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TV pick of the week: Diego Maradona

Tonight, Channel 4, 9pm

Saint and sinner


Football superstar: Diego Maradona

Football superstar: Diego Maradona

David Attenborough

David Attenborough


Football superstar: Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona was the first modern footballing superstar, the first to get paid life-changing amounts of money, the first to experience the full glare of life in the media spotlight. Pele was as good, but never had to put up with the constant intrusions, the paparazzi madness, the extraordinary levels of love and hate that Diego Armando Maradona provoked.

He was a one-off, and his extraordinary story is memorably told in Asif Kapadia's rigorous documentary Diego Maradona. In fuzzy TV images from the 1980s and 90s, we see the master in his glorious prime, scoring and creating goals for fun with his clubs Boca Juniors, Barcelona and of course Napoli, where his name is still revered. The bigger the stage, the more he seemed to love it, and we also witness his magnificent progress through the 1986 World Cup, where he led an unfancied Argentine side to glory.

In doing so, of course, Argentina brushed aside the challenge of Bobby Robson's England with the help of Maradona's boot - and other appendages. 'The hand of God' was how the hyperbole-prone Diego described the clever hand-ball that gave the Argentines their opening goal and provided the infuriated British tabloids with endless nasty headlines.

But in Kapadia's documentary we see footage of English centre half Terry Fenwick elbowing Maradona in the face shortly beforehand - itself hardly fair play. And minutes later there's that wonderful second goal, thought by some to be the greatest of all time, as Maradona dribbled past five England players during an imperious 60-yard run.

That game is often used to sum up the two sides of Maradona's persona: the sublime moments of genius, and the venality and quasi-criminality in which he'd later become embroiled. But as Asif Kapadia's documentary points out, we've always tended to see him through the prism of prejudice.

Streaming picks

Don't F**k with Cats


Netflix are past masters at creating these addictive true-life crime documentaries, and this one is particularly chilling. When a Canadian man called Luka Magnotta posted a video of himself killing two kittens in 2010, online sleuths decided that a person capable of that would probably soon move on to murder, and began tracking him down. It's gritty stuff.

The Sopranos

Now TV

First screened way back in 1999, David Chase's gangster saga is often credited with launching TV drama's golden age. I started rewatching it recently, and it has stood the test of time remarkably well. The late James Gandolfini is Tony Soprano, the New Jersey mafia boss cursed with panic attacks and a conscience, and his crime family's story unfolds with positively Shakespearean grandeur.

Our Planet



David Attenborough

David Attenborough

David Attenborough


First shown on BBC last year, this incredible series from the BBC Natural History Unit roves the globe exploring the flora and fauna of jungles, tundra, deserts and the frozen poles. The photography is extraordinary, and David Attenborough (above) narrates, but the series does not flinch from depicting the impact of human encroachment and global warming.


Now TV

Showered with awards at the Golden Globes, Succession is the must-see TV show of the moment, a two-season dramatic feast that will happily kill many hours of quarantine. Funny and scabrous, it tells the story of Logan Roy, the ruthless founder of a media empire whose failing health causes an unseemly power grab among his children. Brian Cox is superb in the lead role, and Sarah Snook co-stars.


Movie picks


Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Tonight, BBC2, 9pm

Fading star

Drama based on the last days of Hollywood icon Gloria Grahame.




Sunday, Channel 4, 11.05pm

A day in Dallas

Period drama starring Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder, an amateur cameraman who accidentally filmed JFK’s assassination. With Zac Efron.



Alien: Covenant

Tuesday, Film4, 9pm

Bad landing

When a spaceship bringing hibernating colonists to a new planet diverts its course to answer a distress signal, carnage ensues.


TV picks


The Great House Revival

Sunday, RTÉ1, 9.30pm

Rural grandeur

Architect Hugh Wallace follows the ambitious storation of Middleton Park House, a magnificent Regency-style 1850s mansion in Westmeath.



Putin: A Russian Spy Story

Monday, Channel 4, 9pm

The wily one

Documentary exploring how Vladimir Putin has used his experience in the KGB to extend his reign and make Russia’s presence felt globally.



Our Girl

Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm

Back into battle

When Georgie returns to Afghanistan with the new recruits, she comes face to face with the militant leader who killed Elvis. Michelle Keegan stars.

Weekend Magazine