Advertisement

What’s on TV tonight: Constellation, Can I Tell You A Secret? and more

Noomi Rapace in Constellation
Noomi Rapace in Constellation - Apple

Wednesday 21 February

Constellation
Apple TV+
With one hit space-drama, For All Mankind, already on the roster, the arrival of Constellation on Apple TV+ should come as no surprise. But unlike Ronald D Moore’s excellent counterfactual history, this eight-part drama (three episodes are available today) forgoes pulpy fun in favour of something chillier, invoking the likes of Solaris, Interstellar and Gravity. At its heart is the gimlet-eyed Noomi Rapace as Jo, an astronaut preparing for her first spacewalk on the ISS when the craft is hit by something and an on-board experiment goes bafflingly awry, eventually leaving Jo alone and plagued by hallucinations.

All the while, her husband (James D’Arcy) and daughter wait anxiously on Earth, where Cold War rivalries resurface and Jonathan Banks’s quantum physicist insists that the ISS experiments should continue. Constellation does not want for ambition, but the pacing is occasionally ponderous, as if unsure how much science to blind us with, only gathering dramatic force upon Jo’s return to Earth – an event foreshadowed by the prologue, and coming at perhaps fatal cost to her sanity. Superb special effects make this worth sticking with, even so. GT

Can I Tell You A Secret?
Netflix
Offering a refreshing spin on the televised true-crime podcast, this two-part series (based on a Guardian investigation) examines the impact on the lives of several female victims of Matthew Hardy, a prolific cyberstalker brought to justice by his victims’ bravery and diligent policing.

Marcus Wareing’s Tales from a Kitchen Garden
BBC Two, 7pm
The chef learns from the experts about cider-making, livestock rearing and pumpkin harvesting, also taking time out to rustle up a delicious platter of sausages and fried potatoes in his outdoor fire pit.

Bring the Drama
BBC Two, 9pm
This charming reality series, which attempts to find untapped acting talent, turns its attention to one of the BBC’s most enduring hits as the hopefuls visit the set of Silent Witness and attempt to fill Emilia Fox’s shoes as Dr Nikki Alexander. Such a role requires rapid mastery of medical jargon and the ability to emanate authority. Series star Genesis Lynea (who plays Simone Tyler) will offer her assessment of their performances.

Alice & Jack
Channel 4, 9pm
The longer it goes, the tighter this unorthodox romantic drama grips, thanks in no small part to the assured, spiky chemistry between stars Andrea Riseborough and Domhnall Gleeson as the titular (occasional) lovers. But are they star-crossed or fated to be together? As their paths intersect once again, years on, the jury is out. Continues tomorrow and Friday.

Small Island
BBC Four, from 10pm
A more recent repeat than many of the archive treats on BBC Four’s Wednesday nights, but this excellent two-part adaptation of Andrea Levy’s 2009 novel is both impeccably cast and timely in its exploration of the Jamaican diaspora in the UK through the intertwined lives of Hortense (Naomie Harris), Michael (Ashley Walters), Bernard (David Oyelowo), Queenie (Ruth Wilson) and Gilbert (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Inseparable Sisters
BBC One, 10.40pm; Wales, 8pm; NI, 11.40pm
Conjoined twins Marieme and Ndeye have defied the odds to reach the age of seven under the care of their father Ibrahim. This sensitive film documents both the many challenges they face every day and the joy in the lives of two girls whose personalities are as different as they are infectious.

Nicholas Nickleby (1947, b/w) ★★★
Film4, 4.50pm  
Director Alberto Cavalcanti’s (Went the Day Well?, Die Windrose) adaptation of one of Charles Dickens’s more uneven novels, starring wooden Derek Bond as the eponymous hero and the far superior Cedric Hardwicke as the uncle who packs him off to work at a brutal boys’ boarding school, is well-paced – but suffers somewhat from the particular Ealing brand of sentimentality that was Cavalcanti’s stock-in-trade.

The Fault in Our Stars (2014) ★★★
BBC Three, 9.45pm  
Josh Boone’s film, adapted from the phenomenally successful young-adult novel by John Green, is about two American teenagers who are both diagnosed with cancer. It’s tenderly performed, by Shailene Woodley in particular, and though the basic storyline is well-worn now – Love Story told it 55 years ago – it comes with more than enough quirks to give it the appearance of freshness.

The Outsiders (1983) ★★★★★
Film4, 10.55pm  
This adaptation of SE Hinton’s novel (which she wrote when she was just 16-years-old) features a veritable galaxy of up-and-coming Brat Pack stars. Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise and Ralph Macchio play the members of a gang whose rivalry with another turns deadly. Despite the realism of the source material, director Francis Ford Coppola takes a stylised approach in this portrayal of vulnerable male youthhood.

Thursday 22 February

Former gymnasts, parents and coaches reveal a shocking culture of abuse
Former gymnasts, parents and coaches reveal a shocking culture of abuse - Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision

Gymnastics: A Culture of Abuse? 
ITV1, 9pm
“I can’t watch gymnastics because I know what I’m watching is child abuse,” says one former gymnast in this documentary exploring the dark side of a sport dominated by youngsters – and follows similar shocking reports of widespread abuse in the US. It is at times a tough watch as it chronicles victims’ fight for justice, with some claiming that they were physically, emotionally or sexually abused by their coaches and are now suing the sport’s governing body, British Gymnastics, for allegedly ignoring their allegations.

Many of the accusers say that not being believed forced them to leave the sport they loved; others had to live with a range of devastating consequences, including failed relationships in adulthood, anorexia and alcohol addiction. The contributors – gymnasts, parents, coaches and experts, including Anne Whyte KC, who wrote a damning review into allegations of abuse in the sport – tell harrowing stories of bullying and worse by coaches that have gone largely unpunished for decades. In a year when we will see dedication bringing the ultimate reward of Olympic gold medals, it’s a sobering reminder of the dark side of sport. VL

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Netflix
No previews were available of this live-action reimagining of the animated series about Aang, the young Avatar, as he learns to master the four elements – water, earth, fire and air – and restore balance to a world threatened by the warmongering Fire Nation. However, trailers promise a thrill-ride packed full of cutting-edge CGI. Gordon Cormier plays Aang.

The Family Stallone
Paramount+
A second series of this Kardashians-lite reality show following Sylvester Stallone and his wife, Jennifer Flavin, and their three adult daughters, Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet. This time around, the Stallone clan are selling their Los Angeles home and preparing to move to Florida.

Great British Menu
BBC Two, 8pm
The top two Welsh chefs from this week’s heats prepare their delectable six-course menu again for the judges – Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, restaurateur Nisha Katona and comedian and Off Menu podcaster Ed Gamble. The guest judge is former Olympian Colin Jackson.

Murdered at Home: Tonight
ITV1, 8.30pm; not STV/UTV
Julie Etchingham presents this report on domestic homicide sentencing, before a public consultation on the subject ends early next month. The figures are shocking: in the UK, two to three women are murdered by a partner or ex-partner every week, while nearly 1.5 million are victims of domestic abuse each year, with campaigners saying sentences are too lenient.

The Apprentice
BBC One, 9pm
It’s the buying and haggling round and the candidates are off to Jersey to secure nine items for the lowest price – cue more frantic running around – under the watchful gaze of Lord Sugar’s aides Karren Brady and Tim Campbell. You’re Fired – in which comedian Tom Allen talks to the candidate who has taken the solo taxi ride home – follows on BBC Two at 10pm.

Julia
Sky Atlantic, 9pm
Sadly, no third series of this gorgeous biography of chef and television trailblazer Julia Child is on the menu, so have your fill of Sarah Lancashire giving another meaty performance in the title role. In tonight’s final episode, The French Chef is under threat when its makers are accused of un-American activities and the FBI pays the TV station a visit.

A Room With A View (1985) ★★★★★
Film4, 3.55pm  
James Ivory’s finest hour, this film epitomises the Hollywood studio’s affection for the repressed, emotionally starved Brit. A pitch-perfect Helena Bonham Carter plays Lucy Honeychurch, EM Forster’s heroine who must negotiate the Edwardians’ complex hypocrisies on matters of love, first in Florence, then the English countryside. The startingly fine cast includes Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, and Daniel Day-Lewis.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) ★★★★
BBC Four, 8pm  
Norman Jewison’s classic adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s controversy-fuelled rock musical tells the story of the week before the Messiah’s crucifixion through the eyes of Christ’s betrayer, Judas. Ted Neeley stars as Jesus, while Carl Anderson is the Biblical bad egg. The rip-roaring soundtrack, including hit song I Don’t Know How to Love Him, won a Bafta. Also on Sunday on BBC Two at noon.

The Kid Detective (2020) ★★★★
Film4, 9pm  
Adam Brody stars in writer-director Evan Morgan’s absorbing neo-noir thriller. A drunken small town detective – once famous for his successes as a teenage sleuth, until he failed to solve the disappearance of his best friend – is given a chance to redeem himself when a high-school student (Sophie Nélisse) asks him to find out who killed her boyfriend. It’s blackly comic and surprisingly tense, plus Brody is terrific.

Friday 23 February

Castle Ward
Castle Ward - Channel 4

National Trust: My Historic Home
Channel 4, 8pm
Plagued by criticisms from supporters who decry it for being too “woke”, the National Trust is surely thrilled with this enjoyable puff-piece celebrating some of its grandest buildings – and the people who keep them in tip-top shape. Faced with dwindling membership and ever-rising costs, how do they do it? Well, Castle Ward in County Down, Northern Ireland, has had a welcome boost from the TV industry, as a major shooting location in HBO’s Game of Thrones, reveals Collection and House Manager Neil.

Over in Herefordshire, meanwhile, Ian must juggle the demands of family life with managing Croft Castle – where his family has lived for 17 years – and its 600 daily visitors, as well as other nearby Trust properties such as Berrington Hall. And in north Wales, Emily doesn’t just have Penrhyn Castle to contend with: she’s heavily pregnant and her dog Willow is as demanding as ever. It might serve mostly as an advertorial for new members, but this is also a warm celebration of the good people who have committed themselves to preserving Britain’s historical gems for future generations. PP

Formula 1: Drive to Survive
Netflix
Petrolheads, rejoice: all 10 episodes of this sixth instalment of the Formula 1 docu-series drop today, and it has better access than ever – contributors include Max Verstappen, Guenther Steiner and Lance Stroll – as it takes us behind the scenes of the 2023 World Championship.

Here We Go
BBC One, 8pm
Tom Basden’s sitcom continues to delight, with the big day – Robin (Basden) and Cherry’s (Tori Allen-Martin) wedding – finally here. Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing: first up is the stag do, hampered somewhat by Rachel’s (Katherine Parkinson) insistence that they’re anti-feminist – resulting in a gender-neutral party and her lining herself up to be best man. What could possibly go wrong?

Monty Don’s Spanish Gardens
BBC Two, 8pm
Swapping the shared limelight of Gardeners’ World for his own time in the sun, Monty Don heads to Spain to visit some of the nation’s most beautiful gardens. Tonight, that means the vast palatial enclosures of the El Escorial, near Madrid, and a flower-filled public park formed out of a disused river bed.

Martin Compston’s Norwegian Fling
BBC Two, 9pm; not Wales
The amicable Line of Duty star becomes the latest celebrity to join the travelogue club; Compston and presenter pal Phil MacHugh take on the slopes at Norway’s favourite ski location, Holmenkollen, before heading back to capital city Oslo to meet with the country’s youngest MP, 23-year-old Maren Grøthe. The sights are stunning and their banter pleasingly good-natured. All six episodes are available on iPlayer now.

Sue Perkins: Lost in Alaska
Channel 5, 9pm
In tonight’s finale, the comedian concludes her Alaskan voyage by venturing even further into its expansive, snowy wilderness. Perkins meets a Native family in the ancient village of Tanana, before facing her fear of flying head-on in order to view the mesmerising Kennicott Glacier from above.

The Graham Norton Show
BBC One, 10.40pm
Graham Norton (armed with stiff drinks aplenty) welcomes popstar Dua Lipa and actresses Kate Winslet (talking about her new political satire The Regime) and Cate Blanchett (about to star in period drama The New Boy).

Wild Rose (2018) ★★★★
Film4, 9pm  
Tom Harper’s stellar country music drama is noteworthy for several reasons – not least its transportation of the all-American genre to a Glaswegian estate – but mostly for its heralding of a new star in Jessie Buckley. She plays a recent parolee with a great singing voice (and two kids and an overbearing mother) who’s desperate to hit the big time. For further proof of her brilliance, catch her in Beast (2017) afterwards.

Film of the Week: Asteroid City (2023) ★★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 9pm
Sit down and tuck into Wes Anderson’s starriest film yet. The American director is as well known for his ensemble casts – take your mind back to The Grand Budapest Hotel, with Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman, or The Royal Tenenbaums, led by Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman and Gwyneth Paltrow – as his whimsical, pastel-hued cinematography. Prior to the release of the Palme d’Or-nominated Asteroid City, Anderson was already having a cultural resurgence thanks to TikTok, with users uploading their own makeshift videos, designed in his trademark aesthetic; but, of course, they were no match for the real thing. This dreamlike play-within-a-film is set in two places: an American desert town in the 1950s where people are descending for a children’s astronomy meet-up, and a theatre production being staged years later in NYC about it. The leads are all captivating, which isn’t hard when you consider they’re played by Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks and Jeffrey Wright; but what makes this a worthwhile watch, above all, is Anderson’s unwavering commitment to making intelligent films that look, and make you feel, beautiful.

Only You (2019) ★★★★
BBC Three, 10.05pm  
British up-and-comer writer/director Harry Wootliff made her feature debut with this engrossing love story, starring Josh O’Connor (The Crown) and Laia Costa. He is wide-eyed romantic Jake; she is cynical Elena, 10 years his senior and far less convinced that their affair will last when they bump into each other one night in Glasgow. A tentative relationship blossoms, however, with often heartbreaking results. Both leads are impeccable.

The Eiger Sanction (1975) ★★★
BBC Two, 11.05pm  
Clint Eastwood starred in and directed this action-thriller based on a novel by Trevanian. He plays professor and mountaineer Dr Jonathan Hemlock, who has a murky past as an assassin. After he’s blackmailed into taking on one last hit, involving an expedition up the Eiger mountain in Switzerland, the job becomes complicated when Hemlock isn’t sure which of the group is his target. Vonetta McGee is great in support.

Purple Rain (1984) ★★★
BBC Four, 11.20pm  
Prince, or “his purple highness” if you’d rather, plays a fey musician with father issues and a crush on girl singer Apollonia in this pop-star vehicle packed with dopey dialogue, gauche performances and hilarious hairdos aplenty. An early pioneer of the rock musical, it starred Prince in his acting debut and features some brilliant concert scenes; it was directed by Albert Magnoli, who later became the singer’s manager.


Television previewers

Stephen Kelly (SK), Veronica Lee (VL), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Poppie Platt (PP) and Gabriel Tate (GT