Pat Stacey: Late Late Show in top-class guest shock! Critic stunned!
Pat Stacey on what to watch tonight, Saturday and Sunday
Pat Stacey has trawled the schedules so you don't have to and recommends what to watch this weekend...
It’s not often this column puts The Late Late Show (RTE1, 9.35pm) top of the list of the weekend’s viewing. In fact, this might be the first time it’s happened.
But you can’t argue with a top-quality guest and the show serves up a great one in awesome (in the literal sense of the word) tennis legend Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, including a record nine Wimbledons.
She’ll be talking about life after tennis, her defection from communist Czechoslovakia in 1975, why winning her first Wimbledon title was bittersweet, and the highs and lows of being one of the first sportspeople in the world to come out.
Also on the bill are Vanessa Feltz, who’ll be sharing her feelings on that infamous Kevin Myers column, and Love/Hate’s marvellous Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, who plays the villainous Ebony Maw in upcoming Marvel blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War.
Those two from that Bridget & Eamon thing are on too, but let’s not mar a perfectly good silver lining with a cloud of crap, eh?
The current series of Comedy Playhouse (BBC1, 10.35pm) has been mediocre. The final offering, called Static, doesn’t sound like something that’s going to change that.
Rob Beckett, who co-wrote it, plays a character who quits his job in London to move back in with his parents, only to discover they’ve sold their house and are living in a static caravan. At least the cast — Alison Steadman and Phil Davis as the parents, Craig Parkinson as the caravan park’s egotistical entertainment host — is good, even if the concept of a man-child forever tied to the apron strings isn’t exactly new.
Marc Bolan: Cosmic Dancer (BBC4, 9pm) is the first and most pretentiously-titled of two documentaries this weekend marking tomorrow’s 40th anniversary of the overrated glam-rock glamour puss’s death at 29.
An hour earlier, The Live Lounge Show (BBC4, 8pm) is a tie-in to the popular BBC Radio 1 slot. Clare Amfo heads to LA’s famous 606 Studio to play host to Foo Fighters in session. Also featuring are The XX, Chris Martin, 30 Seconds to Mars and The Script.
Getting a bit sick of Scandi-noir crime dramas? Black Lake (BBC4, 9pm and 9.40pm), from Norway, rings the changes by being a Scandi-horror story set at an abandoned mountain ski lodge where things start to go bump — and worse — in the night.
No horror movie cliché is left to rest in peace as it borrows from chillers as different in style as The Shining and The Blair Witch Project. But that’s part of the fun of this opening double-bill.
The Making of Marc Bolan (Sky Arts, 9pm) promises to be a less-up-itself offering than Friday’s documentary on the late singer.
The brilliant producer Tony Visconti is among those reminiscing, and the many clips include the famous one of Bolan misjudging his footing and falling off the stage during his ITV teatime show during a duet with David Bowie, who can’t keep a straight face.
More music in The A to Z of Later... with Jools Holland (BBC2, 10.15pm), a 90-minute special featuring highlights of 25 years and an incredible 50 series of the Friday night favourite, which is due back soon.
The appeal is in seeing young artists who would shortly become huge names getting their TV break. Helping jolly things along are Sting, Gregory Porter, Chrissie Hynde, Norah Jones, ZZ Top and E* S*****n.
There are times when it seems television thinks the Second World War was the only major conflict ever fought. That said, there are still many fresh angles to explore and stories to tell.
Monty Hall’s new series WWII Great Escape: The Freedom Trail (Channel 4, 8pm) goes beyond the Stalag Luft III breakout immortalised (and heavily fictionalised) in the famous 1963 Hollywood movie to tell the stories of other daring escapees. In this first instalment, he’s in Slovenia, site of the most successful mass escape of Allied prisoners in 1944. He meets surviving Slovenian partisans whose resistance network played a vital role.
It’s more like your average Saturday night with Even Better Than the Real Thing (BBC1, 7pm), a talent show with an even more second-hand pedigree than usual, in that the competitors are all professional tribute acts.
Prepare yourself for Not Whitney Houston, Not George Michael, Not Amy Winehouse and a Not more (see what I did there?). Host Paddy McGuinness simply adds to the used-car feel of it all.
No science-fiction author’s books have inspired more movie adaptations than Philip K Dick’s: Blade Runner and its upcoming sequel, Total Recall (twice), A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau and Paycheck. And then there’s TV series The Man in the High Castle.
Yet, more often than not, they’ve played fast and loose with his novels and short stories, sometimes just using the basic premise. Big-budget anthology series Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams (Channel 4, 9pm) promises to do things differently. It features 10 standalone adaptations of his short stories, written by top British and American writers and featuring all-star casts.
Bryan Cranston, who is the brains behind the series and one of its executive producers, stars in the sixth, but this opener, The Hood Maker, features Richard Madden and Holliday Grainger in a tale set in a technology-free city where tension is running high between the “Normals” and the “Teeps” — telepaths who effectively function as a human internet.
This pretty much eclipses everything else on tonight, except possibly Cinema Through the Eye of Magnum (BBC4, 10pm), which is a little slice of heaven for both film buffs and anyone interested in photojournalism.
It looks at the 70-year symbiosis between the movie world and photo agency Magnum, and features a wealth of luminous images, such as the iconic 1950s shots of James Dean.
There are some sad ones, too, including those from The Misfits, the last completed film of Clark Gable, who died before its release, and Marilyn Monroe, whose death followed the next year. The film’s other star, Montgomery Clift, was also dead by 1966.