Category Archives: ‘Birds of a Feather’

This Week in TV – 11th – 17th January

Following on from a week that provided a triumphant return for Catherine Tate, a hugely enjoyable Life Stories thanks to Mary Berry and the best first week of Celebrity Big Brother for a long time, here’s what is in store for the next seven days.

Saturday 11th January

The Voice UK

BBC1, 7:00pm'The Voice UK' - BBC1, 7:00pm

Yes, everyone’s fifth favourite talent show is back for a third (and final?) series.

As I’m sure you’re aware, there are a few changes this year: Jessie J and Danny off of The Script have left to focus on their music (code for ‘have jumped ship before it sinks’), so Kylie Minogue (pictured) and Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs are sitting in their chairs, alongside regulars will.i.am and Tom Jones. He used to know Elvis, don’t you know.

The presenting team has altered somewhat in this series too. And by ‘somewhat’ I do of course mean ‘entirely’. Emma Willis has signed up as part of her quest for TV domination, and Marvin Humes is also on board. Well, it keeps him out of the dole queue.

Perhaps I should make it clear that I’m not a huge fan of The Voice. But I do like Kylie. And Emma Willis. So I might gave it another chance.

Also today: Dynamo: Magician Impossible comes to BBC1 (5:30pm); Shane Richie hosts new game show Reflex (BBC1, 6:15pm); Keith Duffy dons his budgie smugglers for Splash! (ITV, 7:00pm); new US series Hostages begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Torvill and Dean are on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:45pm); and star-studded comedy film Burke and Hare premieres (BBC2, 10:15pm).

Sunday 12th January

Sherlock

BBC1, 8:30pm

Unsurprisingly, the new series of Sherlock has been as popular as ever, but it all ends for another year tonight, seemingly just two minutes since it came back. Worry not, though, Steven Moffat said last week that series four and five have already been planned out, so it seems that we’ve a few more'Sherlock' - BBC1, 8:30pm years’ worth of Conan-Doyle’s tales left to enjoy.

Tonight, in an episode entitled ‘The Last Vow’ (ooh, ominous), a case of stolen letters leads Sherlock to confront the one man he truly hates: Charles Augustus Magnussen. It’s certainly not going to be easy for him to get to the bottom of this one.

A Timeshift special, entitled ‘How to be Sherlock Holmes: Many Faces of a Master Detective’, follows on BBC4 at 10:00pm, taking a look back at the many actors who have taken on the role of the sleuth.

Also today: The next batch of ‘all stars’ enter the rink for Dancing on Ice (ITV, 6:15pm); Paul Potts and Ann Widdecombe lock horns on All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:45pm); Simon Reeve explores the east African tea industry in This World (BBC2, 8:00pm); and a highlights package of the very best of thirty seven years of It’ll Be Alright on the Night (ITV, 9:00pm).

Monday 13th January

The Great Sport Relief Bake Off

BBC2, 8:30pm

The baps will be out and there’ll be soggy bottoms galore (but enough about Mazza Bezza) as a whole host of stars – and, unusually for a celebrity series, I do mean stars – enter the tent, roll up'The Great British Sport Relief Bake Off' - BBC2, 8:30pm their sleeves and get baking in aid of Sport Relief.

While Downton’s Samantha Bond, boxer Nicola Adams, actress Bonnie Wright and (the unrelated) Michael and Johnny Vaughan take part tonight, we can also look forward to seeing Jane Horrocks, Jason Gardiner, Michael Ball, Jamelia, Rochelle Humes and many more try their hands at baking this week.

Not only that, but over the next four nights we will also see a variety of presenters guide the competitors through their cake-based disasters: 50% of the regular team, Sue Perkins, will host the first episode, then we’ll have Jo Brand on Tuesday, Omid Djalili on Wednesday and Ed Byrne on Thursday. Don’t ask me why; we just do.

Also today: Dramatically-titled documentary series The Sheriffs Are Coming returns (BBC1, 11:00am); A Place in the Sun: Winter Sun is back (Channel 4, 2:10pm); Hannah White presents endurance series Go Hard or Go Home (Channel 5, 8:00pm); there’s a Fake Britain special (BBC1, 8:30pm); Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents is back, this time with the focus on Thailand (BBC3, 9:00pm); one-off documentary Dave: Loan Ranger (Channel 4, 10:00pm) sees entrepreneur Dave Fishwick help people who are in deep debt; Baby Faced Brides (Channel 5, 10:00pm) follows teenagers who are getting married; and Nick Helm’s likeable sitcom Uncle gets a full series on BBC3 (10:00pm), following its pilot on Channel 4 in 2012.

Tuesday 14th January

House of Fools

BBC2, 10:00pm

Set in Bob’s home, House of Fools is exactly what you’d expect of a Reeves and Mortimer sitcom: it’s disorganised, it’s surreal but, above all, it’s very funny. Well, it looks like it is anyway.

Yes, this new series is set in Bob Mortimer’s house – but you wouldn’t think it, as the place is'House of Fools' - BBC2, 10:00pm perpetually populated by a plethora of people (ok, I’ll stop with the alliteration) who it seems are uninvited and merely turn up in order to annoy poor Bob. People such as Vic, whose long-term stay in the house means that he has come to have a complete disregard for Bob’s wishes and has begun to treat the place like his own. Then there’s Erik – Bob’s Norwegian son (did I really have to tell you that this is a Reeves and Mortimer script?), Julie from next door, ladies’ man Beef, and ex-con Bosh. Together, they all comprise the titular House of Fools.

As well as starring Vic and Bob themselves, the series also features top comedy talent such as Daniel Simonsen, Matt Berry, Morgana Robinson and the much under-valued Dan Skinner.

Also today: Ben Miller bows out of Death in Paradise (BBC1, 9:00pm); wildlife documentaries Wild Brazil (BBC2, 9:00pm) and Paul O’Grady’s Animal Orphans (ITV, 9:00pm); Underage and Over the Limit focuses on underage drinkers in, surprise surprise, Sunderland (BBC3, 9:00pm); and Autopsy: The Last Hours of Whitney Houston is on Channel 5 at 10:00pm.

Wednesday 15th January

The Kumars

Sky1 HD, 9:00pm

Yes, after an eight year absence from our screens, Britain’s best-loved, and only, chat show family are back for a brand new series, this time on Sky.

So, what’s happened to the British-Asian family since we'The Kumars' - Sky1 HD, 9:00pm last saw them? Well, following a downturn in fortunes, the Kumars have had to move out of number 42 and are now living in a flat in Hounslow. Also, Sanjeev is divorced and Madhuri (Mum) has returned to India, meaning that the series has been made without Indira Joshi. Whether that was her choice or not we don’t know.

Other than that, things are pretty much as-was, and Sanjeev will continue to battle through his family squabbles and try to keep control of his chats. And what chats they’ll be as the recession may have hit the Kumars but the quality of their guests has not been compromised: Olivia Colman, Richard E Grant, Elizabeth McGovern, Daniel Radcliffe, Dame Diana Rigg and many, many more will drop in for a chat throughout the six weeks.

Also today: We find out who will follow in Evander Holyfield’s footsteps and be the next to leave Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); British Comedy Award-winning Nina Conti hosts Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); and a Cutting Edge special takes a look at a new adoption scheme (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 16th January

Birds of a Feather

ITV, 8:30pm

It was always going to fare quite well. Given that, at its peak, the series was drawing in 27 million viewers and ran for 102 episodes, Birds of a Feather was undeniably a hit in the nineties, and while'Birds of a Feather' - ITV, 8:30pm the return was met with some anger, confusion and more than a little indifference, it has been generally warmly received, giving ITV its biggest audience for a sitcom since Barbara (remember that?) almost fourteen years ago.

It does seem to me that Birds wouldn’t have been commissioned without the preceding BBC series. It is enjoyable, but mainly because we already know and love the characters, and are therefore likely to laugh at anything they say or do. It wouldn’t be able to hold its own against more contemporary series (Miranda and Mrs Brown’s Boys stand out in my mind) but it is enjoyable. Even just for Lesley Joseph.

Tonight, Garth and Marcie aren’t having any ‘together time’, so Tracey decides to move Sharon out of her room and onto the sofa. However, when this fails, Sharon takes to sleeping in the loft, where she may just find something to solve her sister’s financial problems.

Also today: Wildlife series Hidden Kingdoms begins (BBC1, 8:00pm); and the brilliantly acerbic Charlie Brooker has more Weekly Wipe (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Friday 17th January

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories

ITV, 9:00pm

We’ve already had two highly enjoyable Life Stories this series, thanks to June Brown and Mary Berry, and now it’s the turn of Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey to take a grilling from Piers.'Piers Morgan's Life Stories' - ITV, 9:00pm

In this candid interview, Neil tells his side of the story for the first time about his infamous five week- long affair with Amanda Holden, who was married to Family Fortunes host Les Dennis at the time. He claims that the affair was inevitable and he never has apologised to Les, nor has any intention to. It may be worth noting that, while talking about the affair, Neil condemns Amanda for discussing the topic in her autobiography, published around the time that the programme was recorded. Pot. Kettle. Black.

The actor will also talk about going into care at the age of ten, his current marriage and his many encounters with the rich and famous. But not Amanda Holden. Because it would be wrong to talk about that so publicly, wouldn’t it Neil?

Also today: An Island Parish returns (BBC2, 8:30pm); Kathy Burke and Josh Widdicombe join in the literacy- and numeracy-based fun of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4, 9:00pm); there’s another Celebrity Big Brother Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Susan Calman, Sandi Toksvig and Liza Tarbuck are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); there’s a repeat of Sarah Millican’s brilliant 2011 show, Chatterbox (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Graham Norton welcomes Michael Fassbender, Lena Dunham, Idris Elba and Olivia Colman onto his sofa (BBC1, 10:35pm).

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 Voice UK – Thanks to BBC and Guy Levy, ©Wall to Wall; Sherlock – Thanks to BBC and Robert Viglasky, ©Hartswood Films; The Great Sport Relief Bake Off – Thanks to BBC and Scott Kershaw, ©Sport Relief Ltd; House of Fools – Thanks to Pett Productions and Christopher Baines, ©BBC; The Kumars – ©Justin Downing for Sky 1 HD; Birds of a Feather – ©ITV/Retort/QuirkyMedia Stuff; Piers Morgan’s Life Stories – Thanks to Kieron McCarron, ©ITV.

‘Birds of a Feather’ (ITV) Review

‘What’ll I do when you are far away and I am blue, what’ll I do?’

Ah, I have no qualms about admitting that when I heard Linda Robson sing those words and saw the familiar childhood pictures of herself and Pauline Quirke fade in and out, a broad grin grew on my face. I wasn’t even born when Birds of a Feather premiered in 1989. In fact I was only two when the original series came to an end but still Irving Berlin’s classic stirred up feelings of nostalgia. There was quite a sense of occasion and expectation surrounding the return of Birds, with it having been long-awaited and much-hyped by its stars and the press. The question is, was all of the hype worth it?

To be honest, it seems a bit too early to tell. I know, I know. Saying it’s ‘too early to tell’ might seem like a total cop-out but I genuinely think that what we saw in that opening episode is not the best that writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have to offer. In fact, the renowned duo’s script seemed to be suffering from a touch of First Episode Syndrome, which sees writers temporarily putting jokes on the back burner in order to establish characters and situations – something which may be less necessary in a revived series but is still quite important. If they’d trusted viewers to dive straight back into Sharon, Tracy and Dorien’s adventures in Chigwell, not only would they have had a rather messy episode on their hands but they’d have been neglecting any possible new, younger viewers who missed the series first time around and aren’t avid viewers of the Drama channel!

As we rejoined the Birds fifteen years after we left them, Sharon and Tracy had fallen out, Dorien was a world-renowned author of erotic fiction (though sadly no longer with “Pussy Golightly” as her protagonist) and Tracy’s son Travis (last seen born in a barn in the 1998 Christmas special) is now  seventeen years of age. There was also no sign of Sharon and Tracy’s criminal husbands Daryl and Chris, and Matt Willis had wisely replaced the rather wooden Matthew Savage as Garth. Other than that, nothing had changed, and by the end of the episode, everyone was reunited in Tracy’s house – with Garth also bringing back his girlfriend and her daughter from Australia with him.

The jokes were admittedly quite thin on the ground – a couple of innuendos and a few moments of banter between Sharon and Dorien were all that really stood out – but I do think that now that the characters have bedded in again and the writers have the first episode out of the way, the hit rate of gags will improve. The truth is, as the return of an old classic it worked reasonably well – it certainly proved popular in the Twittersphere with viewers both old and new – but had it been a brand new, fledgling (thank you!) programme, people would likely not have bothered to tune in. There was, however, an undeniable warmth and familiarity about seeing Sharon, Tracy and Dorien back.

Contrary to what many critics predicted (and probably wanted), it appears that birds of a feather have not flopped together.

Birds of a Feather is on Thursdays at 8:30pm on ITV

What did you think of the return of Birds? 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.

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.