The definitive weekend TV guide - what to watch Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Bill Murray does Christmas, a 1970s variety show, and the I'm a Celeb not-very-grand final
Pat Stacey chooses the best of this weekend's TV so you don't have to trawl the listings all by yourself...
THE world loves Bill Murray and rightly so. He brightens up everything he’s in. Can you imagine Groundhog Day with some other actor? It’s just unthinkable, simply too horrible to contemplate.
That 24-carat gold comedy classic came right after Quick Change and What About Bob?, completing a hat-trick of great films.
Even when the film is not a Murray star vehicle but brilliant anyway (Ed Wood, Zombieland), having him in the cast, even if it’s just a short appearance, adds an extra layer of brilliance. The enjoyable, but wildly overrated, Ghostbusters wouldn’t be half as enjoyable (or as wildly overrated) without Murray.
A Very Murray Christmas (Netflix, from today) looks like a real treat. Directed by his Lost in Translation director Sofia Coppola and recalling the old-fashioned seasonal specials the likes of Bing Crosby used to make, A Very Murray Christmas sees him stuck in a hotel, fretting about whether a snowstorm in New York will prevent his glitzy celebrity guests from joining him for... well, his old-fashioned seasonal special.
Some of them (Amy Poehler, Michael Cera) play fictional characters, others (George Clooney, Miley Cyrus) play themselves. According to US critics who were lucky enough to see it before it goes live today, it’s easygoing stuff, sometimes tongue-in-cheek funny, sometimes warmly sentimental.
Probably not the sharpest thing Murray has ever done, then. But we’ll be eagerly lapping it up anyway, because he’s Bill Murray, and there’s only one Bill Murray.
Also old-fashioned, as well as actually old, is The Good Old Days (BBC4, 7.30pm), a 1970s episode of the variety show that ran for an incredible 30 years. Stars of the day (Les Dawson is on tonight’s bill) performed in an authentic Victorian-Edwardian music hall setting for an audience dressed up in period clothes, and the whole thing was compered by Leonard Sachs, whose floridly verbose introductions formed part of the fun. A fascinating curio now, an oddity even back when it was being broadcast.
Friday wouldn’t be Friday without a BBC4 music documentary. I’m Not in Love: The Story of 10cc (10pm) is an affectionate tribute to a band whose music was as smart and innovative as anything in the pop-rock pantheon. Now those are my kind of good old days!
RAY D’Arcy has a break from his chat show this week (God knows, we all need one) to make way for The People of the Year Awards (RTE1, 9.50pm). Okay, look: nobody disagrees that honouring ordinary members of society who have done something exceptional is entirely laudable, but come on... on Saturday night, in a primetime slot? Really? Do TV types actually watch TV?
Rumours that Doctor Who (BBC1, 8pm) could be cancelled are ridiculous. It’s too lucrative an export for the BBC to even contemplate such a drastic move. Yet there’s no question that something’s gone wonky.
Its Saturday night ratings have dropped to 4.4 million, the lowest they’ve been since it returned in 2005. People can talk all they like about catch-up viewing, but that’s a crisis by any measure.
I don’t agree that, as some have claimed, Peter Capaldi is the problem; he’s a great Doctor. More likely, it’s the fact that most of the scripts are so self-referential, they’re basically incomprehensible to anyone who doesn’t hold a master’s degree in the history of the character.
This final episode before the Christmas Day special — which, if previous years are anything to go by, is likely to be far from special — finds the doctor back on his home planet Gallifrey for a stand-off with his fellow time lords.
There’s a couple of good, if disturbing, documentaries tonight that complement one another. The Great Polar Bear Feast (Channel 4, 7pm) reveals how Alaska’s usually solitary polar bears have begun to abandon the ice and gather in numbers on dry land to feast on the remains of human-harvested whales.
In Ten Billion (Sky Atlantic, 10.10pm), Professor Stephen Emmott suggests the earth is headed for disaster caused by climate change and overpopulation.
The title refers to Emmott’s belief that once the population reaches this number, the planet will no longer be able to support us. Scary.
As the mysterious voice on the classic 1960s sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits used to say, “We now return control of your television set to you.”
After a fortnight that felt like an eternity, I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! (UTV/ITV/UTV Ireland, 9pm) finally releases the celebs and the audience from its grip. Maybe now we can have some proper programmes on of a Sunday night.
How much longer Jekyll and Hyde (UTV/ITV, 7pm) will stay on television is a matter of debate. ITV pumped £14 million into Charlie Higson’s lavish fantasy adventure and will be devastated that the initially strong ratings have collapsed.
Last Sunday’s episode drew just 1.5 million in the UK — a figure that surely makes a second season unlikely. The moaning minnies bleating that it was too violent and scary for such an early slot probably didn’t help its cause.
It’ll be a crying shame if it’s axed. For a series aimed at a broad age range, it’s uncommonly smart, witty, stylish and ambitious. Come to think of it, maybe that’s its “failing”.
RTE2 continues a strong run of weekend documentaries with Young, Dumb and Dangerous (9.30pm), which looks at the rise of street crimes by young people.
There’s particular emphasis on the so-called one-punch attack, the cowardliest, sneakiest form of assault and one that has proved fatal.
And don’t forget the very fine Deutschland 83 (RTE2, 10.30pm).
Reluctant spy Martin, aka Moritz, is ordered to steal a secret report.