What’s on TV tonight: The Day Mountbatten Died, Stath Lets Flats, and more

Telegraph Reporters
Lord Mountbatten plays with his grandchildren at the family castle in Ireland - WARNING: Use of this copyright image is subject to the terms of use of BBC Pictures' Digital Picture

Monday 19 August

The Day Mountbatten Died

BBC Two/BBC One Northern Ireland, 9.00pm

On August 27, 1979, the IRA claimed perhaps its highest-profile scalp: Louis Mountbatten, establishment cornerstone, mentor to Prince Charles and formerly both First Sea Lord and the last Viceroy of India. While out lobster-potting just off the coast in County Sligo, Mountbatten and three others were killed by a bomb – an act that caused widespread outrage while achieving the IRA’s goal of drawing attention back to the Troubles. 

This excellent, fair-minded film examines the build-up and aftermath with measured contributions from all sides. But the Mountbatten bomb is only half the story; on the same day, 18 soldiers and one civilian were killed in IRA ambushes in County Down. Alongside Bloody Sunday almost a decade earlier, these were truly the darkest of days in the Troubles. Mountbatten’s granddaughter India Hicks, voice quivering with emotion, concludes with a powerful thought that was embodied by the Queen’s encounter with Martin McGuinness many years later: “Forgiveness is important, one has to move on.” Once again, the underlying message highlights what is at stake if the peace process is disrupted – as Brexit approaches, the stakes could not be higher. GT

Chris Ramsey: Approval Needed

Amazon Prime Video, from today

Strictly’s entry from the comedy stand-up circuit gives us a sample of his day job, with a special filmed in his town of Newcastle. Ramsey does a nice line in everyman observational humour that’s hard to take against. GT  

Who Do You Think You Are?

BBC One, 9.00pm; N Ireland, 10.35pm

The inescapable but excellent comedian Katherine Ryan follows her family tree to a Methodist minister in Nova Scotia, cod traders in Newfoundland and, eventually, all the way to Dorset. GT

Call the Cops

Channel 4, 9.00pm

Channel 4 doesn’t mess with a winning formula, finding yet another angle to the emergency services with this new series set in Devon and Cornwall’s Force Control: the police nerve-centre where the day’s incidents are prioritised. Tonight: a violent arrest, a concealed number plate and the fallout from a boozy weekend on the counties’ streets. GT

Rams: Principles of Good Design

BBC Four, 9.00pm

This is a solid profile of Dieter Rams, whose work for Braun and furniture company Vitsoe was a key influence on Apple, but whose feelings regarding his legacy are intriguingly equivocal. GT  

Stath Lets Flats

Channel 4, 10.00pm

Jamie Demetriou’s gloriously deluded and inept London lettings agent returns for a welcome second series. He’s now facing off with an ambitious new boss (Dustin Demri-Burns) and assessing a romantic and domestic situation which can only be described as moribund. GT

Jamie Demetriou in Stath Lets Flats

Born Famous: Michelle Mone

Channel 4, 10.30pm

This well-intended but misfiring series follows Bethany, daughter of underwear entrepreneur Michelle Mone, as she spends time with a young man and his family in Glasgow as his poor health thwarts his best efforts to find work. GT

Natalia Osipova: The Mother

Sky Arts, 10.45pm

Choreographer Artur Pita directs ballet star Natalia Osipova in this widely acclaimed – and remarkably dark – take on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Story of a Mother. It’s anchored by Osipova’s all-consuming involvement in her character, a woman begging Death to spare her child. GT

Short Circuit (1986) ★★★★☆

Film4, 11.00am

John Badham’s amusing adventure follows Johnny 5, a cute robot who acquires human-like thoughts and feelings after being struck by lightning. He escapes the scientists who built him (as a weapon prototype for Cold War use by the US military) and befriends a woman (Ally Sheedy) who tries to stop him falling back into their clutches. Their only way appears to be to convince Steve Guttenberg’s inventor that he really is alive.

Big Eyes (2014) ★★★☆☆

Film4, 4.40pm

Amy Adams is ideally cast as the browbeaten artist Margaret Keane who, for eight years, churned out iconic, highly sought-after paintings, only for her con-artist husband (Christoph Waltz) to receive all the credit. But Tim Burton’s take on this curious real-life tale of curdled suburbia could do with some of Adams’s grace and subtlety: even the usually restrained Waltz is caught up in the blunt and overly stylised strangeness.

Kick-Ass (2010) ★★★★☆

5STAR, 9.00pm

Matthew Vaughn’s luridly violent blockbuster about self-styled superheroes will be many people’s idea of a great time. It’s bright, snazzy and tongue-in-cheek, if neither as hilarious nor shocking as it thinks it is. Ordinary teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides that he should become a superhero, despite having no training or indeed powers. Chloë Grace Moretz is superb as Hit-Girl, a foul-mouthed child vigilante.

 

Tuesday 20 August

The newly stood-up 25(F) Squadron Hawk T2 and IV(AC) Squadron Hawk T2 Credit: ITV

Fighter Pilot: The Real Top Gun

ITV, 9.00pm

There’s an excruciating moment in this opening episode of a new three-part series where a highly trained RAF pilot is taking his first flight in the world’s most advanced jet fighter, the F-35 Lightning II, which has cost Britain and the US a staggering £9 billion to develop. The only way to get this “flying computer” up and running is to log into it first. But the computer keeps saying no. It seems a remarkably basic problem in a £100-million killing machine. Still, it is a moment of levity in a serious series following fighter pilots in training – a mesmerising process. 

Most of the focus is on three trainees – one of them the RAF’s only woman student jet fighter pilot – competing to qualify as combat-ready pilots at the “fast jet” training facility on Anglesey, trying to assimilate vast quantities of technical know-how and extreme practical flying skills in the space of just 12 months. Elsewhere, it’s off to South Carolina to follow already qualified pilots as they train on the new F35, a machine so technologically advanced that, no matter how extensive their previous flying experience, it leaves them breathless. After they’ve mastered logging in, that is. GO

Heartbreak Holiday

BBC Three, from 10.00am; BBC One, 10.35pm; NI, 11.05pm; Scotland, 11.35pm

This new reality series (Tues-Fri this week and next) explores modern relationships as 10 young Brits united by heartbreak head to Greece, where all their calls, texts, posts and “every social interaction” will be monitored. GO  

Train Your Baby Like a Dog

Channel 4, 8.00pm

Yes, you read that correctly. In one of the week’s more bizarre offerings, animal behaviourist Jo-Rosie Haffenden outlines the benefits of reward-based training systems for your (human) little ones. The downside? Having to trail around after them with compostable bags, presumably. GO

Battle of the Brass Bands

Sky Arts, 8.00pm

Brass bands – dull and old fashioned? Not judging by the intensity of rivalry in this new series following some of the giants of the brass scene through hard-fought competitions such as the Whit Friday Brass Band Contest. GO  

Keeping Faith

BBC One, 9.00pm

Still struggling to deal with the fallout from Evan’s (Bradley Freegard) return home, Faith (Eve Myles) uncovers more disturbing information when she probes deeper into the background to Madlen’s (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) case. GO

Inside the Tower of London

Channel 5, 9.00pm

The behind-the-scenes series returns for a second run. Tonight, raven chicks are born at the Tower for the first time in three decades and the raven master faces a tough decision over which to keep. GO

Revolutions: The Ideas That Changed the World

BBC Four, 9.00pm

Jim Al-Khalili turns his attention to the history of the telescope, one of the world’s most culturally significant instruments, from early experiments with optics in 8th-century Baghdad to the Hubble Space Telescope. GO  

Kathy Burke’s All Woman

Channel 4, 10.00pm

In this second episode, Kathy Burke turns her attention to motherhood, contemplating the reasons women choose whether or not to have children. She meets a City financial analyst who froze her eggs, and talks to actress Samantha Morton and comedian Katherine Ryan about their parenting experiences. GO

Frieda (1947) ★★★★☆

Talking Pictures TV, noon

By tackling his subject with integrity, Ealing Studios director Basil Dearden produced a careful and bold examination of Britain’s social problems after the Second World War. Frieda follows an airman who weds the German girl who helped him to escape from a PoW camp. The pair return to England – but the arrival of her brother overshadows their happiness. Swedish actress Mai Zetterling stars.

American Summer (2018) ★★★★☆

Sky Cinema Premiere, 4.35pm

It’s 1976, and young Bobby (Blake Cooper), aged 14, has all the usual causes of teenage angst: he’s fat, his parents (Judy Greer and Luke Wilson) are on the cusp of divorce, his sister (Liana Liberato) makes him cover for her when she meets her sweetheart, and he has to work for cranky Dr Kahn (Donald Sutherland). Jim Loach’s (Oranges and Sunshine) Bildungsroman builds its power steadily.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) ★★★☆☆

Syfy, 9.00pm

Roland Emmerich has garnered a reputation for being a pessimist – of the 13 films he’s directed, six have been apocalyptic visions (Independence Day, 2012 and Godzilla, inter alia). This one, starring Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal and Emmy Rossum, is about global warming and the possibility of a new Ice Age occurring. It’s visually superb, but (another Emmerich staple) full of diabolical dialogue.

 

Wednesday 21 August

Vic Reeves gets into the Bauhaus spirit Credit: Timothy Foster/BBC

Bauhaus Night

BBC Four, from 7.30pm

BBC Four marks the centenary of the influential Bauhaus School with a night of programming which outlines why the movement made so many waves as well as asking, what, if anything, we can learn from its rules today. The night kicks off with an enlightening portrait of one of the Bauhaus’s few female stars, textile worker Anni Albers, which – in addition to featuring some fascinating interviews with Albers – also pulls no punches in outlining how an inherent sexism at the heart of the school saw Albers and other women shunted into textiles. At 9pm, there’s a look at the school’s history, from its radical beginnings as the art school that shook up conservative Weimar to its premature demise once the Nazis rose to power. The film also considers how and why the Bauhaus became so influential, both in Germany and throughout the rest of the world. 

Finally, at 10pm, the delightful Bauhaus Rules with Vic Reeves sees the comedian and artist don his Jim Moir hat to see if six graduates of St Martin’s Art College can embrace the teachings of Bauhaus in a week. Funny and thought-provoking, it’s a lovely homage to both artistic freedom and the spirit of collaboration. SH

Horse Racing: York Ebor Festival

ITV, 1.30pm

The standout race on the first day of the meeting at York is the International Stakes, which begins at 3.35pm. The great Frankel, never beaten, won in 2012.  

Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef Bares All

Channel 4, 8.00pm

It’s not been the easiest of years for the once-chirpy Jamie Oliver. This timely documentary, presented by Davina McCall, picks over the highs and lows, from The Naked Chef years and the school dinner campaigns to the recent restaurant closures. SH

Sacred Wonders

BBC One, 9.00pm

While its execution has been a bit choppy, there’s no denying the spectacular access granted to this series. This final episode heads from a flame ceremony in Jerusalem to an Apache coming of age ritual in Mexico before following a young Yazidi woman searching for catharsis in her people’s most sacred space. SH

Deep Water

ITV, 9.00pm

It’s quite difficult to get a grip on this adaptation of Paula Daly’s novels. Is it thriller, family drama, an emotional look at women’s lives, or a mixture of all three? That said, it’s oddly compelling. Tonight’s episode sees Anna Friel’s Lisa struggling to make amends while Roz (Sinead Keenan) faces a hard choice. SH

Naked Attraction

Channel 4, 10.00pm

Anna Richardson returns with a new series of the dating show in which constants pick a date from six exhibitionists, sorry naked people, standing in a box. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. SH

Susan Calman’s Fringe Benefits

BBC Four, 11.00pm

The genial comedian presents this round-up of memorable moments from the Edinburgh Fringe. Among the highlights are stories from the likes of Nick Helm and Iain Stirling, an interview with Daniel Portman, aka Game of Thrones’ shy squire Podrick, and a head-to-head with mind-reader Colin Cloud. SH

Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway

Sky Arts, 11.00pm

It’s the Broadway phenomenon, the musical that took the world by storm, the biggest show on earth… Indeed the only real surprise is that it’s taken this long for a serious documentary about Hamilton to hit UK screens. This is a straightforward trot through the history of both the show and its talented creator Lin-Manuel Miranda which makes decent use of old footage, talking heads and musical clips and should please both diehard fans and newcomers. One complaint though – why is it on so late? SH

Sleepless (2017) ★★★★☆

Film4, 9.00pm

Sleepless is set not in Seattle but Vegas, and almost wholly in a single casino-hotel, the fictional Luxus. The two leads are a corrupt cop, Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx), and an Internal Affairs agent, Jen Bryant (Michelle Monaghan), who’s looking to lock him up. Plus, Downs’s son has been taken hostage by the casino’s chief (Dermot Mulroney). There’s plenty of cocaine, tension and bloody punch-ups in lush swimming pools. Enjoy.

Dirty Harry (1971) ★★★★★

ITV4, 10.00pm

“You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?” In 1971, the world was introduced to “Dirty” Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) – a renegade San Francisco police inspector adept at bending the rules in the name of justice. It’s fast and brutal, but surprisingly smart, with a real streak of moral ambiguity at its heart. The film led to four sequels, but Don Siegel’s original remains the best.

Bunny Lake is Missing (1965, b/w) ★★★★☆

Talking Pictures TV, 11.00pm

Otto Preminger’s film could be vintage Hitchcock, but it’s even more frightening. Ann Lake (Carol Lynley) drops her young daughter Bunny at school – but comes back to find Bunny missing and the staff avowing never to have met her. Then, as officer Newhouse (Laurence Olivier) looks into the case, it seems as though Bunny may never have been real. It’s a study in paranoia and fear.

 

Thursday 22 August

The Scheels' octopus gets used to its Lego house Credit: Quinton Smith

Natural World: The Octopus in My House

BBC Two, 9.00pm

Natural World consistently finds fresh, interesting angles on its subject matter, and tonight’s eccentric, insightful examination of cephalopods takes this to the extreme. Our guides are Professor David Scheel and his 16-year-old daughter Laurel, whom we see install a large tank of salt water in their living room and plonk an octopus called Heidi inside. Laurel, it transpires, would have preferred a dog, but doesn’t take long to get attached to their new house-guest. From there, they conduct a series of experiments aimed at gauging how much common ground homo sapiens might have with a creature bearing nine brains, three hearts, blue blood and all the hallmarks of its own unique branch of evolution.

It helps that octopi are so intrinsically bizarre and fascinating to look at, constantly shifting in shape and colour. But the Scheels’ findings, too, are compelling, as they tease out examples of intelligence through play, sociability and dexterity. Detours to Madagascar and Australia provide valuable context, while the Scheers are amiable, informed hosts who form a bond with Heidi that is unexpected and rather moving. A great idea, smartly executed. GT

Test Cricket: England v Australia

Sky Sports Cricket/Main Event, 10am & Channel 5, 7pm (highlights)

Joe Root’s men opened the Ashes poorly, losing the first Test after a fourth-innings collapse. The third Test begins today at Headingley; England will travel north hoping to show some firm resolve.

Golf: Tour Championship

Sky Sports Golf, from 10am

With the top 30 players on the US Tour taking to the greens in Atlanta, Georgia, this looks set to be a fine tournament. Tiger Woods won last year, but may not make it to this year’s event; still, former champions Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy will be in action. In Gothenburg, the European Tour begins the Scandinavian Invitation (10am, SS Golf). Paul Waring will defend his title while Henrik Stenson and Alex Noren give chase.

Kirstie and Phil’s Love It or List It

Channel 4, 8.00pm

Four years after starting their new venture, Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer catch up with a few couples that they attempted to help by resolving their housing disputes. This opener finds them meeting Dawn and Paul, a pair who had fallen out over Paul’s astronomy obsession – have they turned their isolated house into a family home? GT

Eat, Shop, Save

ITV, 8.30pm

Ranvir Singh and his cohorts head to Northamptonshire this week, where they help a struggling family to make cash out of their clutter and cook healthy meals on the cheap. GT

The Secret Teacher

Channel 4, 9.00pm

Sentimental but effective, this edition follows social-media magnate Steven Bartlett (who was expelled from school at age 15) as he goes undercover in a struggling Liverpool school, encountering two students who are in desperate need of inspiration and motivation. GT

This Way Up

Channel 4, 10.00pm

Aisling Bea’s excellent comedy drama continues. A misunderstanding sees Aine (Bea) and Richard (Tobias Menzies) inevitably drawn together, before she is rejected by her sister (Sharon Horgan) and fleeced by a psychic – all this before a catastrophic blind date. GT

Walking the Nile

Discovery, 10.00pm

Levison Wood, the explorer and inveterate glutton for punishment, walks the length of Africa’s longest river, handling appalling weather, brutal terrain and human conflict while taking in some unusual locals and breathtaking scenery. GT

Brassic

Sky One, 10.00pm and 11.00pm

Reminiscent of Shameless in its early-series pomp, this uproarious comedy drama starring and co-created by This is England’s Joe Gilgun (alongside Ordinary Lies creator Danny Brocklehurst) follows Gilgun’s Vinnie and his raggle-taggle group of chums as they pull scams, dodge the police and just about get by in a small Lancashire town. Bolstered by a quality supporting cast (including Michelle Keegan and, eye-poppingly, Dominic West as Vinnie’s louche GP) and terrific verve, it’s a confident and often hilarious opening double-bill. The whole series is available on demand straight after. GT

Monster Trucks (2016) ★★☆☆☆

Film4, 5.00pm

Monster trucks are big, loud and colourful; they are not sophisticated, intelligent or remotely subtle. So it is with Chris Wedge’s film, which roars about in empty style. Tripp (Lucas Till) is a sad teenager who works at a scrapyard to escape his family. When a fracking operation nearby releases three strange monsters, one becomes Tripp’s friend and assumes control of his truck. (Get it?) Time to watch out, generic evil corporation…

The Day of the Jackal (1973) ★★★★★

TCM, 6.00pm

Adapted from Frederick Forsyth’s novel by director Fred Zinnemann, this taut and slow-burning thriller is about a plot by an extremist faction to kill Charles de Gaulle. Edward Fox plays the eponymous assassin hired to whack the president, while Michael Lonsdale is the French detective trying to stop him. (It was poorly remade in 1997 with Bruce Willis.)

Zombieland (2008) ★★★☆☆

Comedy Central, 9.00pm

After a virus turns most of the population of America into zombies, nerdy student Jesse Eisenberg heads for Ohio to see whether or not his family has survived. En route he’s forced to bond with bad-ass zombie killer Woody Harrelson and a couple of sisters (Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin). This cross between shoot-’em-up video game and theme-park ride may be no Shaun of the Dead, but it’s a lot of fun.

 

Friday 23 August

Margaret Qualley as Ann Reinking and Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse Credit: Michael Parmelee

Fosse/Verdon

BBC Two, 9.00pm

Picking up three months after Bob Fosse’s (Sam Rockwell) committal to a psychiatric clinic in the wake of his Oscar-win for Cabaret, this superb episode is set in 1973 over a pivotal weekend spent at a rain-lashed beach-house in the Hamptons. Present are his best friend Paddy Chayefsky (Norbert Leo Butz) and the bereaved playwright Neil Simon (Nate Corddry), Fosse’s young girlfriend Ann Reinking (Margaret Qualley) and his daughter Nicole (Blake Baumgartner). Then, into the mix come Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams) and her boyfriend Ron (Jake Lacy), and what follows is a series of intense power-plays that never go quite the way you expect. 

The result is a fabulous psychological dance, with partners stepping in and out as flashpoints arise over Fosse’s health, his fidelity, his desire to leave musicals behind with his new film Lenny, and Verdon’s determination to get him on board for her latest project, Chicago. It’s all beautifully teased out by scriptwriter Charlotte Stoudt and stylishly directed by Thomas Kail – and for many will be worth watching, alone, for Williams’s entrancing performance of Where Am I Going? from Fosse and Verdon’s 1966 hit musical Sweet Charity. GO

13 Reasons Why

Netflix, from today

Once one of Netflix’s most controversial murder-mystery dramas, thanks to its head-on handling of subjects such as teenage suicide, rape and bullying, this third season looks to be more conventional. It explores the murder of series creep Bryce Walker. GO

BBC Proms: Rattle Conducts Belshazzar’s Feast

BBC Four, 7.30pm

One of the season’s most keenly anticipated concerts with Simon Rattle conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, baritone Gerald Findlay and a spectacular 300-strong choir in a performance of William Walton’s celebrated 1931 cantata Belshazzar’s Feast. GO

Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing

BBC Two, 8.00pm

The comedians head for Cornwall and Devon in search of perch. But when seating and accommodation become a source of discord, they take to the seas instead for a surprise catch and a not so “heart-healthy” celebration. GO

Music Icons

Sky Arts, 8.00pm and 8.30pm

The popular pop series returns, beginning with a pair of episodes exploring the career of one of Motown’s biggest success stories, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and those masters of the soft-rock, Chicago. GO  

The World’s Most Expensive Cruise Ship

Channel 5, 9.00pm

This new series goes behind the scenes aboard the ship claimed to be the world’s most luxurious cruise liner, where life can get seriously opulent for those willing to splash out up to £8,000 a night for a suite on this six-star mega-blingy floating hotel. GO

Edinburgh Nights with Nish Kumar

BBC Two, 11.05pm

Comedians Nish Kumar and Ed Byrne explore a theme that’s dominating this year’s comedy, cabaret, theatre and circus shows: mums and dads. Plus, Nigeria’s biggest stars come together for a show promising to both shock and amuse. GO

Ouch Storytelling Live 2019

BBC Two, 11.35pm

Amateur and professional storytellers share a stage at the Edinburgh Fringe. The only rule is that the teller must be disabled and the story must be disability-focused and true. “Maybe you lost a leg and found a husband?” suggested the BBC advert inviting entries. GO

Aquaman (2018) ★★☆☆☆

Sky Cinema Premiere, 8.00pm

Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is deep-sea royalty raised on land after his mother, the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman), shacked up with a surface-dweller. Years later, he’s summoned home to face his warmongering brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson), who wants to raise hell on humankind. The film tries everything – muscleman pageantry, odd-couple high jinks, kitschy combat – but none of it remotely coheres.

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) ★★★☆☆

ITV, 10.45pm

Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as war veteran John Rambo, taking matters into his own hands when he’s sent back to Vietnam to survey the locations where American PoWs are still being held captive. The action is equally crude and sadomasochistic, but the film has, peculiarly, become something of a camp classic. Stallone and James Cameron co-wrote the screenplay, which is wonderfully crude.

My Old Lady (2014) ★★★☆☆

BBC One, 12.20am; not Wales

Kevin Kline plays a broke American who inherits a Parisian flat but comes across a complication in the form of Maggie Smith’s 92-year-old, who has taken up residence there. There’s pleasure in seeing egos pricked and lessons learned in this tight chamber piece, but it loses some of its focus, and Smith (firing on all waspish cylinders) and Kristin Scott Thomas (as her daughter) are a bit wasted.

Television previewers

Vicki Power (VP), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Gabriel Tate (GT), Sarah Hughes (SH), Toby Dantzic (TD)