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 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!
Some shows are easy to write about because I watch them. Some 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, but 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
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
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
Written by The Fattest Man in Britain co-writer Jeff Pope, Lucan tells the story of Lord Lucan’s 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
Despite having found masses of adoring fans after her astounding Britain’s Got Talent audition, 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?
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.