Thursday 8 December 2016

The definitive weekend TV guide - what to watch Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Pat Stacey

Published 15/01/2016 | 14:34

Spy drama: Deutschland 83
Spy drama: Deutschland 83

Pat Stacey chooses the best of this weekend's TV so you don't have to trawl the listings all by yourself...

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Tonight

A turning point in the life of the late David Bowie was, as several profiles broadcast in the wake of the great man’s shock death pointed out, the moment in 1997 when he sold $55 million worth of bonds tied to future royalties from his work.

Not only did the scheme, later copied by other top acts, secure his financial future, it also allowed him to buy off the manager who had been leeching off his earnings.

Not every rock star had the Starman’s foresight and intelligence, as demonstrated in the rollicking new three-part series Music Moguls: Masters of Pop (BBC4, 10pm).

What we have here is the untold history of rock and pop, related by the producers, managers and PR giants. More often than not, it’s a saga of corruption, greed and double-dealing to rival anything in The Godfather.

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Malcolm McLaren (pictured above), the man behind the Sex Pistols, is one of many talking heads contributing to a tale that includes chart-rigging and physical intimidation, especially in the terrifying shape of Sharon Osbourne’s infamous father Don Arden, who was known to dangle people over balconies by their ankles. It makes Sharon’s infamous poo-in-the-post retaliation look positively tasteful.

There’s more to vintage comedy channel GOLD than just Dibley and Del Boy, but you have to dip into its After Dark strand to find it.

Tonight’s trio of very special golden oldies is a real treat. First up is Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (11.40pm), the spoof supernatural medical drama featuring, among others, a beardless Matt Berry.

Then, it’s Nathan Barley (12.10am), Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker’s fabulous and, given the rise of the hideous bearded hipster, strikingly prescient comedy about the titular idiot, a DJ and guerilla film-maker (so he claims), who fancies himself as the epitome of urban cool. The night is rounded off with Morris’s wonderfully warped sketch show Jam (12.40am), which takes the blackest of black comedy and then propels it into a black hole.

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It should be a lively 50 minutes on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10.35pm), where the host’s usual line-up of first-rate guests include Matt Perry, who talks about his West End playwriting debut The End of Longing (he also stars in it), and Gemma Arterton, who discusses playing Nell Gwynn, the lusty wench who’s been played by many fine actresses over the years.

SATURDAY

If Norton offers us chat-show gold, then his ITV counterpart has platinum. The line-up of The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV/UTV/UTV Ireland, 9.30pm) is topped by the great Michael Caine.

The double Oscar winner and very definition of the working-class boy done good (although he worked damn hard for it in his early years) has always been fabulous chat show company, although this is the first one he’s done in a decade. He’s joined by Sylvester Stallone, currently drawing the finest reviews of his career in Creed, the Rocky follow-up that it’s okay to like.

I’ll be very surprised if Ross doesn’t bring up the fact that the two of them were co-stars in silly-but-fun POW/football romp Escape to Victory. Caine was the England captain and Sly was between the posts.

TG4 further burnishes its reputation for serving up some of the finest and most offbeat documentaries on the box with Fág an Bealach (8.15pm).

During the American Civil War, the Irish Brigade was acclaimed as one of the greatest military units. This two-part film delves into the real story behind its members.

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In 1988, the remains of a member of the Battle of Antietam were unearthed, spurring Irish-American actor Brian Mallon to discover the mystery soldier’s identity. Poignant and fascinating.

Having this week suggested The X Factor would benefit from a year off television (couldn’t we make it a thousand years?), the amiable Dermot O’Leary, who quit as host last year to pursue other projects, now shows us what one of those other projects was.

The Getaway Car (BBC1, 6.50pm) is a new quiz/game-show hybrid. Five couples go head-to-head in a series of quiz and driving challenges. To be honest, it sounds like a more upmarket version of Bullseye, with cars instead of darts.

SUNDAY

It’s drama, drama and more drama all the way tonight, which is certainly no bad thing.

We’re probably obliged to mention Rebellion (RTE1, 9.30pm) since it’s the only RTE-produced drama of the year that’s not Fair City.

But after last week’s dismal depiction of the actual Rising turned out to be the biggest let-down since Dorothy discovered the Wizard of Oz was just an old man hiding behind a curtain, how many viewers will tune out?

Far more deserving of your time is Deutschland 83 (RTE2, 10.30pm). Tonight, Moritz learns that the HVA believes NATO’s war game Able Archer is a real attack.

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Meanwhile, War and Peace (BBC1, 9pm) continues on its chopped-down, sexed-up journey as Helene returns to society and immediately takes a new lover, while in

Endeavour (ITV/UTV/UTV Ireland, 8pm), the future Inspector Morse (Shaun Evans) finds himself dragged away from his usual patch and despatched to the Oxfordshire countryside estate of a wealthy, ancient family when a seemingly routine missing persons case takes a turn for the sinister.

If, of course, you fancy turning your back on all these and running away, where better to run away to than the circus?

The Golden Age of Circus: The Show of Shows (BBC4, 9pm) tells the personal stories of circus performers from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as exploring related fields of entertainment, including cabaret, vaudeville and fairground shows. The film features rarely seen archive footage of circuses, fairgrounds, freak shows, variety, music hall and seaside entertainment.

A glimpse into a long-ago world.

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