Entertainment Television

Thursday 14 November 2019

What to watch (and what to avoid) on TV this weekend: Flirty Dancing, His Dark Materials, Green Eggs & Ham

Pictured: Ashely Banjo and Nife. Flirty Dancing, Channel 4
Pictured: Ashely Banjo and Nife. Flirty Dancing, Channel 4
Ant and Dec (Tom Dymond/Syco/Thames ITV)
Ant and Dec at the NTAs in 2017 (Ian West/PA)

Pat Stacey

Pat Stacey has trawled the weekend TV schedules for the best picks so you don't have to...

TONIGHT

Given the existence of Naked Attraction, on which people pick a partner based solely on what their genitals look like, the new season of blind date show Flirty Dancing (Channel 4, 8pm) could have come from a more innocent age.

Rather than trotting out chat-up lines, the daters try to impress one another with dance routines. It’s devised by dancer and choreographer Ashley Banjo, who ensures they take the right step. Original, anyway.

With the third season of The Crown arriving on Netflix on Sunday week, The Graham Norton Show (BBC1 NI, 11.05pm; other regions, 10.35pm) polishes the best silver and welcomes the royal saga’s new stars Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter, who take over from Claire Foy and Vanessa Kirby as, respectively, Lizzie and Maggie.

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The other guests, the multi-purpose Richard Ayoade and American actor Chadwick Boseman, will have to fight hard to get a word in over the famously chatty actresses.

It was old-school fun while it lasted, but Lethal Weapon (ITV, 12.10pm) takes its final shot tonight. Shame, really, but what can you do when one star (Clayne Crawford) gets himself fired, the other one (Damon Wayans) quits, and the ratings take a sharp dive? Still, you have to feel sorry for Seann William Scott, who did a fine job as Crawford’s replacement.

The Dr Seuss books beloved of generations of young children haven’t always been well served by the screen (remember Mike Myers’s nightmare-inducing The Cat in the Hat?), but apparently Green Eggs and Ham (Netflix, from today) does a wonderful job of expanding the story into a 13-part animated series. The starry voice cast includes Michael Douglas, Keegan-Michael Key and Eddie Izzard.

The always eye-opening Unreported World (Channel 4, 7.30pm) features a shocking account of how Haitian migrants in the Bahamas, who were made homeless by Hurricane Dorian, are being refused permission by the authorities to rebuild their homes. It’s a brutal way of forcing them to leave.

SATURDAY

The assumption of Novels That Shaped Our World (BBC4, 9.45pm) seems to be that viewers won’t watch a series about books unless there’s some gimmicky celebrity angle.

Thus, we have Russell Tovey reading from Frankenstein while driving a London cab, and various actresses wandering around a greenhouse, declaiming bits from The Handmaid’s Tale. Get past that foolishness and it’s an engrossing and stimulating look at the evolution of the novel. And like any list-based series, it’s bound to cause controversy about what’s been included and what’s been left off.

If you missed it earlier in the week, there’s another chance to see the first instalment of two-part documentary The Disappearance of Susan Cox Powell (Sky Crime, 11.15pm). It’s absolutely riveting stuff.

You really have to wonder how much longer The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10pm) can stagger embarrassingly on when the guests are so consistently third-rate. If Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger from The X Factor: Celebrity (which precedes it) are the best it can come up with, you know the bottom of that barrel has been scraped clean.

As great as Spiral (BBC4, 9pm and 10pm) is, the complex and long-winded money laundering plot the French cop drama is currently bogged down in, is taking a serious toll on the patience. Just two more episodes of this season left to get things back on track.

SUNDAY

After some necessary scene-setting last week, His Dark Materials (BBC1, 8pm) really kicks off in the second episode. Lyra (the fabulous Dafne Keen) is now ensconced in the magnificent art deco apartment of the kind and charming Mrs Coulter (Ruth Wilson, brilliant), who’s lavishing lovely clothes and gushing praise on her.

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Lyra with her daemon Pantalaimon in the forthcoming BBC series His Dark Materials

But our feisty young heroine soon discovers all is not what it seems as Coulter’s ugly (and violent) side makes itself felt — literally. Be warned: despite the pre-watershed slot, there’s a fairly vicious encounter between two daemons that’s likely to upset younger viewers.

Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey (ITV, 9pm) could just as easily be called Ant & Dec’s Who Do You Think You Are?, which is pretty much what this two-part dig into their family histories is.

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Ant and Dec (Tom Dymond/Syco/Thames ITV)

The usual surprises are promised. In Dec’s case, there’s a tragic mystery surrounding his Nana Kitty, while Ant, rather more pleasantly, finds he has some super-rich American cousins who own a palatial pad and fleet of helicopters. Mind you, the boy ain’t doing too bad himself. The concluding part is tomorrow.

Despite being billed as a miniseries, World on Fire (BBC1, 9pm), which ends tonight, is more than likely to get another run, since there’s still a lot of WWII for its characters to get through. It’s been solid and the battle scenes suitably harrowing. But did writer Peter Bowker really have to make central character Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) such a sap?

Despite the strange title, new Italian series The Mafia Only Kills in Summer (Channel 4, 11pm) is less concerned with violent crime (although there is some) than with evocative nostalgia. It’s a coming-of-age comedy-drama about a 10-year-old boy called Salvatore growing up Palermo in 1979.

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