This Week in TV – 2nd – 8th November

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – featuring a few thespians, a couple of physicians and one famous, former politician.

Saturday 2nd November

Live From the National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage

BBC2, 9:00pm

Last month marked fifty years since the National Theatre opened, and to celebrate, the BBC are broadcasting this one-off special, in which some of the country’s finest actors of stage and screen'Live From the National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage' - BBC2, 9:00pm  will appear to pay tribute to the venue and company which has been responsible for some of our biggest theatrical hits.

The two hour-long event has been directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner (the man behind some of the National’s most unforgettable productions, including Miss Saigon, The History Boys and, most recently, One Man, Two Guvnors) and will include rare archive footage and live performances of scenes from some of the company’s most groundbreaking and best-loved productions.

The plethora of stars who will be taking part this evening include Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, James Corden, Derek Jacobi and Benedict Cumberbatch – to name just a few.

Also today: A spooky Strictly (BBC1, 6:30pm); Gyles Brandreth and Alex Jones are among the participants on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); it’s Disco Week over at The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); and Steve Coogan, the Pet Shop Boys and Paul Hollywood (that should be interesting…) drop by for The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:50pm).

Sunday 3rd November

Richard Hammond Builds a Planet

BBC1, 9:00pm

In this one-off documentary, the Top Gear host takes on the ultimate project: creating a planet'Richard Hammond Builds a Planet' - BBC1, 9:00pm which  is fit for human life.

From the top of a tower in the Californian desert, Richard will use astounding graphics and technology to create, piece by piece, an entirely new, virtual planet which would be suitable for humans to live on.

Of course, there will also be more than a few science lessons along the way, as Richard has a team of experts on hand to explain such complex issues as the laws of physics and what is required for ‘the perfect planet’.

Also today: The Story of the Swastika (BBC1, 1:15pm); Grease (Channel 4, 5:50pm); Madness perform on Strictly Come Dancing: The Results (BBC1, 7:20pm), while Little Mix and Taylor Swift are on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm); Simon King and Kate Humble present Africa’s Last Oasis: Countdown to the Rains (BBC2, 8:00pm); movie 2012 premieres (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Searching for Exile: Truth or Myth? is on BBC4 (9:00pm); Robert Webb joins his comedy partner David Mitchell on Was It Something I Said? (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and one-off documentary No Fire Zone, investigating the Sri Lankan government’s alleged war crimes, is on Channel 4 at 10:50pm.

Monday 4th November

Fresh Meat

Channel 4, 10:00pm

Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong’s comedy-drama about a group of university students returns for a'Fresh Meat' - Channel 4, 10:00pm third series tonight.

As we left the Manchester Medlock students at the end of the last series, changes were afoot as JP (Jack Whitehall) had just bought the house, but Oregon and Vod were off travelling and Josie was transferring to Southampton.

So, will everyone be reunited in their second year at uni or will it still just be JP, Howard and Kingsley living in the house? Well, spoiler alert!, yes they will – alongside two new characters in the form of Javier (who Vod met in South America) and fresher Candice. They both look set to shake things up on campus and in the house.

Also today: The Remembrance Week commemorations begin (BBC1, 9:15am); new property series Beat my Build (Channel 4, 11:00am); The Indian Doctor is back (BBC1, 2:15pm); John Barrowman fronts new game show Pressure Pad (BBC1, 3:00pm); Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds begins (BBC1, 3:45pm); Antiques Road Trip returns (BBC1, 4:30pm), with Fern Britton and Phil Vickery the first couple on the celebrity version on BBC2 (7:00pm); MasterChef: The Professionals (8:30pm) and The Choir (9:00pm) are back on BBC2; The Woman With 40 Cats…and Other Pet Hoarders proves that, even after their …And Proud series, Channel 5 can still sink lower (9:00pm); and the first series of sketch show Cardinal Burns comes to Channel 4 (10:50pm).

Tuesday 5th November

Embarrassing Bodies: The Man With Half a Face

Channel 4, 9:00pm

This one-off, special edition of Embarrassing Bodies sees Dr Christian help a man who, four years  ago, lost half of his face to cancer.'Embarrassing Bodies: The Man With Half a Face' - Channel 4, 9:00pm

After a tumour meant that half of his face was removed, 60-year-old Eric Moger suffered for just under five years. However, with the help of the Embarrassing Bodies team, the lives of Eric and his fiancée Karen are about to change as they find a way to help him regain the ability to speak and eat properly, as well as rebuild his confidence in his appearance.

The hour-long programme will show how, with Eric and Karen’s wedding drawing nearer, his disfigurement is corrected with the help of some of the country’s leading experts.

Also today: After a seven year-long absence, Sunday Scoop host Kaye Adams returns as anchor of Loose Women (ITV, 12:30pm); The Escape Artist continues (BBC1, 9:00pm); Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet concludes (BBC2, 9:00pm); and one-off documentary Autism: Challenging Behaviour is on BBC4 at 9:00pm.

Wednesday 6th November

Newsflash: Stories That Stopped the World 

ITV, 10:35pm

Before the internet and 24 hour rolling news, if a huge news story was breaking, broadcasters would have no choice but to interrupt TV schedules to keep the nation informed. This one-off programme tells the stories behind the stories, hearing from those who were caught up in the action or responsible for helping to bring the latest news into people’s homes.

Newscasters including Alistair Stewart, Mary Nightingale and John Suchet will share their own newsflash experiences, including the announcement of the 1988 Lockerbie attacks, and the deaths of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Princess Diana in 1997.

Also today: Watchdog finishes its current run (BBC1, 8:00pm); Richard Bilton presents Britain on the Fiddle (BBC1, 9:00pm); Ambassadors concludes (BBC2, 9:00pm); Supersized: Too Fat to Fly is on Channel 5 (9:00pm); Simon Armitage fronts Speeches That Shook the World (BBC4, 9:00pm); Gareth Bale: Welsh Galactico and One Born: What Happened Next? are on ITV4 and More4, respectively, at 10:00pm; The Cruel Cut (Channel 4, 10:45pm) takes a look at the horrors of female genital mutilation; and Claudia Winkleman returns with Film 2013 (BBC1, 11:05pm).

Thursday 7th November

Don’t Panic: The Truth About Population 

BBC2, 9:00pm

In Don’t Panic: The Truth About Population, Swedish Doctor, Hans Rosling uses cutting-edge technology to present an alternative view on the rise of the world’s population. While everyone else  seems to think that the expansion of the population is a'Don't Panic: The Truth About Population' - BBC2, 9:00pm bad thing, Professor Rosling disagrees.

Throughout this ‘as-live’ presentation, he will try to make us realise that, while we are all believing in the so-called ‘population explosion’, birth rates are actually rapidly decreasing, meaning that in just a few generations’ time, the population growth will actually be level once again.

Professor Rosling also reveals the results of his ‘Great British Ignorance’ survey, which shows that us Brits’ perceptions of the population and the future of the planet are more than a little outdated, and tells of how, even for developing countries, the future is bright.

Also today: Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Island Feast (More4, 9:00pm); and Bouncers is back (Channel 4, 10:00pm), this time in Essex.

Friday 8th November

Have I Got News For You 

BBC1, 9:00pm

There are some episodes of Have I Got News For You that are simply unforgettable and will go down in the show’s history. Take the episode in which Roy Hattersley failed to turn up, so was replaced by a tub of lard. Or the many episodes with Boris Johnson. Or – and who can forget this? – Angus Deayton’s tabloid shame and subsequent final episode. Many great moments.

Tonight’s episode is also likely to go down in HIGNFY history: not only is it the twenty-third time that Alexander Armstrong has hosted the show (a record for any guest presenter) but controversial former UKIP member Godfrey Bloom is on the panel!

Now, I have to say that I strongly dislike Bloom but I have to admire his bravery for actually agreeing to go on the show. He must know that he’s not in for an easy ride! In fact, he has said of his forthcoming appearance, ‘I very much look forward to regretting being on the show’.

I think he is going to regret it pretty swiftly. It should be a great episode, though.

Also today: Stobart: Trucks, Trains & Planes returns (Channel 5, 8:00pm); documentary Cold War, Hot Jets begins (BBC2, 9:00pm); Zoe Ball presents The Nation’s Favourite Elvis Song (ITV, 9:00pm); Greatest Kids’ TV Shows (Channel 5, 9:00pm) features contributions from many children’s TV presenters; Elvis Costello: Mystery Dance (BBC4, 9:00pm) profiles the musician; Sarah Millican, Bill Bailey and Jason Manford are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); Robin Thicke, Paul O’Grady and Jack and Michael Whitehall are on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm); Cliff Richard, Jude Law, Greg Davies and, er, Dot Cotton are on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm); action film Wanted is on ITV at 11:05pm; and puppet comedy pilot Fuzzbox is on BBC3 (11:45pm).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: Live From the National: 50 Years on Stage – Thanks to BBC and Philip Vile, ©Philip Vile; Richard Hammond Builds a Planet – ©BBC; Fresh Meat – Thanks to Channel 4 Television and Ray Burmiston; Embarrassing Bodies: The Man With Half a Face – Thanks to Channel 4 Television and UNP; Don’t Panic: The Truth About Population – Thanks to BBC, Wingspan Productions and Brian Ritchie, ©Wingspan Productions

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