mon 18/12/2017

The best TV to watch this week | reviews, news & interviews

The best TV to watch this week

The best TV to watch this week

What's on and where to find it

Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange star in Feud: Bette and Joan

Sick of the early onset of Christmas? Just watch television instead (though preferably not the news). Try these out for size.

Thursday 14 December

The Tunnel: Vengeance, Sky Atlantic - start of series 3 of Sky's Euro-hit, a kind of underwater version of The Bridge. This one's all about refugees and people-traffickers, and once again stars Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane as the entente cordiale of crime-fighting.

Blitz: The Bombs that Changed Britain, BBC Two - last in this somewhat macabre series tells the story of an incendiary bomb that landed in Bristol's Castle Street in November 1940 and caused catastrophic damage. In response, the locals established a new system of coordinating the emergency services which was widely copied across Britain.

Tommy Cooper Forever, ITV3 - new two-part tribute to the late comic, whose seemingly shambolic act was of course meticulously planned. Narrated by Martin Clunes and featuring Jennifer Saunders, Simon Callow, family members and performers who worked with Cooper.

Friday 15 December

Roy Orbison: Love Hurts, BBC Four - the legend of the lonely-sounding Big O as told by his three sons, Alex, Roy Jr and Wesley, and featuring previously unseen home movies.

Melody Makers, Should've Been There, Sky Arts - a history of the venerable music paper Melody Maker, which ceased publishing in 2000. Your host is photographer Barrie Wentzell, a snapper for the paper in the '60s and '70s.

Brunel: The Man Who Built Britain, Channel 5 - second and concluding part of the story of the 19th-century engineering colossus.

Saturday 16 December

Witnesses: A Frozen Death, BBC Four – final two episodes in the French police drama. Detective Sandra Winckler must escape the clutches of the extremely weird killer.

Feud: Bette and Joan, BBC Two – they being Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, two feuding veterans of Old Hollywood who are appearing together in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? This series is the brainchild of Ryan Murphy, who made Glee and American Horror Story.

Sunday 17 December

The Apprentice: The Final, BBC One – 12th and last in series 13. The two finalists must make their business plans work, and sell them to a bunch of experts at City Hall.

Inside Bentley: A Great British Motor Car, C4 – behind the scenes at the factory and Bentley's exclusive Mayfair showroom, as the company Bentley deliver a new 4X4.

Monday 18 December

The League of Gentlemen, BBC Two – series 4 exploring the freakish world of Royston Vasey, marking its 20th anniversary. Starring Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith. Continues over three successive nights.

Birds of a Feather, ITV – seasonal one-off for the ancient sitcom, starring Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph.

Inside the Christmas Factory, BBC Two – Gregg Wallace and chums investigate a factory in Oldham which makes Christmas cakes, and an apple brandy maker in Somerset.

Tuesday 19 December

U2 at the BBC, BBC One – the BBC like creating bespoke promotional opportunities to give the struggling rock band a helping hand, and here the quartet play live at Abbey Road (plugging the new album, obviously.)

Extraordinary Teens: Young, Gifted and Broke – in 2009, 10-year-old pianist and composer Shane Thomas was hailed as a musical genius, but fame and fortune did not ensue. He now lives with his single-parent dad Clayton, who's trying to steer has career while they live on benefits.

Wednesday 20 December

Peaky Blinders, BBC Two – final episode of series 4. It's crunch time, as Tommy watches boxer Bonnie Gold's big fight while dodging the New York mafia, and his factories threaten to go on strike.

Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees, BBC One – the Great Dame shows us round her personal grove of trees at her home in Surrey, and meets a variety of boffins to discuss the behavious, lifespans and social behaviour (!) of trees.
Thursday 21 December

Star Wars Night, BBC Four – a whole evening dedicated to George Lucas's brainchild, including last summer's John Williams Film Prom, a documentary about the British technicians who helped create SW in the '70s (The Galaxy Britain Built – surely they meant to say A Very British Galaxy?), and film about writer Joseph Campbell, whose ideas helped shape the films.

Darcey Bussell: Looking for Fred Astaire, BBC One – Strictly's nice judge goes to LA, among other places, to uncover secrets of her idol Astaire.

Joanna and Jennifer: Absolutely Champers, BBC Two – Lumley and Saunders take the Eurostar to explore the Champagne region and how "Bolly" is made.

Friday 22 December

Al Murray's Make Christmas Great Again, ITV – return of the Pub Landlord, hosting celebrations at the Reindeer's Head with his band The Remoans (geddit?)

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