What’s on TV tonight: Vicky McClure: My Grandad’s War, Love Island, The Idol and more
Monday 5 June
Vicky McClure: My Grandad’s War
Have tissues at the ready for this documentary to mark tomorrow’s 79th anniversary of D-Day, as Line of Duty’s Vicky McClure learns about her 97-year-old grandfather’s role in the most crucial day of the Second World War. Like so many of his generation, Ralph McClure rarely spoke of his part in the day “hell let loose” in Normandy, until the actress persuaded him to take part in this film.
As the McClures visit Sword Beach and other sites involved in his story, Ralph recalls how, as a football-obsessed teenager in Nottingham – 80 miles from the sea – he joined the Navy as a signaller. As a butcher, he could have been exempt from active service but he wanted to do his bit. Historian Stephen Fisher and a voice over from actor Neil Morrissey provide a military overview of events around D-Day, while Ralph stoically describes the cramped conditions that sailors had to endure during their lengthy training on landing craft: “Rough but enough.” He also recounts the day Winston Churchill visited the troops on the beach, and how he was involved in the building of Mulberry Harbour after D-Day. The ending, at the British Normandy Memorial in France, is deeply moving. VL
BBC Two, 8pm
Springwatch may be down a presenter thanks to Iolo Williams’s health issues, but it’s certainly not out: week two sees Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham share the action from RSPB Arne, and Gillian Burke stops off at the Menai Straits.
BBC One, 9pm
The engrossing true-crime drama concludes as detectives Bethell and Rees (Philip Glenister and Steffan Rhodri) persuade the authorities to have their suspect’s body exhumed so the scientists’ DNA theory – groundbreaking at the time – can be proven.
Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland
BBC Two, 9pm
James Bluemel’s excellent documentary series charting the Troubles continues as IRA prisoners start their hunger strikes and tit-for-tat killings become commonplace. Tonight’s episode concentrates on three women – one married to an RUC officer, one to an IRA gunman, and one who was the daughter of a hunger striker – each with devastating stories to tell. “In the flick of a switch,” says one, “your life changed forever.”
For Her Sins
Channel 5, 9pm
In Jo Rogers’s easy-to-watch psychological drama, Laura (EastEnders’ Jo Joyner), a lawyer with a lovely husband and two young children, seems to have it all. But all is not as it appears, and her life starts unravelling when she meets single mum Emily (Rachel Shenton, from All Creatures Great and Small). Emily is good fun, but it soon becomes clear that she is secretly plotting Laura’s downfall. Airing nightly till Thursday.
Back to the Majorca villa for a new series of the enduringly popular dating show (it commands the biggest audience of any digital TV channel). In this launch show, host Maya Jama welcomes another array of perma-tanned young bods with blinding-white dentistry hoping to hook up for the £50,000 prize.
Sky Atlantic, 9pm
This major music industry drama, from Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, stars Lily-Rose Depp as a popstar in the midst of a meltdown and Abel Tesfaye (aka singer The Weeknd) as a Svengali figure. No previews were available – something unconnected, surely, to the monumental panning it received at its Cannes premiere last month. The Telegraph described it as “colossally gormless”, but sometimes terrible TV can be great fun to watch.
Jurassic Park (1993) ★★★★★
Sky Showcase, 8pm
Steven Spielberg’s film was truly revolutionary in the special-effects department, and even now – as it celebrates its 30th anniversary this week –it’s still a delight. The story is simple: on a remote Costa Rican island, men bring dinosaurs back to life, dinosaurs escape in anger, dinosaurs chase men. Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum star. From Friday, you can catch all of the films on Sky Cinema’s dedicated Jurassic Park channel.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) ★★★★
“One man’s struggle to take it easy” ran the tag-line for John Hughes’s riotous comedy, in which Matthew Broderick’s high-school slacker goes to town (well, Chicago) after playing truant with his girlfriend (Mia Sara) and best mate (Succession’s Alan Ruck). Written-off Ferraris, hijacked parade floats and a fuming headmaster (Jeffrey Jones) are left trailing in his wake.
Pride (2014) ★★★★
BBC Three, 9.45pm
Directed by Matilda the Musical’s Matthew Warchus, the Artistic Director of London’s Old Vic theatre, Pride tells the story of the gay and lesbian activists who rallied to the support of striking Welsh miners in 1984, and features a fine cast including Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy. All pints of mild and choral singing, acid-wash denim and disco, it has the energy of a great stage show. Pride chases applause, and truly earns it.
Tuesday 6 June
Steeltown Murders: Hunting a Serial Killer
BBC One, 9pm
This sort of documentary has become a standard accompaniment to true-crime dramas these days; a factual spelling out of what the previous days or weeks have been dramatising, with the broadcasters presumably keen to offer supporting evidence against accusations of carelessness or inaccuracy. Often, as in the case of The Gold: the Inside Story, these are gripping in their own right, although Hunting a Serial Killer, airing the day after the conclusion of Steeltown Murders, is a fairly dogged, step-by-step account of the two investigations, embellished by compelling archive and a few clips from the drama.
It does allow us to appreciate anew the performances of Philip Glenister and Steffan Rhodri as Paul Bethell and Phil Rees; the real, retired coppers feature here, their determination as apparent as the demons still haunting them after decades searching for the killer of three teenage girls in Port Talbot in the 1970s. While the documentary is careful to avoid explicit criticism of the police, the shortcomings of the investigation are plain enough, as is the tension and fear surrounding its reopening after advances in DNA. GT
BBC One, 8pm
The fitfully successful revival continues, with Val (Shauna Shim) pledging to get to the bottom of Shola’s (Chiamaka Ulebor) erratic conduct and Kelly Jo (Alicia Forde) enduring a difficult return to school after time out in the behavioural unit.
The British Soap Awards 2023
With usual host Phillip Schofield stepping down following his dramatic exit from This Morning, Jane McDonald has stepped in to spearhead events. The show must go on and, as ever, EastEnders, Hollyoaks, Doctors, Coronation Street and Emmerdale are up for the big prize.
Forensics: The Real CSI
BBC Two, 9pm
This absorbing four-part series centred on the West Midlands Police concludes with an especially distressing case, as a 12-year-old girl reports having been groomed on social media and raped several times. With scant physical evidence, the forensic investigation instead focuses on the suspects’ phones as they hunt for the solid proof necessary to bring criminal charges.
White House Plumbers
Sky Atlantic, 9pm
Neither quite funny enough to work as farce nor sharp enough to operate as polemic, Watergate comic-drama White House Plumbers nevertheless gets by on the charisma of its star leads, who in this second episode are scrapping for their lives as a leaked memo endangers not only Liddy (Justin Theroux) and Hunt (Woody Harrelson) but the entire Nixon administration.
Sky Comedy, 9pm & 9.35pm
The first series of this sadcom slipped under the radar here, but a triumphant second series confirms it is in for the long haul. The premise finds Sam (Bridget Everett) recovering from the death of her sister and finding a way back into society through singing. Respectful, melancholy and possessing Better Things’ brand of hard-won humour, as opposed to anything more uproarious, it is well worth a look.
Sky Atlantic, 10pm
Matthew Rhys continues to flex his acting chops as the lawyer trying to stay straight in a world of corruption, but tonight it is Juliet Rylance stealing the show as she tears down a council man whose carefully constructed yarn unspools under her cross-examination.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) ★★★
If more than every fifth element of Luc Besson’s joyous Day-Glo opus seems familiar, that’s because the 1960s French comic strip on which it is based helped to shape every classic science-fiction cinematic universe from Star Wars to Avatar. Wallow in the ugly-beautiful wonderment, while Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan tumble attractively through the CGI scenery.
Role Models (2008) ★★★
Comedy Central, 9pm
After a debacle involving an energy drink and a breakdown truck, feckless Seann William Scott and misanthropic Paul Rudd are sentenced to community service in this comedy. Under the gaze of Glee’s Jane Lynch, they’re obliged to mentor a foul-mouthed 10-year-old and a nerdy teenager (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) obsessed with medieval role-playing. Sophisticated it isn’t, but the laughs come thick and fast.
Pawn Sacrifice (2014) ★★★
BBC Two, 11.15pm
It’s Rocky IV on a chequered board as the USA’s Bobby Fischer takes on the Soviet Union grandmaster Boris Spassky for Cold War bragging rights. Spider-Man’s Tobey Maguire is just manic enough to portray the crumbling, delusional Fischer, while Liev Schreiber doesn’t overdo it as Spassky, as the men square off around the board, while Kissinger and Brezhnev hover in the background.
Wednesday 7 June
Britain’s Forgotten Pensioners: Dispatches
Channel 4, 10pm
A desperately depressing report on the impact the cost of living crisis is having on UK pensioners, too many of whom face the impossible dilemma of having to choose between heating their homes or eating. Looking at the problem through three individual – and equally moving – cases, the film is packed with stark statistics about the scale of the crisis, although some of the figures quoted (such as that 45 people died every day last winter – more than 4,000 deaths – as a result of being unable to heat their homes) seemed inconceivable enough to invite referral to Radio 4’s More or Less for further analysis.
Still, there will always be vulnerable people who fall through the cracks, and this report should be a clarion call to any pensioner struggling with the ever-increasing cost of living to check that they are receiving all the benefits to which they are entitled. One of those featured in this programme discovers, with the help of a local charity, that he’s actually entitled to over £100 a week more than he was getting; a sum sure to improve his quality of life (he’s been living without a fridge because it cost too much to run) significantly. GO
Documentarist Lesley Chilcott takes a more muscular approach than other celebrity bios to her three-part film about Arnold Schwarzenegger. She invites friends, colleagues, ex-partners and political foes to look back over a life that took him from bodybuilding’s Mr Universe to the governorship of California via global movie mega-stardom.
The Repair Shop
BBC One, 8pm
A distinguished visitor tonight as poet laureate Simon Armitage brings a treasured harmonium to the barn in the hope that it can be brought back to euphonious life. Plus, a pair of clogs that summon up powerful family memories, a son seeking a solution for a broken sculpture of his mother, and a charm bracelet that’s lost too much of its charm.
The Gallows Pole
BBC Two, 9pm
This curate’s egg of an 18th-century crime caper from Shane Meadows (This Is England) continues as David Hartley (Michael Socha) finally reveals what’s in his sack – and how it might solve the money trouble everyone in Cragg Vale is facing. But to get his scheme going he needs investment. Fortunately, former flame Grace (Sophie McShera) has a plan.
Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig
Channel 4, 9pm
A new run of the show in which Sandi Toksvig invites fellow comedians to join her for a short but sumptuous away break. This time comedian Eddie, or as she prefers, Suzy, Izzard joins Toksvig for some luxurious downtime at three holiday cottages in southwest Ireland.
Kisses at Fifty
BBC Four, 10pm
This 1973 Play for Today by Colin Welland and directed by Michael Apted has extraordinary immediacy and timelessness. A snapshot of working-class life in Yorkshire in the early 1970s, it is a strikingly humane response to the rocketing rise in the UK’s divorce rate at the time. Bill Maynard (Carry On; Heartbeat) leads a superb ensemble cast as factory worker Harry, whose birthday drink at his local has far-reaching consequences.
Unspun World with John Simpson
BBC Two, 11.15pm
A reliable refuge from the infantilizing tone of so much BBC news coverage, John Simpson treats his audience – and his interviewees – like adults as he takes another unvarnished look back at the week’s top international news stories.
Film of the week: Living (2022) ★★★★★
Amazon Prime Video
This film shouldn’t work: it’s a slow, elegiac love letter to a past world, long gone. But it’s a wondrous piece of cinema – tender and beautifully shot, anchored by a mesmerising Bill Nighy and a star-making turn from young Sex Education star Aimée Lou Wood. Nighy plays a senior civil servant who has spent the majority of his life undertaking the same monotonous commute, ready to complete the same mundane daily tasks. Lean and taciturn, he wears his pinstriped suit as if it’s armour, turning his gentlemanly exterior into an iron facade. But when a cancer diagnosis gives him just a few months to live, working out what to do with the little time that remains becomes his animating purpose. There is an evening in a seaside town with a playwright (Tom Burke), a (platonic) lunch at Fortnum & Mason with a sunny young female colleague (Wood) – and, later, renovating a battered children’s playground in the East End. South African director Oliver Hermanus and Japanese-born British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro have created a modern gem – the only shame is that Nighy didn’t win this year’s Best Actor Oscar for his performance.
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) ★★
Watching James Cameron’s box-office smashing sequel feels like, in the words of The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin, “being waterboarded with turquoise cement”. Critical panning aside, audiences across the globe found much to love in this return to Pandora, as we follow the Na’vi’s battle to protect their home from invaders. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña do little to elevate the emotional depth of it all.
Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) ★★★
This is Fatal Attraction with a twist: here it’s a bloke who’s the obsessive crank, but that doesn’t stop it feeling a bit cheap. Patrick Bergin’s Martin demands what he wants, when he wants it from wife Laura (Julia Roberts, excellent), and beats her up if she doesn’t deliver. Drivento stage her own death, Laura begins life anew in Iowa, but Martin is soon back on her trail.
And Then There Were None (1974) ★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 9pm
The third version of Agatha Christie’s timeless tale of 10 people invited to an isolated place only to find that an unseen person is killing them one by one is weaker than its predecessors. Director Peter Collinson weirdly transposes the Devon island to pre-revolutionary Iran, where he also filmed the movie. Luckily, the setting is lush, and stars Richard Attenborough and Oliver Reed do a decent job.
Thursday 8 June
Michael Tippett: The Shadow and the Light
BBC Two, 9pm
British composer Michael Tippett was one of the leading visionaries of 20th-century classical music. In this rich and lovingly produced documentary, film-maker John Bridcut (best known for his BBC profiles of Britten and Elgar) paints a portrait of an under-appreciated genius: a composer whose music was as life-affirming as it was innovative, and whose personal life was defined by tragedy.
Bridcut begins at the beginning: Tippett’s childhood, his university days, his influences. Yet his career only truly began in his 30s. It was here, during the darkest days of the Second World War, that the ardent pacifist (once jailed as a conscientious objector) wrote A Child of Our Time, a sweeping oratorio inspired by Kristallnacht. Sections of it are performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Harish Shankar, who relishes the challenge of Tippett’s more complex work. Even more challenging was Tippett’s personal life, in which he struggled with both his homosexuality and his romantic partners; two of whom killed themselves. As one contributor puts it, “loving Michael meant loving someone adulterous to the music.” SK
There is a dry, caustic wit to this new six-part romcom, which follows the burgeoning relationship between Anna, a lonely cynic played by Katherine Parkinson, and the suicidal Sam (Youssef Kerkour). As is often the case with modern comedy-dramas, it sometimes doesn’t feel funny enough to be a comedy, nor compelling enough to be a drama. All episodes are available on ITVX now.
Tour de France: Unchained
This exhilarating eight-part documentary series goes behind the wheels of the 2022 Tour de France, following several teams as they take on the most gruelling, prestigious race in cycling. It is produced by the makers of Formula 1: Drive to Survive, which means that every photo-finish, every heart-stopping crash, is captured with the polish of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Five Star Kitchen: Britain’s Next Great Chef
Channel 4, 8pm
MasterChef meets The Apprentice in this flashy if shallow new cooking competition, fronted by Michel Roux Jr, in which 13 up-and-coming chefs compete to take over the Palm Court, a restaurant in London’s five star The Langham hotel.
Who Do You Think You Are?
BBC One, 9pm
The Crown’s Claire Foy is moved to tears after discovering that her great-great-great-grandfather died a tragic death. She is keen to explore her Irish roots, as well as the mystery of her Manchester-born father, who was adopted and knows little of his biological family. His only wish? That they’re not Manchester United fans.
Davina McCall’s Pill Revolution
Channel 4, 9pm
“Hello and welcome to contraception roulette!” says Davina McCall, standing in front of a big wheel of possible contraception pill side-effects. It is a playful opening for what is a serious and engaging documentary: an exploration of why the science underpinning contraception has not moved forward in more than 60 years.
Sky Documentaries, 9pm
Homosexuality remained illegal in the Armed Forces until 2000 – 33 years after it was decriminalised in England and Wales. This powerful documentary tells the stories of the LGBT+ men and women who were discharged, with many imprisoned or losing their pensions.
The Eiger Sanction (1975) ★★★
BBC Four, 9pm
Clint Eastwood starred in and directed this so-so action-thriller based on a novel by Trevanian. He plays professor of art and accomplished mountaineer Dr Jonathan Hemlock, who has a murky past as an assassin. After he’s blackmailed into taking on one last hit, involving an expedition up the Eiger mountain in Switzerland, the job becomes complicated when Hemlock isn’t sure which of the group is his target.
Zombieland (2009) ★★★
Great! Movies, 9pm
After a virus turns most of the population of America into zombies, nerdy student Jesse Eisenberg heads on the road to Ohio to see if his family has survived. Along the way he finds a surrogate family in the form of bad-ass zombie killer Woody Harrelson and a couple of sisters (Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin). This is no Shaun of the Dead, but it’s great fun from right before the genre became hopelessly saturated with The Walking Dead and the like.
Hell or High Water (2016) ★★★★
BBC Four, 11.05pm
Written by Yellowstone’s Taylor Sheridan, this affecting, beautifully shot neo-Western follows two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) as they carry out a series of bank robberies to raise the funds to save their family’s ranch, all while being pursued by two ruthless Texas Rangers (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham). Much like Yellowstone, it has moving messages about family and heritage. It received four Oscar nominations.
Friday 9 June
The Crowded Room
Apple TV+ are quietly establishing themselves as the first destination for great original drama: Slow Horses, Bad Sisters, Silo to name a few. Psychological thriller The Crowded Room, written by Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) and loosely based on the true story of Billy Milligan, is no exception, with its tense depiction of a man on the edge. Spider-Man’s Tom Holland stars in and executive-produces the 10-part series (the first three episodes are available today) about a man arrested for murder in 1970s New York. He’s Danny Sullivan, whose life gets turned upside down after his involvement in a shooting; the opening episodes focus first on the event, then the interrogation.
Holland, who suffers from the weight of his superhero alter-ego, portrays Sullivan’s deteriorating mental state surprisingly well, as he attempts to prove his innocence. However, he is anchored by a starry cast, including Amanda Seyfried’s screen-stealer investigator. As she quizzes Sullivan about alibis, motives and past traumas, the pieces of the puzzle start to slot together – unveiling a portrait of a man, and the justice system, much more damaged than we thought. PP
Our Lives: Rhys McClenaghan: Chasing Gold
BBC One, 7.30pm; NI/Wales, 8.30pm
This documentary follows 23-year-old Northern Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan as he competes in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the European Championships in Munich. It’s the more personal moments when he reflects on necessary sacrifices that are the most engrossing.
The Big Interiors Battle: The Final
Channel 4, 8pm
After weeks of gruelling challenges, the two remaining designers must take on a final task – one often neglected in renovation plans – and create a beautiful hallway. Host AJ Odudu and judge Dara Huang watch on as they try to prove their mettle.
Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out
Channel 5, 8pm
The comedian’s affable tour of Britain from her campervan Helen continues in Lancashire. Sights on offer include the Morecambe Winter Gardens, where she meets dedicated volunteers renovating the historic site’s Victorian theatre, plus a bird sanctuary named in Eric Morecambe’s honour.
Have I Got News For You
BBC One, 9pm
Yet more current affairs and political misdealings get the once over from a team made up of comedian Jack Dee, VICE UK editor Zing Tsjeng and usual team captains Paul Merton and Ian Hislop. With Harry Hill this week’s guest host, the front pages – most likely covering Rishi Sunak’s uphill battles or the crisis at This Morning – promise lively fare.
Hidden Treasures of the National Trust
BBC Two, 9pm
The penultimate edition of this fascinating deep-dive into some of Britain’s most historically significant houses takes us to Kent, where the team explores the former family home of Winston Churchill, Chartwell House, where they learn about efforts to restore an important D-Day memento.
BBC One, 9.30pm
What a breath of fresh air this chaotic cop comedy has been: original, silly, and spearheaded by great performances from Hammed Animashaun and Gbemisola Ikumelo. In tonight’s series finale, undercover officers Kay and Dom must again hide Clinton’s (Ariyon Bakare) secret dossier after their previous hiding place – Dom’s parents house – got sussed out. Zoë Wanamaker co-stars.
Creed III (2023) ★★★★
Amazon Prime Video
Life is good for Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan); his family’s stable, and his career is thriving. When Damian (Jonathan Majors), a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy is released from prison, he’s eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face-off between former friends is more than just a fight – Adonis must prove he’s still at his peak, while Damian has nothing to lose. Rocky is on ITV1 on Saturday at 10.15pm.
Flamin’ Hot (2023)
Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria directs her first project, this intriguing drama about the invention of popular US snack Flamin’ Hot Cheetos; very much following the current trend for real-life capitalist dream stories, from Air to Tetris. When Richard Montañez, the son of a Mexican immigrant and full-time janitor at Frito Lay, came up with the idea for the spicy snack, he had no idea his creation would revitalise the company and disrupt the entire food industry.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) ★★★★
This is the second leg of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings prequel. It not only has real energy and charm, but it’s full of zesty action propelling its heroes towards their great goal, to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). But it drags; withstand it by gazing upon those magnificent New Zealand landscapes.
The Exorcist (1973) ★★★★★
BBC One, 12.30am
Upon its cinema release, viewers allegedly vomited, fainted, or simply walked out, repulsed by its plethora of scares. But The Exorcist became a blockbuster and the first horror film to be nominated for an Oscar. It tells the story of the demonic possession of a girl (Linda Blair), and the two priests who desperately try to save her spirit. It’s still as terrifying as when it was released. Are you brave enough to see the whole thing through?
Chris Bennion (CB), Jack Taylor (JT), Veronica Lee (VL), Stephen Kelly (SK), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Poppie Platt (PP) and Gabriel Tate (GT)
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