Monday 11 December 2017

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

The Returned, TFI Friday, The Jonathan Ross Show, Music for Misfits: The Story of Indie, The Meaning of Life with Richard Dawkins

The Returned, Channel 4
The Returned, Channel 4

Pat Stacey

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


IN  few hours’ time, those you’d long thought dead and buried forever, far beyond the reach of this earthly realm, will arise and walk across your TV screen... but more about Chris Evans presently.

In the meantime, let’s look forward to what is certainly the highlight of the evening: the return of The Returned, on More4 this time, at 9pm.

It’s been two years since Channel 4 showed the first season of the superbly unsettling French drama (three since its original broadcast in in France), but in terms of the story, only six months have elapsed.

We left the small Alpine village, which had been plunged into shock and confusion when the dead suddenly started turning up alive and seemingly unscathed, at least until mysterious scars began appearing on some of their bodies, in a state of even greater shock and confusion.

the returned.jpg
The Returned, Channel 4

The living, who in the final episode had barricaded themselves inside the local community centre high in the hills, awoke to find the undead had vanished as mysteriously as they’d appeared. More ominously, so had the gendarmes who’d been protecting the centre. Down below, the village had been submerged by flood waters.

In an interview with Digital Spy, series creator Fabrice Gorbet was giving nothing away about what we can expect, although he did explain that the long wait for season two was down to his own slow work rate and that of French television in general.

The process was also delayed because of tussles with producer/broadcaster Canal+ over the direction the series should take.

Given the long gap in production, the child actors, including Swann Nambotin, who plays super-creepy Victor, have visibly aged. “We try to take that into account,” said Gorbet, impishly adding: “You’ll see!”

We will indeed, although why anybody except Chris Evans would want to see Chris Evans and TFI Friday (Channel 4, 8pm) back is another matter. But it is — and will be for seven more Fridays.

The Edge and Bono were special guests of the Irish special which filmed in Eamon Doran's in Dublin in 2000

Evans was once the self-styled poster boy for the insufferable 90s lad culture, a term that deserves to be dumped into history’s dustbin along with Loaded magazine, Kula Shaker and the early films of Guy Ritchie.

These days, he’s a middle-aged man rolling in money and luxury cars, but without as much of that famous ginger hair as he used to have. He plays golf and flies his own helicopter, for Christ’s sake! He couldn’t be more establishment if you handed him a life peerage.

#FlashbackFriday: TFI Friday's top 5 classic moments from the 90s 

July’s so-called 20th-anniversary special of TFI Friday (in reality, it was only 19 years) was a disaster, its cringe-inducing awfulness summed up by Evans’s interminable interview with racing driver Lewis Hamilton, a man with the personality of a wheel brace.

This, coupled with a self-indulgent bit of shtick featuring Jeremy Clarkson, was widely interpreted as Evans’s unofficial audition for Top Gear.

The guests on tonight’s show include U2 and Take That. Yep, just like the old days, eh? Risky and cutting-edge.

If it’s 90s nostalgia you want, you’d be better served by the final episode of Music for Misfits: The Story of Indie (BBC4, 10pm).


THE weekend market for British chat shows is suddenly looking like a very crowded place. A style of programme that was supposed to be dying as slow and agonising a death as Western movies has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in recent years.

On Fridays there’s Graham Norton on BBC1 and Chatty Man Alan Carr on Channel 4. The aforementioned TFI Friday also qualifies as a sort of chat show, even if the host is the one doing most of the talking.

Right on cue comes a new run of The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV/UTV/UTV Ireland, Sat, 10.15pm) as the one-time king of the format squeezes his tall, but slimmed-down-of-late, frame into the last available space on the metaphorical sofa.

Ross, who’s not quite the motormouth he once was, having learned (albeit slowly) over the years how to take a breath and let his guests get a word in, hasn’t been quite the same since switching to the commercial channel after his fall from grace at the BBC.

Sandra Bullock Rapping - The Jonathan Ross Show (Generated thumbnail)

There’s something about that big, shiny-floored ITV set that saps the kind of intimacy his old programme used to have. The rigid adherence to having just one guest on at a time also tends to kill the spontaneity.

That said, he can still bag good guests. This week’s line-up features Vin Diesel, Olympic golden girl Jessica Ennish-Hill, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, and Tom Jones, who’ll no doubt have a thing or two to say about the BBC ungraciously dropping him from The Voice to make way for Boy George.

Between Ross’s guests and Graham Norton’s sparkling line-up this week (Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Dawn French, Chris O’Dowd and Rod Stewart), our home-grown chat shows are really left looking like something of a joke.

You wonder how Ryan or Ray, let alone the viewers can summon up the will to listen to some dreary Z-lister droning about their latest tour/book/reality show/cosmetics line.


IF you’d asked me a few years ago if I’d have any interest in a Sunday-night series in which Gay Byrne quizzes well-known people about their religious and spiritual beliefs, I’d have said no.

But The Meaning of Life (RTE1, Sun, 10.35pm) has thrown up some great moments of television over the years.

Gay Byrne and Stephen Fry .jpg
'At the last count, it had five million views on YouTube, and that's in the space of a week. I'm referring to a clip from an interview Gay Byrne conducted with Stephen Fry on the RTE show, 'The Meaning of Life''

Byrne’s interview with Terry Wogan was fantastic, showing the Limerick-born presenter to be a serious, deep-thinking man very much at odds with the cheery persona he projects. An angry one, too, when talking about his disgust at how priests and nuns terrified young children by threatening them with eternal damnation for their “sins”.

Last year’s encounter with Stephen Fry was also excellent. Expect more of the same this week when Byrne meets Richard Dawkins.

I’m dying to know what the world’s most famous and outspoken atheist would say if he ever meets God, however unlikely a prospect that is.


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