Saturday 24 February
BBC Four, 9pm & 10pm
Another European buy-in from BBC Four to sink your teeth into, this time a heady Danish noir-thriller (originally titled Huset, it is in Danish with English subtitles) led by The Killing’s Sofie Gråbøl. As with her portrayal of DI Sarah Lund in Søren Sveistrup’s acclaimed series, Gråbøl brings emotional depth to every scene she’s in, as she navigates life as a guard in a tough, ageing high-security prison. Together with her fellow guards – anxious newcomer Sammi (Youssef Wayne Hvidtfeldt), plus old hands Henrik (David Dencik) and Gert (Charlotte Fich) – Miriam (Gråbøl) attempts to keep her private life under control while juggling the demands of their workplace: bad press following the deaths of two inmates, an internal drug ring, and the threat of closure, to name but a few challenges. From tonight’s opening double bill (the rest will follow weekly, with the whole series on iPlayer) we quickly learn that Miriam and Sammi must stick together if they want to survive. Starkly political, Prisoner portrays the institution as archaic, overcrowded, underfunded and violent. But thanks to the great lead performances, it’s also an absorbing drama that rewards investment. PP
Prue Leith’s Cotswold Kitchen
First Great British Menu, then Bake Off, now Prue Leith finally gets her own time to shine in this twee cookery series. This morning she welcomes Sandi Toksvig to her home in Moreton-in-Marsh, where Toksvig rustles up a ham and
egg pie (from Enid Blyton’s recipe), while Leith’s husband, John, treats them to his homemade yoghurt.
Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway
It was announced last year that Ant and Dec will be taking a break from Takeaway after this 20th series; but for now it’s business as usual, as they take on new challenges, Stephen Merchant serves as Guest Announcer and Becky Hill performs.
New Zealand by Train
Channel 4, 7.10pm
Lord of the Rings fans will relish this stunning journey through New Zealand (or, if you’d rather, Middle Earth) as it concludes tonight with a trip between the nation’s two largest cities. Starting in Auckland, the Northern Explorer train weaves through volcanic plateaus, mountains, deserts and the Kapiti coast to reach capital city Wellington. Julie Walters provides narration.
Michael Mcintyre’s The Wheel
BBC One, 8.10pm
There is one warning necessary for this easygoing gameshow: watch, and the addictive theme song will be stuck in your head for days. Three contestants try to win big, aided by seven celebrity experts (tonight’s include Chris McCausland on Back to the Future and Rachel Riley on maths).
Lost Temples of Cambodia
Channel 4, 8.10pm
The second instalment of archaeologist Pauline Carroll’s three-parter takes her to Angkor, the capital of the ancient Khmer Empire, where she delves into the life of King Jayavarman VII. A multi-faceted figure, he forced his Hindu country to embrace Buddhism but created the world’s first free national health service; a fearsome fighter but a champion of the arts.
Led Zeppelin: In the Light
Sky Arts, 10pm & 11.15pm
This definitive four-part docu-series from 2008 kicks off with a double bill. Covering the pioneering British rock band’s inception and recording of Led Zeppelin I, II and III, it features interviews with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
as well as terrific rare archive from their legend-making live performances.
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) ★★★
Channel 4, 1.15pm
Based on the bestselling children’s books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, this fantasy adventure sees twins Jared and Simon (Freddie Highmore in a dual role) go to live in a creepy old country house once owned by their great-great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick, only to find it besieged by fantastical beasts. Joan Plowright and Seth Rogen have nice cameos, but beware the blood and goblin attacks for younger viewers.
The Red Shoes (1948) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 1.30pm
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s twisted fairy-tale, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s musical tragedy centres on dancer Victoria Page (Moira Shearer), her romance with a struggling composer (Marius Goring) and her loyalty to the ballet that he wrote and in which she’s meant to star. The film could be an allegory for the directors’ devotion to their craft, and it remains a stunning delight. Also on Thursday, BBC Four, 8pm.
Quo Vadis, Aida? (2021) ★★★★★
BBC Four, 11pm
Jasmila Žbanić profoundly moving dramatisation of the Srebrenica massacre – in July 1995, 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys were killed – is all the better for choosing to focus on characters external to the horror; you see and hear the victims off-screen, making the tragedy even more palpable. Jasna Đuričić leads proceedings as Aida, a UN translator whose warnings of impending catastrophe are met with walls of silence.
The Masque of the Red Death (1964) ★★★★
A delectable assortment of ingredients – not one but two Edgar Allan Poe short stories, plus a characteristically imperious performance from Vincent Price – combine to memorable effect in this Roger Corman horror. The film is set during
a medieval plague and its almost hallucinogenic sequences add to the semi-magical, unsettling overall effect. Hazel Court and Jane Asher co-star.
Sunday 25 February
Secret World of Sound with David Attenborough
Sky Nature, 8pm
Revealing the many wonders of the natural world though stunning photography is a hallmark of Sir David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries. Another is an extraordinary ability to create new ways of seeing – and now hearing – things we previously barely knew existed in such a way as to inspire amazement. This new series, which explores the way in which sound plays a crucial part in the order of the natural world, delivers big in both respects. There are some astonishing sequences in this opening episode (of three) that focuses on how creatures use sound to find sustenance and to avoid becoming someone else’s meal: a great grey owl hunting in snow-covered Manitoba using only supersensitive hearing
to detect its prey – captured by an “acoustic” camera; a herd of thirsty elephants in Kenya capable of hearing a rainstorm a hundred miles away; gulls in Vancouver drumming to attract worms; dolphins in the Bahamas forming communities. The other episodes are equally impressive and awe-inspiring, exploring the role that sound plays in mating and surviving the early years of life. GO
Raymond Blanc’s Royal Kitchen Gardens
The chef visits Scotland’s Castle of Mey. Gardener Chris Parkinson explains how they grow a wide range of produce despite challenging conditions and, in the kitchen, chef Martin Duffy prepares
a dish fit for a king made up of Aberdeen Angus beef, reared on site.
Inside the Factory
BBC Two, 8pm
To Dorset and the Farrow & Ball factory, where they have been making Britain’s poshest paints and wallpapers since the 1960s. Gregg Wallace sees how F&B produce up to 200,000 litres of paint (in 270 different hues!) and 10,000 metres of wallpaper every week, while Cherry Healey learns how a key ingredient is mined in nearby Devon.
Death in Paradise
BBC One, 9pm
When an island-wide blackout is traced to a death by electrocution, it initially seems like a tragic accident. But when DI Parker (Ralf Little) and the team dig deeper, they uncover strange goings-on at the computer repair shop where the victim worked.
BBC Two, 9pm
A hugely moving documentary (made by National Geographic, streamed previously on Paramount+) about the courageous mission to save a group of Thai schoolboys trapped deep in a flooded cave system for 18 days in 2018. At its heart are the members of a mostly British cave diving team who by force of will, ingenuity and bravery, made an “impossible” rescue possible; it’s a stunning testament to the power of human compassion.
Into the Congo with Ben Fogle
Channel 5, 9pm
On the second leg of his adventurous travelogue, Fogle sets out to see gorillas in the wild. Heading deeper into the Congo basin he discovers a formerly wild region where people are flooding in to seek their fortune, threatening local communities and the area’s wealth of wildlife – and pushing the beautiful, indigenous gorillas to the brink.
Ukraine War from the Air
National Geographic, 9pm
Filmed over the first year of the war in Ukraine, the aerial perspective reveals the appalling destruction wrought by Russian missiles, and the terrifying destructive power of air-launched weapons more widely. The documentary also reveals how drones – for the intelligence they can glean and the munitions they carry – are key to modern warfare. GO
Monday 26 February
The Jury: Murder Trial
Channel 4, 9pm
Stripped across the next four nights, this series is not Channel 4’s first attempt to interrogate the jury system – a similar experiment called The Trial aired in 2017, with a jury considering a fictional murder charge where witnesses and accused were actors but the case was prosecuted, defended and presided over by legal professionals. This time around, the court hosts a painstaking recreation of an actual murder trial, with only names, dates and locations amended for the sake of anonymity; alongside actors playing accused, witnesses and lawyers, there are also two separate juries, each comprising retirees and jobseekers, middle managers and support workers, and each unaware of the other. The case is one of a husband who killed his wife with a hammer, and who is citing “loss of control” as his defence against a murder conviction; a crime which appears to have just enough nuance and ambiguity to incite meaningful debate. The concept is inevitably flawed – deliberations depend to some extent on the quality of acting – but the insights are many and useful as some of the 24 jurors reveal, sometimes inadvertently, how their own histories and beliefs can prejudice decisions. GT
Under the Banner of Heaven
First shown on Disney+, this gripping seven-part miniseries from Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black explores murder in Salt Lake City as Andrew Garfield’s Mormon detective uncovers dark deeds and faith curdling into fanaticism. Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sam Worthington and Denise Gough are among a stellar cast in full cry.
Panorama: Royal Mail: Where’s My Post?
BBC One, 8pm; NI/Wales, 8.30pm
Royal Mail is currently under fire over missed delivery targets and accusations of favouring more lucrative parcels over letters. Reporter Zoe Conway considers the institution’s future.
George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations
Channel 4, 8pm
George Clarke’s lower-stakes spin on the Grand Designs formula is back for a third series, as a solicitor bids to turn a village shop into a family home. Yet while she has the budget, she lacks the experience – and the way ahead proves fraught with pitfalls.
BBC One, 9pm
The central episode of this richly intriguing drama finds the Driscolls forced on the run after protests against the steelworks’ closure turn violent. The pressures they face bring long-simmering resentments to the surface, their resonance both personal and universal. Any concerns The Way could descend into didacticism, meanwhile, are negated by propulsive pacing and dramatic tension, not least from the arrival of Luke Evans’s “Welsh Catcher”, dressed like a medieval witchfinder.
The Space Shuttle That Fell to Earth
BBC Two, 9pm
This composed docu-series concludes with the Columbia’s explosion itself – a tragedy which, on the basis of previous episodes, could have been avoided and whose impact was far-reaching.
The British Airways Killer
ITV1, 9pm; not Wales
In a real-life case oddly redolent of the one simultaneously being recreated on Channel 4, this two-parter (concluding on Thursday) follows a notorious case of domestic homicide in which the killer, Robert Brown, was convicted not of murder but manslaughter. The verdict prompted outcry given his violent marriage to Joanna Simpson, the woman
he bludgeoned to death; family members and police are among those pulling apart the grim events.
Doctor Zhivago (1965) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 2pm
David Lean’s adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s great novel is an extraordinary work of cinema and arguably his greatest film – no mean feat when your work includes the medium-defining likes of The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. Doctor Zhivago is a tale of thwarted love during the Russian Revolution, with a starry sprawling cast and several intertwined plots. Omar Sharif (in the title role) is a married physician and poet whose life is changed forever by the Revolution’s ruthless onslaught and the subsequent civil war, while Julie Christie brings both heartache and glamour to the role of his long-suffering mistress. Plus, there’s Alec Guinness and Rod Steiger, warm and wicked (respectively), in support. These days, critics deplore its historical inaccuracy (although you can’t begrudge its iffy locations, considering
it was shot in Spain instead of Russia because the book was, at the time, banned in the Soviet Union), but remain in thrall to the central romance. It also had a stellar showing at the Oscars, winning five awards (including Best Adapted Screenplay and Original Score) but lost out on the biggies (Best Picture and Director) to The Sound of Music.
Missing Link (2019) ★★★
BBC One, 3pm
This rich family animation from Laika, the team who gave us Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, follows dashing adventurer Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) as he hunts for mythical creatures – first a cutely fearsome Nessie and next the Sasquatch. To his surprise, the beast (Zach Galifianakis) turns out to be civilised, and versed in Frost’s exploits thanks to the reports of the British press. A stop-motion joy that’s perfect for all ages.
Roman Holiday (1953, b/w) ★★★★★
The film that made Audrey Hepburn a star. She plays a princess on a visit to Rome, who escapes her guardians and takes off on a jaunt through the city with a handsome journalist (Gregory Peck). He recognises her but isn’t letting on because he’s hoping for an exclusive. Gorgeously shot on location, it’s an all-time great romcom. You can also catch it from Friday on Channel 4 online as part of their Oscars Collection.
Chappaquiddick (2017) ★★★
BBC Two, 10.45pm
On July 18, 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off of a bridge on Massachusetts’s Chappaquiddick Island, resulting in the death of his passenger, 28-year-old campaign strategist Mary Jo Kopechne. Jason Clarke plays Kennedy in John Curran’s lukewarm dramatisation of a tragedy that rocked American politics, but from which Kennedy walked away
with just a two-year suspended sentence.
The Last Right (2019) ★★★
BBC One, 11.05pm
In this British-Irish comedy-drama, Daniel Murphy (Michiel Huisman) has the flight experience from hell when, while travelling from New York to Ireland, he is left in charge of a stranger’s corpse. He’s then challenged to transport an environmentally friendly cardboard coffin from his familt home in Clonakilty to Rathlin Island by his younger brother, Louis (Samuel Bottomley), and Mary (Niamh Algar), a young funeral director.
Stephen Kelly (SK), Veronica Lee (VL), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Poppie Platt (PP) and Gabriel Tate (GT)