Yes, it’s time to look forward to the next seven days in TV and, following on from a week that brought us the deaths of DI Poole, comedy legend Roger Lloyd-Pack and the innocence of Frank Carson’s dressing room, here’s what we have to look forward to.
Saturday 18th January
Reflex, Splash!, The Voice, Take Me Out? With these below-par Saturday night entertainment shows, Ambassador, you are spoiling us.
Splash! belly-flops into its third week this week and it appears that the bottom of the barrel is well and truly being scraped, as the biggest name to be taking to the diving board tonight is musician Paul Young. Wherever he lays his swimming cap, that’s his home.
Just so you know, I hate me for writing that, too.
Joining Paul and hoping to avoid the Splash-Off are: TOWIE star, Dan Osborne; north-eastern comedian, Patrick Monahan; model Danielle Lloyd; and MP Penny Mordaunt, who has caused a bit of a splash by taking part.
Apologies, but that pun was too good to miss. And it was better than the Paul Young one at least.
Also today: Animated favourite Despicable Me (ITV, 5:10pm); the aforementioned The Voice UK (BBC1, 7:00pm); and Goldie Hawn, Russell Brand, Dermot O’Leary and James Blunt chat to Jonathan Ross (ITV, 9:45pm).
Sunday 19th January
This ten-part period drama, inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, begins tonight.
Set in 17th-century Paris, The Musketeers follows Louis XIII’s personal bodyguards, Athos, Aramis and Porthos, who stand for social justice at a time when law and order is an unrealised concept. In this week’s opening episode, the Musketeers must try to rebuild the King’s reputation as well as strive to seek justice for themselves.
The series should also be noted for its stellar cast and crew. As well as being written by Adrian Hodges (the man behind Primeval and the multi-award-winning My Week With Marilyn), The Musketeers stars Tom Burke (The Hour), Santiago Cabrera (Merlin) and Howard Charles (Switch) in the eponymous roles, alongside Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It), Luke Pasqualino (Skins) and Hugo Speer (Father Brown).
Also today: Fake of Fortune? returns (BBC1, 6:00pm); all of the remaining celebs go head-to-head for the first time on Dancing on Ice (ITV, 6:15pm); gay men of Britain, listen up as Birds of a Feather’s Lesley Joseph and comedian Stephen K Amos compete on All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:45pm); period dramas Call the Midwife (BBC1, 8:00pm) and Mr Selfridge (ITV, 9:00pm) are back; and one-off documentary Don’t Look Down (Channel 4, 9:00pm) explores the new craze of urban free-climbing.
Monday 20th January
Russia on Four Wheels
In this two-part documentary, the conclusion of which is on Wednesday, Anita Rani and Justin Rowlatt take a three week-long trip across Russia in the hope of finding out how far the country has come in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Both presenters begin their journeys in the home of this year’s Winter Olympics, Sochi, but then head in different directions as they explore contrasting areas of Russia. Anita will be heading north and west from Sochi, in order to discover ‘new’ Russia, which sees booming business and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. Justin, meanwhile, will be going east into ‘old’ Russia, where he visits factories and farms, finding that some areas have not changed since before the Cold War years.
To make things even more interesting, Anita and Justin are journeying in very different vehicles, with the former in a luxury armoured plated tank and the latter in a battered 1940s jeep. Watch tonight and on Wednesday to see how they get on.
Also today: The Alan Titchmarsh Show enters its 14th series (ITV, 3:00pm), with Mark Benton and Paul Hollywood being the first guests; Tom Dyckhoff (stop sniggering, please) presents The Great Interior Design Challenge (BBC2, 7:00pm); we bid a tearful farewell to Hayley in Coronation Street (ITV, 7:30 & 8:30pm); Food Unwrapped (Channel 4) and Winterwatch (BBC2) return at 8:30pm; much-trailed US sitcom Mom comes to ITV2 (9:00pm); and sci-fi thriller Helix begins (Channel 5, 10:00pm).
Tuesday 21st January
The Naked Rambler
This one-off documentary focuses on the ever-controversial Stephen Gough, who is notorious for rambling around Scotland wearing only boots and a rucksack – something which sadly landed him in prison for seven years. He spent most of that time naked in solitary confinement.
Throughout the programme, we follow Stephen as he attempts a four month-long trek home to his family in Hampshire. His journey takes this long owing to the copious amounts of arrests, court appearances and prison stays that he has to deal with along the way.
We also gain an insight into Stephen’s motives for rambling naked, his family’s views and those of the public. The main question that I have is why does he insist on doing it, with his actions having landed him in prison numerous times, and therefore unable to see his teenage sons grow up? I guess that that question and many more will be answered during the programme.
Also today: Documentaries The Search for Alfred the Great (BBC2), Growing Up Down’s (BBC3) and Ross Kemp: Extreme World (Sky1), all at 9:00pm; and Claudia Winkleman is back with Film 2014 (BBC1, 10:35pm).
Wednesday 22nd January
The National Television Awards
It’s that time of the year again when the cream of the crop of British television are awarded for their efforts.
As per the last few years, Dermot O’Leary will oversee proceedings and tonight X Factor winner Sam Bailey will open the show. Voting closes at midday today (22nd January), so if you’re reading this before then and haven’t yet registered your vote, do so now here. Make it count, though: you only get one go.
Here are the nominees (with my choices in red) for each category:
Best Talent Show
The Voice UK
Dancing on Ice
The X Factor
Britain’s Got Talent
Strictly Come Dancing
Best Serial Drama
Mrs Brown’s Boys
The Big Bang Theory
Call the Midwife
Best TV Detective
Olivia Colman (Broadchurch)
David Tennant (Broadchurch)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Idris Elba (Luther)
Bradley Walsh (Law & Order: UK)
Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey)
Best Drama Performance
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin)
Miranda Hart (Call the Midwife)
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
Matt Smith (Doctor Who)
Best Factual Entertainment Programme
The Great British Bake Off
An Idiot Abroad
Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs
Best Daytime Programme
The Jeremy Kyle Show
Best Soap Newcomer
Marc Baylis (Coronation Street’s Rob Donovan)
Michelle Hardwick (Emmerdale’s Vanessa Woodfield)
Khali Best (EastEnders’ Dexter Hartman)
Anna Passey (Hollyoaks’ Sienna Blake)
Best Serial Drama Performance
Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street’s Hayley Cropper)
David Neilson (Coronation Street’s Roy Cropper)
Michelle Keegan (Coronation Street’s Tina McIntyre)
Jessie Wallace (EastEnders’ Kat Moon)
Inside Death Row With Trevor McDonald
Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain
Penguins – Spy in the Huddle
Best Entertainment Presenter
Ant & Dec
Best Entertainment Programme
I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway
The Graham Norton Show
I have to be honest, I’d have liked to have seen more digital TV channels get the nod (Mount Pleasant, Stella, Trollied, for example) but overall there are some brilliant nominees there. Tune in tonight to find out who’ll be picking up the awards!
Also today: Grammar Schools: A Secret History (BBC4, 8:00pm); Crimewatch (BBC1, 9:00pm); Embarrassing Bodies Down Under – presumably a reference to Australia, not which specific area of the bodies are embarrassing… (More 4, 10:00pm); and Seamus Heaney: Out of the Marvellous (BBC4, 11:00pm) – a tribute to the late poet, previously shown on RTÉ.
Thursday 23rd January
For its first two series, Benidorm was fantastic. It was the traditional 30 minutes in length and provided consistent laughs. And then each episode was made an hour-long in 2010, and it very much went downhill. It was dragged-out, ridiculous and boring. Thankfully, though, the fifth and current sixth series have marked a return to form for the show and it is once again bringing hilarity and sunshine to our cold, dark January evenings.
It also helps that new cast member Danny Walters (pictured) is quite easy on the eye.
This week, Joyce sets up a volleyball match at the Solana, Michael and Tiger are up to their old tricks again and Clive and Tonya try their hand at karaoke.
Also today: Restoration Home One Year On (BBC2, 8:00pm); Lorraine Pascale and Jason Atherton present new culinary series My Kitchen Rules (Sky Living, 9:00pm); and The Midnight Beast returns (E4, 10:00pm).
Friday 24th January
Ruth Jones’s (or should I say Ruth Jones, MBE’s?) gentle comedy-drama about a single mother in the Welsh valleys is back for a third series.
People always say that you’d never believe that Fletcher and Arkwright were both played by Ronnie Barker. Or that Del Boy and Granville were both David Jason. May I just add to that, though, that if you saw them side-by-side, you’d never believe that Vanessa Shanessa Jenkins and Stella Morris were both played by Ruth Jones. She’s much more of a versatile actress than people give her credit for – and it’s for that reason that I’m overjoyed that she has been honoured with an MBE.
If you’ve never seen Stella before, let me fill you in: if focuses on the eponymous Welshwoman and the trials and tribulations that she encounters in her everyday life, usually influenced by her extended family and friends. In the past we’ve seen her deal with her son’s imprisonment and subsequent emigration with his father, her daughter’s pregnancy and marriage at just 18, the disappearance of her brother and the death of her beloved – but unintelligible – father, only for him to resurrect at the funeral.
Tonight, as we rejoin the Morrises, the Morgans and the Koshes, Stella is sporting a new hairdo and is putting all of her efforts into her nursing degree – but the arrival of a handsome and newly-single lawyer may distract her. Elsewhere, Aunty Brenda’s wayward daughter shows up, and Big Alan is told to put Little Alan on a diet.
Also today: Richard Osman, Roisin Conaty and Joan Bakewell try to put their pet hates into Room 101 (BBC1, 8:30pm); Beverley Callard gets a grilling on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); Dara Ó Briain and Sharon Horgan are on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4, 9:00pm); there’s a compilation of the best bits of the most recent series of QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); and Graham Norton welcomes Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh, Katy B, Thierry Henry (yes, it rhymes) and Lee Mack onto his show at 10:35pm on BBC1.
If may be worth noting that some of your TV guides might say that the Celebrity Big Brother Final is on tonight on Channel 5. The series has been extended, and will now finish next Wednesday (29th January).
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: Splash! – Thanks to Matt Frost, ©ITV; The Musketeers – Thanks to Steve Neaves, ©BBC; Russia on Four Wheels – Thanks to BBC, ©Simon Phillips; The Naked Rambler – Thanks to BBC, ©Oblong Films; The National Television Awards – ©ITV; Benidorm – Thanks to ITV, ©Tiger Aspect; Stella – Thanks to Sky, ©www.andyshortphotography.co.uk.