Today’s TV highlights


The day’s best TV programmes on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Freeview, Freesat, Sky and cable as chosen by the Telegraph’s critics.
The Story of Jesus
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The Story of Jesus Photo: BBC
8:30AM BST 22 Apr 2011

Full TV and radio listings


CRITIC’S CHOICE: What’s the Point of Forgiveness?/The Story of Jesus

BBC One, 9.00am/10.00am

BBC One marks Good Friday and the start of the Easter weekend with two programmes of considerable Christian weightiness, especially for this time of the morning. First, the historian Bettany Hughes takes Jesus’ plea from the cross – “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” – as the starting point for an intriguing study of the role of forgiveness in the Christian faith. Examining its origins, theological implications and key place at the heart of Christian worship and social practice, she also sets out to discover just how much good, or how little, this idea of forgiveness has actually achieved in the world over the past 2,000 years.

Then, in The Story of Jesus, nine of the world’s leading biblical scholars use the latest historical, archaeological and theological research to re-examine the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, as a living, breathing man making his way through the social and political nightmare that was Roman-occupied Judea two millennia ago. This first episode traces Jesus’ story from his birth to the beginning of his ministry, exploring the meanings and “historicity” of events such as Mary’s divinely procured conception of the child Jesus, the star of Bethlehem and the three Wise Men as well as Jesus’ genealogical background, the significance of Jewish prophesy in his story, and his role as a political, rather than a primarily religious, leader. Concludes tomorrow. GO

Bellies and Bullseyes: the Outrageous Story of Darts

ESPN Classic, 11.00am

Who else but Sid Waddell – the voice of darts – could front this brief but entertaining resumé of how darts rose from clubs and pubs to be “a true world sport”? It’s a story of such stars as Eric Bristow, Phil Taylor and “Jocky” Wilson, nicknames like John “Old Stoneface” Lowe, nine-dart checkouts, garish shirts, booze, mullets and nifty maths. SH

Enchanted (2007)

BBC One, 4.50pm

Adorable Amy Adams stars in a modern fairy tale as a princess about to marry her Prince Charming (James Marsden) when his wicked stepmother (Susan Sarandon) banishes her to New York. She is rescued by Patrick Dempsey’s kindly divorce lawyer. A delightful blend of Disney animation and romcom. CG

Unreported World

Channel 4, 7.30pm

In a report titled China’s Lost Sons Oliver Steeds travels to Sanyuan town in central China to follow a farmer’s search for his mentally impaired son, who was abducted and sold into slavery. Along the way, Steeds and his producer Matt Haan expose one of the hidden horror stories of China’s current economic boom: how thousands of young men with mental disabilities have been kidnapped and trafficked to work as slave labour in brick factories – a situation which nobody in authority seems willing to acknowledge or investigate, least of all the Chinese police. GO

Gardeners’ World

BBC Two, 8.00pm; not NI/Wales

Easter weekend is traditionally regarded as the busiest of the gardening year, and there’s certainly no slacking among the team in tonight’s hour-long special. At Longmeadow, Monty Don choses climbers for the different aspects of his walled garden, tackles some outstanding jobs in the vegetable plot and begins the arduous task of replanting his “jewel” garden. Carol Klein is at home in Devon, propagating herbaceous plants for potting later in the year, and taking inspiration from native plants and hedgerows to transform a shady patch of her own garden. Joe Swift, meanwhile, gets a horticultural history lesson in Hampstead Garden Suburb, and Rachel de Thame heads to Cumbria to meet an inspirational modern-day plant hunter. GO

Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time (2010)

Sky Movies Prem/SMPHD, 8.00pm

A bulked-up Jake Gyllenhaal plays Prince Dastan, who, after being framed for his father’s murder, teams up with a princess (Gemma Arterton) and guardian of a magical dagger that can rewind time. Together, they try to safeguard it from a raft of baddies. Enjoyable. PS

Elton John Night

BBC Four, from 9.00pm

It’s getting to the stage where it feels as if almost all television is somehow connected to the royal wedding. BBC Four has given over its Friday night to programmes dedicated to the flamboyant pop singer – and holder of an invitation to next week’s nuptials. It begins with a documentary about Elton John’s early years in Middlesex and his break into the music business in the Seventies – with testimony from lyricist Bernie Taupin and Leon Russell. At 10.00pm, Elton John at the BBC – a collection of clips and interviews from such age-old shows as Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test. Finally at 11.00pm there’s a performance from last year’s Electric Prom. CG

Monty Don’s Italian Gardens

BBC Two, 9.00pm; Wales, 10.30pm

The Don’s grand tour of Italy’s finest horticultural flowerings brings him to Florence to learn how, in the Renaissance, garden making became a high art. Among the glorious locations he visits are the Villa Castello, Villa I Tatti, Villa Gamberaia, La Foce and, of course, Boboli Gardens, exploring their intricate designs, inspirational designers and, along the way, discovering how a group of Edwardian expatriates mistakenly exported the idea that Italian gardens were flowerless. GO

Chocolat (2000)

More4, 9.00pm

A warm, indulgent adaptation of Joanne Harris’s novel, starring Juliette Binoche as the free spirit who sets up a decadent chocolate shop in a stuffy French village. But her relationship with a local gypsy threatens their tolerance. With Johnny Depp playing the rogue, though, who can blame her? CR

Whale Wars

Discovery/Discovery HD, 9.00pm

Paul Watson captains a ship which patrols the seas, protecting the whales from would-be hunters. Tonight the team discover their ship, the Steve Irwin, is being tailed by aircraft and a Japanese research vessel quickly appears. But the plucky captain stands firm. CG


Sky Atlantic/SAHD, 10.15pm

With Steve Earle’s poignant This City playing over the final credits, master storyteller David Simon finds the perfect conclusion to the first season of his heartfelt New Orleans drama, one that has elegantly captured the city’s never-say-die spirit. Death and departure are on everyone’s minds as Toni (Melissa Leo) and Sofia (India Ennenga) discover what happened to Creighton, Davis (Steve Zahn) shows Janette (Kim Dickens) the perfect day in the Big Easy in a bid to stop her leaving and Annie (Lucia Micarelli) makes the break from Sonny (Michiel Huisman). And, as LaDonna arranges Daymo’s funeral, flashbacks cut to the moments leading up to Katrina. SH

The Graham Norton Show

BBC One, 10.30pm

More Friday night fun, games and chat with Graham Norton, whose guests include the singer and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson, and the comedian, musician, birdwatcher and baboon-fancier Bill Bailey. GO



BBC One, 6.00pm

Doctor Who supremo Steven Moffat unveils one of the show’s most terrifying creations for years: The Silence, seemingly undefeatable, disgusting-looking creatures who’ve been quietly working against the Doctor since the dawn of time. Most chilling of all, they have the ultimate disguise in that you forget about them as soon as you stop looking. This dazzling two-parter, scripted by Moffat himself, kick-starts the seven-week series in style. And, as fans will have heard, contains a surprise death scene.

Three sinister envelopes, unsigned but in “Tardis blue” (coming soon to a Farrow & Ball paint chart near you), form a strange summons which reunites The Doctor (Stetson-sporting Matt Smith), Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and enigmatic River Song (classy Alex Kingston) in the Utah desert during the late Sixties. Well, this is a co-production with BBC America. The quartet are soon on a quest to find the fourth missive in the set – a search that takes them to the White House, where they meet Richard Nixon himself. Look out for a great gag with code names here. Family viewing doesn’t get smarter, scarier, wittier or more thrilling. MH

Spirited Away (2002)

BBC Two, 12.00noon

The dazzling Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki had a breakthrough international hit with this fantastical tale about a girl (Daveigh Chase) who gets whisked away to a spirit world peopled by witches and dragons after her greedy parents get turned into pigs. This beautiful film has none of the arch self-referentiality of Shrek, but it does have the imaginative scope to equal Dreamworks’ entire cartoon output.

Quo Vadis (1951)

More4, 1.15pm

Long before there was Gladiator, there was Quo Vadis. This tale of a returning Roman warrior (Robert Taylor) who falls in love with a beautiful Christian woman (Deborah Kerr) in the time of Nero has more than its fair share of memorable action scenes, culminating in the emperor (played by Peter Ustinov) feeding the early Christians to the lions.

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

BBC Two, 2.30pm

The glitzy world premiere of the Royal Ballet’s first full-length show with a newly commissioned score for two decades. It’s choreographed by acclaimed Christopher Wheeldon, the light-footed principal dancer is rising star Lauren Cuthbertson and brilliant actor Simon Russell-Beale pops up in the cameo role of the grumpy Duchess. The narrative is slightly hit-and-miss but the stagecraft is spectacular, with Bob Crowley’s extravagant sets and ingenious video projections effecting magical transformations. It’s preceded by a backstage documentary, following Cuthbertson from rehearsal to curtain up at Covent Garden.

Premiership Rugby Union: London Irish v Northampton Saints

Sky Sport 1/SSHD1, 2.30pm

Having powered to a 34-20 victory over Sale last weekend, fifth-placed Irish host Northampton, who are currently fourth. The last meeting between these sides produced a riveting contest: Irish ran in five tries to win 37-20 and knock holders Saints out of the LV= Cup.

Ondine (2009)

Sky Movies Premiere/SMPHD, 4.30pm

A fisherman (Colin Farrell) finds a mysterious young woman in his net in this lyrical fable from Neil Jordan. Until some late-breaking violence, it’s a leisurely slice of whimsy, with likeable performances (especially from Alison Barry as Farrell’s 10-year-old daughter) and Christopher Doyle’s cinematography of the Cork coastline.

March of the Dinosaurs

ITV1, 5.00pm

The velveteen tones of Stephen Fry narrate this feature-length animated documentary, which brings the world of Arctic palaeontology alive via CGI and storytelling. It’s the moving tale of two young dinosaurs struggling to survive 70 million years ago: Patch, a feathered, raptor-like Troodon who stays in the harsh North, and Scar, a vegetarian Edmontosaurus embarking on a thousand-mile migration south to escape the polar winter. Cue colossal herds slogging through the snow-bound perpetual night, trying to avoid the giant predators with night vision. We’re calling it Jurassic Parka. Or Walking with Dinosaurs in Snowshoes.

The Belfast Blitz

BBC Two, 8.00pm; Wales, 9.00pm

A thousand died and 1,500 were injured on the Tuesday after Easter in 1941 when, trying to destroy its shipyard and aircraft factory, 200 Luftwaffe bombers launched an unopposed assault on Belfast – the worst night of the Blitz outside London. Half the city’s buildings were damaged and a quarter of the population left homeless. This film, first shown in Northern Ireland last week to mark the 70th anniversary, recalls the horror.

Britain’s Got Talent

ITV1, 8.00pm

The second batch of auditions from the showbiz talent search. The new-look judging panel of David Hasselhoff, Michael McIntyre and Amanda Holden settle in as they continue to sift the gifted wheat from the deluded chaff. Can they uncover a true variety act or will the song-and-dancers triumph again? MH


BBC Four, 9.00pm & 9.55pm

Another double bill of stylish French crime drama in the channel’s subtitled sleuthing slot. Despite all the evidence, Captain Berthaud believes the Butcher of La Villette remains at large – which causes tensions with lover and work colleague Superintendent Brémont. MH

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Film4, 9.00pm

This intense, nihilistic thriller is the Coen Brothers’ most commercially successful film to date. It’s set in a small Texas border town in 1980 and has a simple plot: a Vietnam veteran (Josh Brolin) finds $2 million and decides to keep it. Unfortunately, hot on his heels is an assassin (a chilling Javier Bardem) who always gets his man. Brutal yet darkly funny.

The Queen’s Wedding

More4, 11.05pm

One pair of royal lovebirds might be preparing to walk up the aisle of Westminster Abbey, but another did it 63 years ago. The marriage of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh has stood the test of time. Through archive footage, diary entries and interviews, this film tells the story of Princess Elizabeth and her dashing sailor suitor, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. We see how they were match-made by Lord Louis Mountbatten, then how months of political machinations and courtly intrigue culminated in a day of national celebration. I wonder if their grandson and his bride-to-be will be watching and learning? It’s preceded at 10.00pm by a look at the tensions between the traditionalist Queen Mother and modernising Philip in the build-up to Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953. MH

McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971)

TCM, 1.35am

Robert Altman’s sublime, melancholy Western is both affectionate homage to the genre and ironic deconstruction of it. Card-sharp Warren Beatty sets up shop in a muddy frontier town, falls for brothel keeper Julie Christie, and battles a big mining company’s takeover bid. There’s also inspired use of Leonard Cohen songs on the soundtrack.

Sunday 24 April


BBC Two, 9.00pm

Dramas about sport are often disappointing affairs: lacking in proper detail, hammily acted, and with a deathly predictable narrative arc in which a troubled team overcomes the odds to win the cup/medal/race in a shower of ticker tape glory. Once in a while, though, a real contender comes along which manages to leave the clichés behind and capture the essence of a sport – hard graft, beauty, tragedy and all. United, written by Chris Chibnall, is just such a film.

It tells the story of the young, seemingly unstoppable Manchester United team of the late 1950s – known as the “Busby Babes” after the club’s then manager, Matt Busby – eight of whom were killed in a horrific air crash in Munich in February 1958. This is hardly unfamiliar territory, but Chibnall has approached it from a brilliant new angle. His innovation is to frame the story around Bobby Charlton (Jack O’Connell), who made the first team in 1956, emerged from the crash alive, and returned to the trauma-stricken club less than a month later, where he helped them reach that year’s FA Cup Final. Alongside O’Connell, David Tennant gives a sparkling performance as the club’s fatherly head coach, Jimmy Murphy. PN

Easter Day Eucharist

BBC One, 10.00am

The Very Rev June Osborne introduces today’s live Choral Eucharist from Salisbury Cathedral, which will include Mozart’s Coronation Mass as sung by the Cathedral Choir. Following the programme at 11.00am, BBC One goes live to the Vatican for the Pope’s traditional Easter message and blessing, Urbi et Orbi (“to the city and the world”).

The Story of Jesus

BBC One, 11.35am

The second and final part of this interesting profile of Jesus – which re-examines the Gospels in an attempt to get a truer picture of the man – focuses on the final months of His life. Among the theological experts called upon for analysis, Dr Andrew Skinner and Dr Helen Bond give a particularly lucid account of Jesus’s arrest, trial and punishment, while Prof Tom Wright explains the subtle layers of meaning behind the Resurrection story.

Scottish Premiere League Football: Rangers v Celtic

Sky Sports 1/SSHD1, 12.00noon

As ever, there’s not much separating these two sides as we near the end of the season. Thus it’s not hyperbole to suggest that today’s match could well be a title decider. Both teams have met five times already in 2011, with Celtic boasting the better record: they’ve lost once, drawn once and won on three occasions.

ECB 40 League Cricket: Hampshire Royals v Warwickshire Bears

Sky Sports 2/SSHD2, 1.00pm

The Clydesdale Bank 40 competition gets under way today with Hampshire hosting Warwickshire at the Rose Bowl. The visitors won this competition last season, beating favourites Somerset by three wickets in the final.

Mary Poppins (1964)

BBC One, 1.30pm

The glitzy world premiere of the Royal Ballet’s first full-length show with a newly commissioned score for two decades. It’s choreographed by acclaimed Christopher Wheeldon, the light-footed principal dancer is rising star Lauren Cuthbertson and brilliant actor Simon Russell-Beale pops up in the cameo role of the grumpy Duchess. The narrative is slightly hit-and-miss but the stagecraft is spectacular, with Bob Crowley’s extravagant sets and ingenious video projections effecting magical transformations. It’s preceded by a backstage documentary, following Cuthbertson from rehearsal to curtain up at Covent Garden

Snooker: The World Championship

BBC Two, 2.25pm & 7.00pm

Coverage continues throughout the week. For scheduling details, check our online listings. PN

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, b/w)

Film4, 3.15pm

Sci–fi classic about an alien spacecraft that lands in Washington DC. Its peace–seeking commander Klaatu (Michael Rennie) arrives bearing a message for humankind and a gift of alien technology – but he’s hardly out of his flying saucer before it’s been shot out of his hand by a trigger–happy soldier. Klaatu is forced to take drastic action to get our attention. His giant robot, meanwhile, has instructions to deliver the message differently. PN

William & Kate

Channel 5, 3.55pm

Of the numerous Royal wedding-related programmes, this feature-length drama from American cable channel Lifetime may just be the strangest. Loosely based on the “real-life” events of William and Kate’s courtship, it starts with their meeting at St Andrews, ends on their engagement last November, and stars two unknown actors – Nico Evers-Swindell and Camilla Luddington – neither of whom look, sound or act much like their regal counterparts. The script writing and production values, as you might expect, are rather more Home and Away than Stephen Frears; but there’s still something weirdly compelling about it all. Ten points for chutzpah. PN

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

ITV1, 4.00pm

The classic Gene Wilder adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel was always going to be hard to surpass – but if there was a team to do it, surely Tim Burton directing Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka was the one that could? Sadly no – the balance between weirdness and childish joy is all awry.

Vatican: the Hidden World

National Geographic, 8.00pm

A reverential glimpse of the inner life of the Vatican which offers a view of this tiny sovereign state at work. Here the people that serve Pope Benedict XVI explain their roles, and what they mean to them; for some this is not a job but rather “like a mission”. From cardinals and the head of security to altar boys, archivists and one of the Vatican’s astronomers, the film paints a rare picture of belief and dedication. SH

Holst – In the Bleak Midwinter

BBC Four, 9.00pm

The composer Gustav Holst’s extraordinary life is the subject of an imaginative documentary by Tony Palmer. Making full use of Holst’s music, it looks at the man who created The Planets Suite, the strident socialist (he hated the words used for his most famous composition I Vow to Thee, My Country) and innovative musician who, nevertheless, lived much of his life considering himself a failure. Here we see other sides to Holst: someone who taught himself Sanskrit, once lived in Algiers in a street full of brothels, cycled into the Sahara and during the First World War associated with a priest who offered “prayers for the victims of imperial aggression.” SH

Elizabeth (1998)

Channel 4, 10.00pm

Australian Cate Blanchett excels – in the film that made her a star – as the energetic young queen with a heart of gold and a backbone of coldest steel. The script plays fast and loose with the history – a task in which it is ably abetted by the best-of-British support: John Gielgud, Richard Attenbrough, Joseph Fiennes – but is still immensely enjoyable and sumptuously produced. Look out for Eric Cantona as a French diplomat. PN

Perspectives: Looking for Lowry

ITV1, 10.15pm; not STV

Art critics are often rude about LS Lowry, the Lancashire painter who gained huge popularity in the mid-20th century with his deceptively simple paintings of street scenes in the industrialised North. This invigorating documentary, presented by fellow Lancastrian and lifelong Lowry fan Sir Ian McKellen argues that Lowry was in fact a uniquely perceptive and gifted painter who, in McKellen’s words, “makes us see things differently”. Noel Gallagher, Dame Paula Rego and Jeffrey Archer all agree, and add their voices to the case. PN


CRITIC’S CHOICE: The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

ITV1, 9.00pm

Kate Summerscale’s bestselling book was a mesmerising exploration of a tragic, long-forgotten child murder in a sleepy English village in the summer of 1860. It not only subjected the police investigation, and the many characters involved – notably the enigmatic Detective Inspector Jonathan “Jack” Whicher of Scotland Yard’s newly formed detective squad – to a minute examination; it summoned up a vivid picture of the cruelties and hypocrisies hidden within respectable Victorian households, and that society’s relationship with a salacious and rabid press. A lot to ask of a two-hour dramatisation.

Neil McKay’s script sticks to the bones of the case, condensing Summerscale’s narrative into a fairly conventional tale of a detective under political pressure to deliver an arrest, struggling to penetrate layers of power, class and prejudice in a tight-lipped rural community. Paddy Considine (pictured) is good as Whicher, the smart Londoner called in to investigate when the local plod get nowhere with the horrible murder of Saville, the youngest son of the well-to-do Kent family of Wiltshire. Peter Capaldi and Emma Fielding play the murdered three year-old’s parents. Alexandra Roach and Charlie Hiett impress as their most prominent children, Constance and William. It’s an enjoyable watch, although it might leave you wondering why the book created such a literary stir. GO

When Royals Wed

BBC One, 9.00am

Even mornings aren’t safe from the royal-romance barrage this week, as Larry Lamb and Lesley Garrett present four archive-based breakfast shows looking at monarchical marriages from 1840 to the present day. Later, William and Kate: a Royal Love Story (BBC One, 8.30pm) once again recounts the rose-tinted tale of how a Prince fell in love with a commoner at university; while The Royal Wedding Crashers (Channel 4, 10.35pm) caters for more cynical tastes with a comic exploration of what really lies behind all the media hype and excess surrounding the gilded couple’s wedding. GO

Ladies in Lavender (2004)

More4, 11.15am

Charles Dance’s directorial debut may feature two formidable grande dames but, sadly, it’s not as good as you’d hope. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith play spinster sisters in the 1930s whose lives are disrupted when they bring a young Polish man they find washed up on a Cornish beach into their home. CM

Bee Movie (2007)

BBC One, 4.05pm

Jerry Seinfeld provides the voice of a worker bee who rebels against the hive and sues the human race for control of honey supplies in this animated yarn. Despite some slapstick and colourful aerial views of Manhattan, it’s too sophisticated for kids without being quite smart enough for adults. AB

Up (2009)

Disney Cinemagic/DCHD, 7.00pm

Ed Asner plays a grumpy widower who decides to visit a South American waterfall in this sublime animation, and gets there by hitching his house to thousands of balloons. A podgy cub scout accidentally tags along for the ride, and the odd couple are plunged into a series of funny, thrilling adventures. PR

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

BBC Three, 7.05pm

So long as you don’t expect another Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is escapist fun. It starts off with a bang as Harrison Ford battles evil Soviet Cate Blanchett in the desert, but wears out its welcome during the Peruvian jungle climax. Shia LaBeouf is horribly miscast, though. AB

Live Monday Night Football: Blackburn Rovers v Manchester City

Sky Sports 1/SSHD1,7.30pm

Blackburn, one of several sides still in danger of relegation to the Championship, host Manchester City at Ewood Park knowing that a win will be a big boost in their chances of survival. Blackburn will be buoyed by the fact that they have drawn their last three matches at home while Robert Mancini’s men have lost four of their last five games on the road. When they met in the reverse fixture last September the game ended in a 1-1 draw, with the goals coming from Nikola Kalinic and Patrick Vieira (pictured). CM

Springwatch Easter Special 2011

BBC Two, 8.00pm

Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games present a report on this year’s spring season from the Portland bird observatory in Dorset, where migrant species are arriving. Bill Oddie demonstrates how easy it is to communicate with other birdwatchers. There is also information on how to join in with the Springwatch survey. CM

MasterChef: the Final Three

BBC One, 9.00pm

Many thought this revamped series was off the boil, but the next three nights should deliver kitchen dramas aplenty as the finalists battle it out, starting tonight deep in an Australian rainforest with a crash-course in bush tucker, and a challenge to make two great dishes using unfamiliar ingredients such as crocodile and kangaroo. GO

Arena: Produced by George Martin

BBC Two, 9.00pm; Scot, 10.00pm

Sir George Martin’s career as music producer, record label boss and composer straddles everything from The Goons and Nellie the Elephant to the theme tune for The Archers. Oh yes, and he signed The Beatles, and did much to make them into the world’s greatest pop band. This richly textured film profiles Martin at 85, at home with wife Judy and son Giles, with terrific archive material and contributors including Sir Paul McCartney, Michael Palin, Cilla Black and Jeff Beck. GO

Derren Brown: Miracles for Sale

Channel 4, 9.00pm

The illusionist sets out to expose the chicanery and greed of the so-called faith healers of America’s Bible Belt. To do so, he takes a member of the public – a quietly charismatic scuba-diving instructor – and transforms him into Pastor James, a fake Christian healer, and then travels to the US to show people how they are being rooked by con men disguised as saints. Not everything goes to plan but Brown’s deconstruction of the arcane craft of fooling people into thinking you’ve cured them of their ailments, then taking their money, should be compulsory viewing for the spiritually gullible. GO

Game of Thrones

Sky Atlantic/SAHD, 9.00pm

This ballsy medieval fantasy is no Lord of the Rings – that’s not a criticism, it’s just that it has a propensity for sex, violence and gutter language which Tolkien might not have appreciated. The scale and scope of the adaptation of George RR Martin’s sword and sorcery stories can’t be doubted, but the joy of this series comes from the feuding, backstabbing and downright nastiness of the rival royals. The incestuous Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has already attempted to murder the young son of his hosts the Starks (led by Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark), and things get worse for the Stark family when their daughters fall out with the odious young heir to the throne, Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson). SH


Sky Atlantic/SAHD, 10.35pm

The oddball comedy drama about a kooky suburban mom involved in the drugs trade continues to reveal the imaginativeness of US TV. As we begin season five we pick up on the consequences of the previous series finale when Esteban (Demián Bichir) found out it was Nancy (the wonderful Mary-Louise Parker) who told the DEA about his drugs smuggling operation, but also learned that she is pregnant with his child. SH

Full TV and radio listings


CRITIC’S CHOICE: The Secret Millionaire

Channel 4, 9.00pm

Worthy as many of its aims are, there’s often a nagging suspicion that this series, embarking on a new run tonight, should really be called The Secret Show-off. It’s not entirely unlike those oddballs who claim to be too shy to show their ailing intimate bits to their own GP, yet are only too happy to strip off in front of millions on Embarrassing Bodies. Here, you really have to ask: if these wealthy people are so desperate to shower the less fortunate with charitable munificence, why wait for a TV series to show them how to do it?

Still, it’s got to be good that they do – regardless of reasons – since there’s no resisting the warm glow that accompanies the tear-stained giveaways at the end of every episode. Not that anyone would doubt the sincerity of tonight’s millionaire, Sean Gallagher. His London-based IT recruitment agency provides him a lavish lifestyle replete with fancy gadgets and fast cars, but there’s an enormous hole in Sean’s emotional life, left by the death of his sister 25 years ago from an epileptic episode. Fortunately, there just happens to be a struggling epilepsy charity in the bleak area of Middlesbrough in which Sean is marooned by the production team. It’s not long before he finds himself sharing his own long-repressed grief with the lovely couple who run the charity, and who lost their own young daughter to the illness. GO

Monkey Business (1952)

Film4, 12.50pm

Screwball gold from Howard Hawks. A lab chimp concocts a rejuvenation serum which gets into the water cooler of a chemical company. First to imbibe is Cary Grant’s scientist, who regresses back to his teens. Ginger Rogers, as his wife, and Marilyn Monroe’s airhead secretary square off pricelessly. Tim Robey

Royal Wedding Access All Areas: Blue Peter Special

BBC One, 4.30pm

Prince William and Kate Middleton can breathe easy now, the historical significance of their union assured by a Blue Peter special being devoted to it, as the team get a behind-the-scenes look at the baking of the royal wedding cake, and meet a royal wedding dress designer. Later, William and Kate: the Story So Far (Channel 5, 8.00pm) is yet another rehash of the royal love story; while When Kate Met William: a Tale of Two Lives (ITV1, 9.00pm) takes a marginally more original tack, comparing the very different backgrounds of the bride and groom, and seeking out the common bonds that drew them together. GO

Live Champions League Football: Schalke 04 v Manchester United

Sky Sports 2/SSHD2, 7.00pm

Sir Alex Ferguson takes his United side to Germany to face Schalke 04 in this semi-final first leg. United have been in imperious form in Europe: Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernández and Ji-Sung Park helped them sweep aside Chelsea in the previous round. Schalke are no slouches, however: they played with enterprising panache to overcome defending champions Inter Milan in the quarter-finals. Even so, United will start as favourites as a Wembley final awaits. PS

Britain’s Next Big Thing

BBC Two, 8.00pm

Tonight it is the turn of the trendy folk from Habitat, led by head buyer Jonathan Crawley, to see if they can spot the next big thing in British homewares and furniture from the crowds of hopeful designers and inventors queuing to pitch their products and ideas to them. Personalised doormats, multitudinous lamps, quirky vases, self-supporting stands, and a frog-based hanging-basket bracket are among the products they consider. GO

A History of Celtic Britain

BBC Two, 9.00pm

Neil Oliver embarks upon the fourth and final leg of his fascinating journey through Britain’s Celtic past, revealing how, in the wake of the Roman conquest of the mainland, Celtic communities survived north of Hadrian’s Wall and around the fringes of the British Isles. He also finds evidence of how a new Romano-British culture emerged from the bitter struggle for Britannia, and ponders the remains of an African woman who lived in York 1,800 years ago. GO

Meet the Multiples

BBC Three, 9.00pm

A sobering look at what it’s like to raise, or grow up with, several children of the same age. A blessing or a nightmare? Kelly and Carl discuss the effects of having triplets; Ricky and Rachel, meanwhile, have four-year-old triplets and five-year-old twins. SH

El Alamein: the Soldier’s Story

Yesterday, 9.00pm

What makes this documentary about the battles of El Alamein so interesting are the diary extracts and footage shot by troops on both sides of the conflict. They highlight the personal stories of the soldiers involved in this crucial campaign, which tell not only of a bitter desert fight, but also of lighter moments, such as visits to Cairo brothels. SH

Lifeboat Heroes

History, 10.00pm

Tales of rescue and bravery dominate Ben Fogle’s story of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Fogle examines how the sea rescue service’s mission has changed since it was formed in 1824, taking in technology and fund-raising. SH

True Stories: Nuclear Eternity

More4, 10.00pm

Michael Madsen’s haunting and timely documentary looks at the risks of nuclear power via a vast nuclear waste repository being built in Finland, which is intended to survive the 100,000 years that the material remains hazardous. The film takes the form of a letter to future generations as it discusses the practical and ethical implications of the project. In the face of the divisive nuclear question, scientists and thinkers also air solutions as to how to best protect the world. SH

Easy Rider (1969)

Sky Movies Modern Greats, 10.00pm

Along with Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider helped pave the way for films that challenged conventional Hollywood ideas. Made on a low budget and directed by Dennis Hopper, this tale of two young men (Peter Fonda and Hopper) embracing the open road on their motorbikes has become synonymous with the Sixties counterculture movement. PS

The Prison Restaurant

BBC One, 10.35pm; Wales, 11.05pm

Eating at The Clink restaurant is certainly a dining experience with a difference. The only commercial restaurant in Britain to operate within the walls of a working prison – HMP High Down in Surrey – it offers customers a top-quality menu, and the prisoners who mostly staff it a unique opportunity for rehabilitation. This enjoyable film follows inspirational head chef Alberto Crisci MBE as he takes on three new inmates eager to gain the culinary qualifications and training they need to turn their back on crime for good. GO

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

TCM, 11.15pm

Gus Van Sant’s indie gem has the best performance of River Phoenix’s life, as a Portland street hustler in love with his friend (Keanu Reeves) and searching for the mother who abandoned him as a child. There are draggy bits, but the film’s surreal poetry and emotional candour are bewitching. Tim Robey

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Telegraph television writers: Ed Cumming, Tom Chivers, Toby Dantzic, Serena Davies, Michael Deacon, Catherine Gee, Chris Harvey, Michael Hogan, Clive Morgan, Pete Naughton, Gerard O’Donovan, Andrew Pettie, Vicki Power, Ceri Radford, Sam Richards, Patrick Smith and Rachel Ward

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