Entertainment Television

Sunday 15 December 2019

Here's the best of what's on the tellybox tonight, Saturday and Sunday

A child tries to figure out what a VHS tape is
A child tries to figure out what a VHS tape is

Pat Stacey

Pat Stacey has trawled the TV schedules for the best shows to watch this weekend so you don't have to...


At what point in your life do you realise you’ve become a living artefact, a piece of ancient history? Is it when leaflets advertising discreet hearing aids start dropping through the letterbox?

Is it when the girl at the supermarket checkout asks if you’d like someone to help you bring your bags to the car?

Or is it when you casually mention to people that you still own a VCR in perfect working order, and they look at you suspiciously, as though wondering if you also keep the stuffed corpse of your mother lying around the house, just like Norman Bates in Psycho?

We living artefacts will come over all warm and nostalgic, or else all cold and depressed by the chill touch of mortality, during the excellent The Eighties (Sky Atlantic, 9pm), which looks at the home entertainment revolution sparked by VCRs, PCs and video-game consoles.

Hit, Hype and Hustle
Hit, Hype and Hustle

Still on the theme of obsolescence, Hits, Hype & Hustle: An Insider’s Guide to the Music Business (BBC4, 9pm), presented by John Giddings, looks at how the destructive effect of digital downloads on physical album sales turned live performance into a billion-euro industry.

It’s a standard-issue recipe of froth and earnest frowning on The Late Late Show (RTE1, 9.35pm). Striking Out stars Amy Huberman and Maria Doyle Kennedy, and former Ireland scrum-half player Peter Stringer provide the light chit-chat, while Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave and a panel discussion on smartphone safety for children stray into more serious territory.

Martha Wainwright and JP & The Seeger Session Band provide the musical interlude.

There won’t be much you haven’t seen before on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1 NI, 11.05pm: other BBC regions, 10.35pm), where it’s time for the annual visitation by Tom Cruise, who’s on the plug trail for the sixth Mission: Impossible flick.

He’s accompanied by cast members Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill and Simon Pegg. Expect softball questions that wouldn’t bruise candy floss.

There’ll be considerably more bite in the new series of The Last Leg (Channel 4, 10pm). The regular team of Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker are joined by David Tennant and Craig David.

Match of the Day Live (BBC1, 7.30pm) features League Two side Yeovil Town hosting Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup. An act of giant-killing seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened.


The Last Leg
The Last Leg


To mark International Holocaust Memorial Day, the new documentary Holocaust: The Revenge Plot (Channel 4, 9pm) tells an extraordinary story using previously unheard recordings and exclusive interviews with Jewish men and women, now in their 90s, who were at the centre of it.

Holocaust: The Revenge Plot
Holocaust: The Revenge Plot

Led by charismatic poet Abba Kovner, a handful of surviving relatives of the Jews slaughtered by the Nazis vowed revenge. Calling themselves the Avengers, they hatched a plan to poison the water supply and kill six million Germans for the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. A literal “eye for an eye”.

BBC4, meanwhile, has two Holocaust-themed repeats. Children of the Holocaust (BBC4, 7pm) brings survivors’ accounts of their experience alive through animation.

It’s followed by Surviving the Holocaust: Freddie Knoller’s War (BBC4, 8pm). In a candid interview, the nonagenarian survivor tells the dramatic, and often surprisingly funny, story of his life as a young Jewish man in the Second World War.

All Together Now
All Together Now

New singing contest (yes, another one!) All Together Now (BBC1, 7.15pm) sounds like it’s been stitched together, Frankenstein monster-style, from bits of everything from The Voice to Opportunity Knocks.

Contestants perform in front of a 100-strong panel of singers and coaches, headed by former Spice Girl Geri Horner. If anyone likes what they hear, they stand up and join in. The more who do so, the higher the performers score. Comedian Rob Beckett  is the host.

Like BBC1’s McMafia and ITV’s Next of Kin, Hard Sun (BBC1, 9pm) has been leaking viewers since its second episode. In this case, it could have something to do with the fact that the entire season is available to UK viewers on the BBC iPlayer. Or it could just be that people are growing tired of a relentless diet of thrillers that aren’t particularly thrilling.

French cop show Spiral (BBC4, 9pm, 10pm), on the other hand, has, despite some implausibilities, held its grip. In the penultimate double-bill, violence flares up in the wake of an incident in which a police officer shot an unarmed man.



In Search of the Lost Girl
In Search of the Lost Girl

Chris Packham has given us a couple of fine documentaries in recent weeks, on the diverse subjects of autism (which Packham has) and dinosaurs. His latest, In Search of the Lost Girl (BBC2, 9pm), focuses on a highly unusual personal quest.

Twenty years ago, Packham photographed a little girl, a member of the indigenous Orang Rimba tribe, in the Indonesian jungle. In the two decades since, the tribe’s way of life has been virtually destroyed by massive deforestation.

He returns to the country, hoping to find the woman that little girl has become. It is, he says, “a way of measuring the condition of the planet”. It’s not giving anything away to say that what he finds distresses him.

Machines (BBC4, 10pm) is the cold, slightly Orwellian title of an unsettling documentary showing daily life (if you can call it that) inside a textile factory in India.

There’s no narration, no music and no captions identifying the people talking on screen, but the images of men, women and young children working 12-hour shifts in a dark, grimy, claustrophobic hellhole speaks volumes about globalisation at its grubbiest.

In McMafia (BBC1, 9pm), Alex’s fianceé Rebecca is mad at him. “Two witnesses are killed and you come back like nothing happened!” she says on his return from Israel. 

Six episodes in, she’s not the only one losing patience with nothing happening. Maybe Rebecca should watch Striking Out (RTE1, 9.30pm). I’m sure she could use a good giggle.


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