The definitive weekend TV guide – what to watch Friday, Saturday, Sunday
It's music, music, and more music this weekend...
Pat Stacey chooses the best of this weekend's TV so you don't have to trawl the listings all by yourself...
IF I had a tenner for every time I’ve hammered my fists against a wall whenever some eejit describes Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings as a Guns N’ Roses song, I’d be an extremely wealthy man.
Unfortunately, I’d also have severely damaged hands and would probably have to spend all the money, assuming I could even pick it up in the first place, on plastic surgery to have them fixed.
It’s amazing, actually, how many people don’t know the provenance of some of the world’s most popular songs. Make You Feel My Love was a huge hit for Adele (what song by Adele hasn’t been a huge hit?).
But I’m guessing many of the people who rushed out to buy her debut album — although something tells me Adele fans are too sedate a bunch to rush — hadn’t a clue that the song was originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan, a man who’s probably second only to The Beatles, the most covered band in history, in terms of having other artists record his songs.
And if anyone tells me Adele’s cover was better than the real thing, my poor hands are going to have to take another battering, so show some mercy, please, and keep your mouths shut.
It’s not always the case, of course, that cover versions are invariably poor copies of the original, least of all when we’re talking about Dylan’s oeuvre.
Jimi Hendrix did such a magical job on the cover of All Along the Watchtower that he’s virtually assumed joint ownership of the song with its creator. The Byrds’ version of Hey Mr Tambourine Man wasn’t too shabby a cover either, come to that.
All of which brings us to Better than the Original: The Joy of the Cover Version (BBC4, 10pm), another 24-carat music documentary from the channel that’s made the genre its speciality.
The film selects 10 cover versions spread across 50 years, from the British Invasion to the final of The X Factor, to track the unique place of the cover in music history.
Artists as varied as The Moody Blues, Soft Cell and Alexandra Burke — whose lifeless cover of Hallelujah shockingly charted higher than either Leonard Cohen’s original or Jeff Buckley’s famous take — have enjoyed career boosts from other people’s songs.
A top-drawer line-up of talking heads includes John Cale, Gloria Jones, Marc Almond, super-producer Rick Rubin and Andy Summers, who practically spits bile, and rightly so, over Puff Daddy’s execrable mangling of The Police classic Every Breath You Take into I’ll Be Missing You.
Either side of the documentary are two splendid compilation shows culled from the BBC archives. Sings Dylan 2 (BBC4, 9pm) features cover versions of Dylan songs from the 1960s to the present and showcases performances by the aforementioned Adele, Joan Baez, The Hollies, Bryan Ferry and KT Tuntstall, while Ultimate Covers at the BBC (BBC4, 11pm) features many of the artists mentioned above, plus UB40 and the insufferable Mariah Carey, who shows how covers should never be done.
Incidentally, if you fancy seeing The Jam’s one and only appearance on RTE in 1978, the new series Pat Shortt’s Music from D’Telly (RTE1, 8.30pm) has it. Joe Dolan’s on it too, though, so don’t blame me if your system goes into shock.
ALSO ON TONIGHT:
The Late Late Show, RTE 1, 9pm with guests including Gogglebox stars Steph and Dom, Construction Industry Federation's Tom Parlon and Conor Skehan from the Housing Agency, Claire Woman Aine Mae O'Mahony who lost her sight at 26, and comedian Des Bishop. Web Summit founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave will not appear.
The Graham Norton Show, BBC One 10.35pm. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet talk Steve Jobs, rapper 50 Cent and British actress Julie Walters will also join them on the sofa.
LAST year’s centenary of the First World War represented a sea change in this country’s complex attitude to that most terrible of conflicts.
For the first time in my 11 years living in Wexford, a county with strong ties to 1798 and all that, I saw poppies on open sale outside supermarkets — and few if any passers-by seemed to mind.
I’ll be proudly sporting a poppy again this year in honour of my grandfather, who fought in the British Army in WWII and survived, though at enormous cost to his physical and psychological health. He died in his early 40s.
Huw Edwards is on presenting duties for the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance (BBC, 9pm), live from the Albert Hall.
There’ll be music, readings and the always moving cascade of descending poppies. Guests include Rod Stewart, Andrea Bocelli, Pixie Lott and Gregory Porter.
If you fancy something a little less serious, Prison Night (Channel 4, 9pm) is a countdown/clip show with a difference: actual inmates vote for the best ever prison movie.
There’s even a prison movie afterwards, at 11.40pm. Sadly, despite there being any number of classics to pick from (Riot in Cell Block 11, Each Dawn I Die, Escape from Alcatraz), Channel 4 has opted for the forgettable Lockout (2012), a blatant rip-off of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York.
This isn’t the only clip show in town tonight. Equally appealing is Greatest Comedy Movies (Channel 5, 10.15pm), a celebration of fun films packed with classic scenes and characters, as well as recollections and revelations from the stars involved.
Traditional Irish music is most definitely not my cup of poteen, yet you’d want to be a complete churl to denigrate the achievements of Paddy Moloney.
In award-winning filmmaker Liam McGrath’s documentary, titled simply Paddy Moloney: Chieftain (RTE1, 9.30pm), the 78-year-old musician reflects for the first time on his personal journey.
And what a journey. He’s brought Irish music to the world. He’s won six Grammy awards with The Chieftains. He performed before a million people in the papal mass in the Phoenix Park in 1979 and he was the first musician to play on the Great Wall of China in 1983. What a life and career.
There’s another compelling story in Cogar (TG4, 9.30pm), which focuses on the four O’Neill brothers, natives of the Maum Valley in Connemara, who played Major League baseball in the USA a century ago.
Another offbeat winner from TG4. I’ll be reviewing this in full on Monday.