Saturday 25 March 2017

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

Mr Selfridge (Jeremy Piven) with his daughters Beatrice, Rosalie and Violette, played by Alana Boden, Kara Tointon and Hannah Tointon (ITV)
Mr Selfridge (Jeremy Piven) with his daughters Beatrice, Rosalie and Violette, played by Alana Boden, Kara Tointon and Hannah Tointon (ITV)

Pat Stacey

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

TONIGHT

Poor Mr Selfridge (UTV/ITV/UTV Ireland, 9pm). Riding confidently into old London town on the coattails of Downton Abbey in 2013, the brash American retailer never really captured the imagination of the broad audience in the same way Julian Fellowes’s toffs and servants did, and was eventually shunted from Sundays to Fridays.

It certainly wasn’t for the want of trying on the part of either ITV, who threw a lavish production at it, or star Jeremy Piven. The Entourage actor certainly captured the brash, charming, can-do energy of the real Harry Selfridge.

Alas, the trials and tribulations of a shopping giant, peppered with much retail jargon, doesn’t always make for riveting drama, and tonight the series, if not the actual shop, closes its doors for the last time.

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The very fact that the word “slavery” has any place in relation to civilised 21st century societies is shocking enough in itself, but the stories uncovered in Britain’s Secret Slavery Business (BBC2, 10pm), however, will make the blood run as cold as ice water.

Darragh MacIntyre meets a Hungarian who tells him about the appalling conditions he endured working at a bed factory. Modern slaves aren’t always immigrants, either. MacIntyre also hears from a British man who was taken to a farm in south Wales and forced to work there, unpaid, for 13 years.

The American series The Seventies (Sky Arts, 9pm) is a strange beast, choosing to focus on themes rather than chronology, an approach that yields frustratingly disjointed results.

Nonetheless, tonight’s topic, the wave of violent crime that swept the country during the decade, is chillingly compelling, focusing on ‘Killer Clown’ John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz, aka Son of Sam, and the murderous cult of the Manson Family.

BBC2’ steals BBC4’s rock ‘n’ roll clothes tonight when Artsnight (11pm), presented by former Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, turns its gaze on the 40th anniversary of punk.

Moore was on the other side of the Atlantic when it all kicked of in 1976, but he still soaked it all up.

 

SATURDAY

Thrown to the ratings wolves of light entertainment-dominated Saturday night, the three-part Stag (BBC2, 9pm) has all the hallmarks of something in which the BBC didn’t have complete confidence.

The suspicion wasn’t misplaced, as the tone has wobbled uncertainly between black comedy and full-on horror. In this final episode, Ian tries to ensure that Johnner and the members of the stag party, depleted after several murders, make it to the wedding.

No such doubts surround the excellent Icelandic thriller Trapped (BBC4, 9pm), starring Olafur Darri Olafsson, which has made a Saturday night appointment with the channel’s subtitled imports a must again.

In the concluding double-bill, Andri has a definitive clue to the identity of the murderer, but it’s not who he was expecting. More soon, please.

Whatever your reservations about the rights and wrongs of dog shows, resistance to the riot of waggly tails that is Crufts 2016 (Channel 4, 7pm) is futile for dog lovers.

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Clare Balding presents two hours of live coverage of the penultimate day of the 125th show, which includes the obedience trials, an event that’s always popular.

Talking Pictures (BBC2, 5.10pm) is a repeat, but an always welcome one, from a time when television knew how to make proper, intelligent programmes about films and filmmakers.

This episode takes a retrospective look at the careers of some of the most successful directors in movie history, including John Ford, Frank Capra, Sidney Lumet, George

Cukor, Billy Wilder and Cecil B DeMille, among others.

MOTD Live (BBC1, 5.20pm) features the FA Cup sixth-round fixture between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park. Roberto Martinez’s side will be hoping  the Londoners are still reeling from being dumped out of the Champions League by PSG midweek.

 

SUNDAY

Brendan O’Carroll’s probe into the truth about his grandfather’s death at the hands of a British soldier in 1920 resulted in one of the best ever episodes of Who Do You Think You Are?

In My Family At War (RTE1, 9.30pm), which is also being screened next Wednesday on BBC2,  he looks into the story of three of his uncles, who were among the 1,600 rebels that fought in the 1916 Rising.

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By way of a sort of loose companion piece comes Revolution in Colour (TV3, 6pm). Over two programmes, Professor Eunan O’Halpin tells the complex story of Ireland during the years 1913 to 1923, with the help of high-definition transfers of newsreel footage that has been restored and colourised by the team behind the award-winning World War Two in Colour.

The plot, as they say, thickens in the fourth instalment of The Night Manager (BBC1, 9pm). With Corky (Tom Hollander) ousted as right-hand man, Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is now fully immersed in Roper’s (Hugh Laurie) world.

But trouble is brewing. Burr (Olivia Colman) shares her suspicions that Roper is dealing with a rogue member of the British government, something that could jeopardise both Pine’s mission and his life.

The Night Manager being one John le Carré book I haven’t read, I have no idea how it all ends. There have been rumblings, though, that the BBC is considering producing a sequel written specifically for television and with the author’s blessing.

Watching The Simpsons (Sky 1, 6.30pm) these days is a bit like opening Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get.

Could be great; could be awful; could be somewhere between the two extremes. More often than not, the latter is the case. Kicking off the second half of the 27th and newest season, this episode sees Bart pulling a parade prank that leaves Apu and Sanjay injured, giving Apu’s nephew Jay the chance to run the Kwik-E-Mart, which he promptly turns into a natural product store.

In part two of The Story of Cats (UTV/ITV/UTV Ireland, 8pm), we learn why kittens became such popular pets, and how the creatures’ senses and mouse-catching skills brought man and cat together 10,000 years ago.

Like cats themselves, the series is a source of endless fascination.

Herald

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