What’s on TV tonight: Salute, The Larkins, Ridley Road, and more

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·8-min read
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Gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos showing raised fists on the podium after the 200m race at the 1968 Olympics - Sky History
Gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos showing raised fists on the podium after the 200m race at the 1968 Olympics - Sky History

Sunday October 17

Salute
Sky History, 9pm
The men’s final of the 200 m at the 1968 Mexico Olympics was one of the greatest races ever run: African-American Tommie Smith broke the world record and, in finishing second, Australian Peter Norman set a time that would have won any preceding final and plenty afterwards. But it was the aftermath that made the headlines, sealed their reputations (alongside that of bronze medallist John Carlos) and finished their careers: Carlos and Smith donned black gloves and raised their fists in a Black Power salute while Norman – representing a nation with plenty of its own issues with racism and an unwanted military commitment in Vietnam – stood by in solidarity.

This spirited if occasionally technically ramshackle documentary (the score is overly insistent, to put it mildly) retells the story with insight, passion and humour, distinguished by focusing, unusually, on the least celebrated of the trio – the uncle of the film’s director, Matt Norman. In reuniting the three sprinters in conversation, Norman allows them to provide an illustration of the price of courage and the pressure of high-level sport, and a reminder that the Olympics remains a movement whose grubby realities still too often belie its lofty ideals. GT

The Earthshot Prize 2021
BBC One, 8pm
The Duke of Cambridge’s environment project reaches a climax with a ceremony celebrating achievements in the area, with guest appearances from David Attenborough, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and KSI. Presented by Dermot O’Leary and Clara Amfo. GT

The Larkins
ITV, 8pm
This largely uncalled-for remake lacks the lightness of touch of Channel 5’s All Creatures, but Bradley Walsh and Joanna Scanlan are well cast as Ma and Pa Larkin, with Tony Gardner and Amelia Bullmore adding class as busybody neighbours. Tonight’s second episode focuses on Sabrina Bartlett’s Mariette (it was only a matter of time), who finds suitors coming from all directions. GT

A Year in Provence with Carol Drinkwater
Channel 5, 9pm
Shutters are renovated and glamorous properties ogled, goats cheese is sampled and petanque played in the latest visit to Carol Drinkwater’s adopted homeland, everything introduced with genuine affection and inside knowledge. GT

Ridley Road
BBC One, 9pm
As Neo-Nazi leader Colin Jordan (Rory Kinnear, chilling) grows closer to Jewish infiltrator Viven (Agnes O’Casey, belying her position as TV-drama debutante), Soly (Eddie Marsan) tries to involve the police, as Sarah Solemani’s tense and timely drama continues. GT

Angela Black
ITV, 9pm
After her understanding of her deeply dysfunctional marriage has been upended, Angela (excellent Joanne Froggatt) struggles to maintain a veneer of normality as Olivier’s (Michiel Huisman, deeply sinister) suspicions mount. Writers Jack and Harry Williams just about avoid accusations of bad taste, but it’s a wobbly tightrope they walk. GT

Celebrity Trash Monsters: What’s Your Waste Size?
Channel 4, 9pm
Putting some reality television perennials to good use for a change, this documentary challenges John Barnes (Achilles’ heel: single-use plastic), Kerry Katona (takeaways) and Jodie Kidd (carnivorous habits) to reduce their carbon footprint and the waste they produce. The hook may be absurd – each must go about their business in a “trash suit” that grows according to the rubbish they create – but the point is well made, with Jon Richardson a good choice in the acerbic cheerleader/presenter role. GT

Swallows and Amazons (2016) ★★★★
BBC One, 3.10pm
Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s adventure about messing about in boats in the Lake District comes to windblown, wave-tossed life in this absorbing and vivid adaptation by Philippa Lowthorpe. It’s peppy, period-honest and beautiful, and though it does add an alarming sub-plot involving Soviet spies, the tone is still sweet and heartwarming. Kelly MacDonald, Rafe Spall and Andrew Scott head the lovable cast.

The Death of Stalin (2017) ★★★★
BBC Two, 10.45pm
The Thick of It’s Armando Iannucci makes a delicious mockery of 20th-century Russian history in this darkly absurd satire. With a bevy of British thesps, including Simon Russell Beale and Michael Palin, Iannucci adapts Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin’s French graphic novel with wit and verve. As the net closes in on the scheming Soviet executioner-in-chief Lavrentiy Beria (Beale), you might be surprised to find a lump in your throat.

Young Ahmed (2019) ★★★
BBC Four, 11.30pm
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s drama is about a 13-year-old Muslim lad who’s been radicalised by a fundamentalist imam and is itching for DIY jihad. His mother (Claire Bodson), caseworker (Olivier Bonnaud) and a girl he meets on a young offenders’ scheme are the only things standing in the way. The director brothers have spent much of their shared career chronicling working class lives and this compassionate film is no exception.

Monday October 18

Brian Cox stars as Logan Roy in the HBO drama Succession - HBO
Brian Cox stars as Logan Roy in the HBO drama Succession - HBO

Succession
Sky Atlantic, 2am & 9pm
Picking up shortly after season two ended on that bombshell, the third series of Jesse Armstrong’s Shakespearean family saga roars back to life. Adrenaline pulses through the breathless opener as Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), having just betrayed his father, Logan (Brian Cox), by claiming the family firm committed serious crimes, searches for allies in his bid for power. Shellshocked by the betrayal, Logan looks for the first time like a man on the back foot as he deals with the crisis, hunkering down with the Waystar Royco team.

It’s a thrilling start to one of the best dramas of recent years, with intricate plotting, boldly drawn characters and pacy dialogue that is shot through with vicious black humour. The major players are all superb – Strong’s recovering addict Kendall is re-energised by his new power play, and Kieran Culkin has handled Roman’s maturation from manchild to serious adult with aplomb. But it’s Cox’s towering performance as the Lear-ish Logan that commands your attention – a cruel father and selfish egotist, he is nonetheless so charismatic you can’t look away. And you wouldn’t bet against him. Compelling new characters arrive, too, but they’re secondary to this delicious internecine battle royal. VP

Emmerdale/Coronation Street
ITV, 7pm/7.30pm
The body count rises in ITV’s soap heartlands this week. A day of outdoor pursuits turns deadly in Emmerdale when murderous Meena Jutla (Paige Sandhu) enacts a plan to despatch her love rival. On Corrie, literal and metaphorical storm clouds unleash a tempest on the cobbles that leads to floods, sinkholes and a car crash. VP

The Trick
BBC One, 8.30pm
This one-off drama tackles the human cost of the 2009 Climategate scandal. It’s an involved tale of data breaches and tree rings, but Jason Watkins brings heart to the piece as Phil Jones, the climatologist driven to despair by accusations that he was scaremongering about climate change. VP

Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution
BBC Two, 9pm
This highly entertaining look at New Labour covers the growing rift between the PM and Chancellor at the millennium. With an election looming, Tony Blair wanted to enact a radical shakeup of public services, scandalising Labour traditionalists like Gordon Brown. Both men are frank but generous in their recollections. VP

Nature And Us: A History Through Art
BBC Four, 9pm
James Fox’s compelling art history lesson races through a millennium tonight, offering glimpses at humans’ changing embrace of nature. Seventh-century Japanese artists marvelled at its majesty, while the Islamic world used nature in religious artwork before Enlightenment artists began classifying the natural world. VP

Statues Redressed
Sky Arts, 9pm
Statues – a political hot potato – are the focus of this documentary that chronicles a Liverpool art project. Rather than toppling them, however, artists dress up the city’s most iconic statues in playful and meaningful ways – milliner Stephen Jones creates hats for the Beatles based on their songs and Queen Victoria wears a cloak that refers to Britain’s slavery history. Provocative, as all good art should be. VP

Climate Change On Trial
BBC Two, 11.15pm; NI/Wales, 12.15am
In recent years a group of young Norwegian activists have fought their government in court over plans to drill for more oil, claiming it violates their constitutional right to a healthy environment. In this documentary, reporter Nick Beake documents this David v Goliath clash VP

In the Line of Fire (1993) ★★★
ITV4, 9pm
Wolfgang Petersen’s film might as well be titled Dirty Harry Goes to Washington. Clint Eastwood plays an ageing secret service agent who, tormented by his failure to save John F Kennedy the day he died, finds himself protecting another president from a would-be assassin (John Malkovich). The film’s hardly groundbreaking, but it’s snappily paced and certainly better than your average cat-and-mouse thriller.

Hacksaw Ridge 2016 ★★★★
Paramount Network, 9pm
After a rocky spell in (then very much out of) the limelight, Mel Gibson returned to critical favour directing this moving and bruising military biopic of a Christian Army combat medic in the US army who clings to his principles in a typhoon of blood and bullets. Andrew Garfield makes a winning turn as real-life Second World War conscientious objector Desmond Doss. Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving and Teresa Palmer co-star.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) ★★★★
ITV4, 11.40pm
Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this warm-hearted Western, adapted from Forrest Carter’s novel and set during the American Civil War. Eastwood plays the Missouri farmer who, driven by grim memories of his family’s slaughter, becomes an outlaw when he refuses to join his Confederate comrades in surrender, preferring instead to seek his violent revenge on the men who murdered his kin.

Television previewers

Catherine Gee (CG), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Vicki Power (VP), Gabriel Tate (GT), Rachel Ward (RW) and Jack Taylor (JT)

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