What’s on TV tonight: Fosse/Verdon, 13 Reasons Why, and more

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

Friday 23 August

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.

 

Saturday 24 August

Prince Albert in 1860 Credit: Channel 4

Prince Albert: A Victorian Hero Revealed

Channel 4, 8.00pm

For a good overview of Prince Albert’s cultural legacy, travel to South Kensington: the V&A, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, most of which were funded by the profits from the 1851 Great Exhibition championed by Queen Victoria’s husband in the face of widespread scepticism. This engaging documentary, presented by historian Saul David, makes a persuasive case for Albert as a champion of social reform, education as a means to self-advancement and, yes, bold architecture.

It all rather confirms the portrait painted by Tom Hughes in ITV’s Victoria, and indeed series creator Daisy Goodwin pops up to underline his progressive credentials. A N Wilson is also a powerful advocate, albeit one careful to put Albert’s attitudes in context both of the revolutionary times and Albert’s unpopularity, at least at first, among the royal household and the printed press for being so bold as to have ideas and so unfortunate as to be a foreigner. David, meanwhile, digs up fascinating evidence of Albert’s sound instincts. A dissenting voice wouldn’t have gone amiss, but this is still an incisive reassessment of the arguably archetypal Victorian. GT

Test Cricket: England v Australia

Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Cricket, 10.00am; Channel 5, 7.30pm (highlights)

With Australia’s Steve Smith out of the Test, there may be hope for England at Headingley. But Joe Root’s men will need to match fierce bowling with solid batting. The five-day game concludes on Monday

Rugby League Challenge Cup: St Helens v Warrington Wolves

BBC One, 2.00pm (kick-off 3.00pm)

Rugby league’s hardest-fought competition comes to an end at Wembley. St Helens haven’t triumphed since 2008, Warrington since 2012 – though the latter lost 20-14 to Catalans Dragons only last year.

International Rugby Union: England v Ireland

Sky Sports Main Event/Action, 2.00pm (kick-off 3.00pm); & BBC Two, 7.30pm (highlights)

After seeing Wales take the world no 1 ranking, Eddie Jones’s England side will be smarting. Now Ireland visit Twickenham, where the hosts will hope to repeat their 32-20 Six Nations victory. The World Cup is only 27 days away…

Premier League Football: Liverpool v Arsenal

Sky Sports Main Event/Premier League, 5.00pm (kick-off 5.30pm)

The Premier League table is young, but only Jürgen Klopp and Unai Emery’s sides have 100 per cent records; something has to give at Anfield. Tomorrow, Manchester City go to Bournemouth hoping to resume their winning ways (Sky Sports Premier League/Main Event, 1.00pm/2.00pm; kick-off 2.00pm). After that, Tottenham Hotspur host struggling Newcastle (4.00pm; kick-off 4.30pm).

Proms Encore

BBC Two, 7.00pm

This instalment of the magazine show examines “the voice”. Beatboxer Jason Singh samples soprano Nadine Benjamin’s voice for a live performance, tenor Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts looks at different singing styles and Tom Service takes conductor Semyon Bychkov for a musical trip in an Austin Maestro. GT

WW2: The Battle of Stalingrad

Channel 5, 8.00pm

The Battle of Stalingrad, perhaps the turning point of the Second World War, saw the German army suffer its biggest defeat. This documentary examines why the city was of such strategic importance, and how the Russian victory was as important for Allied morale as it was for territorial gains. There is also a look at the extraordinary rise of the American army and navy to become a global force to be reckoned with. GT

Below the Surface 

BBC Four, 9.00pm and 9.45pm

The excellent second series of this Danish thriller, benefiting enormously from a more plausible set-up, relatively speaking, than its daft first run, comes to an end with another double bill. The ferry finally docks and there’s a showdown in a warehouse – but not before Philip Nørgaard (Johannes Lassen) has to help hostages he believes to have been booby-trapped, while Simon (Peder Thomas Pedersen) and SP (Alexandre Willaume) chase a lead on the whereabouts of June’s (Yasmin Mahmoud) phone. GT

CMA Fest 2019

Sky Arts, 9.00pm

Held in Nashville – where else? – in June, this annual festival peppers a showcase for the mainstream end of the country-music genre with marginally edgier fare. Featured artists include Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood and Billy Ray Cyrus (the latter’s huge hit with Lil Nas X, Old Town Road, of course, gets an airing). Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini host. GT

Casualty

BBC One, 9.10pm

In tonight’s episode of the long-running hospital drama, Charlie (Derek Thompson) fears for the future, Duffy (Cathy Shipton) struggles on her own at home and Rash (Neet Mohan) is forced to abandon his father to help a mother in need. GT

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

ITV, 9.10pm

Jeremy Clarkson returns for another run of the quiz show, continuing tomorrow, with 15 questions, four lifelines, and a seven-figure sum at stake. GT

Ant-Man (2015) ★★★★☆

BBC One, 5.45pm 

Marvel’s zingy film – which stars Paul Rudd as the most endearing superhero yet – makes the ordinary truly extraordinary. Armed with a suit that allows him to shrink to microscopic size, cat-burglar Scott (Rudd) is recruited to pull off a heist that will (as you’d expect) save the world. But first he must train in hyperreal landscapes alive with threat. Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas bring serious acting chops to the fluffy fun.

Viceroy’s House (2017) ★★★☆☆

BBC Two, 9.00pm; N Ireland, 10.00pm

Hugh Bonneville plays Lord Louis Mountbatten, assassinated 40 years ago this week, opposite Gillian Anderson as Lady Edwina, during the handover and partition of India. Director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) produces her most ambitious personal film to date; she dilutes the trauma a little with a pallid below-stairs love story between her Indian leads, but she has upped her game.

Die Hard 4.0 (2007) ★★★☆☆

Channel 4, 9.00pm

Twelve years after Die Hard with a Vengeance, Bruce Willis again plays everyman cop John McClane, dragged out of retirement to undergo yet more gruelling physical ordeals. It’s knockabout fun, though in the name of fresh blood we have to endure a geeky sidekick (Justin Long), a teenage daughter there to be snatched (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and a bland new terrorist (Timothy Olyphant). A Good Day to Die Hard (film no 5) airs tomorrow at 10pm.

 

Sunday 25 August

Leo Suter and Rose Williams in Sanditon Credit: Simon Ridgway/ITV

Sanditon

ITV, 9.00pm

Ever since Colin Firth’s wet-shirt Mr Darcy moment in the BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice, any combination of veteran screenwriter Andrew Davies and the novels of Jane Austen has been regarded as the ultimate period-drama dream ticket. This new eight-part series, though, doesn’t hold out quite the same stellar promise, as the novel that Austen was working on at the time of her death in 1817 was only a working draft and less than a quarter finished. And, even that, Davies has taken considerable liberties with here. Still, if you like lavish period romps seen through a decidedly 21st-century lens this will fit the bill. 

Rose Williams is terrific as Charlotte Heywood, who’s invited to stay at the South Coast’s newest but not-yet-fashionable bathing resort, Sanditon, by the entrepreneurial Mr Parker (Kris Marshall) and his family – with her father warning not to be seduced by the townies’ modern ways. There she encounters the dragon-like Lady Denham (Anne Reid) and the poisonous brood of relatives jostling to inherit her fortune – and Parker’s handsome and very well-connected younger brother, Sidney (Theo James), who’s abrupt, dismissive and occasionally downright disagreeable. Remind you of anyone? GO

Athletics: British Championships

BBC Two, 2.00pm

Dina Asher-Smith, Britain’s European 100  m and 200 m champion, will be among the track stars taking part at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium. 

Poldark

BBC One, 8.00pm

A frantic – and not entirely plausible – penultimate episode sees Ross (Aidan Turner) battling smugglers, French spies and just about everyone in London in his quest for justice, yet also finding time to help Geoffrey Charles (Freddie Wise) and Cecily (Lily Dodsworth-Evans) with their elopement (bad idea). The series concludes tomorrow. GO

Dad’s Army: The Lost Episodes

GOLD, 8.00pm

This is the first of three superbly recreated lost episodes of the classic Home Guard sitcom. The scripts are reliably funny and the low-budget production values are much truer to the TV series than the recent, creaky Dad’s Army movie. But the brilliant casting is what works best with Kevin McNally as Captain Mainwaring alongside Robert Bathurst’s Wilson, Kevin Eldon’s Jones, David Hayman’s Frazer, Timothy West’s Godfrey and, prominent in this opener, Mathew Horne’s Walker. Continues tomorrow and Tuesday. GO  

Peaky Blinders

BBC One, 9.00pm

Fans of operatic blood-letting and grand-guignol hyper-criminality have a treat in store as the gangster drama returns for a fifth series. It’s 1929 and anyone expecting Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) to ease up now that he’s an MP didn’t factor in the Wall Street Crash. As Polly (Helen McCrory) says: “For those that make the rules, there are no rules.” Continues tomorrow. GO

A Black and White Killing: The Case That Shook America

BBC Two, 9.00pm

Mobeen Azhar travels to Portland, Oregon, to explore racism in relation to the murder of Larnell Bruce by a member of a white supremacist gang. Concludes tomorrow. GO

Peter Rice: An Engineer Imagines

BBC Four, 9.00pm

An overdue homage to the life and work of Peter Rice, widely regarded as the most accomplished structural engineer of the late 20th century, whose design skills enabled some of modern architecture’s most iconic buildings to be constructed – among them the Sydney Opera House, Paris’s Pompidou Centre and the Lloyds building in London. GO   

Peter Taylor: My Journey Through the Troubles

BBC Two, 10.00pm

Fifty years after British troops entered Northern Ireland, correspondent and terrorism expert Peter Taylor reflects on his experience of the Troubles. GO

The Wizard of Oz (1939) ★★★★★

ITV3, 11.25am

It’s 80 years old today, but there are still few films more charming. Judy Garland is young Dorothy, who’s bored with her dull, (literally) black-and-white existence in Kansas, and keen to flee “somewhere over the rainbow”. But once she gets there and colour pours into her world, she sees that there’s more to life than having selfish fun. Bert Lahr and Frank Morgan co-star.

Mannequin (1987) ★★☆☆☆

ITV, 2.05pm

A decade before swanning onto television screens in Sex and the City, Kim Cattrall played an Egyptian princess in this rather baffling romcom. It’s the modern era, and she’s been reincarnated as a mannequin for a department store; the only person who knows the truth is Andrew McCarthy’s window dresser. The film is weird and far too sugary, but at least it gave the world Starship’s glam hit Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) ★★★★☆

Channel 5, 9.00pm

After what anyone might regard as a rocky spell in (then very much out of) the limelight, Mel Gibson returned to critical favour directing this moving and bruising military biopic of a Christian US Army combat medic who clings to his principles in a typhoon of blood and bullets. Andrew Garfield stars as real-life conscientious objector Desmond Doss. Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving and Teresa Palmer co-star.

 

Monday 26 August

Eleanor Tomlinson and Aidan Turner bid farewell Credit: Mike Hogan/BBC

Poldark

BBC One, 8.30pm

Sharper than a stab from Poldark’s tricorne hat will be the pain of bidding farewell to this much-loved Cornish bodice-ripper. But after five seasons of masculine derring-do and romantic wrangling set against Cornwall’s crashing waves, this saga sails into the sunset. Whether the love of Ross and Demelza Poldark (Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson) can manage to withstand this final mission – whether Ross even survives it – are tantalising questions. 

The action opens five months after last night’s instalment, when our politically engaged hero embarked on what he called his greatest gamble: pretending to plot with the French to overthrow the English government, in order to expose corruption. But what began as a ruse to save his own neck seems to have consumed Ross, and even led him to stray from the marital bed. The story reaches a climax well before the credits roll, when treacherous behaviour is exposed in a flash of explosives and clanging of swords. Storylines are tied up and characters’ new paths set. Debbie Horsfield’s revival has been an enjoyably soapy gallop through Winston Graham’s novels and made a star of Turner’s torso. Sunday nights will never be quite the same. VP

Tennis: US Open

Amazon Prime Video, 4.00pm

The fourth and final grand slam gets under way in New York. Both defending champions – Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic – are now at the top of their respective rankings; can they retain their titles?

Nadiya’s Summer Feasts

BBC Two, 8.00pm

Nadiya Hussain brightens up a soggy summer with her orange headscarf and enthusiasm for a barbecue. This one-off special sees her whip up a raft of dishes that include an unusual salad of feta cheese and kiwi fruit. VP

The Good Nazi

Yesterday, 8.00pm

This documentary may be fascinating, but its title is a little misleading, in that the film looks at the horrors experienced by Jews at a labour camp in Vilnius during the Second World War, as much as it reveals the covert warnings they received from the camp’s commander Karl Plagge. As archaeologists map mass graves on the site, survivors recount how they escaped regular Nazi purges. It was down to their own ingenuity as much as the “good Nazi”. VP  

Midsomer Murders

ITV, 8.30pm

Tonight’s return to the killing fields of England delivers a labyrinthine murder mystery plus a baroque new murder method. The action focuses on a death at a rugby club, where DCI Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) uncovers secrets behind the macho bluster and rediscovers his inner Jonny Wilkinson. VP

A Black and White Killing: The Case That Shook America

BBC Two, 9.00pm

The recent white supremacist rallies in Portland, Oregon, make this documentary series more pertinent. Mobeen Azhar was there last year when feelings ran high, as a white supremacist was tried for the murder of a black man. Here, Azhar examines tensions on both sides as the verdict is delivered. VP

Peaky Blinders

BBC One, 9.30pm

The paranoia of Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) intensifies in this blood-spattered episode of the gangster drama. Tommy is right to worry: as Mosley (Sam Claflin) exerts pressure and the troublesome Michael (Finn Cole) returns, a new menace appears. VP

The Power of Women

Sky Arts, 10.00pm

Sky boasts that its new chat series features neither a journalist nor an interviewer; instead, it allows its pair of inspirational female subjects to talk without interference. The result is a chaotic opening episode, in which Ruby Wax and Helena Kennedy sit down for a chin-wag. Wax dominates with tales of her awful childhood, so Kennedy struggles to get a word in. But it’s compelling to hear the pair discussing their histories of setbacks and successes. VP

Flash Gordon (1980) ★★★★☆

Channel 4, noon

Sam J Jones, playing the eponymous hero, is more wooden than the pre-CGI backdrops, but Max von Sydow is a camp delight as Ming the Merciless in this cult adaptation of the sci-fi comic. Look out for unlikely cameos from former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan and Brian Blessed (“Gordon’s alive!”), and a suitably bombastic score by Queen. Timothy Dalton puts in a pantomime appearance, too. What a guilty pleasure.

The Muppets (2011) ★★★★☆

BBC Two, 1.10pm

It had long proved a tricksy task, but this is exactly how to adapt The Muppets for modern audiences. James Bobin’s film marked a return for the franchise after 12 years, and it’s a heart-warming tale in which human Muppet fan Gary (Jason Segel, who co-wrote) and his brother Walter (who inexplicably is an actual Muppet) are forced to raise $10 million to save the Muppet Theatre. Amy Adams is the love interest.

No Country for Old Men (2007) ★★★★★ 

Paramount Network, 9.00pm

This intense, nihilistic thriller is the Coen brothers’ masterpiece. It’s set in a small Texas border town in 1980 and has a simple plot: a Vietnam veteran (Josh Brolin) stumbles across $2 million and decides to keep it. Unfortunately, hot on his heels is an assassin (a chilling Javier Bardem) who always gets his man. Brutal yet funny, it’s a dark portrait of post-Vietnam America.

 

Tuesday 27 August

The class of Bake Off 2019 enter the tent Credit: C4/Love Productions/Mark Bourdil

The Great British Bake Off

Channel 4, 8.00pm

Along with falling leaves and ripening hedgerow fruit, the return of The Great British Bake Off is a sure-fire portent of impending autumn. As they enter their third year in the tent, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding are now comfortable enough to swap double for single entendres in an opening episode that manages to be both utterly filthy and entirely family friendly from the opening Wizard of Oz skit onwards. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith are willing foils as ever, while an extra baker adds a twist to the format, effectively guaranteeing a double elimination down the line. The contestants are another appealing bunch, from manbunned support worker Dan and vet Rosie (she proves her dough in her python’s tank) to irrepressible-bordering-on-slapdash youth Jamie and straight-arrow chorister Henry.

Week one is Cake Week, which means a Signature fruitcake, a retro classic for the Technical and a Showstopper based on dream childhood birthday cakes: cartoon dogs, space rockets, sweet shops, The Magic Faraway Tree, that sort of thing. Butterfingers are in evidence early with blood and broken sugarwork, and a few contestants already look set for the final. But as always, the joy is in the journey. GT

Saving Lives at Sea

BBC Two, 8.00pm

A fourth series following RNLI volunteers around the country begins with crews in Pembrokeshire, Jersey and the Wirral, as they answer emergencies including a plane crash, a missing swimmer and a horse stuck in the mud and at risk of drowning. GT

Keeping Faith

BBC One, 9.00pm

The sheer weight of melodrama has occasionally threatened to overwhelm this second series, but Keeping Faith has continued to grip. It concludes tonight with Faith (Eve Myles) discovering who she can really trust and Steve (Mark Lewis Jones) attempting to close the book on the Reardons once and for all. GT

The Affair

Sky Atlantic, 9.00pm

It may be a series too far for a show which lost sight of the narrative quirk that made it unique – playing a quartet of unreliable narrators off against each other – in favour of a parade of lurid plot twists held together by its excellent cast. Still, here we are at the end of the road, with Anna Paquin joining the cast as Joanie, daughter of Alison (Ruth Wilson), who explodes into the lives of Noah (Dominic West) and Helen (Maura Tierney). GT  

Sink or Swim for Stand Up to Cancer

Channel 4, 9.30pm

Eleven celebrities have 12 weeks to prepare for a relay swim across the English Channel in aid of the titular charity. The volunteers – all of them nervous swimmers – include Olympic gold medallists Linford Christie and Greg Rutherford, The Last Leg’s Alex Brooker and Blue’s Simon Webbe. GT

Franco Building with Jonathan Meades

BBC Four, 10.00pm

As incontrovertibly iconoclastic as ever, Jonathan Meades continues his occasional survey of dictators and their architecture with Francisco Franco, the man who ruled Spain for over three decades. He feasts on the tower blocks of Benidorm and other resorts, scrutinises Franco’s mausoleum and assesses the darkest aspects of his reign in this provocative but most enjoyable documentary. GT  

Kathy Burke’s All Woman

Channel 4, 10.30pm

Kathy Burke concludes her compelling series with a look at attitudes towards sex and relationships. Among her interviewees are Love Island presenter Caroline Flack, Skunk Anansie’s Skin and a gigolo called Darren. GT

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) ★★★★★

ITV4, 9.00pm

In the minds of both the voting public and the top rank of film critics, Frank Darabont’s adaptation of a Stephen King novella is one of the greatest films of all time. Tim Robbins stars as Andy, a man “wrongfully” sent to prison in Shawshank State for his wife’s murder. There he befriends fellow lag Red (Morgan Freeman) and settles into life behind bars, while plotting the most daring prison break of all.

The Fountain (2006) ★★★☆☆

Syfy, 9.00pm

Darren Aronofsky, who would move onto more assured work like The Wrestler, Black Swan and Mother!, had his work cut out with this metaphysical melodrama about the quest for eternal life. Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman star in a visually resplendent time-travelling three-pronged narrative. The leapfrogging in time is more than a little bewildering, but the film’s daring structure makes the effort involved worth it.

Runaway Jury (2003) ★★★☆☆

Universal TV, 9.00pm

When a stockbroker is shot in cold blood, his widow attempts to sue a gun manufacturer with the help of an idealistic lawyer (a brilliant Dustin Hoffman). But they find that there are those who will stop at nothing to bend justice for their own purposes. The film lacks the momentum of the John Grisham thriller on which it’s based, but this is still a fine courtroom drama. Rachel Weisz and Gene Hackman co-star.

 

Wednesday 28 August

Javid Abdelmoneim tests the effect of cannabis  Credit: Andrew Fleming/BBC

Cannabis: Miracle Medicine or Dangerous Drug?

BBC Two, 9.00pm

In November 2018, medicinal cannabis became legal in the UK, prompted by the case of seven-year-old Alfie Dingley whose chronic epileptic seizures were drastically mitigated by its use. But despite the growing clamour for access to the drug, said to relieve complaints from anxiety to cancer, the science behind its effectiveness is worryingly nebulous. 

Step forward suave A&E doctor Javid Abdelmoneim, prepared to go the extra mile to pin down whether cannabis harms or helps us. He finds plenty of those in the pro-cannabis camp, including evangelical patients in Israel where it’s been prescribed for 20 years and Danish scientists supplying demand to Europe for a hefty profit. At the same time however, there’s controversy over how to balance out levels of CBD – the part of the plant said to be curative – with THC, its psychoactive or “high-making” component, which has links to mental illness. With clinical trials testing the effect of cannabis on the brain severely lacking, a nervy Abdelmoneim agrees to take part in one himself, triggering hilarity, paranoia, and a newfound appreciation of biscuits. TD

Supershoppers: Money Saving Special

Channel 4, 8.00pm

It’s a viewer-led edition of the consumer-affairs show tonight as Kate Quilton and Sabrina Grant investigate some of our own complaints and questions. On the duo’s agenda is how to save money on petrol and an investigation of QVC’s return policies. TD

The Art of Architecture

Sky Arts, 8.00pm

There’s much to fascinate in this series, which explores the process that brought some of the world’s greatest buildings into being. In tonight’s episode we hear from architect Graham Stirk (best known for designing The Cheesegrater in London) about his complex work on the extraordinary Macallan whisky distillery in north-east Scotland. TD

Who Do You Think You Are?

BBC One, 9.00pm

“I have no idea if I’m related to the Duke of Cumberland or any other pub,” quips Paul Merton before exploring his family tree. In Ireland, he learns about his rebellious grandfather who became involved in the early form of the IRA. TD

Deep Water

ITV, 9.00pm

Solid performances and a gorgeous Lake District setting just about save this otherwise derivative drama. With Lucinda still missing, Guy (Alastair Mackenzie) is arrested for his attack on her boyfriend, while Lisa (Anna Friel) finds herself further entangled with the Riverty family. TD

Grand Designs

Channel 4, 9.00pm

Over 20 years of Grand Designs, we’ve gawped at those intrepid folk determined to make their outlandish architectural dreams a reality. Celebrating the show’s anniversary and kicking off the new series, Kevin McCloud is charged with picking out his top five builds from a staggering 180 episodes of home-design drama. TD

Susan Calman’s Fringe Benefits

BBC Four, 10.30pm

For those of us who haven’t made it up to Edinburgh this year, Susan Calman offers us a taste of festival highlights by chatting to some of those taking part. Her guests this week include former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis, appearing at the Book Festival to talk about her new novel, comedian Arabella Weir, whose ultra-confessional show tackles her fraught relationship with her mother, and stalwart stand-up comedians Nish Kumar and Mark Nelson. TD

Romancing the Stone (1984) ★★★★☆

Film4, 6.55pm

Danny DeVito steals the show with a hilarious cameo in this spoof adventure. It follows the story of romantic novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), who’s off on a perilous mission to locate her kidnapped sister in Colombia. When she turns for help to the dashing but reckless adventurer Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), she finds that the hostile South American jungle is only the start of her troubles.

American History X (1998) ★★★★★

ITV4, 10.00pm

Tony Kaye directs this compelling and brutal examination of white supremacism in the United States. Edward Norton is both mesmerising and terrifying as Derek, a student who’s drawn into a neo-Nazi movement and mercilessly kills two black youths. After a stint in prison he’s reformed, but returns home to find his younger brother Danny (Edward Furlong) on the same track. Fairuza Balk co-stars.

The Limey (1999) ★★★★☆

AMC, 11.50pm

Terence Stamp is superb as an English ex-con who heads to Los Angeles to avenge his daughter’s death, and (while he’s there) bemuse the late Peter Fonda and Barry Newman with Cockney rhyming slang. Director Steven Soderbergh gussies up a simple revenge thriller with flashbacks to a younger, prettier Stamp (using clips from Ken Loach’s 1967 Poor Cow), adding some touches of British grit to the glass houses of south California.

 

Thursday 29 August

Presidents Trump and Xi have had a complex relationship Credit: Susan Walsh/AP

China: A New World Order

BBC Two, 9.00pm

Could there be a better moment for this new three-part series on President Xi Jinping’s six-year period as leader of the People’s Republic of China, and the far-reaching changes that he has introduced to the country and the ruling Communist Party? When Xi took over as leader he was almost unknown in the West but China’s economy was the fastest-growing in the world, its influence over emerging economies was enormous, and the country appeared to be on a path towards greater openness and tolerance. This opening episode explores how, just six years later, with the Chinese economy slowing and a major trade war with Trump’s US administration in the offing, much has changed already. 

Looking particularly at the unprecedented crackdown that President Xi launched against corruption (which may have been used as cover for wider political repression), the focus is on how, today, rumours again abound in China of widespread crimes against humanity – in particular against the Uighur Muslim population, and how the Chinese government’s growing intolerance of dissent are driving the current instability in Hong Kong. GO

Stacey Dooley: Face to Face with the Arms Dealers

BBC Three, from today 

Travelling to Arkansas, reporter and Strictly winner Stacey Dooley meets a family that specialises in selling some of the world’s most deadly military-grade weapons to over 100 countries, and tries out some of them for herself. GO  

Golf: European Masters

Sky Sports Main Event/Golf, 10.30am & 2.30pm

The glitterati of European golf are in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, for one of the tour’s most spectacular events, set against the backdrop of the towering Alps. Matt Fitzpatrick will defend the title he’s won for two years running, but a strong field of rivals, from Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood to Sergio Garcia and Danny Willett, will be out to purloin his crown. 

International Women’s Football: Belgium v England

BBC Two, 6.15pm (kick-off 6.30pm)

In their first game since the mélange of triumph and broken hearts that was the World Cup, Steph Houghton’s Lionesses head to Leuven for a friendly against Belgium. Their preparations for Euro 2021 begin in earnest here. 

Kirstie and Phil’s Love It or List It

Channel 4, 8.00pm

So, did all those people who opted to love their homes, or list them, over the course of the series so far, make the right decisions? In this catch-up edition Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer recycle programmes past and find out what happened next. GO

The Secret Teacher

Channel 4, 9.00pm

In the last of the series, recruitment agency owner Darren Ryemill goes undercover at the Forest School in Wokingham, focusing his search for hidden talent on the school’s Return to Learn initiative, where pupils are sent as an alternative to exclusion. There he meets two challenging teenagers that he’s convinced have the potential to shine. GO

World War Speed  

BBC Four, 9.00pm

In this re-versioned episode from the PBS series Secrets of the Dead, historian James Holland and others explore how the use of drugs such as amphetamines affected the course of the Second World War and unleashed the first “pharmacological arms race”. GO

Alone Against Al-Qaeda

PBS America, 9.00pm

Here’s the true story of one of the characters in the 9/11 drama The Looming Tower, John O’Neill, FBI agent-turned World Trade Center security chief who lost his life in the 2001 terror attacks after years trying to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. GO

This Way Up

Channel 4, 10.00pm

Aine (Bea) and Shona’s (Sharon Horgan) mother is visiting from Ireland, so tensions are high. But Shona really doesn’t help matters when she announces, over dinner with her boyfriend Vish’s (Assif Mandvi) family, that she’s doesn’t intend to have children. GO

High Life

BBC One, 10.35pm; N Ireland/Wales 11.05pm

A multi-award-winning drama, previously aired on BBC Three, about an overachieving 17-year-old, Genevieve (Odessa Young), whose privileged life begins to unravel when she experiences the first shocking symptoms of bipolar disorder. GO  

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) ★★★☆☆

Film4, 5.00pm

Mild-mannered Walter Mitty’s life is controlled by his overbearing mother. He escapes by imagining himself living in the worlds pictured on the covers of Life magazine and thereby becoming a pilot, sea captain and couturier. Ben Stiller directs and stars in this revamp of James Thurber’s classic story: the results are flawed but entertaining. Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn and Adam Scott co-star.

Dog Soldiers (2002) ★★★☆☆

Horror Channel, 9.00pm

This low-budget British horror-comedy manages the rare feat of being both funny (in an OTT way) and scary. Sean Pertwee’s army sergeant leads his men on a mission in the Scottish Highlands; it feels routine, until they run into a pack of bloodthirsty beasts. Neil Marshall’s snappy direction and the rather convincing werewolf costumes just about compensate for a predictable plot twist.

Last Action Hero (1993) ★★☆☆☆

5Spike, 10.00pm

This film, where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a fictional hero who comes to life, should have been a winner. It had an intriguing premise, a big star, plus John McTiernan (Die Hard) and Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) directing and writing respectively. But in the end it was a critical and commercial flop, a mess of good ideas poorly executed. Even if it’s a curio, it did blaze a kind of trail for future genre parodies.

 

Friday 30 August

Michelle Williams as Verdon and Sam Rockwell as Fosse Credit: Michael Parmelee/BBC

Fosse/Verdon

BBC Two, 9.00pm

Last week’s episode of this showbiz drama was a sharply drawn triumph, beautifully playing out over a strained weekend in the Hamptons. Tonight the show reverts to its familiar flashback-heavy structure, jumping between time frames in a scattershot style that both complements and muddies the main storyline. It’s now 1974 and Fosse (Sam Rockwell) is finding himself under enormous strain, as he tries to finish the edit on his movie about Lenny Bruce, which is beset by problems, even as he starts rehearsals for Chicago, the Broadway project of estranged wife Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams). The mounting pressure brings on a collapse, and the pill-popping, chain-smoking director winds up in hospital where he has a cardiac arrest. 

This shattering event is used as a springboard to provide backstory for Fosse, cutting from the hospital to imagined footage of the director performing Bruce-style stand up, in which he rails against a childhood of abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation. This certainly gives plenty of psychological context to Fosse’s (often bewildering) appetite for work and for women, but it can also dissipate the dramatic tension and make for a confusing watch. TD

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

Netflix, from today

Jim Henson’s Eighties fantasy film The Dark Crystal was a sinister cult delight. Now this 10-part prequel takes us back to the planet Thra, where a trio of Gelflings spark a rebellion against their birdlike nemeses the Skeksis. Voiced by Helena Bonham Carter, Taron Egerton and Eddie Izzard, it’s full of beauty and action. TD  

Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing

BBC Two, 8.00pm

Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, is the pretty destination for our duo, as they attempt to catch the pike that eluded them in the first series of this gentle gem. The time passes mainly thanks to riffs on their eating habits and sporting prowess. TD

The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice

Channel 4, 8.00pm

All the shenanigans from the opening episode of Bake Off are raked over by Jo Brand and her panel as the likeable spin-off returns. This week’s guests include Scarlett Moffatt, Stephen Mangan and Frank Skinner, and there’s an interview with the first baker to leave. TD

World’s Most Luxurious Train

Channel 5, 8.00pm

This new series gives us the chance to ogle the habits of the super-rich. Tonight focuses on train travel, taking us onto South Africa’s Blue Train, where guests have en-suite bathrooms and are waited on by a butler. TD

The Rob Rinder Verdict

Channel 4, 10.00pm

Daytime television judge Rob Rinder takes charge of new proceedings, as he heads up this four-part topical comedy show. The first episode, however, is short on laughs: Rinder and comedian Tom Allen meet a euthanasia advocate who has created a 3D-printed suicide machine. TD 

BBC Proms: Strauss, Sibelius and Prokofiev/Homage to Nina Simone

BBC Four, 7.30pm/10.25pm

For the 150th birthday of Proms founder Henry Wood, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra perform a slate of pieces that Wood premiered. It includes Sibelius’s first symphony, Prokofiev’s second violin concerto (soloist: Gil Shaham) and the orchestral suite from Richard Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier. For a more mellow vibe, at 10.25pm Clara Amfo brings highlights from the Metropole Orkest’s tribute to jazz legend Nina Simone. TD

Pulp Fiction (1994) ★★★★★

Dave, 10.00pm

Quentin Tarantino’s violent comedy thriller still feels exciting: none of its imitators have achieved such hard-edged glory. The multiple plots, neatly interwoven, include two gangsters (John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson) hunting for a briefcase, a boxer (Bruce Willis) after a watch, and two robbers (Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer) who hit a diner. And 25 years on, Tarantino is again the toast of cinema with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) ★★★★☆

ITV, 10.45pm

The second leg of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit has real energy and charm, and is full of headspinning action propelling its heroes towards their great goal – to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). The New Zealand landscape adds a storybook beauty, even if it’s all overinflated for the sake of run-time.

The King’s Speech (2010) ★★★★☆

BBC One, 11.35pm; Wales, 11.05pm

Tom Hooper’s excellent film about the future George VI and his struggle to overcome a stammer in Britain’s hour of need won multiple Oscars, Colin Firth’s double-act with Geoffrey Rush, as the King’s speech therapist Lionel Logue, gives the film its heart; the double-handers between them are sharp and fraught. Fans of royal drama will soon be pleased to see The Crown return for a third series on November 17.

Television previewers

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