circle of habitat destruction makes more farmland to feed more people who will then make more babies. He is at pains to point out that this is not inevitable (human population growth is currently slowing overall; ever-increasing lifespans are a key problem) but in the end the film loses focus, shifting from population to consumerism and becoming a more familiar polemic about the need to protect and conserve the world’s precious resources. “It is you who have to act now,” Packham says in conclusion, though the specifics of how he thinks we should are never clear. GO
Premier League Football: Chelsea v Arsenal
BT Sport 1, 7.30pm (kick-off 8.15pm)
In the pick of the mid-week games, Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta engage in a battle of the pros-turned-managers. Neither side is in watertight form, but the Blues are at least in the Champions League spots, while the Gunners languish in the dead centre of the table.
The venerable murder mystery gets its 21st season (admittedly the 20th only finished last week) off to a glittering start with a Strictly Come Dancing-inspired episode – 2018 and 2016 finalists Faye Tozer and Danny Mac appear – in which a murder at a ballroom dancing gala forces Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) to think on his feet. GO
Channel 4, 8.00pm
A fabulously flamboyant, fun and eye-achingly candy-coloured new cookery challenge in which competitors seek to impress “food gods” Heston Blumenthal, Carla Hall and Niklas Ekstedt with their gastro-ingenuity and creativity. Comedian and foodie Jayde Adams presents. GO
Portrait Artist of the Year 2020
Sky Arts/NOW TV, 8.00pm
Presenters Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell are back with another series of the popular portrait-painting challenge. Sex Education actor Asa Butterfield, Bodyguard actress Anjili Mohindra and comedian Mickey Flanagan are the celebrity sitters in the first of eight paint-splattered heats. GO
Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild
Channel 5, 9.00pm
Forest foraging is the theme as Ben Fogle meets a British family that swapped a suburban semi for life in a riverside yurt on 25 acres of idyllic New Zealand woodland that provides them with almost all they need for an alternative lifestyle. GO
David Jason’s Great British Inventions
“As a former mechanic, I’ve always been interested in how things work,” says actor and national treasure Sir David Jason. In this new four-part series he not only celebrates some of the nation’s best inventions but also – with his design-engineer assistant Jude Pullen (a familiar face from BBC Two’s The Big Life Fix) – finds out how they were dreamt up in the first place. Tonight’s focus is on transport, from the humble bicycle to the latest electric tricycle – via Victorian railways and, of course, the Reliant Regal Supervan III. GO
Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency
Channel 4, 10.00pm
As the NHS experiences unprecedented demand for underfunded mental health services, this four-part series follows staff in Nottinghamshire trying to help people in crisis, including a mother with life-threatening post-partum psychosis. GO
The Wonderful Country (1959) ★★★☆☆
In this pacey, enjoyable Western, Robert Mitchum plays Martin Brady, a hot-headed but warm-hearted gunslinger working along the US-Mexican border. After a trip north to get hold of some rifles, he finds himself drawn into a web of intrigue involving politicos, military men, the evergreen threat of Apaches and the (conveniently) unhappily married Julie London. It’s fun, though nothing special.
The Big Sleep (1946, b/w) ★★★★★
The plot of this Raymond Chandler adaptation verges on the inexplicable: it’s a mélange of murder, blackmail, gambling and pornography. But Howard Hawks’s film noir carries it off magnificently, thanks to the electric chemistry between newlyweds Humphrey Bogart, playing private eye Philip Marlowe, and Lauren Bacall, as the sister of the blackmailed victim. Be sure to stay with this one all the way.
True Romance (1993) ★★★★☆
Based on an early script by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott, this brutal comedy-thriller features a terrific ensemble cast. There’s plenty of good performances, among them Christian Slater as a comic-store worker who meets a beguiling sex worker (Patricia Arquette). They accidentally steal a fortune in cocaine from her pimp (Gary Oldman) and so hit the road – swiftly followed, alas, by a vengeful mafia.
Wednesday 22 January
White House Farm
The true-crime drama reaches its halfway point with an episode capturing everything that is both good and bad about this thoughtful take on the 1985 murders of June and Nevill Bamber, their daughter Sheila and her six-year-old sons. On the plus side Freddie Fox’s performance as Jeremy Bamber remains impressive; the actor perfectly catches the young man’s entitled arrogance and unsettling responses to his family’s deaths. He’s matched by equally strong turns from Gemma Whelan as Bamber’s suspicious cousin Ann and Mark Addy as DS Stan Jones, one of the few police officers to be unconvinced that Sheila killed her family before turning the gun on herself. Kris Mrksa’s respectful script skilfully evokes the uneasy atmosphere of the times and there are some lovely period details.
But the fantastic Stephen Graham is wasted in the role of bombastic DCI Taff Jones. It is also hard to understand just why this adaptation, handsome though it is, has been made, given its lack of wider insight into why prevailing attitudes made it easier to pin the blame on Sheila, despite the overwhelming evidence pointing towards Jeremy. SH
Stacey Dooley Investigates: The Whale Hunters
BBC Three, from 6.00am
The squeamish of stomach should be warned: there are some horrendous scenes in this latest report from Stacey Dooley. She’s in the Faroe Islands following the Grind Hunt, aka a legal whale hunt in which most islanders grow up participating and which has been widely condemned as barbaric. It’s a conclusion that’s hard to disagree with although Dooley, while struggling with the footage, sifts adroitly through the facts. SH
Easy Ways to Live Well
BBC One, 8.00pm
It’s the time of year when every second TV programme is determined to transform your life. Thankfully this three-part series fronted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Steph McGovern is better value than most. An entertaining opener sees our intrepid duo tackle snacking, screen use and, most amusingly, McGovern’s gut issues. SH
Bradley Walsh & Son: Breaking Dad
It might be supremely cheesy but there’s something oddly likeable about this father and son road-trip. Tonight sees the lads in Kentucky, where Bradley faces one of his greatest fears. SH
Spy in the Wild
BBC One, 9.00pm
There’s something slightly unsettling about this nature series in which robot animals infiltrate communities populated by the real thing. Still,the resulting footage is great – tonight’s highlights include rare scenes of gorillas literally singing for their supper. SH
BBC Two, 9.00pm
This adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel is either very much your cup of whimsical tea or liable to set your teeth on edge. This second episode sees angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and demon Crowley (David Tennant) trying to locate the real Antichrist. SH
Sky One/NOW TV, 10.00pm
Having eviscerated politics on both sides of the Atlantic, Armando Iannucci turns his eye on space tourism in this comedy about a trip of a lifetime gone wrong. A top-notch cast including Hugh Laurie, Rebecca Front and a scene-stealing Zach Woods keep an exposition-heavy episode moving. Stick with it because a brilliant ending suggests plenty of entertainment to come. SH
The Day Will Dawn (1942, b/w) ★★★★☆
Set in Norway at the start of the Second World War, this drama follows British foreign correspondent Frank Lockwood (Ralph Richardson), who has been forced out of Norway due to Nazi invasion. Lockwood is requested by the War Office to return to the occupied country in order to complete a mission to sabotage a German U-boat base. It’s a thrill-packed adventure, co-starring Deborah Kerr and a superb Finlay Currie.
The Maltese Falcon (1941, b/w) ★★★★☆
This suspenseful mystery sticks pretty close to Dashiell Hammett’s novel, and is all the better for it. Humphrey Bogart plays Sam Spade, who’s investigating the murder of his partner in private detection, and uncovers an intricate plot revolving around a cast of richly drawn characters. All of the key suspects, it transpires, are desperate to get their hands on that eponymous black statue.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) ★★★☆☆
Comedy Central, 9.00pm
Whereas Joe Dante’s original monster hit was a deliciously dark horror flick laced with touches of wry humour, this inferior sequel is a straight-up, riotous comedy, replete with in-jokes and movie references. This time, the gremlins are running amok in a Manhattan high-rise building called Clamp Tower, owned by John Glover’s conspicuously Donald Trump-like mogul.
Thursday 23 January
Inside the Crown: Secrets of the Royals
These are boom times for experts on the House of Windsor. Whether it’s the cult of The Crown, the ongoing turmoil among the Queen’s children and grandchildren or the hamster wheel of documentaries, there is no shortage of material or employment for the likes of Penny Junor, Dickie Arbiter or Robert Hardman. All appear in this four-parter to pore over the last century of the British monarchy. The opener’s theme is “love and duty”, unarguably timely in the light of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex making their very public choice between the two.
Viewers hoping for genuinely fresh insights will be disappointed, although our preview will be subject to late tweaks and alterations in the light of recent developments. So we get well-rehearsed run-throughs of the wildly different marriages of Edward and Wallis Simpson (controversial but genuine), the Prince of Wales and Diana (flawed from the outset) and the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh (steadfast through the storms). Even a cursory knowledge of the Windsors will have acquainted most with what we see here; there’s some nice archive footage, and the rest is effectively well-informed, entertaining supposition. GT
Golf: Dubai Desert Classic
Sky Sports Main Event/Golf, 4.00am
The European Tour moves from one Emirate to the next, arriving in Dubai for a tournament that Bryson DeChambeau won in 2019. Keep watching to see the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open (4.15pm) as Justin Rose starts his title defence in San Diego, California.
The Ghost Bride
Netflix, from today
Taking as its inspiration the traditional Chinese belief in spirit marriage, Netflix’s second Mandarin Original is a six-part Taiwanese drama set in 1890s Colonial Malacca. Young Li Lan (Peijia Huang) and her indebted family are offered an enormous sum if she will become the “ghost bride” of the recently deceased scion of the wealthy Lim family – but she will be haunted by Lim Jr’s ghost for the rest of her life. Li’s efforts to extract herself from her predicament leads her into a murder mystery and more. GT
Netflix, from today
The streaming service’s latest comic-book adaptation follows a pair of retired monster hunters, Fred (JC MacKenzie) and Deloris Allen (Tamara Taylor), and their teenage children Geoff (Gabriel Darku) and Viv (Aurora Burghart) as they negotiate life in a small town stuck in the past. A fun concept mixing light and shade is given a sympathetic live-action treatment. GT
Rallying: Rallye Monte-Carlo
BT Sport 3, 7.30pm
Last year’s World Rally Championship was won by Ott Tänak, breaking the 15-year streak of Sébastiens Ogier and Loeb. Down on the Côte d’Azur, one of the world’s most spectacular and venerable motor races gets the new season under way. Can Tänak do it again?
Best Home Cook
BBC One, 8.00pm
Seven cooks remain for the amiable culinary challenge, and are asked by Mary Berry to produce the ultimate children’s birthday cake, a leftovers challenge and another testing eliminator. GT
Baby Chimp Rescue
BBC Two, 8.00pm
Thirty-eight rescued baby chimpanzees force Jimmy and Jenny Desmond to accelerate their plans to build a sanctuary in Liberia and prepare their guests for a new life in the last of this enchanting series. GT
Death in Paradise
BBC One, 9.00pm
The daft whodunit takes to two wheels as the Tour des Antilles cycling race arrives on Saint Marie with Team Storm’s top rider (Ashley Byam) not surviving the leg. Was it an accident or foul play? And all the while, DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon) is drawing closer to new love interest Anna (Nina Wadia) and, one suspects, his ticket off the island. GT
Travels in Euroland with Ed Balls
BBC Two, 9.00pm
Having survived his journey through Trump’s America intact, the former Shadow Chancellor travels to Europe to understand a rejection of mainstream politics that is spreading across the continent. He begins with fishing and “Black Pete” revellers in the Netherlands, a visit to Spain’s Vox Party headquarters and a trip to the Moroccan-Spanish enclave of Melilla. GT
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) ★★★★☆
This lithe adaptation of the second novel from Suzanne Collins’s trilogy sees our heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) once again competing in a fight to the death. But since the last film, Katniss has become an icon of rebellion, and the ruling class wants to bring her down. An enormously watchable film, it blends some whip-cracking action, an oddball aesthetic and an entirely laudable message.
Starred Up (2013) ★★★☆☆
This gritty drama is very much in the vein of the controversial prison drama Scum. Jack O’Connell gives a magnificent performance as Eric Love, a violent young offender facing his latest stint in adult prison. There, he must attend therapy classes run by a middle-class prison worker (Rupert Friend), but also face his estranged father Nev (Ben Mendelsohn), a long-term inmate with considerable power within the institution.
Gangster Squad (2013) ★★★☆☆
The star wattage is high, but feeble writing and direction alike from Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) weaken this period crime flick. Sean Penn hams it up as kingpin Mickey Cohen, against whose crime empire Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling’s tough cops must mount a fighting force. It’s much the same territory as that mapped by James Ellroy in LA Confidential – except that this feels like a more adolescent variation.
Friday 24 January
Channel 4, 9.00pm
Mid-way through, this chilling psychological thriller about murder, family and coercive control in a small, tight-knit Scottish community has lost none of its intense grip. Last week’s episode upended our suspicions with revelations about grieving father Tom’s (David Tennant) controlling behaviour towards his late wife Kate (Anna Madeley) and his predatory sexual targeting of her two best friends. But it was the shock closing revelation that key witness Dylan (Lewis Gribben) could have been lying about what he saw in the woods that now tilts us in yet another new direction, undercutting everything said in the squirm-inducing police interview Tom undergoes in tonight’s episode.
So, too, the fact that we also know his best friend – and cop – Steve (Matthew McNulty) has his own agenda for wanting to see Tom put under pressure. It all adds up to a tense, involving and disturbing episode that makes us question everything that’s happened already and re-examine the story in terms of flawed relationships and toxic male egos. Only one thing seems certain: no matter where this story goes, it will put us through the emotional wringer. GO
Star Trek: Picard
Amazon, from today
A treat for Trekkies, the latest spin-off sees Next Generation hero Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) return to the franchise, persuaded out of retirement by a young woman, Dahj (Isa Briones), seeking his help after the planet Romulus is destroyed. GO
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Netflix, from today
“Let’s go to Hell and get my boyfriend back,” declared teenage half-witch Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) in last season’s finale of the tongue-in-cheek teenage horror. But distraction comes at the start of season three with handsome villain Prince Caliban (Sam Corlett). GO
Test Cricket: South Africa v England
Sky Sports Main Event/Cricket, 7.30am
Joe Root and co arrive in Johannesburg for the fourth and final game in the Test series. Can they go out on a high against Faf Du Plessis’s side?
Monty Don’s American Gardens
BBC Two, 8.30pm
More lovely and uniquely New World gardens as Don heads West to Arizona and Palm Springs, then to the primped estates of the famous in Los Angeles, before concluding his journey in temperate Seattle where gardening culture thrives. GO
A stress-busting trip to the cinema backfires for Will (Tom Brittney) when the projectionist is murdered during the screening; and life takes a disturbing turn for his housekeeper, Mrs Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones), too, when a ghost from her husband’s past turns up. GO
Stewart Copeland’s Adventures in Music
BBC Four, 9.30pm
Stewart Copeland continues his absorbing quest with an episode on music’s storytelling power. Contributors include Francis Ford Coppola on film music, rapper Talib Kweli on protest music, and the French-Cuban Ibeyi sisters on tradition. GO
The Graham Norton Show
BBC One, 10.35pm
With a new film out and a new comedy launching on Sky (both made with Armando Iannucci, see preview below), Hugh Laurie is having a busy time. He’s joined on the sofa by Robert Downey Jr, Emma Thompson and Terry Gilliam, plus US singer Sara Bareilles. GO
Front Row Late
BBC Two, 11.05pm
One of comedy’s most influential figures, and an accomplished film director, Armando Iannucci is the focus of Mary Beard’s cultural probings tonight, taking in his latest TV sitcom (Avenue 5) and movie (The Personal History of David Copperfield) and exploring how the literary greats continue to inspire him. GO
Heat (1995) ★★★★☆
Thanks in large part to the unprecedented and irresistible pairing of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, Heat is a tautly plotted and superbly acted thriller from director Michael Mann. Its premise is very simple: a dedicated cop (Pacino) is on the trail of a ruthlessly efficient thief (De Niro, on scintillating form), who lives by one callous motto: “Never have anything in your life that you can’t walk out on in 30 seconds flat.”
Interstellar (2014) ★★★★★
Sony Movies, 9.00pm
Christopher Nolan (the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Memento) is the pre-eminent blockbuster auteur of this century, and this space-exploration epic is science-fiction with serious brains, beauty and heart. We follow former astronaut Cooper (McConaughey) and others, including scientist Brand (Anne Hathaway), as they steer a spaceship through a mysterious wormhole in search of a new beginning for the human race.
Lady Macbeth (2016) ★★★☆☆
BBC Two, 11.45pm
Lady Macbeth may suggest a spin on the Scottish play, but it’s based on an 1865 Nikolai Leskov novel, and it’s more like Lady Chatterley gone wild. Katherine (Florence Pugh) is a miserable young bride in 1860s England, whose boredom inspires a ticklish idea of sexual rebellion. As she and surly stable-hand Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis) lock eyes, passion and violence erupt. William Oldroyd’s film is pulsing with hot blood.
Vicki Power (VP), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Gabriel Tate (GT), Sarah Hughes (SH), Toby Dantzic (TD)