Wednesday 21 August 2019

The best of the weekend's TV - what to watch on the box Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Aside from Love Island and Stranger Things 3...

USA star Megan Rapinoe. Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters
USA star Megan Rapinoe. Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Pat Stacey

Pat Stacey has trawled the schedules so you don't have to - here's the best of the weekend's TV.

FRIDAY

The story goes that when virtually unknown country singer Charley Pride walked on stage in Detroit in the Sixties, an audience that had been cheering in anticipation of seeing and hearing this rising young talent immediately fell into stunned silence.

The reason? Pride, still going strong at 85, was black — something that was unheard of in the world of country music. This story, and others illustrating the challenges the singer faced, is related in the documentary Charley Pride: Just Me (BBC4, 9.30pm).

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Charley Pride: Just Me, BBC 4

Friends — including Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks — queue up to pay tribute to a genuine musical trailblazer. Well worth a look, even if country is not really your thing.

The debris has been cleared away for another year, so it’s time for a reminder of the Best of Glastonbury 2019 (BBC2, 11.05pm). You can take it Stormzy, The Cure, Kylie and Miley will feature among the two-hour package of highlights.

Football, at its best, is the most exciting sport in the world, yet somehow no one has ever managed to capture that excitement in a television drama about the game. Sky’s Dream Team was a load of balls in every sense, while ITV’s Footballer’s Wives was utter garbage. Belgian series The Score (All 4, from today) can’t really fail to be better than either of those (can it?). Two football-mad brothers are pulled apart when one of them turns pro, sparking all sorts of family tension and conflict.

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Shipmates, Channel 4

Shipmates (Channel 4, 11.05pm) is your worst vacuous reality-show nightmare come to life. Two five-strong teams of 20-somethings join 1,500 passengers on a Mediterranean party cruise and compete to be voted the most popular at the end of the week.

Why can you never find a torpedo or a limpet mine when you need one?

SATURDAY

RTE fired off an excited tweet the other day about Twinkling Through the Years (RTE1, 8.15pm). “Cancel Saturday night’s plans!” it said. “Twinkling Through the Years sees Twink look back over her 60 year career on stage & screen, a documentary not to be missed!”

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Twinkling Through the Years, RTE

Thanks for the trigger warning. I didn’t have any particular plans for tonight, but I’ll certainly make some now.

The 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission’s launch date doesn’t fall until July 16 (the landing occurred on July 20 and the astronauts returned to earth four days later), yet we’re already at the halfway point of the Smithsonian Channel’s excellent series Apollo’s Moon Shot (Mondays).

The same ground is covered in the new feature-length documentary Apollo: Missions to the Moon (National Geographic, 7pm) from Emmy-winner Tom Jennings, but that’s fine. Some of us can never learn enough about this awe-inspiring event. The score is by Hans Zimmer, who also provided the music for the BBC World Service’s superb podcast 13 Minutes to the Moon, which you should also check. Eight of the 12 episodes are already available.

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Race to the Death: Rome's Charioteers, Channel 4

From the race to the moon to Race to the Death: Rome’s Charioteers (Channel 4, 8pm), which looks at the incredibly dangerous ancient sport that’s featured in any number of Hollywood sword-and-sandal epics.

Here, we get the history — including the story of the most famous charioteer of all, a slave called Scorpius, and an attempt to recreate the thrill and danger of the races as presenter Mike Loades builds and races his own chariot.

A different kind of racetrack, Donington Park, is the home of the Download Festival (Sky Arts, 9pm), which some fans dubbed “Drownload” this year, because it rained so much. Highlights include Anthrax, Slipknot, Smashing Pumpkins, Carcass and Def Leppard.

SUNDAY

The Women’s World Cup Final (RTE2 and BBC1, 3.30pm; kick-off 4pm) brings the curtain down on a wonderful competition that’s really put women’s football on the map and should have been an eye-opener for even the most knuckleheaded detractor.

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USA star Megan Rapinoe. Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

After a 2-1 semi-final win over Sweden that went to extra-time, the Netherlands will have to draw on their deepest reserves of strength and hit the top of their game to beat the favourites and current holders, the mighty USA.

During Chris Evans’ brief spell behind the wheel of Top Gear (BBC2, 8pm), Bob Mortimer had a public pop at him for his reportedly tyrannical behaviour on set. The topic is unlikely to come up tonight, though, when studio guest Mortimer shows off his driving prowess.

A cure for cancer is medicine’s Holy Grail. Could a promising new treatment called “CAR T-cell therapy” be the first significant step towards finding it?

The feature-length documentary War in the Blood (BBC2, 9pm) follows Graham (53) and Mahmoud (18), two leukaemia patients who have exhausted all other treatment options, as they undergo trials.

Edna O’Brien: Fearful and Fearless (BBC1, 11.30pm) sees the great writer reflect with Alan Yentob on her career, from her 1960 debut The Country Girls — banned in Ireland and denounced as “filth” by Archbishop McQuaid and arch-hypocrite Charlie Haughey — to her latest novel, Girl, about the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.

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