Tuesday 15 October
The Great British Bake Off
Channel 4, 8.00pm
Pastry Week has arrived later than usual this year, and it leaves some of the bakers cracking like a dried-out shortcrust. In tonight’s quarter-finals, Steph, Henry, David, Rosie and Alice are tasked with creating a savoury tarte tatin whose composition puts it in danger of falling prey to the detested “soggy bottom”. The Technical is a mystifying Moroccan concoction that only one contestant has ever heard of, let alone made. And the Showstopper is a pie-based edifice requiring pastry that’s both sturdy enough to bear weight and thin enough to melt in the mouth. As if the tasks weren’t onerous enough, there’s the weather to content with. High summer heat in the tent means that misbehaving butter causes havoc with the rough puff.
There are more tears and fewer Hollywood handshakes than usual, but those contestants who gamely roll and knead against the odds will have you cheering on. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from The Last Leg’s Adam Hills, and a weird tumbleweed moment between Paul Hollywood and Henry that leaves a bit of a sour taste. Otherwise, even with mounting pressure and grinding challenges, this contest continues to envelop us in its floury embrace. VP
Titanic: Stories from the Deep
Titanic actor Victor Garber continues this trawl through artefacts recovered from the doomed liner, with fascinating tales about some of them. Tonight’s episode looks at the tale of Frederick Fleet, the lookout dogged by regret that he failed to spot the iceberg sooner, and of the so-called “orphans”, the Navratil boys, whose father had abducted them before the voyage. VP
BBC One, 9.00pm; N Ireland, 10.35pm
This crime mystery has a neat central conceit – one of the cops chasing a child-killer is hiding behind a false identity. Tonight, detective Rob (Killian Scott) makes partner Cassie (Sarah Greene) keep schtum as they investigate. VP
Love in the Countryside
BBC Two, 9.00pm
Sara Cox’s heart-warming dating show continues, matching rural romantics with prospective new partners. This episode is stolen by Victoria, a forthright equine dentist who makes no bones about her desire to make babies expeditiously. VP
Lenny Henry’s Race Through Comedy
Lenny Henry trots through the history of multi-cultural UK comedy in this nightly three-parter. Starting with a look at racist sitcoms like 1969’s Curry and Chips, starring a blacked-up Spike Milligan, the opener explores the evolution of British comedies with characters of colour. Both comedians and commissioners look back at these sitcoms’ significance, and Henry meets stars of yore. It’s an uncomfortable reminder of what British black and Asian people had to endure. VP
Defending the Guilty
BBC Two, 10.00pm; not N Ireland
The jury’s out on this legal comedy: it lacks the sarcastic bite of the sort of show it’s aping, such as The Thick of It. Tonight’s fifth episode sees the four pupils challenged to a mock trial and Will (Will Sharpe) juggling unhelpful complications in his love life. VP
Exposure: Predator Police Uncovered
ITV, 10.45pm; STV, 11.05pm; UTV, 11.15pm; Wales, 11.45pm
As moral bankruptcy goes, a police officer taking sexual advantage of a victim of crime is right up there. Tonight’s powerful documentary sees women speak out about becoming victims twice over in this manner. Reporter Robin Aitken finds that some forces aren’t properly vetting their staff. VP
All is True (2018) ★★★★☆
Sky Cinema Premiere, 6.15pm
Kenneth Branagh plays William Shakespeare in the last three years of his life, while also directing a witty script from Ben Elton. Judi Dench and Ian McKellen, both veterans of the Bard’s work, help it glow not merely as the story of a troubled man haunted by the loss of his theatre and the death of his young son, but as a meditation on why Shakespeare’s work matters to anyone feeling tender. feelings.
Back to the Future Part III (1990) ★★★☆☆
Though it’s still heaps of fun, the time-travel trilogy begins to show its age in this final part, as Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) receives a letter from Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), who’s now living in the Wild West. When Marty then discovers that Doc is about to be killed, he dashes back 100 years in the DeLorean to rescue him. A colourful romp through saloons, gangs and Western showdowns soon ensues.
What Women Want (2000) ★★★★☆
Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt star in Nancy Meyers’s romantic comedy, written by Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa and Diane Drake. After an accidental and near-fatal electrocution, Nick (Gibson), a chauvinistic creative director, gains the ability to hear what women are really thinking. At first he’s tempted to manipulate the ladies around him, but when he learns how he’s viewed, he’s soon forced to rethink his entire outlook on life.
Wednesday 16 October
Live Brexit Referendum: Do We Want No-Deal?
Channel 5, 9.00pm
Channel 5 are bravely dipping their toes into the shark-infested waters of Brexit with this live debate. (Yes, live. Told you it was brave.) Don’t worry: the host is veteran reporter Jeremy Vine, an old hand at dealing with uncompromising interview subjects. On this occasion, he really will need to be, because the show is asking the superficially simple yet, given the subject in question, perhaps entirely unanswerable question: “Does Britain back Boris Johnson on his uncompromising Brexit stance?”
In order to find out, or at least have a go, the channel has conducted one of the largest of the many recent Brexit polls. This one asked 25,000 people across the UK whether they want to leave regardless of a deal, would prefer some sort of deal, or would rather stay in the EU. If that all sounds remarkably like the questions that might be on offer in any second referendum then, again, you can only applaud Channel 5 for getting in there first. As for the participants, we’re promised a mixture of MPs of all opinions and from all political parties, as well as members of the public who support each option. Which, if it’s true, should at least make it a refreshing change from much of the coverage elsewhere. SH
Your Home Made Perfect
BBC Two, 8.00pm
Its unique combination of competitive architects and virtual reality means that Your Home Made Perfect is very quickly becoming my latest property addiction. Tonight sees Robert Jamison and Laura Jane Clark present two different visions for a couple hoping to extend their family home. SH
BBC One, 9.00pm
There’s a real sense that this series of The Apprentice is one too far. Even Lord Sugar looks bored. Still, for those who are watching, tonight is pretty entertaining, as a brief to design a toy for six-to-eight year olds causes one team to get it spectacularly wrong. SH
Catching Britain’s Killers: The Crimes That Changed Us
BBC Two, 9.00pm
Tonight’s episode of the documentary series is a particularly important one, as the filmmakers explore how the murder in 1989 of single mother Julie Hogg would lead her mother to campaign for the reform of the “double jeopardy” law. SH
Some nice guest-casting sees the always watchable Conleth Hill (aka Game of Thrones’s Varys) appear as Dr Edward Mullen, the man in charge of the second GMC assessment for Doc Martin (Martin Clunes). Naturally, it all goes terribly wrong, with a mock surgery causing absolute chaos. SH
Sky Arts/Now TV, 9.00pm
Comedian Barry Cryer kicks off a new series of profiles with what’s just about the most famous family act of them all, the Marx Brothers. After their slapstick act made them stars on Broadway, Groucho, Harpo and Chico (aided by Gummo and Zeppo) would go on to become Hollywood legends in films such as Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera. The programme also looks at why the brothers’ act came to an end, and what happened next. SH
In the Long Run
Sky One/Now TV, 10.00pm
The main problem with Idris Elba’s comedy is that no episode is ever quite as good as you had hoped. There’s a real warm-heartedness to the script, but also a certain clunkiness, and a feeling that it has turned out more like a traditional Eighties sitcom than it wanted to be. That said, tonight’s solid series-two opener sees Walter (Elba) deal with new-found responsibilities as a union rep, while Kirsty (Kellie Shirley) has some big news for Bagpipes (Bill Bailey). SH
Arachnophobia (1990) ★★★☆☆
Sony Movies, 6.45pm
This enjoyable horror-comedy centres on a deadly Venezuelan spider that takes a trip in the coffin of its first victim and arrives in small-town America – could it be any other place? – having drained the corpse. Inevitably, it mates with a house spider, and soon an unpleasant plague is underway. Directed by Frank Marshall and starring Jeff Daniels, the film has a terrific climax. Who knew that spiders could scream?
Hollywood’s Brightest Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017) ★★★☆☆
BBC Four, 9.00pm
Alexander Dean’s biography of the extraordinary Hedy Lamarr is fascinating. She wasn’t merely one of the most successful screen stars of the Forties – and in the wake of her escape from a Nazi-sympathiser husband, too – but also a truly gifted inventor who would lay the foundations for much of the wireless technology that we continue to use today.
In Bruges (2008) ★★★★★
Martin McDonagh’s smart and sassy gangster film is two hundred miles away from being a hackneyed Guy Ritchie-style Cockney caper. Quite literally: the film is set in Bruges, where two wise-cracking hit men (Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell) are holed up after a botched job, arguing the toss and waiting to hear from their sociopathic boss (Ralph Fiennes). Clémence Poésy co-stars in this violent but gleefully funny tale.
Thursday 17 October
BBC Two, 9.00pm
This gripping new eight-part drama has an opening unlike any other: 25 minutes of bravura direction and fine performances from an all-Japanese cast you may not have seen before, with not a word of English spoken. We meet Kenzo (Takehiro Hira), a world-weary Tokyo police detective living in a small flat with his ageing parents, distant wife and rebellious daughter. When a murder in London threatens the fragile truce between Yakuza gangs, Kenzo is sent to Britain to follow a trail that could implicate his missing brother (Yosuke Kubozuka) and envelops solitary copper Sarah (Kelly Macdonald), vulnerable rent-boy Rodney (Will Sharpe) and assorted other criminal elements.
Giri/Haji (translated as Duty/Shame) is at once instantly arresting – the opening scenes border on virtuosic – and a slow-burner, but Hira has an appealingly subdued decency that holds the attention, while the shifts in form (impressionistic animation, chiaroscuro flashbacks, split screens) and narrative ensure it rewards close attention. By the time Kenzo lands in London, we’re in what appears to be familiar gumshoe noir territory, until a late twist throws everything up in the air once more. Original and intriguing. GT
Golf: CJ Cup
Sky Sports Main Event/Golf, 3.00am
Set an early alarm to see reigning champion Brooks Koepka, joined by Tommy Fleetwood, Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland and Justin Thomas, on Jeju Island in South Korea for the PGA Tour’s only trip to the Korean Peninsula. Later, the European Tour is in Guyancourt near Paris, for the Open de France (same channels, 11am), where Alex Norén was victorious last year. Jon Rahm sits atop the Race to Dubai standings, with Open champion Shane Lowry, Bernd Wiesberger and Matt Wallace giving chase.
The Wonderful World of Crafting
Channel 5, 8.00pm
Three hobbyists – a glassmaker, a weaver and a metal-crafter – visit Brancepeth Castle Craft Fair in Durham for tutorials and advice that could change their lives and see pastimes turn into careers. GT
Steam Train Britain
Television’s ongoing locomotive love affair continues with this new 10-part docusoap following life on the nation’s many heritage railways. This opener begins with one of the most famous and beautiful – the Ffestinog & Welsh Highland Railway in Snowdonia, where 22-year-old sports scientist Megan Smith starts her training to become a fireman. The Great Central Railway in Loughborough also hosts its annual Goods Galore Gala, and there is a closer look at signal boxes and new sleeper technology. GT
The Met: Policing London
BBC One, 9.00pm; not Scotland
The force’s finest focus their attentions on moped crime and crowd-management at last year’s Notting Hill carnival as the insightful documentary series continues. GT
Charlotte Church: My Family & Me
Channel 4, 9.00pm
There’s soul-baring aplenty in this moving and intimate documentary, in which the one-time Voice of an Angel spends a week alone with her parents in Devon and long-buried issues from the past surface. A revealing, thoughtful film about fame and families. GT
Own the Sky: Jet Pack Dreamers
BBC Four, 9.00pm
As any millennial ironist knows, we should all have them by now, but for now the jetpack is the preserve of the few. One of them is David Mayman, an Australian whose obsession with jetpacks drove him to build and fly his own, with near-fatal consequences. He is engagingly followed over 10 years, during which his dream of flight became a reality. GT
Later… with Jools Holland
BBC Two, 10.00pm; N Ireland, 11.15pm
The venerable live music show returns with a typically eclectic line-up and superfluous boogie-woogie adornments. Joining headliner Mark Ronson is Cate Le Bon, who debuts music from her fine fifth album Reward, the soul singer PP Arnold performing songs from her first new album in over five decades, and the rapper Sampa the Great. GT
Friday Night Lights (2004) ★★★★☆
This picture has an epic quality that belies its subject: based on H G Bissinger’s non-fiction bestseller, it’s about a single high-school championship season in the depressed blue-collar town of Odessa, Texas. The bleached cinematography of Tobias Schliessler elevates the saga of the Permian High Panthers to near-mythic dimensions. Billy Bob Thornton and Derek Luke lead a very able cast.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) ★★★★★
In this reboot by director George Miller, Tom Hardy replaces Mel Gibson as the “road warrior”. In the desert of a dystopian future, Max is captured by a warlord and imprisoned until he and mutinous soldier Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) seize a chance to flee. And so the chase begins... Hardy is brooding; Theron crackles with rage; Miller’s film is a breathless, wild treat. It also airs on Channel 5 at 10pm on Friday.
The Handmaiden (2016) ★★★★☆
The perverse Korean stylist Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) has taken on Fingersmith, Sarah Waters’s saga about scheming and seduction in Victorian London – which is to say, he’s converted it into a twisty, heartless sliver of a film, transposed to early 20th-century Korea with a huge costume budget too. The plot revolves around the ever-mutating relationship between a poor maid (Kim Tae-ri) and her hysterical mistress (Kim Min-hee).
Friday 18 October
Still Open All Hours
BBC One, 8.00pm
David Jason reopens Arkwright’s corner shop for a sixth series of this Marmite sitcom. To many, it’s a reheated soufflé that can’t recapture the taste of the original comedy that starred Ronnie Barker; to roughly four million others, it’s a televisual cosy duvet of nostalgia. Its half hour of hijinks offers a safe haven, in which the worst that can happen is shopkeeper Granville (Jason) getting his fingers caught in the temperamental till. The new series features more of the same, with penny-pincher Granville trying to find a new use for an old mangle.
There’s something to be said for gentle comedy that eases you seamlessly into the weekend, especially with a cast of veterans who make the most of Roy Clarke’s scripts. Though a bit slower than in his Del Boy days, David Jason retains the spot-on comic timing we all remember from Only Fools and Horses, while Tim Healy’s Gastric gets an amusing set-piece stunt tonight that feels like a warm homage to Last of the Summer Wine. But it’s Stephanie Cole who steals every scene as the man-eating Mrs Featherstone, whose clinch with Granville tonight won a belly-laugh from this corner. As long as she stays a customer, Arkwright’s deserves to stay open. VP
Amazon Prime, from today
The high-calibre cast of this anthology series – Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Andrew Scott – is a good reason to watch. Each episode is a half-hour mini-play about relationships, kicking off with the friendship of a New Yorker (Cristin Milioti) and her doorman (Laurentiu Possa). VP
Living with Yourself
Netflix, from today
In this eight-part comedy, Paul Rudd plays Miles, a miserable ad-man seeking help at the same spa that worked for his colleague. The high-concept set-up sees the cack-handed spa guys clone another, happier Miles, but leave the old Miles alive for chaos to ensue at home. VP
Tell Me Who I Am
Netflix, from today
This documentary tells the true story of how identical twins Alex and Marcus Lewis dealt with Alex’s amnesia after a crash when he was 18. All that Alex remembers is that Marcus is his twin; he needs help with “meeting” relatives and recreating memories. VP
The Name of the Rose
BBC Two, 9.00pm; N Ireland, 11.05pm
John Turturro’s William of Baskerville is an ace sleuth in robes, chasing wrongdoing in 14th-century Italy. In episode two, he scandalises the brethren by conducting an autopsy on Venanzio. VP
Caravanning with Shane Richie
Channel 5, 9.00pm
The former EastEnders actor seems to relish a caravan holiday in this new series. Richie is on an evangelical mission to convince us that soggy coastal holidays in close quarters are the way forward, and tonight he drags his reluctant wife to north Wales. VP
Would I Lie to You?
BBC One, 9.30pm
Newly-minted Bafta-winning team captain Lee Mack returns to his spot alongside David Mitchell and host Rob Brydon, as TV’s funniest comedy panel show returns. Among tonight’s delights are a rare appearance by actor John Simm, and a hilarious story from Chris McCausland, who’s blind, about his deaf neighbour. VP
Live: The Circle Final
Channel 4, 10.00pm
The tweaking of this reality show’s format for series two, and the hiring of Emma Willis as host, has captured the young demographic Channel 4 craves. Others may ask how watching strangers text out loud constitutes entertainment. In the climax tonight, the remaining players come face to face in the final and one walks off with the £100,000 prize. VP
The Laundromat (2019)
Netflix, from today
One reliable rule of thumb, in the year of our Lord 2019, might be: don’t mess with Meryl Streep. Still, if anyone were slippery enough to get away with trying, it would be Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman. The latter duo play two lawyers in Panama City, who look after the financial affairs of the super-rich. Streep’s wealthy widow is having a dream holiday when things go amiss; her investigation leads her to their door, and the world of the Panama Papers scandal.
The Expendables (2010) ★★★☆☆
Director Sylvester Stallone gathers together some of Hollywood’s most shirt-splitting muscle – including himself, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li and Jason Statham, as well as cameos from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, trading insults in a church – for an all-guns-blazing romp to remove the corrupt leader of a fictitious island. Nothing surprising happens, and it’s utterly awash with blood and gore, but it’s a fun watch anyway. nonetheless.
Vanilla Sky (2001) ★★★☆☆
Sony Movies, 9.00pm
Cameron Crowe’s film may not be a patch on Alejandro Amenábar’s original Spanish version, Abre los ojos, but Tom Cruise puts in a pretty impressive turn as David Aames, a wealthy ladies’ man who’s disfigured in a car accident caused by his jealous ex-girlfriend Julie (Cameron Diaz). He’s forced to wear a mask to hide his deformed face, and begins to have vivid hallucinations that drive him into rages. Penélope Cruz co-stars.
Vicki Power (VP), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Gabriel Tate (GT), Sarah Hughes (SH), Toby Dantzic (TD), Clair Woodward (CW), Catherine Gee (CG)