Monthly Archives: December 2013

‘Still Open All Hours’ (BBC1) Review

When it was announced earlier this year that 70s sitcom favourite Open All Hours was to make a return in the form of a one-off Christmas special – forty years after it originally aired and eight years after its star’s death – I felt compelled to write an article on this blog rubbishing the idea, pointing out the flaws and generally voicing my objections.

I said that the whole premise of Granville’s (David Jason) character would have gone. In the original series, he was imprisoned in that corner shop (metaphorically speaking, of course), desperate, just like the best sitcom characters, to escape from the situation in which he found himself. With his miserly uncle, Arkwright having gone, however, it seemed quite inconceivable to me that he would have stayed in the shop. Surely he would have taken his golden opportunity to break free from the shackles of the business and chase his dream of being a cool Jack-the-lad – successfully or otherwise.

In a way, that problem still stood, but was never addressed. Of course, it’s quite possible that Arkwright only died a few years ago, so it was just too late for Granville to try to bring his dream to fruition. Or it could be that Roy Clarke was so desperate to fill the Last of the Summer Wine-shaped hole in his work life that he had to skirt around the slight implausibility of Granville not fleeing Lister Avenue while he could. We may never know.

So, for all I was prepared to watch Still Open All Hours through my fingers, scared that the show’s  legacy would be tarnished over a quarter of a century after the credits rolled on the last episode, I actually didn’t think it was too bad. Not near the standard that we’d expect from either a primetime Christmas comedy or Roy Clarke but it was ok – and dripping with the non-offensive, at a push cheeky, humour with which the writer is so synonymous.

 

It seems that in every interview with David Jason over the past few years there has been some sort of call on his part for a return to ‘family-friendly’ comedy, shows in which innuendo was the order of the day, as opposed to smut, and there was simply a smattering of ‘bloodies’ and ‘arses’, rather than a constant stream of F-words. What I think he’s trying to say is that he despises Mrs Brown’s Boys. If it really is a return to cheeky, traditional comedy that Sir David has yearned for for years then it appears that his wish has been granted in Still Open All Hours, where the most boundary-pushing line is ‘You do spin people some fanny’.

Ooh, matron!

What this show sometimes fell into the trap of doing, though, was mistaking ‘gentile’ for ‘gag-free’, with Roy Clarke often appearing to assume that repeating old jokes or returning to previous set-ups  would suffice. They didn’t always. In order to work they had to not only remind viewers of the original series but be funny in their own right. Of course, there were some great moments of nostalgia throughout the show: Granville’s uncertainty about his own parentage and apparently ‘loose’ mother were reflected in his son Leroy’s worries, the till (and tin atop it) was as brilliantly ferocious as ever, Nurse Gladys still had her Morris Minor, there was a picture in the back room of a snarling Arkwright, etc. For really observant fans, in the third scene there was even a nod to the episode in which Granville decided to sport an open shirt, medallion (in fact a cocoa tin lid) and shades in order  to look ‘cool’, with Leroy doing similar in this instance. That wasn’t always enough to carry the episode, though. In fact, such moments often simply punctuated the thirty minutes, rather than bringing laughs to them.

 

The cast for Still Open All Hours was, however, a very good one, with many comedy favourites popping up, such as Mark Williams, Nina Wadia, Johnny Vegas, Sally Lindsay and, somewhat inexplicably, Barry Chuckle. I know, I was baffled too.

That’s not to mention the returning cast, of course. Alongside David Jason there was Lynda Baron as Nurse Gladys (pictured), Maggie Ollerenshaw as Mavis and Stephanie Cole as Mrs Featherstone. However, as lovely as it was to see some of the original stars come back, there seemed to be a change with these characters – and an unwelcome one at that: Mavis was no longer loveably indecisive; Mrs Featherstone had gone from being a stern, hard-nosed widow to a rampant, purring, wannabe cougar; and as for Lynda Baron, well it was hardly worth her taking the trek to Doncaster! For someone who was such an integral part of the original series (being the only character, other than Arkwright and Granville, to appear in all 26 episodes), Roy Clarke left her woefully underwritten in this episode. Both the character and Lynda Baron herself deserved more screen time than that!

Former Emmerdale star James Baxter was a treat to watch as Leroy, though – if we overlook the character having mysteriously developed a Mackem accent, despite living in Yorkshire all his life.

 

So Still Open All Hours wasn’t quite the car crash I anticipated but neither was it the triumphant return to form that I think Roy Clarke and David Jason imagined it to be. Would this show have been able to stand its own (and possibly even be commissioned) without its predecessor? Almost certainly not. I might even go so far as to say that, under different circumstances, it may have been seen as another Royal Bodyguard or Big Top. As a tribute to (officially) the nation’s eighth favourite sitcom, though? It wasn’t bad. It might be able to sustain another special. If Roy Clarke sorts out the problem of scenes not flowing and the programme appearing to be a string of separate vignettes, I might also go so far as to suggest a series of six episodes. There’d have to be more originality, though, and less reliance on forty-years-old gags and set-ups – however much-loved they may be.

Image credits: Thanks to Matt Squire and Gary Moyes, ©BBC

What did you think of Still Open All Hours? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

Advertisements

This Christmas in TV – 21st December 2013 – 3rd January 2014

I don’t know about you, but I often find that the Christmas schedules are filled with great comedies, dramas and family shows up until about 27th December – and then it all dies down. We just get whatever’s left over. It’s like going to the tin of Quality Street a few days after Christmas and having to make do with the toffee pennies that get stuck in your teeth for four hours.

This year, though, I think it’s different. There are some great shows spread across the festive fortnight and I think there’s only one day in the whole of that time that I’ve been hard pushed to find something that I can write a few paragraphs about. Let’s see what you think, though. Here’s what we all have to look forward to on the telly this Christmas…

Saturday 21st December

The Illusionists

ITV, 9:10pm

Dynamo, Ben Earl, Tricked, Derren Brown… There seems to be a particular demand in this country  at the minute for magicians and illusionists. I don’t quite'The Illusionists' - ITV, 9:10pm know why, but suddenly TV channels are crying out for performers and their tricks – the riskier the better. And that’s handy, because this show features a lot of ‘risky’ stunts.

As part of their sell-out world tour, a team of six illusionists arrive at the Hammersmith Apollo and, with Stephen Mulhern overseeing proceedings, perform some large-scale illusions, death-defying stunts and comedy magic for a star-studded audience.

As you can imagine, there are some pretty impressive tricks in here – never to be tried at home, of course. Well, unless you happen to own a large transparent water tank and handcuffs – in which case, that’s your own affair.

Also today: Liz McClarnon, Sherrie Hewson, Russell Grant and Des O’Connor compete in The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 5:30pm); the winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2013 is announced (BBC1, 6:30pm & 8:40pm); ITV’s Harry Potter series continues with The Order of the Phoenix (6:30pm); Caroline Flack and Matt Richardson narrate The X Factor Winner’s Story (ITV2, 8:00pm); and BBC2 finishes its The Wrong Mans re-run with the final three episodes from 11:30pm.

The only new Christmas special today is Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5:40pm), which features the Chuckle Brothers, Keith Harris and Orville, Linda Lusardi and Sam Kane, and Roy Wood and Santa Claus himself!

Sunday 22nd December

The Sarah Millican Television Programme

BBC2, 10:00pm

The South Shields-born comedienne returns with a Christmas special of her fabulous chat/stand-up'The Sarah Millican Television Programme' - BBC2, 10:00pm show.

Sarah’s had a brilliant year: two series of her show have been made and broadcast, she was nominated for two British Comedy Awards last week and has gone off on her third tour, Home Bird. And now she’s topping it off with this Christmas special, which sees her chat to Call the Midwife stars Judy Parfitt (Sister Monica Joan) and Helen George (Trixie), as well as her teenage crush (her bedroom walls were plastered with posters): Phillip Schofield.

If you’re a fan of The Sarah Millican Television Programme, it might not be too late to ask for the best of series one and two on DVD for Christmas! Click here to find out how to order it.

Hebburn

BBC2, 10:30pm

Yes, I couldn’t resist writing about both of BBC2’s north-eastern, Christmas comedy specials.

Now, I have a confession to make. I watched all of the first series of Hebburn last year, and actually wasn’t as impressed by it as I made out. Everyone seemed to love it, though, so I just went along'Hebburn' - BBC2, 10:30pm with the hype, despite just finding it a quite funny, likeable show. The fact that I only live about twenty minutes away from Hebburn itself probably helped. I genuinely have loved this series, though – this and Last Tango in Halifax have helped bring gentle humour and pathos to Tuesday nights. And Jim Moir and Patt Dunn are simply brilliant together as Joe and his mum, Dot.

In this Christmas special, and the last episode in the series, Sarah and Jack return to Hebburn from Switzerland, just in time for Christmas Eve. However, Sarah’s mum, dad and nan have also turned up, and the latter begins immediately sparring with Jack’s gran, Dot. Plus, a theft means that the families – Jack’s and Sarah’s – must stay in the house, which leads to unlikely friendships being formed and more than a few enemies being made.

Also today: Big Sing: The UK’s Top 10 Carols (BBC1, 4:35pm); The Muppets and Lady Gaga at Christmas (Channel 5, 5:25pm); the obligatory showing of The Snowman (Channel 4, 6:25pm); Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Channel 4, 6:55pm); The Fir Tree (BBC4, 8:30pm) tells the story of the journey of the Christmas tree; there’s one-off drama The Whale (BBC1, 9:00pm), about the apparent inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick; Matt Edmondson presents Utterly Outrageous Reality TV Moments 2013 (ITV2, 10:00pm); and, with his musical Stephen Ward having recently opened in the West End, Andrew Lloyd Webber explores the Porfumo Affair in Sex, Lies and a Very British Scapegoat (BBC1, 10:30pm).

Monday 23rd December

John Bishop’s Christmas Show

BBC1, 9:00pm

Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop will be joined by a host of celebrity guests for a night of festive'John Bishop's Christmas Show' - BBC1, 9:00pm fun.

Fresh from his stint as host of the Royal Variety Performance, and filmed at London’s Lyceum Theatre, John will welcome comedians including Nina Conti, Tim Vine, Lee Nelson, David O’Doherty and Jason Manford to perform sets, as well as delivering a few routines himself.

So join John and some of his favourite comics for a night of festive laughs as he brings his witty observations and hilarious anecdotes to the audience both in the theatre and at home.

Also today: BBC1’s three days of Toy Story starts at 3:15pm; a new series of Celebrity Mastermind begins (BBC1, 7:00pm); Gary Barlow: Journey to Afghanistan (ITV, 9:00pm) sees the X Factor judge perform for the troops at Camp Bastion; Most Shocking Celebrity Moments 2013 (Channel 5, 9:00pm); the third series of Fresh Meat comes to an end (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Caitlin Moran’s sitcom pilot Raised by Wolves is on Channel 4 at 10:50pm.

Christmas specials include: A Question of Sport (BBC1, 7:30pm); The Gadget Show (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Would I Lie to You? (BBC1, 8:30pm); Peter Andre: My Life (ITV2, 9:00pm); and Bluestone 42 (BBC3, 10:00pm), which sees Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis join the cast.

Christmas Eve

The IT Crowd Night

Channel 4, 9:00pm

Channel 4 has dedicated a whole night to celebrating one of its most successful sitcoms of the century: The IT Crowd.

The evening begins with a repeat of September’s unofficial'The IT Crowd' Night - Channel 4, 9:00pm finale to the series, The Internet is  Coming at 9:00pm and then continues with The IT Crowd Manual at 10:00pm – a special documentary narrated by Stephen Mangan and featuring classic clips from the series. The show’s stars, Chris O’Dowd, Katherine Parkinson, Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry and Noel Fielding, and its creator, Graham Linehan, will also be revealing some behind-the-scenes secrets.

Then, there’ll be The Fans’ Favourite Episode (you can vote here) and, rounding it off, The Writer’s Favourite Episode. I’ve already cast my vote for the best episode: The Work Outing, in which the trio go to see – as Roy puts it – ‘a gay musical called Gay’. As with the best IT Crowd episodes, it has a complex plot and some fantastic one-liners. All of them are great though – it should be interesting to find out which one will be voted top.

Also today: It’s a Wonderful Life (Channel 4, 1:10pm); Toy Story 2 (BBC1, 3:40pm); a repeat of heartwarming drama Fast Freddie, the Widow and Me (ITV, 3:45pm); The Nation’s Favourite Christmas Song (ITV, 5:15pm); Carols From King’s (BBC2, 6:15pm); festive animations Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas (Channel 4, 7:05pm) and The Snowman and the Snowdog (Channel 4, 7:30pm); Midsomer Murders (ITV, 8:00pm); the marvellous Last Tango in Halifax finishes its second series (BBC1, 9:00pm); Greatest Ever Christmas Movies (Channel 5, 9:10pm); and BBC2 celebrates the late Mel Smith in I’ve Sort of Done Things (9:45pm) and Comedy Connections (10:45pm).

Christmas specials include: Trollied (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); Not Going Out (BBC1, 10:00pm); and last year’s Outnumbered (BBC1, 10:45pm).

Christmas Day

Downton Abbey

ITV, 8:30pm

As you can imagine, there was a lot of deliberation over which show to write about today. I have, of course, chosen Downton, though. And just like last year’s, the two hour-long episode is rather  disappointingly set in the summer.

As part of Rose’s ‘coming out’ (not in a Tom Daley way: in'Downton Abbey' - ITV, 8:30pm a ‘coming of age’ way), the Crawleys and Granthams travel to London for her debutante ball at Buckingham Palace. However, not one to miss out on a party, Cora’s mother, the outspoken Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine), and her son, the equally outspoken and morally questionable Harold, are also in tow, and make quite an impression amongst London’s high society.

Elsewhere, Carson treats the downstairs staff to a rare day out and the Crawleys become embroiled in a huge scandal which threatens to besmirch the names of the Granthams and the Royal Family, so Robert has to do all he can in order to keep the controversy at bay.

Also today: Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates host Top of the Pops Christmas (BBC1, 2:00pm); Toy Story 3 (BBC1, 3:20pm); Bear Gryll’s Wild Weekend With Stephen Fry (Channel 4, 8:30pm); the TV premiere of Michael Jackson’s This is It (Channel 5, 9:30pm); Michael McIntyre‘s 2012 stand-up show, Showtime (BBC1, 10:05pm); and Love, Actually (ITV, 10:45pm).

And there aren’t many Christmas specials – just Strictly (BBC1, 5:00pm); Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs (ITV, 5:15pm); Call the Midwife (BBC1, 6:15pm); Emmerdale (ITV, 6:15pm); Doctor Who (BBC1, 7:30pm); Coronation Street (ITV, 7:30pm); Christmas Night With the Two Ronnies (BBC2, 7:40pm); EastEnders (BBC1, 8:30pm); Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC1, 9:30pm); Chatty Man (Channel 4, 9:30pm); Man Down (Channel 4, 10:35pm); and the infamous lingerie department episode of Father Ted (Channel 4, 11:05pm). Like I said, not many specials…

Boxing Day

Gangsta Granny

BBC1, 6:05pm

Following the success of Mr Stink last year, the BBC has this year commissioned another TV'Gangsta Granny' - BBC1, 6:05pm adaptation of one of David Walliams’s bestselling children’s novels.

Gangsta Granny tells the story of eleven-year-old Ben, who loathes having to stay with his granny every Friday night when his Strictly-mad parents go to see a dancing show. He hates her company: she feeds him cabbage, subjects him to games of Scrabble and her telly doesn’t work. However, one night his granny discloses the she is an international jewel thief, known as The Black Cat – and suddenly staying with her is not such a bad prospect…

As well as David himself, Gangsta Granny stars Julia McKenzie, Miranda Hart, Joanna Lumley, Rob Brydon, Robbie Williams and Jocelyn Jee Esien, along with newcomer Reece Buttery as Ben.

Also today: The Wizard of Oz (Channel 5, 5:15pm); Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I premieres (ITV, 7:15pm); the much-anticipated Still Open All Hours (BBC1, 7:45pm); Death Comes to Pemberley (BBC1) and Idris Elba: King of Speed (BBC2) begin at 8:15pm; Channel 4 make a risky move in inviting Jack Whitehall onto The Big Fat Quiz of the Year again (Channel 4, 9:00pm), following his headline-making appearance last year; Len Goodman’s Perfect Christmas (BBC1, 9:15pm); Ben & James Versus The Arabian Desert (BBC2, 9:15pm); and I am Britney Jean: Britney Spears in Las Vegas (ITV, 10:05pm) sees the performer begin her two year residency in Vegas.

Friday 27th December

Open All Hours: A Celebration

BBC1, 1:20pm

When the new Open All Hours episode was announced in October, I felt compelled to write an'Open All Hours: A Celebration' - BBC1, 1:20pm article on this blog. I really didn’t like the idea. Sitcom revivals are always risky anyway – and that’s without the protagonist being dead! I just didn’t think that it was plausible that Granville would carry on running the shop once his uncle died and he had the chance to escape. The fact is, though, it’s happening. And I’ve sort of got used to the idea – and even begun to look forward to the new episode!

This thirty minutes-long documentary features interviews with Open All Hours stars Sir David Jason and Lynda Barron, as well as its creator, Roy Clarke, about why they think that, forty years after it debuted, the corner shop sitcom is still hugely popular. We also go behind-the-scenes of the new episode, taking a look at the preparations and anticipation surrounding it.

I just hope that Still Open All Hours is good. Actually, I hope that it’s more than good! I hope it’s excellent! The BBC clearly seem to think it is anyway: rumour has it a brand new series is in the pipeline!

Also today: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Channel 5, 4:10pm); the second episode of Death Comes to Pemberley (BBC1, 9:00pm); the Christmas special of Vicious (ITV, 9:00pm); The Inbetweeners Movie (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Slapstick Comedy Night on Channel 5 begins at 9:00pm with Mr Bean and continues at 10:00pm with Tommy Cooper’s Christmas; a New Year’s special of The Spa (Sky Living, 9:00pm); and Queer as Pop: From the Gay Scene to the Mainstream (Channel 4, 10:55pm) tells of how the liberation of gay men has influenced pop music over the past four decades.

Saturday 28th December

Death Comes to Pemberley

BBC1, 9:00pm

I’ve mentioned it for the past couple of days but now I’m writing about it for the final episode: Death'Death Comes to Pemberley' - BBC1, 9:00pm Comes to Pemberley is a gripping drama, adapted from PD James’s bestselling novel based on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

At a party at Elizabeth and Darcy’s home in Pemberley, Elizabeth’s brother-in-law Wickham is murdered. Darcy immediately springs into action, launching a search party in the woods, where they find a bloodied corpse. However, the body is not that of Wickham, but of his travelling companion. All that the Darcys hold dear is immediately thrown into jeopardy as they become embroiled in the web of lies and deceit of the ensuing murder investigation.

The three-part series (the conclusion of which is tonight) stars Anna Maxwell-Martin, Matthew Rhys and Matthew Goode.

Also today: An 80s special of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 6:00pm); Kate Garraway and former I’m a Celebrity… stars Rebecca Adlington and Rosemary Shrager are on the last Chase: Celebrity Special of the series (ITV, 6:00pm); the finale of Atlantis (BBC1, 8:15pm); 50 Funniest Moments 2013 (Channel 4, 9:00pm); the penultimate Mad Dogs (Sky 1 HD, 9:00pm); and Charlie Brooker’s 2013 Wipe (BBC2, 10:40pm).

Christmas specials include: All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:00pm), which sees Team Corrie go up against Team Dancing on Ice; The Cube Celebrity Special (ITV, 8:00pm), featuring Sherrie Hewson, Denise Welch, Lisa Maxwell and Greg Rutherford (who has never been a Loose Woman, to my knowledge); and The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:00pm), with John Bishop, Jamie Oliver, Ray Winstone, Susan Boyle and David Attenborough.

Sunday 29th December

Marple

ITV, 8:00pm

Despite the fact that it is apparently haunted, Miss Marple’s new acquaintance, the recently widowed Mike Rogers, dreams of building a new home on Gypsy Acre. However, he also has'Marple' - ITV, 8:00pm another aspiration: to woo American heiress Ellie Goldman. When he succeeds and they plan to marry, they also set about building his aforementioned dream home – but they have to contend with the threats of local gypsy, Mrs Lee.

Once the house is built and all seems fine, tragedy suddenly strikes as Ellie dies after being thrown from her horse. When two subsequent murders occur, Miss Marple has to step in and try to get to the bottom of Gyspy’s Acre.

The question is, will she be able to?

Also today: The last in the series of Sunday Side Up (ITV, 10:30am) and Sunday Scoop (ITV, 11:30am); Speed With Guy Martin begins (Channel 4, 8:00pm); the last-ever Mad Dogs (Sky 1 HD, 9:00pm); An Audience With Bruce Forsyth, from 1997, is on Channel 5 at 9:00pm, followed by Bruce Forsyth’s Comedy Heroes at 10:05pm; and 2013: Moments in Time (BBC2, 10:30pm) and Mashed (Channel 4, 11:05pm) both take a look back at the year just gone.

Christmas specials include: The recently-axed That Puppet Gameshow (BBC1, 3:20pm); Catchphrase (ITV, 7:00pm); 8 Out of 10 Cats (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and Rude Tube (Channel 4, 10:05pm).

Monday 30th December

The Thirteenth Tale

BBC2, 9:30pm

Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Colman star in this one-off drama based on Diane Setterfield’s novel of'The Thirteenth Tale' - BBC2, 9:30pm the same name.

When young biographer Margaret Lea visits legendary writer Vida Winter to interview her, previously undisclosed secrets are divulged. Due to the revelations of her childhood and dark past, a strong empathy is formed between Vida and her biographer, who is persuaded to confront her own skeletons in the closet.

Prepare for a dark and thrilling psychological mystery, perfect for seeing out 2013!

Also today: Family favourites The Railway Children (ITV, 11:25am) and Mary Poppins (BBC1, 4:15pm); Gok Does Panto (Channel 4, 7:05pm) goes behind-the-scenes of the fashion stylist’s stage debut at the Birmingham Hippodrome; Neil Oliver’s The Sacred Wonders of Britain begins (BBC2, 8:30pm); Agnes takes in a homeless parrot in Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC1, 9:30pm); Jack Dee presents Twit of the Year (Channel 4, 10:00pm); Rik Edwards hosts the Made in Chelsea end of series party (E4, 10:00pm); and there’s a chance to see Jesus Christ Superstar, starring Mel C, Tim Minchin, Chris Moyles and Superstar winner, Ben Forster (Channel 5, 11:35pm).

New Year’s Eve

Two Doors Down

BBC2, 9:00pm

Starring a cast of comedy actors, including Arabella Weir, Doon Mackichan and Greg McHugh, one-'Two Doors Down' - BBC1, 9:00pm off comedy-drama Two Doors Down shows the goings-on at a New Year’s Eve party thrown by Scottish couple Eric and Beth Baird.

The party is attended by the Bairds’ erratic and often mischievous family, friends and neighbours and, as the night goes on, the drinks flow and the countdown to midnight begins in true Scottish style, the laughs become more frequent – but ructions seem increasingly likely.

Also today: Some of this year’s chart-toppers perform on Top of the Pops New Year (BBC1, 5:30pm); ITV has Mamma Mia! (8:00pm); Alan Carr presents his annual New Year Specstacular (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Channel 5 counts down the Greatest Stand-Up Comedians (9:00pm); Jason Manford presents A Funny Old Year (ITV, 10:15pm); and midnight is counted down to in Gary Barlow’s Big Ben Bash (BBC1, 11:15pm) and Jools Holland’s Hootenanny (BBC2, 11:30pm).

Specials today include: Christmas episodes of Deal or no Deal (Channel 4, 7:00pm), Tudor Monastery Farm (BBC2, 9:00pm) and Mock the Week (BBC2, 10:00pm); and a New Year’s Eve special of The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:15pm), with Frank Skinner, Michael Buble, Joan and Jackie Collins, the Pythons and the stars of Anchorman 2.

New Year’s Day

Sherlock

BBC1, 9:00pm

Fans have been waiting two years for it but it’s finally here: the third series of Sherlock.'Sherlock' - BBC1, 9:00pm

As you can imagine, the BBC are giving very little away at the moment. We know, of course, that Sherlock will return – and that return will come as he is needed when London faces a terror attack. However, with Watson having moved on after two years without Holmes, and facing a safe future of domesticity, is he going to immediately aid him in saving the capital?

Well I think it’d make for an arduous ninety minutes if he didn’t…

Fans of the series may also like to note that a mini-episode in build-up to the third series will be available on Christmas Day. I’m not quite sure where or what time but it will be on Christmas Day. So look out for that!

Also today: The Sound of Music (BBC1, 2:15pm); Gnomeo and Juliet (BBC1, 6:45pm); the final Harry Potter film gets its TV premiere (ITV, 8:00pm); and David Blaine presents tricks for some big names in Real or Magic (Channel 4, 9:00pm).

Wednesday 2nd January

Birds of a Feather

ITV, 8:30pm

I genuinely cannot express the extent of my excitement about the return of Birds of a Feather. Unlike Open All Hours, this is a sitcom revival which I was ecstatic about from the start.'Birds of a Feather' - ITV, 8:30pm

That’s right, I’m a seventeen-year-old Birds of a Feather fanatic. And male. Nothing wrong with that!

Following the hit stage adaptation of the series, and rejection by the BBC, ITV decided to snap up Birds for a tenth series – the first to be broadcast on the network. I’m not particularly worried about this series of Birds not being up to scratch: the live tour was a sell-out and the creators, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, have come back to write a lot of the eight episodes, so everything should be fine.

So, what’s happening in the first episode? Well, in ‘Gimme Shelter’, we find Sharon living back in her council flat in Edmonton while Tracey is still in Chigwell with Travis (played by Charlie Quirke, son of Pauline) – but Dorien is nowhere to be seen. Where on earth could she have got to..? Well, it’s likely something to do with sex, isn’t it?

Also today: This Morning and Loose Women return (ITV, 10:30am and 12:30pm); Channel 5 makes us all feel a bit better about eating one too many chocolates by dedicating a whole night to Obesity and Diet from 7:00pm; The Restoration Man is back (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Dolphins: Spy in the Pod begins (BBC1, 8:00pm); Silent Witness starts a new series (BBC1, 9:00pm); we arrive at the Solana again for more Benidorm (ITV, 9:00pm); Michael Grade’s Stars of Musical Theatre is on BBC4 at 9:45pm; there’s a Christmas special (yes, a Christmas special!) of Rab C Nesbitt (BBC2, 10:00pm); and Matt Edmondson has more Fake Reaction (10:00pm).

Friday 3rd January

Celebrity Big Brother

Channel 5, 9:00pm

Yes, it seems not two minutes since Geordie Shore star and Sunderland ladette (although if'Celebrity Big Brother' - Channel 5, 9:00pm Newcastle want to claim her as theirs that’s fine by us…) was named Celebrity Big Brother champion for summer 2013 but now a new batch of vaguely recognisable faces are about to enter the house.

Obviously, no names have been released yet but rumours are rife, with Katies Hopkins and Price being the most prominent. However, other celebrities being linked with the series so far are Jim Davidson (although his name has been bandied about for the past two series) and Nancy Dell’Ollio.

Whoever goes into the house, though, it’s sure to be another cracker of a series.

Also today: A return for The Martin Lewis Money Show (ITV, 8:00pm), Robson’s Extreme Fishing Challenge (Channel 5, 8:00pm), James May’s Toy Stories (BBC1, 9:00pm), Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, with June Brown (ITV, 9:00pm), and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4, 9:00pm). There’s also a new Rude Tube (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and highlights of the most recent, star-studded series of The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm).

So, there we are: that’s what’s coming up on your tellyboxes over Christmas and New Year. 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: The Illusionists – Thanks to ITV, ©Wizard TV; The Sarah Millican Television Programme – Thanks to BBC, ©So Television; Hebburn – Thanks to BBC and Matt Squire, ©Baby Cow Manchester/Channel X North; John Bishop’s Christmas Show – Thanks to BBC, ©Lola Entertainment; The IT Crowd Night – Thanks to Channel 4, Pete Dodds and Talkback Thames; Downton Abbey – ©ITV; Gangsta Granny – Thanks to BBC and Gary Moyes, ©BBC; Open All Hours: A Celebration – Thanks to BBC and Gary Moyes, ©BBC; Death Comes to Pemberley – Thanks to BBC, Origin Pictures and Robert Viglasky, ©Origin Pictures; Marple – Thanks to ITV and Neil Genaver, ©ITV; The Thirteenth Tale – Thanks to BBC, Dayday Films and Laurence Cendrowicz, ©Dayday Films; Two Doors Down – Thanks to BBC and Mark Mainz, ©BBC; Sherlock – Thanks to BBC, Hartswood Films and Robert Viglasky, ©Hartswood Films; Birds of a Feather – ©ITV/Retort/QuirkyMedia Stuff; Celebrity Big Brother – Thanks to Five.

This Week in TV – 14th – 20th December

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV. And as X Factor ends for another year, the Christmas specials begin to come out in force…

Saturday 14th December

The X Factor

ITV, 8:00pm

Tonight, the final three acts perform at Wembley Arena in the hope of being crowned X Factor  winner 2013.'The X Factor' - ITV, 8:00pm

At the time of writing, the acts remaining are Rough Copy, Nicholas McDonald, Luke Friend and Sam Bailey. Personally, I would love to see Sam take the title – and I think she has a very good chance of doing so. She’s been consistently brilliant and, unlike the others, shines no matter what kind of music she’s performing.

Or I’d like to see Nicholas win. Because I fancy him a little bit.

One act will be eliminated tonight, leaving the remaining two to battle it out tomorrow. While The Killers and Tom Odell will be taking to the stage tonight, Katy Perry, One Direction, Sir Elton John and X Factor judge Gary Barlow will be performing tomorrow.

Also today: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (ITV, 2:30pm); the Strictly semi-final (BBC1, 6:40pm); Micky Flanagan, Helen Skelton, Arlene Phillips and Diarmuid Gavin are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); Psychopath Night begins on Channel 4 (9:00pm); to coincide with the release of the sequel on Wednesday, Anchorman is on BBC3 at 10:00pm; the film’s star, Will Ferrell joins David Beckham on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10:05pm); and BBC2 repeats The Wrong Mans, beginning with a triple bill tonight (10:55pm).

Sunday 15th December

Sports Personality of the Year 2013

BBC1, 7:40pm

Tonight Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan will reveal which sportsperson will follow in'Sports Personality of the Year' - BBC1, 7:40pm the footsteps of 2012 Sports Personality of the Year, Bradley Wiggins.

The contenders this year include: sailing champion, Ben Ainslie; cricketer, Ian Bell; athlete, Hannah Cockroft; runner, Mo Farah; cyclist, Chris Froome; rugby union player, Leigh Halfpenny; jockey and former SPOY winner, AP McCoy; athlete, Christine Ohuruogu; golfer, Justin Rose; and tennis player, Andy Murray.

So, some brilliant contenders this year* but who will be the sixtieth recipient? I have to be honest, I think Andy Murray will take some beating but we’ll find out exactly who wins the award tonight.

*I have no idea if these are ‘brilliant contenders’. I’m as familiar with sport as Katie Hopkins is with tact.

Also today: Let’s Do Christmas With Gino & Mel returns (ITV, 12:30pm), with Cheryl Fergison the first to join in the festive chat and cooking; Ski Sunday is back (BBC2, 5:55pm); Harry Judd, Gareth Gates and Chris Bisson are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 6:30pm); find out who’s going through to the Strictly final at 7:00pm; the X Factor winner is announced (ITV, 7:30pm); Britain’s Killer Storms (Channel 4, 7:30pm) looks at the worst weather of 2012; and, as is tradition, Channel 5 counts down Britain’s Favourite Christmas Songs (9:30pm).

Christmas specials include: The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC2, 7:40pm) and Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:30pm).

Monday 16th December

A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards

ITV, 9:00pm

Now in its sixth year, The Millies celebrates the exceptional work and bravery of the British military.'A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards' - ITV, 9:00pm

As always, the intrepid recipients have been selected by a panel of judges, this year comprising of Andy McNab, Lorraine Kelly, Holly Willoughby, Jeremy Clarkson and former military chiefs Admiral Lord West, Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire and General Sir Mike Jackson.

So, join hosts Philip Schofield and Amanda Holden, along with an audience of celebrities and politicians, for a night of rare celebration of the brilliance of our Forces.

Also today: The first instalment of World’s Strongest Man 2013 (Channel 5, 7:00pm); Kirsty’s Crafty Christmas (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Tom Kerridge Cooks Christmas (BBC2, 8:30pm); and the last-ever Ripper Street (BBC1, 9:00pm).

Christmas specials include: Don’t Tell the Bride (BBC3, 9:00pm) and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, hosted by Johnny Vegas (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 17th December

The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special 

BBC2, 8:00pm

In this one-off festive masterclass, Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry show viewers'The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special' - BBC2, 8:00pm  how to create some top Christmas treats.

Stollen, Mincemeat Streusel and a Gingerbread House (pictured) are on the menu tonight, as well as Paul’s own Boxing Day pie.

If you’re struggling for a unique, homemade treat to top of your Christmas celebrations, this may just be ideal!

Also today: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (ITV, 7:30pm); Pothole Britain: Drivers Beware! (Channel 5, 8:00pm); and documentary The Lockerbie Bombing (ITV, 11:00pm).

Christmas specials include: The Call Centre (BBC3, 9:00pm); Bad Education (BBC3, 10:00pm); and The Matt Lucas Awards (BBC1, 10:35pm), with Alan Davies, Jo Brand and Rhod Gilbert.

Wednesday 18th December

The Great Train Robbery 

BBC1, 8:00pm

Last year ITV brought us the fantastic Mrs Biggs, and now Auntie have this two-part drama based on'The Great Train Robbery' - BBC1, 8:00pm the 1963 heist.

Written by Broadchurch scribe Chris Chibnall, the series begins with ‘A Robber’s Tale’, the story of the heist, told from the perspective of the perpetrators. We see the gang plan, rehearse and finally execute the theft, including the many humorous slip-ups they made and obstacles they faced along the way.

Starring Luke Evans, Neil Maskell and Martin Compston, this opening episode tells of the group’s extraordinary luck, and how that luck would change their lives forever.

Also today: Excessive Compulsive Collectors (Channel 5, 8:00pm); the conclusion of Lucan (ITV, 9:00pm); Britain’s Craziest Christmas Lights (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and the credits roll on Gogglebox for the final time this year (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Christmas specials include: Food & Drink (BBC2, 8:00pm); Surprise, Surprise (ITV, 8:00pm); and Backchat, with Lee Mack (BBC3, 10:00pm). There are also repeats of last year’s Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Sarah Millican Television Programme specials (BBC1, 9:30pm and BBC2, 10:00pm).

Thursday 19th December

Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 

ITV, 8:00pm

Chris Tarrant presents what may be the final-ever Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? celebrity special.'Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' - ITV, 8:00pm  Or indeed the final-ever Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

Among the celebrity pairs tonight are Sir Alex Ferguson and Eamonn Holmes, who are of course pals owing to their Manchester United link.

Now, with Chris Tarrant having left the show (as he made plain during his cringeworthy Jonathan Ross Show interview), it’s possible that this will be the last time that we’ll see contestants taking to the hot seat.

Still, I’m sure we’ll get over it.

Also today: Hairy Bikers’ Christmas Party (BBC2, 7:00pm); The Great Train Robbery concludes (BBC1, 8:00pm); Alex Polizzi’s Perfect Christmas (BBC2, 8:00pm); George Clarke’s Amazing Christmas Spaces (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Giles Coren and Alexander Armstrong host The 12 Drinks of Christmas (BBC2, 9:00pm); Phil Taggart presents Christmas on Benefits (BBC3, 9:00pm); the last-ever episode of Him & Her (BBC3, 10:00pm); highlights of Celebrity Juice in Parallel Juicyverse (ITV2, 10:00pm); and one-off documentary Utopia (ITV, 10:35pm).

Christmas specials include: Educating Yorkshire (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and last year’s Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Royle Family (BBC1, 9:30pm and 10:35pm) – the first of which was disappointing, the latter just plain abysmal. Sorry, Caroline and Craig, but you’ll have to do better than that!

Friday 20th December

Text Santa 

ITV, 8:00pm

It’s slowly becoming as much a fixture as Comic Relief and Children in Need – and, now in its third'Text Santa' - ITV, 8:00pm year, ITV’s Text Santa appeal is back.

Although the big telethon actually begins at eight o’clock, there are programmes in aid of Text Santa throughout the day on ITV. Dickinson’s Real Deal, from Birmingham, is on at 3:00pm and The Chase is at 5:00pm. If The Chase special is anything like last year’s, which saw all of the Chasers dressed as pantomime characters, it should be brilliant.

Back to the show itself, though, and hosts Ant & Dec, Philip Schofield, Holly Willoughby, Paddy McGuinness and Christine Bleakley will be bringing three hours of festive entertainment, including Corrie, Emmerdale and Take Me Out specials and a performance of this year’s single, ‘I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday’, by the Big Reunion cast.

The six charities benefiting this year are: Age UK, Barnardo’s, BeatBullying, British Heart Foundation, CLIC Sargent and Help the Hospices. To find out more about these causes, and how to donate to the appeal, click here.

There will also be a highlights package at 11:45pm.

Also today: Gordon Ramsay’s Festive Home Cooking (Channel 4, 8:00pm); The Xtra Factor: Judges All-Time Best and Worst (ITV2, 8:00pm); 2013: Moments in Time (BBC2) and Have I Got 2013 For You (BBC1) look back at the events of the year at 9:00pm; Jack Whitehall hosts Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); Alan Carr welcomes Katy Perry onto his show (Channel 4, 10:00pm) and Julie Walters, Tinie Tempah, Idris Elba and Miranda Hart are on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Christmas specials today include: University Challenge (BBC2, 7:30pm); Citizen Khan (BBC1, 8:30pm); and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings (Channel 4, 9:00pm).

This Christmas in TV (for 21st December 2013 – 3rd January 2014) will be published at the earlier time of midnight on Monday (9th December).

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: The X Factor – Thanks to ITV and Tom Dymond, ©Thames TV; Sports Personality of the Year – Thanks to BBC, Ray Burmiston and Joel Anderson, ©BBC; A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards – Thanks to ITV and TwoFour Productions, ©The Sun; The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special – Thanks to BBC and Love Productions, ©Love Productions; The Great Train Robbery – Thanks to BBC, World Productions and Robert Viglasky, ©World Productions; Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – Thanks to ITV and Victory Television, ©Victory Television; Text Santa – ©ITV.

British Comedy Awards Nominees 2013

Yes, it’s not long until the British Comedy Awards and, ahead of the official nominations reveal show on Wednesday (10:45pm), Channel 4 have announced which comedy shows and stars are up for gongs this year.

So, here are the nominations. I did toy with the idea of including my opinion on each but I knew that I’d just witter on about how great they are, so instead I’ve just highlighted my favourite in red…

Best Comedy Panel Show

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4)

Have I Got News For You (BBC1)

A League of Their Own (Sky 1 HD)

Would I Lie to You? (BBC1)

Best Comedy Entertainment Programme

Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV)

Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4)

The Last Leg (Channel 4)

The Graham Norton Show (BBC1)

Best Sketch Show

Horrible Histories (CBBC)

Harry & Paul (BBC2)

It’s Kevin (BBC2)

Psychobitches (Sky Arts 1)

Best Sitcom

Bad Education (BBC3)

Count Arthur Strong (BBC2)

Getting On (BBC4)

Peep Show (Channel 4)

Best New Comedy Programme

Plebs (ITV2)

Cuckoo (BBC3)

Count Arthur Strong (BBC2)

Psychobitches (Sky Arts 1)

Best Male Television Comic

David Mitchell

Jon Richardson

Lee Mack

James Corden

Best Female Television Comic

Nina Conti

Miranda Hart

Sarah Millican

Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc

Best Comedy Entertainment Personality

Adam Hills

Graham Norton

Alan Carr

Ant & Dec

Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist

Adam Hills (The Last Leg)

Steve Delaney (Count Arthur Strong)

Jonny Sweet (Chickens)

Tom Basden (Plebs)

Best TV Comedy Actor

Greg Davies (Cuckoo)

David Mitchell (Peep Show)

Jack Whitehall (Fresh Meat)

Kevin Eldon (It’s Kevin)

Best TV Comedy Actress

Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat)

Miranda Hart (Miranda)

Jo Brand (Getting On)

Vicki Pepperdine (Getting On)

King/Queen Of Comedy

This is the only award which is voted for by the public. The numbers to vote for each contender are below and will close during the live ceremony. To vote from a mobile, call 6 50 58 and then add the number of your favourite. To vote from a landline, call 09020 50 58 and then add the number of your favourite.

 Alan Carr (01)

David Mitchell (02)

Graham Norton (03)

Jack Whitehall (04)

Lee Mack (05)

Sarah Millican (06)

Well there we go – those are the nominees. I would have liked to have seen a comedy-drama category as I think there have been some fantastic examples in the last twelve months (Last Tango in Halifax, Mount Pleasant, Stella, The Wrong Mans, etc.) which sadly will not get a look-in – and were often funnier than some of the shows nominated. There are some brilliant shows and performers in the running, though, and I look forward to finding out who the panel of judges/public have chosen to be the winner.

Image courtesy of Channel 4 and Dave King

The British Comedy Awards Nominations Show, narrated by the reigning King of Comedy, Jack Whitehall, is on Wednesday at 10:45pm on Channel 4

The ceremony itself is on live next Thursday (12th December) at 9:00pm on Channel 4

What do you think of this year’s nominees? Who are you backing? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

This Week in TV – 7th – 13th December

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – which is unusually jam-packed with great stuff! Must be nearly Christmas…

Saturday 7th December

Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Mine

Channel 4, 7:15pm

Written and narrated by Hawking himself, this autobiographical documentary tells the full story of the'Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Mine' - Channel 4, 7:15pm scientist’s extraordinary life for the first time.

When Professor Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963, aged 21, he was given just two years to live. That was of course fifty years ago and Hawking has since gone on to be the most highly-regarded and influential scientist of recent time, exceeding professionals’ predictions not just of his life expectancy but of his capabilities during that time.

Featuring interviews with Buzz Aldrin, Jim Carrey, Richard Branson, friends and family, this programme tells the remarkable story of the life of Stephen Hawking.

Also today: Family favourite Babe (ITV, 1:45pm); the Strictly quarter-final (BBC1, 7:10pm); Russell Kane and Karen Barber are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:15pm); it’s the X Factor semi-final (ITV, 8:15pm); and Jack Dee, Olivia Colman, Ellie Goulding and Tom Daley (my new boyfriend, if my mam’s to be believed…) are on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10:45pm).

Sunday 8th December

I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

ITV, 9:00pm

Some shows are easy to write about because I watch them. SomeSure winner? Joey Essex shows are more difficult to write  about because either I don’t watch it or it’s new and I have no interest in it. I’m a Celebrity… is strangely somewhere in the middle of the easy-difficult spectrum: I do watch it but am writing about it before anyone has left the jungle. It is therefore not easy to speculate who will be crowned King or Queen.

I don’t think that this series has been the best, if I’m honest. Maybe that’s because the camp has been extremely well-fed this year. Irritating as they may have been at the time, you can’t deny that the Gillian McKeiths, Sinittas and Helen Flanagans of yesteryear did cause a few ructions in camp, and therefore a highly entertaining series, butMy Queen - Rebecca Adlington apart from Matthew Wright in the opening episode, we haven’t had any cowards this year. The only real highlights of this run have been Mr Essex’s idiocies – or ‘Joeyisms’, as they’ve become known.

For that reason, I think I’d put my money on Joey winning – and I wouldn’t mind that, to be honest. Who I’d really love to see follow in Charlie Brooks’s footsteps, though, is Rebecca Adlington. I think she’s been so down-to-earth and open. I’ve also felt sorry for her, too – particularly when she has spoken about the expectations of women and perceptions of beauty. Then again, there’s no one who I’ve disliked this year – except Vincent Simone. So whoever wins, I’ll probably be pleased. And hopefully next year’s series will be a bit more gripping.

The annual I’m a Celebrity… Coming Out show is on Wednesday at 8:00pm.

Also today: Home Alone (Channel 4, 5:25pm); find out who’s through to next week’s Strictly at 7:20pm; and Leona Lewis and Michael Buble perform on The X Factor (ITV, 8:00pm).

Monday 9th December

The Royal Variety Performance

ITV, 7:30pm'The Royal Variety Performance' - ITV, 7:30pm

John Bishop hosts the 85th Royal Variety Performance, recorded last week at the London  Palladium.

As always the two-and-a-half hours-long show will feature a wide range of top musicians and comedians. Mary J Blige, Chas & Dave, Gary Barlow, Jessie J, Torvill and Dean, Britain’s Got Talent winners Attraction, and the casts of I Can’t Sing (Harry Hill’s X Factor musical) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will all be performing. Meanwhile, Dame Edna Everage, Jimmy Carr, Seann Walsh and the much under-exposed Hal Cruttenden will be providing the laughs, alongside host John Bishop.

Also today: Helicopter Heroes returns (BBC1, 11:30am); Christmas Kitchen With James Martin begins (BBC1, 3:45pm); Celebrity Eggheads is back (BBC2, 6:00pm); Great British Garden Revival (BBC2, 7:00pm) sees experts offer advice to viewers; Joe Swash presents I’m a Celebrity… Trials and Tribulations (ITV2, 8:00pm); there’s a one-off Food Unwrapped (Channel 4, 8:30pm); and a Snog, Marry, Avoid Christmas special (BBC3, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 10th December

The Great Christmas Toy Giveaway'The Great Christmas Toy Giveaway' - Channel 5, 7:00pm 

Channel 5, 7:00pm

Myleene Klass, Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes will be joined in a Christmas grotto by an audience of children and a whole host of celebrity guests to give away a mountain of Christmas goodies.

Union J, Mark Wright, Jeff Brazier and many more will help give prizes including bikes, scooters, board games and cuddly toys away. Viewers at home will also have the chance to win a sleigh full of toys and a UK charity will benefit from what Channel 5 are calling ‘a HUGE donation’. Should be fun!

Also today: Heston’s Great British Food (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Suzannah Lipscomb presents New Hidden Killers: The Victorian Home (BBC4, 9:00pm); Freda Kelly tells her story of working with the Beatles for over a decade in Good Ol’ Freda: The Beatles’ Secretary (More4, 9:00pm); and Keane & Vieira: Best of Enemies (ITV4, 10:00pm) tells the story of the rivalry between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira.

Wednesday 11th December

Lucan 

ITV, 9:00pm

Written by The Fattest Man in Britain co-writer Jeff Pope, Lucan tells the story of Lord Lucan’s'Lucan' - ITV, 9:00pm activities as part of the infamous Clermont set, as well as the collapse of his marriage to his wife Veronica.

Starring Rory Kinnear as the eponymous Lucan and Christopher Eccleston as his co-conspirator, John Aspinall, the two-part drama focuses on Lucan’s fight for custody of his children and reveals what happened on the night of their nanny, Sandra Rivett’s death in 1974. Rivett was bludgeoned to death, with many believing to this day that Lucan mistook her for Veronica. His whereabouts and eventual fate have remained a mystery for over forty years, with the public’s fascination with his life having never diminished.

Inspired by John Pearson’s The Gamblers, Lucan also stars Michael Gambon, Rupert Evans and Paul Freeman.

Also today: SuperScrimpers Christmas Cracker (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Pappy’s present Great Movie Mistakes (BBC3, 8:00pm); Sports Personality of the Year at 60 (BBC1, 9:00pm); Typhoon Haiyan: Eye of the Storm (Sky1, 9:00pm) has accounts from survivors of the disaster; Patisserie with Michael Roux Jr (BBC4, 9:00pm); The Only Way is Essexmas (ITV2, 10:00pm); and there are highlights of the second series of I’m Spazticus (Channel 4, 11:50pm).

Thursday 12th December

There’s Something About Susan 

ITV, 9:00pm

Despite having found masses of adoring fans after her astounding Britain’s Got Talent audition,'There's Something About Susan' - ITV, 9:00pm which was viewed by over 100 million people on YouTube (that’s almost 1/70 people in the world!), Susan Boyle still suffers from terrible anxiety. This isn’t surprising: anyone who has read her autobiography, The Woman I Was Born to Be, will know that she has had a lot to put up with in her life – both pre- and post-BGT fame.

Her anxieties are about to become more intense, however, as she prepares to embark on a nationwide tour of her native Scotland – and then go on to perform in front of a 20,000 strong crowd in the States. This one-off documentary goes behind-the-scenes of the tour, showing how Susan dealt with the pressures of touring as well as the prospect of taking her show across the UK.

Also today: A Christmas edition of Supermarket Secrets (BBC1, 9:00pm); Jonathan Ross hosts The British Comedy Awards (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Mummy’s Little Murderer (Channel 5, 9:00pm) investigates the murder of Emily Longley and her boyfriend in 2011; and there are Christmas specials of The Big Reunion (ITV2, 9:00pm) and Celebrity Juice (ITV2, 10:00pm).

Friday 13th December

Derren Brown: The Great Art Robbery 

Channel 4, 9:00pm

Friday 13th: unlucky for some, and certainly unlucky for Ivan Massow, who is the victim of Derren Brown’s latest illusion.

Derren has organised for a specially-chosen team to steal a painting and even told art collector Ivan which Turner-nominated piece will be nabbed, when it will happen and has given him a picture of the ‘thief’. Who does this specially-chosen team comprise of, though?

Well…pensioners.

That’s right, in this one-off special we will see Derren train his mob of senior citizens in how to pull off the stunt. But, with Ivan having already been given the details of the theft, will they succeed?

Also today: Jennifer Saunders and Bernard Cribbins are on Have I Got News For You (BBC1, 9:00pm); Boyzone at 20: No Matter What (ITV, 9:00pm) celebrates two decades of the Irish boyband; Channel 5 celebrates 40 years of Abba, kicking off with documentary The Abba Years at 9:00pm; Adam Hills hosts Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); Victoria Wood and Richard Osman make their QI debuts (BBC2, 10:00pm); and Graham Norton has Ben Stiller, Jamie Oliver, Martin Freeman and Jessie J at 10:35pm on BBC1 while Alan Carr welcomes Seann Walsh and Michael Buble onto Chatty Man at the same time on Channel 4.

The next This Week in TV (for 14th – 20th December) will be published at the usual time of midnight on Saturday (7th December).

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: Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Mine – Thanks to Channel 4 and Darlow Smithson; I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! – All images ©ITV; The Royal Variety Performance – Thanks to ITV Studios, ©ITV; The Great Christmas Toy Giveaway – Thanks to Channel 5 and 5Production; Lucan – Thanks to ITV and Des Willie, ©ITV; There’s Something About Susan – Thanks to ITV, ©Firecracker Films.