Tuesday 27 February
If you’re familiar with James Clavell’s bestselling novel, you’ll know that Shōgun is a fictionalised version of real events in feudal Japan. Set in 1600 at the dawn of a civil war, against the backdrop of European nations battling to further their commercial interests, it tells the story of John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), a character who is loosely based on the English navigator William Adams. He rose to become a samurai under the powerful feudal lord Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) – on whom the character Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) is based. Toda Mariko (Anna Sawai), meanwhile, is a mysterious Christian noblewoman who comes to wield great influence at court.
There’s a lot going on in the first episode (of 10 – the show is in English, with Japanese subtitles), as the large cast of feuding lords, their henchmen and various plotters are introduced. But stick with it, as it plays out as a sumptuous, intricately plotted drama. The adventure begins when Blackthorne’s ship runs aground in a fishing village and Toranaga discovers secrets that could tip the scales of power in his favour. The first two episodes drop today (Tuesday), then weekly. VL
The Hairy Bikers Go West
BBC Two, 7pm; not Wales
The next stop on Si King and Dave Myers’s gentle tour of the west is Merseyside and the Wirral – a region that holds fond childhood memories for both men. The begin in the small town of Great Sankey to meet a couple who breed Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, before heading into Liverpool city centre to sample Chinese delights.
Great British Menu
BBC Two, 8pm
Four chefs from north-west England are aiming for perfect 10s in this heat of the Olympics-themed series. Tonight they cook canapés, starters and fish dishes and Michelin-starred chef Michael O’Hare gives his verdict; this week’s winner is decided on Thursday.
Perfect Pub Walks with Bill Bailey
The comic and Strictly winner is equally light on his feet in this delightful series, where he walks and talks with a celebrity guest and they have a libation at journey’s end. Tonight his companion rambling around Essex and Suffolk is broadcaster Trevor McDonald, who muses on his illustrious career – including reporting from Northern Ireland despite being “a card-carrying coward”.
New Model Agency
Channel 4, 10pm
This observational docu-series follows the work of Zebedee Talent, a model agency whose USP is its inclusive approach for disabled and trans models. The programme’s fast-paced edit and neon graphics jar slightly, but some of the models’ stories are inspiring. In this opening episode, the group are shot by big-name photographer Rankin.
BBC One, from 10.40pm; NI, from 12.10am
Two more episodes of the excellent Irish drama about Dublin’s criminal Kinsella family. After Eric (or “Viking”, played by Sam Keeley) carries out a hit job close to home, the police start closing in, and Amanda (Clare Dunne) questions if the family have her best interests at heart after all.
ITV1, 11.05pm STV, 11.25pm; UTV/Wales, 12.05am
Tonight, the reliably thorough current affairs strand splits between Lithuania, Italy and Pakistan. Rageh Omaar visits the first, speaking to citizens about their unwavering support of Ukraine amid the war with Russia. In Sardinia, Louise Scott investigates the shrinking population, while Debi Edward heads to Karachi to talk to artists and drivers at Pakistan’s largest painted truck hub.
Moneyball (2011) ★★★★
Comedy Central, 9pm
Even if you know nothing about baseball, it will be hard to dislike this smart film about the true story of the changing fortunes of America’s Oakland Athletics baseball squad and their general manager, Billy Beane, who created a supreme team on a tiny budget. An awards-worthy Brad Pitt plays Beane, while Jonah Hill gives an excellent turn as the statistics man with the winning plan. Philip Seymour Hoffman is team manager Art Howe.
Loving (2016) ★★★★
BBC Two, 11.15pm
Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga) is black and Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) is white. They’re having a baby, but since it’s the 1950s, and they live in Virginia, what they’ve done is illegal and they are banished from their home state under threat of imprisonment. Jeff Nichols’s film retells the story with clear eyes, a cool head, and a heart as hot as molten silver. It’s full of honour and sticks to the historical record, with the lead two on beautiful form.
Drive My Car (2021) ★★★★★
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of two Haruki Murakami tales – Drive My Car and Scheherazade – follows a theatre director (Hidetoshi Nishijima) as he relocates to Hiroshima to direct a new production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. While there, he recruits driver Misaki (Tōko Miura),
Wednesday 28 February
Landscape Artist of the Year 2024
Sky Arts, 8pm & 9pm
Two thousand artists applied, 48 were chosen to compete and now it’s down to the last three as Sky’s enduringly popular painting competition reaches its annual climax. At stake, a £10,000 commission for the Science Museum, celebrating the Orkney Islands’ role in the sustainable energy revolution. But forget inspiring landscapes; it’s a dreary grey day in central London that awaits the three contenders – Monica (from Guildford via Gibraltar), Christina (from Canada) and Denise (from East Sussex) – in a Covent Garden-based challenge that’s all the tougher for stretching across four hours from late afternoon into dark.
All three take on this tricky brief with enthusiasm, though we’re never allowed to forget the importance of the final’s other key element, with each finalist expected to produce, in the space of just a week, another finished painting of a subject of their own choosing. In the end, it is this that becomes the deciding factor in a very tight race. Followed, at 9pm, by Landscape Artist of the Year: The Commission, about the winner’s Orkney painting, from conception to unveiling. GO
Dead in the Water
Amazon Prime Video
This true-crime series explores the mysterious murder of young British couple Chris Farmer and Peta Frampton on a gap year trip to Guatemala in 1978. Four decades on, their families resume the search in the hope of finally tracking down their killer.
American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders
Another gripping true-crime series: this one untangles the murky tale of journalist, Danny Casolaro, who was found dead in a hotel bath in 1991. He had been writing an exposé about an organisation connected to stolen spy software,
a string of unsolved murders and some of the biggest political scandals of the 20th century. Suicide? Not likely.
Shop Smart, Save Money
Channel 5, 7pm
Gaby Roslin joins the team alongside Ortis Deley, Georgie Barrat, Jon Bentley and Harry Wallop as the savings-oriented consumer show returns. Tonight offers welcome tips on how to reduce the cost of cinema trips, whether by sourcing cheap tickets online or recreating the experience at home – as well as the best value dishwashers and lawnmowers.
Bring the Drama
BBC Two, 9pm
It’s action week as Bill Bailey welcomes the eight wannabe screen actors to the Peaky Blinders set at the Black Country Living Museum. After tips from fight co-ordinator Jason White, they get to try out their faux-brawling skills, but can they convincingly recreate one of the series’ ultra-violent scenes?
Alice & Jack
Channel 4, 10pm
This absorbing delve into the darker recesses of love scales more highs (the opening scenes are certainly memorable)
and plumbs more lows, notably with the arrival of devastating news that sends Jack (Domhnall Gleeson) and Alice (Andrea Riseborough) bumping along another rocky road. It all works to set up a conclusion, broadcast tomorrow, that takes us to places love stories rarely go.
Claire Bloom Remembers Anna Karenina
BBC Four, 10pm
Another gem from BBC Four’s Literary Classics season. Bloom, radiant at 93, shares memories of her wonderful performance opposite a (then) comparatively unknown Sean Connery as Vronsky, introducing this very rare airing of the BBC’s 1961 adaptation of Tolstoy’s tragic love story, which follows.
The Father (2020) ★★★★
Anthony Hopkins’s nuanced performance in Florian Zeller’s drama about a man in the throes of dementia was overshadowed by a furore over his Oscar win for Best Actor, with many believing the late Chadwick Boseman (known for Black Panther, nominated for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) should have won. But Hopkins is terrific, as he stubbornly refuses help from his daughter (Olivia Colman) even as his mind becomes obsolete.
Cobra (1986) ★★★
The director behind such thrill-rides as Escape to Athena and Tombstone, George P Cosmatos had a ball with this turbo-charged offering, starring Sylvester Stallone as take-no-prisoners LA cop Marion “Cobra” Cobretti. He’s forced to take on the “Night Slasher” and his army of neo-fascist fanatics after a spate of sadistic murders. There’s a love story, too, of course, with Brigitte Nielsen persuasive as model (and witness) Ingrid.
Tango & Cash (1989) ★★★
Bringing together two of the biggest action heroes in Hollywood, this silly shoot-’em-up is strangely appealing. Sylvester Stallone (see also Cobra, left) is Tango, a slick, sophisticated narcotics cop, Cash (Kurt Russell) is his uncultured rival on the force. They don’t get on, but they’re framed by their nemesis, sent to jail – and forced to work together. It’s pure Eighties bombast, with Yazoo and Alice Cooper on the soundtrack.
Thursday 29 February
Cannon Hall: A Yorkshire Farm
Channel 5, 7pm
A dream double bill for those who simply can’t have enough ukuleles on a soundtrack, this is Channel 5 at its most bucolic and easy-going – television for those who find Countryfile a bit too intense. Series set in God’s Own County have underpinned the broadcaster’s revival, and Cannon Hall: A Yorkshire Farm (presented by the reliable double-act of Jules Hudson and Helen Skelton) acts as an audio-visual scrapbook of the most charming memories of assorted vets and farmers. “I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve fallen in love with Mediterranean miniature donkeys,” says farmer Rob Nicholson at one point. Expect also: sheepdogs, lambs, Shire horses and ducklings, as we cycle gently through seasons and livestock.
Afterwards, Alan Titchmarsh drops his trowel to assume narration duties on Somerset: Wonder of the West Country, leaving no cliché untroubled (“In the heart of Britain’s West Country is a county of contrasts,” he begins) as he talks us through ice-cream makers and gardeners, holiday lettings and heritage steam railways. An enjoyable showcase of British eccentricities.
Monty Don’s Spanish Gardens
BBC Two, 8pm
Monty Don heads south tonight, taking in Mallorca and Andalusia. En route, he notes the changes wrought on horticulture by regular incursions over the centuries, and considers efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Darren McGarvey: The State We’re In
BBC Two, 9pm
On the basis of this three-parter, rapper and writer Darren McGarvey is a powerful new voice in broadcasting. He looks at Broken Britain through the prism of its public services, beginning with the justice system. His investigations into knife crime, policing, our crumbling courts and prisons paint a desperate picture, but there are flashes of hope, too.
The Mighty Mississippi with Nick Knowles
Channel 5, 9pm
Yet another celeb-fronted swing through the Deep South, this inessential two-parter (concluding tomorrow) begins by following the DIY SOS host from Minneapolis to St Louis by helicopter, motorbike and water ski, culminating in Knowles throwing the first pitch before thousands of baseball fans.
Things You Should Have Done
BBC Three, 9pm & 9.30pm
Having made her name with viral comic videos, Lucia Keskin makes her TV debut with this lo-fi, high-concept six-part comedy in which 20-something Chi (Keskin) tries to make something of her life in Ramsgate, urged on by the will (and ghosts) of her late parents to work through a list of goals including “ride a horse”, “learn what a clock does” and “show compassion for someone/anyone”.
Rob Beckett’s Smart TV
Sky Max, 9pm
Another of television’s occasional tilts at the panel show about the medium itself, this one sits the eponymous host between captains Alison Hammond and Josh Widdicombe and celebrity guests (tonight’s four are presenter Stacey Dooley, actor Russell Tovey, reality star Jamie Laing and comedian Jon Richardson) and lets chaos reign. The rounds are diverting enough, the japes plentiful.
BBC Three, 10pm
Derry Girls’ Siobhán McSweeney writes and leads this entertaining comedy-short about a carer looking after her dad (Dermot Crowley) – a thankless task which she does reluctantly and ineptly, until events take a turn and she must step out of the shadows to live her own life.
The Naked Spur (1953) ★★★★
Anthony Mann’s Western is one of the genre’s finest, and was rightly recognised with an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Howard Kemp (James Stewart) is obsessed with tracking down a killer – the nattily named Ben Vandergroat (Robert Ryan) – and teams up with a grizzled prospector (Millard Mitchell) and a former soldier (Ralph Meeker) to get the job done. But uneasy alliances soon threaten to tear the mission apart.
Red Right Hand (2024) ★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 12.05pm
Notable for the return of Hollywood hunk Orlando Bloom, who seems to have been conspicuously absent from the big screen of late, Ian and Eshom Nelms’s action-thriller looks a fine slice of machismo. Bloom is Cash, trying to live a quiet life in a smalltown while taking care of his orphaned niece (Chapel Oaks). Then, lo and behold, gangster Big Cat (Andie MacDowell) threatens to upend it all – how far will Cash go to protect his family?
12 Years a Slave (2013) ★★★★★
Chiwetel Ejiofor is magnificent as Solomon Northup, the kidnapped slave whose true account of life on an 1840s Louisiana plantation inspired John Ridley’s searing, Oscar-winning screenplay. Steve McQueen directs, producing a masterpiece that’s both devastating and important – the best film ever made about US slavery. Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o co-star, matching Ejiofor’s stoic brilliance.
Friday 1 March
The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin
Before he cooked up quips about cakes, Noel Fielding made his name in the surreal sitcom The Mighty Boosh. He is older now, of course, but as this delightfully silly six-part return to his roots proves, no less mature. He plays Dick Turpin, the English highwayman whose adventures have passed into legend. Fielding’s version is less interested in robbing people, however, and more concerned with looking the part. He is the highwayman in the Adam Ant mould: a vain, dandy fashionista.
The first episode – which brings together Turpin’s gang and introduces us to Hugh Bonneville’s thief-catcher Jonathan Wilde – is a slow burner. Yet it is in the fantastical episode two, also available today, where Fielding’s penchant for absurd sight gags and whimsical wordplay click. A highlight is Turpin’s disapproving butcher father (Mark Heap) saying, “come back to the butcher’s and work for me–at”. There is also a tremendous guest turn from Greg Davies, whose cut-throat highwayman Leslie Duval tasks “foppy tit” Turpin with robbing “the unrobbable coach”. Its treasure is “an emerald the size of a monkey’s fist” and sits next to a cut-out of a monkey for scale. SK
Amazon Prime Video
This irresistibly twisty, if tonally uneven six-part UK thriller is by Fool Me Once co-writer Charlotte Coben (daughter of Harlan). Five years ago, the love of Elliot’s (Bilal Hasna) life went missing. But could he still be alive in Liverpool? And if so, why is he taunting twin sister Jess (Vivian Oparah)? The cast includes Penelope Wilton and Peter Serafinowicz.
Masters of the Air
The lavish Second World War drama goes from strength to strength. This week, Austin Butler’s imprisoned Buck builds
a radio from scratch under German noses. Meanwhile, Major Rosie (Nate Mann) and his men are assigned a series of suicidal missions to bomb Berlin, before finding themselves caught in the catch-22 of increasing mission quotas.
BBC One, 1.45pm
The cosy daytime drama is in an especially playful mood this week, as Mark Williams’s prying priest reluctantly finds himself investigating the existence of vampires. That, according to Bernard (Nicholas Woodeson), is the only explanation for his daughter’s empty grave. Ray Fearon is delightfully cartoonish as a famed vampire hunter.
Here We Go
BBC One, 8.30pm
Tonight’s episode of the family sitcom features a hilarious cameo from Jim Howick’s Ghosts co-star Simon Farnaby. He plays brother-in-law Boyd (or “Void”, as he’s known), the relentless show-off who is notorious for never asking a question in conversation. That is, until an exasperated Paul (Howick) makes it his mission to trick him into asking one.
Martin Compston’s Norwegian Fling
BBC Two, 10pm
The second week of Martin Compston’s journey across Scotland’s Nordic neighbour takes him to Bergen, where he meets the Scots who have made the Norwegian city their home. They even march in Norway’s National Day parade, bagpipes and all.
Eurovision 2024: Graham Meets Olly
BBC One, 10.40pm
This year’s UK Eurovision hopeful Olly Alexander sits down with chat-show king Graham Norton in this one-off special. The highlight for Eurovision fans will be the premiere of the music video for Alexander’s entry Dizzy. Stick around afterward too for The Big Eurovision Party: a celebration of the competition led by the likes of Conchita Wurst and Johnny Logan.
Napoleon (2023) ★★★★
Ridley Scott’s sumptuous and bonkers biopic is a magnificently hewn slab of dad cinema, with battlefield sequences so astonishing that you’ll forget all thoughts of historical inaccuracy – though you’ll likely still be irked by Joaquin Phoenix’s softly Californian accent,
a slight smudge on an otherwise hugely charismatic performance. Vanessa Kirby is his equal as Joséphine, his shrewd and sultry first wife. A riot.
Spaceman (2024) ★★★
Nothing about Spaceman suggests “Adam Sandler vehicle”, but his attempt with Swedish director Johan Renck (Chernobyl) to make a Tarkovsky film in the outer reaches of our solar system is a worthy experiment. Sandler’s Jakub is a Czech cosmonaut investigating a dust cloud near Jupiter; Lenka (Carey Mulligan) is his abandoned spouse, ready to give up on him. How to win her back? Why, team up with a giant talking spider, of course.
Ferrari (2023) ★★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 8pm
Bloody car crashes, Adam Driver’s questionable Italian accent, co-star Shailene Woodley simply refusing
to even try to do an Italian accent… Michael Mann’s biopic of Ferrari founder Enzo will delight petrolheads and action-lovers, and repulse anyone who enjoys understated drama. Don’t overthink it – the cars are beautifully remade, with permission from Ferrari itself, and Penélope Cruz is typically powerful in support.
Dune (1984) ★★
A fascinating folly from David Lynch, given a $50 m budget to render Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic on screen. Producer Dino De Laurentiis wanted to jump on the Star Wars bandwagon, but the film – which centres around an intergalactic spice war – was far too weird to pay off. Never mind: Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 version, with Timothée Chalamet, was a triumph; the equally grand second instalment is in cinemas now (from Friday 1).
Stephen Kelly (SK), Veronica Lee (VL), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Poppie Platt (PP) and Gabriel Tate (GT)