Thursday 22 March 2018

Eleven of the best things you'll see on TV this weekend

Cuba Gooding Jr and Sarah Paulson star in the latest American Horror Story, starting tonight.
Cuba Gooding Jr and Sarah Paulson star in the latest American Horror Story, starting tonight.

Pat Stacey

Your essential guide to this weekend's TV:


American Horror Story

There comes a time when you just have to scream: “Enough!” In an effort to keep fans in the dark about what to expect from the new season of American Horror Story (Fox, 10pm), some 26 official teaser trailers, all but one of them red herrings, were released online.

Is this taking hype to ridiculous new levels of... well, hypeyness? Undoubtedly. Tonight, we finally get to see what all the fuss was, or wasn’t, about.

It’s going out 24 hours after its American screening (reviewers over there weren’t given any previews and had to watch it along with everyone else) and by all accounts, the theme and setting are still rather muddy.

We’re told there’s a documentary element; a crime element; a spooky house; an elderly interracial couple; flashbacks to the same couple when they were young; ghosts; and possibly some time-shifting too.

There’s a bucketload of stars, including The People v OJ Simpson pair Cuba Gooding Jr and Sarah Paulson, a regular on AHS, and possibly Lady Gaga again. Frankly, I’d have preferred another Penny Dreadful.

Hooten & The Lady

Stranger Things having already showed that the Eighties sells big, there’s a distinct Indiana Jones/Romancing the Stone vibe about Sky’s new action-adventure romp Hooten & The Lady (Sky1, 9pm).

The wonderfully named Ophelia Lovibond is Lady Alexandra Lindo-Parker, curator of the British Museum, who teams up with wisecracking maverick American treasure hunter Hooten (Michael Landes) for relic-hunting larks in Cambodia, Russia, South Africa and other exotic locales.

Could be great fun or could be pure tosh; either way, it must have cost Sky a fortune to make. Why do I keep thinking Hootie and The Blowfish, though?

The Late Late Show

There’s a couple of decent guests amid the filler on The Late Late Show (RTE1, 9.35pm): Bear Grylls and Jane Seymour, who as it happens, is also in Hootie & The Blowf-... dammit, Hooten & The Lady!!!

But as we know from last season’s cringe-inducing Richard Gere debacle, good Late Late guests don’t always translate into good television.

The Cars That Made Britain Great

The UK channels’ Clarksonian obsession with Britain’s faded heyday as a car manufacturer rolls on in The Cars That Made Britain Great (Channel 5, 8pm).

Whiskery comedian Rufus Hound and some minor celebs will be cooing over the likes of the E-type Jaguar, the Lotus Europa and Seventies status symbol, the Ford Capri, which looked ridiculously smooth and sexy, but took corners like a supermarket shopping trolley with a jammed wheel.


The Jonathan Ross Show

Would you believe it, it’s Bear Grylls again, this time on The Jonathan Ross Show (UTV/ITV, 9.30pm; UTV Ireland, 10.30pm). That man surely does get around.

He’s eclipsed in the starpower stakes, however, by JR’s other guests, Amy Schumer and Riz Ahmed, star of The Night Of — although not by Olly Murs, who would appear to be on every TV chat-show booker’s speed dial in the event that a last-minute gap on the sofa suddenly opens up.

Na Cloigne/The Heads

In what is an otherwise slim night, the standout is the first episode of Na Cloigne/The Heads (TG4, 9.45pm), the Irish-language channel’s satisfyingly spooky three-parter, first shown to great acclaim in 2010 and repeated as part of TG4’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

Properly creepy it is too. A DJ infuriates his already annoyed girlfriend by bringing two women home; he wakes the following morning to find himself alone and covered in blood.

The great Barry McGovern is a mysterious detective who may or not have supernatural powers.


A more conventional mystery is to be found in the latest Beck (BBC4, 9pm).

Following a fire at a rundown caravan park, a woman’s body is found in the remains of a trailer. Could it belong to the owner, a young drug addict, or is there more to the scene than meets the eye?

So far, so all-in-a-day’s-work for Swedish detective Beck (Peter Haber), until he finds his authority being undermined by a hotshot Norwegian homicide cop called Steinar, who’s been brought in to help, but quickly tries to take control of the investigation.

Trivia corner: did you know the 1973 American movie The Laughing Policeman was based on the Beck novel of the same name? The setting was changed from Stockholm to San Francisco, and Beck became Jake Martin, played by Walter Matthau. Here endeth the lesson.


Celebrity Island

This can’t be happening. Seriously, it can’t. It’s yet more Bear Grylls, this time presenting Celebrity Island (Channel 4, 9pm), the show where people you’ve mostly never heard of are dumped on an island with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and a few basic tools, and challenged to survive on their wits.

They include an obscure former Labour councillor, an even more obscure pop star and, with crushing predictability, two yokes from TOWIE. It’s in aid of this year’s Stand Up to Cancer campaign, but that doesn’t mean you have to be charitable towards the sufferings of these dimwits.


Clearly, a little Roald Dahl goes a long way. But tying the 100th anniversary of the great writer’s birth to an episode of Countryfile (BBC1, 7pm) seems a bit of a stretch.

The wobbly peg it’s hung on is his passion for the great outdoors and how it surfaced in books like Fantastic Mr Fox and Danny, the Champion of the World, his most naturalistic novel.

Scotland and the Battle for Britain

Having looked last Sunday at the shift in political power that occurred in Scotland from the 1950s onwards, the second and concluding part of Andrew Marr’s Scotland and the Battle for Britain (BBC2, 8pm) looks back at the historic Scottish

Independence Referendum of 2014 and finds out how it has changed the country’s politics all over again.

Marr, who grew up in Scotland, wonders if the Brexit result will prompt a renewed push for independence and, ultimately, the break-up of the UK.

Engrossing, intelligent TV, handsomely mounted.

New York: America’s Busiest City

New York: America’s Busiest City (BBC2, 7pm) has also been excellent. The final instalment covers the divisive gentrification of Harlem.

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