Friday 22 September
The Continental: From the World of John Wick
Amazon Prime Video
It is hard to believe that, when Keanu Reeves’s unpromising-sounding 2014 action-fest about a retired hitman avenging the death of his puppy launched, its producers were anticipating that John Wick might have an expanded universe. But Wick and its three balletically violent sequels have proved such smashes that some sort of prequel was inevitable: The Continental, told in three feature-length episodes over successive Fridays, reveals the backstory of both Wick’s longtime friend Winston (Ian McShane in the films, but here played by Colin Woodell) and the titular hotel chain used as a safe space for the global underworld.
Spooling back to the 1970s, it picks up the story as wealthy young grifter Winston is abducted from London and spirited to the New York Continental, whose psychopathic mogul Cormac (played with maniacal sleaze by Mel Gibson) wants both Winston’s estranged brother Frankie (Ben Robson) and the valuable item his former heavy has stolen from him. No one watches John Wick for the deep characterisation, and this opener delivers wry needle drops aplenty, along with a superbly exciting closing set-piece. GT
Launching with three (of eight) episodes, Steve Burge and Natalie Walter’s drama has a neat premise and a winning cast: Danny (Craig Roberts) and Lisa (Antonia Thomas) are insomniacs who have bonded remotely and support each other through the long nights. He is still smarting after a break-up; she’s struggling with being a mother. Romance, against a woozy twilit London backdrop, is inevitable.
BBC Two, 8pm; Wales, 9.30pm
Adam Frost, Rachel de Thame and Frances Tophill are in Leeds at a garden with something for every season, while Jamie Butterworth is bowled over by Scampston Hall’s walled garden in Yorkshire.
After Uvalde: Guns, Grief & Texas Politics
PBS America, 8.25pm
Barely a week goes by without news of another firearms tragedy in the US, more often than not involving schoolchildren. In May 2022, a teenager killed 19 children and two adults in a Texas elementary school; Pulitzer Prize-winner Maria Hinojosa considers the circumstances around the shootings and why gun control continues to prove such a polarising issue amid so much unnecessary death.
My Mum, Your Dad
Davina McCall’s unorthodox dating show concludes after a nightly two-week run, as we find out whether any single parents nominated by their children have found a new partner. The adults are also in for a shock as they discover the sneaky role that their children have had in their fate.
Amazing Railway Adventures with Nick Knowles
Channel 5, 9pm
After a well-received first run, Nick Knowles is back riding the rails, beginning with a trip through three glorious capitals in eastern Europe. During his visits to Prague, Bratislava and Budapest, he has a look at a centuries old astronomical clock, climbs around the outside of a tower and hears about the state of the nation from two Hungarian reality stars.
Loch Ness: Hunting the Monster
Channel 5, 10pm
It takes a bold broadcaster to claim the “definitive story” of this enduring myth, but this lengthy film claims to pick apart both the obvious hoaxes and more credible sightings. Best not to expect a “definitive conclusion”, though.
Amazon Prime Video
In the early 1980s, gay wrestler Saúl Armendáriz (played by Gael García Bernal) lives in El Paso, Texas, and regularly crosses the border into Mexico to participate in lucha libre wrestling matches. He wrestles as El Topo until he meets a new trainer, Sabrina (Roberta Colindrez), who suggests he should compete under an exotic new identity. Based on director Roger Ross Williams’s own life, this features a starry cast that includes US megastar rapper Bad Bunny.
God is a Bullet (2023) ★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 9pm
Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau leads this action thriller centred on an ordinary man forced to be extraordinary when his family comes under threat. His ex-wife has been murdered, his daughter’s been kidnapped by a satanic cult – and the only way to rescue her is by infiltrating it, with the help of its only female escapee, Case (Maika Monroe). Jamie Foxx co-stars as a vigilante-type figure and is on typically scene-stealing form.
Magic Mike (2012) ★★★★
BBC One, 10.40pm
Ocean’s Eleven director Steven Soderbergh made a surprise decision to tackle the world of male strippers in Florida, and exceeded every expectation: it’s one of his most enjoyable films, filled with tender heart, humour and great performances. Channing Tatum, in a story based on his own life, is truly revelatory – while Soderbergh works similar wonders with Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConaughey.
Inglourious Basterds (2009) ★★★★
It wasn’t quite the masterpiece we were told to expect, but Quentin Tarantino’s pastiche of war films and spaghetti Westerns is still rollicking good fun and has all the ingredients of a vintage Tarantino film. A celebration of vengeance, it’s an audacious, if self-indulgent, take on the Second World War. And Christoph Waltz deservedly won an Oscar for his incendiary turn as the “Jew Hunter”. Brad Pitt also stars.
Saturday 23 September
Strictly Come Dancing
BBC One, 6.15pm
Almost two-and-a-half hours of celebrity high-kicks mark the start of the show proper after last week’s introductions – and even if there is no public vote this weekend, don’t think for a second that this is a gentle introduction to proceedings. The judging panel of Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke and Shirley Ballas will have their paddles to hand, and all scores will be carried over to next week when viewers will have their say. Several of the contestants did a decent job of tempering expectations in the launch show – remember “physically catastrophic and pretty decrepit” Krishnan Guru-Murthy? The quiet confidence of Angela Scanlon and Nigel Harman, however, spoke as loudly as their smart footwork during the climactic group dance to a Bee Gees medley, while there was a distinct frisson to seeing Telegraph columnist Angela Rippon back on the dancefloor an implausible 47 years after gracing it with Morecambe and Wise (and 33 since last hosting the original Come Dancing); she returns tonight with pro partner Kai Widdrington to dance a cha cha cha. The next three months will fly by in their company. GT
Boxing: Zhilei Zhang v Joe Joyce
TNT Sports 2, 7.30pm
British heavyweight Joe Joyce returns to Wembley Arena for this rematch against Zhilei Zhang. Joyce suffered a shock defeat to the towering Chinese fighter in April, losing his unbeaten record. The winner will be in pole position for a title fight against Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk. Ring walks at 10.30pm. JT
A Royal Guide to: Parenting
Channel 4, 7.35pm
This documentary casts a wry eye over everything from the history of birth announcements to the protocol surrounding public displays of affection. Plus, we hear how sword fighting and riding into battle were more pressing than schooling.
Michael McIntyre’sThe Wheel
BBC One, 8.35pm
Hot on the Cuban heels of Strictly come even more celebrities on shiny floors, starting with McIntyre’s slick game show where famous faces (including Clare Balding and Richard Madeley) help contestants win money. At 9.35pm, meanwhile, Bradley Walsh returns for more Blankety Blank with Sue Perkins and Anita Rani among the panellists.
It’s a Royal Knockout: the Untold Story
Channel 5, 8.35pm
It’s a Royal Knockout in 1987 was a farcical reboot of the daft game show: Cliff Richard dressed as a turnip, Gary Lineker’s pants got trapped in a winch and Prince Edward upbraided the press for a lack of enthusiasm. In terms of televised royal disasters it ranks only below Diana on Panorama – a gift of a subject, long overdue this revisit.
BBC Four, 9pm & 9.50pm
This Australian thriller has a smart premise: a time capsule contains vital clues to the murder of a Queensland student shortly after its burial in 1994. Twenty-five years on, the cold case heats up again and old secrets are disinterred; even if the murder-mystery element feels rote, the dual timeline is both appropriate and well executed.
Otto Baxter: Not a F***ing Horror Story & The Puppet Asylum
Sky Documentaries, 9pm
Otto Baxter is a tyro director with Down’s syndrome; The Puppet Asylum is his passion project, a semi-autobiographical Victorian horror musical. This complicated, thoughtful documentary follows its creative challenges and triumphs.
Kylie Live in the Park
BBC Two, 10.05pm
A chance to catch last weekend’s big outdoor gig in Leicester – where the Queen of Pop spun through hits including
On a Night Like, The Loco-Motion and recent chart-topper Padam Padam. Before, at 8.35pm, comes the best bits from Kylie’s first producers, Stock Aitken Waterman. The night rounds off with highlights of her BBC performances.
Superman (1978) ★★★★★
In this, the first (and many would say the best) instalment of the superhero series, a baby is sent from his dying home planet, Krypton, to Earth by his father Jor-El (Marlon Brando). Adopting the identity of Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve), he
uses his powers to stop Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) blowing up California. Great hero, great score, great
cape – and Margot Kidder is still the Lois Lane to beat. Superman II follows.
Moulin Rouge (1952) ★★★★
BBC Two, 1pm
Not the noisy one with Nicole Kidman; this is John Huston’s compassionate biopic of Moulin Rouge painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. José Ferrer plays the melancholic lead character and Zsa Zsa Gabor is great fun as a demi-monde entertainer. Oswald Morris’s cinematography is as luscious as the Parisian surroundings. Catch BBC Two documentary Moulin Rouge: Yes We Can-Can! on Wednesday at 10pm
West Side Story (1961) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 3.25pm
The vertiginous energy and heart make this one of the greatest musicals – not to mention soaring songs such as Maria and Tonight. Jerome Robbins’s inspired choreography needs the biggest screen it can get; when the film’s firing on all cylinders of music, lyrics and motion, there’s little to touch it. Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer are lovers from opposite sides of the tracks, while Leonard Bernstein’s heady score perfectly aids their battle.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) ★★★★
Channel 4, 9.35pm
Colin Firth plays a suave Bond-like spy who recruits an urban ne’er-do-well (Taron Egerton) and initiates him into a secret intelligence agency known as Kingsman. It’s explosive, comic-book stuff; true, it has all the subtlety of a hand grenade, but there’s plenty of arched-eyebrow fun to be had as they set about tracking down Samuel L Jackson’s baddie. Mark Strong and Michael Caine co-star.
Sunday 24 September
Hamza: Strictly Birds of Prey
BBC One, 7pm
Hamza Yassin was the very definition of the “unknown celebrity” before he shot to fame last year, grooving to victory in the 2022 series of Strictly Come Dancing. But for years he has been pursuing a deeper passion, far away from the glare of the ballroom, as a talented wildlife cameraman with a particular interest in birds of prey. In this one-off film he gets to celebrate the UK’s rich variety of raptors, inviting us to join him on a tour around the country to film some of his favourites, including ospreys, buzzards and white-tailed eagles in Scotland, hen harriers in the Cairngorms, hobbies in Somerset and falcons in London. (“It might not look it but it’s a peregrine paradise.”) Throughout he radiates the same charm and determination that won him so many fans on Strictly, which here results in some truly fab-u-lous sequences, including an encounter with elusive tawny owls in a Sussex back garden. Along the way he also celebrates the conservation programmes that have helped reduce persecution of these avian predators and – in a highlight – allows him to fulfil a 20-year ambition by getting close to two golden eagle chicks in Scotland. GO
Football: Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
Sky Premier League, 1pm (kick-off 2pm)
The Premier League heats up with the most anticipated game of the season so far as unbeaten Arsenal host bitter rivals Tottenham – also unbeaten – in the north London derby. On Saturday, strugglers Manchester United aim to steady the ship against Burnley (TNT Sports 1, 7pm). The Red Devils also take on Crystal Palace on Tuesday as the third round of the EFL Cup gets under way (Sky Football, 7.30pm). Newcastle United face Manchester City on Wednesday (Sky Football, 7pm). Fresh from their World Cup Final defeat, England’s women take on the Netherlands in the Nations League on Tuesday (ITV4, 6.15pm). JT
Songs of Praise: The Sacred Sound of the Organ
BBC One, 1.15pm
Katherine Jenkins looks into the history of church organs and their association with sacred music. In Cambridge, organist Anna Lapwood demonstrates the range of Pembroke College Chapel’s fine 17th-century instrument; while in London, Pam Rhodes visits a charity that saves redundant church organs from destruction.
BBC One, 6pm
In the first of two harvest-time specials, Adam Henson and Sean Fletcher visit an arable farm in Cambridgeshire to hear about regenerative farming methods and the battle against rural loneliness. Also, a report on concerns that the UK apple industry is at risk of collapse.
Rugby Union: Wales v Australia
ITV1, 7.15pm (kick-off 8pm)
It’s squeaky bum time in the World Cup as Wales and Australia battle it out for a place in the knockout stage. Wales are guaranteed to qualify should they win, having narrowly defeated Fiji in the opening round. Australia lost to the Fijians last week, meaning they must beat Wales to stay in the mix. Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, who was appointed following his sacking by England, will be determined to get one over on old foe Warren Gatland. Earlier, Scotland return to action against Tonga in Nice (ITV1, 4pm). Elsewhere, England take on Chile (Saturday, ITV1, 3.55pm), with qualification in sight following their victory over Japan last week. The other massive clash is Ireland v South Africa (Sat, ITV1, 7.15pm) in Paris, probably the two favourites to lift the trophy. Ireland beat the Springboks in Dublin towards the end of last year, and have made a strong start to the tournament – battering Romania and Tonga. JT
The Who Cares Wins Awards
Channel 4, 6.30pm
An evening of stories and celebration as Davina McCall hosts the annual awards ceremony for healthcare heroes and innovators. Katherine Ryan, Anthony Joshua and James Corden are among those presenting gongs in categories ranging from Best Nurse and Best Charity to Best 999 Hero.
Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby
BBC Two, 8pm
“Disney meets kilts” is Rob Rinder’s first impression of Glenapp Castle as he and Monica Galetti arrive in Ayrshire for this week’s trip. It might not seem as exotic as other destinations they have visited, but with luxury levels high and eagle demonstrations, a sea safari and a glamping stay on the island of Jura, the experience is just as enjoyable.
BBC Four, 8pm
Mozart’s choral masterpiece gets an unusual staging that combines the talents of Opera North and Phoenix Dance Theatre with visiting South African companies Jazzart Dance and Cape Town Opera to sumptuous effect. Soloists include Ellie Laugharne, Ann Taylor and Mongezi Mosoaka. Recorded at the Leeds Grand Theatre in June, it’s a dark but wholly uplifting experience.
The Big Sex Scam
Channel 5, 10pm
A new series about love rats and fraudsters who manipulate vulnerable singletons, using romance as a route to plundering emotions and bank accounts. Tonight, Yve Gibney describes how she met and married Maurice, a fellow Brit, after moving to Nigeria in the 1990s, only to discover that Maurice was living a double life.
The Sky’s the Limit (1943, b/w) ★★★
BBC Two, 10am
This comedy musical provides an unusually staid acting role for Fred Astaire, who could typically light up any performance. He plays war hero Fred (ha!) who sneaks into NYC incognito in order to spend a stretch of leave in the city and meets journalist Joan (played by Joan Leslie) who assumes that Fred is a coward hiding from the war. Of course, her mistake ends in romance, via a famous Astaire dance to the song One for My Baby.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940, b/w) ★★★★
BBC Two, 12.30pm
Ernst Lubitsch’s gorgeous romcom was adapted from Hungarian playwright Miklós László’s 1937 play Parfumerie; both inspired Nora Ephron’s 1998 gem You’ve Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The film, starring Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart, focuses on two employees at a Budapest leather shop whose animosity slowly gives way to adoration when they start to write one another anonymous letters.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) ★★★★
BBC One, 3pm
Pokémon meets film noir in this surprisingly well-crafted and suspenseful yarn. We find the custard-furred rodent Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds, with his sardonic Deadpool repartee dialled down to family friendly levels) scouring the neon-washed streets of Ryme City for Harry Goodman, his human partner, who vanished in a car crash while working a particularly arduous case. All-round good fun.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017) ★★★
Channel 4, 9pm
Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s popular Poirot novel has an all-star cast, including Branagh, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Michelle Pfeiffer and even ballet star Sergei Polunin, but still fails to thrill. While this Orient Express does clatter along handsomely – it’s easy to wish it had the nerve to add a touch more playfulness. Branagh’s follow-up, A Haunting in Venice, is in cinemas now.
Monday 25 September
The Long Shadow
You may think television has covered every possible aspect of the Yorkshire Ripper case, but this extensively researched seven-part drama series by George Kay, based on Wicked Beyond Belief, Michael Bilton’s acclaimed account of the case, aims to take a different path. It focuses not on the serial killer – Peter Sutcliffe (played by Mark Stobbart) is a peripheral figure – but instead on his victims and the police officers involved in what was at times a mismanaged investigation. The victims – othered by some police and the media at the time as “just” prostitutes – are here given proper identities as the mothers forced into sex work by economic circumstances; the woman walking home alone; or the ambitious student. The producers have made two other excellent true-crime dramas – Des and White House Farm – and have gathered another terrific cast here, including Toby Jones as DCS Dennis Hoban, who initially led the enquiry, David Morrissey as DCS George Oldfield, who took over the investigation, and Katherine Kelly as victim Emily Jackson. The series begins with the discovery of the body of Wilma McCann, who was the mother of four young children and Sutcliffe’s first victim. VL
Snooker: British Open
Snooker season gets under way from the Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse, with Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Mark Williams. Defending champion Ryan Day headlines the evening session alongside Ronnie O’Sullivan, who takes on Jimmy Robertson (6.45pm). JT
Strictly: It Takes Two
BBC Two, 6.30pm
Janette Manrara returns to present a new series of the show with backstage gossip, judges’ verdicts and celebrity interviews; replacing Rylan as her co-host is 2022 Strictly finalist Fleur East. The insightful feature, Choreography Corner, remains the highlight.
Channel 5, 8pm
Another series following the men and women working for National Highways across north east England and the West Midlands, who as part of their daily grind have to deal with everything from litter-picking and breakdowns to fatal collisions. In this opener, two patrol officers race to a serious car fire on the M60, while others are confronted by a wheelbarrow causing havoc.
Sky Arts, 8pm
Musician and presenter Myleene Klass and composer Errollyn Wallen present this new series examining why some classical pieces have such enduring appeal. They start with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (later programmes cover Bizet’s Carmen and Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture), given a stirring rendition by Sinfonia Cymru. Klass marvels that the 1720 piece has an “energy that the modern ear can attune to”.
Laura Kuenssberg: State of Chaos
BBC Two, 9pm
Kuenssberg’s must-see examination of the recent revolving-door farce at No 10 ends with Liz Truss’s 45-day tenure, when she “wreaked economic and political havoc”. First, though, she digs into Boris Johnson’s “relationship with the truth” and his downfall.
BBC Two, 10pm; not NI
Previously shown on Gold in 2020, this madcap seaside-set sitcom follows Emily Verma (Natalie Dew), returning to her childhood home when her father (Sanjeev Bhaskar) disappears. David Walliams and Sophie Thompson star as strange B&B owners, Simon Bird a nerdy copper, Craig Parkinson a lovelorn nightclub owner and Hugh Bonneville a mysterious one-eyed insurance investigator.
Pete Doherty, Who Killed My Son?
Channel 4, 10pm
In 2006 Mark Blanco, a Cambridge-educated actor, died after attending a drug-fuelled party with Libertines frontman Pete Doherty. His death was treated as unexplained but, as this powerful film explains, his mother continues her pursuit of justice for her son as she describes the “bungled” police investigation.
Boiling Point (2019) ★★★★
BBC One, 10.40pm
Before The Bear, came Boiling Point: Philip Barantini’s single-take, red-hot depiction of life inside a high-pressure professional kitchen. This short film was followed by the 2021 feature-length version (the BBC One TV adaptation arrives on Oct 1), with both starring the peerless Stephen Graham as stressed chef Andy Jones. Graham’s This is England co-star Andrew Ellis and Irish actor Jonas Armstrong round off the excellent cast.
Before I Go to Sleep (2014) ★★★
BBC One, 11pm
In this mystery thriller we meet Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman), a woman with a rare form of amnesia that means she starts each day with no recollection of the past, including and beyond a traumatic accident. Christine attempts to make sense of her life along with Dr Nash (Mark Strong) and her husband (Colin Firth), but can she trust those around her? As ever, Kidman excels in the role of a troubled, insular family woman.
A United Kingdom (2016) ★★★
BBC Two, 11.15pm
Amma Asante’s drama retells the true story of the marriage of Englishwoman Ruth Williams (played by Rosamund Pike) to Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), the heir to the throne of the Bamangwato people of Bechuanaland (now Botswana), who face racism, diplomatic fury and family opposition as they fall in love and attempt to move to the African nation. It makes for heart-wrenching, stirring stuff, even if it is slightly saccharine.
Stephen Kelly (SK), Veronica Lee (VL), Keith Watson (KW), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Poppie Platt (PP), Gabriel Tate (GT) and Jack Taylor (JT),