Today, Sunday 23


9pm, BBC One

Here it is, the final episode of the much talked about Jed Mercurio thriller that’s probably destined to be looked back upon as being just a tiny-weensy wee bit overrated once it’s all done and dusted, but has still been a compulsive steady Sunday-night date the past six weeks. Suspected on all sides, and being set up as a fall guy, our lonesome hero David Budd (Richard Madden) is left more alone than ever as he desperately attempts to uncover corrupt sources involved in the killing of the Home Secretary and all that. Who’s left to trust? Mercurio neatly crafts an episode with long, tense, sequences that cannily mirror the stretched-out stress of the opening episode. There are moments when you won’t want to look, and may forget to breathe.

Monday 24

Black Earth Rising

9pm, BBC Two

The most mesmerising thing on TV delivers an episode even more dazzling than last week’s. Having forced a trial against their friend Alice as a way of beginning to expose shadowy forces that were at work in Rwanda in the 1990s, Kate (Michaela Cole) and the ailing Michael (John Goodman) now struggle to prove Alice’s innocence, as the powerful hidden cabal moves to protect itself. At the heart of tonight’s episode is a stunning moment as a survivor who has been left unable to speak uses sign language to describe the massacre she witnessed as a child. Why ask her, when she has no voice? “Because words would fail,” says Michael, and the sequence illustrates the point with simple, sad, beautiful power. This, plus the Paris catacombs, a monastery, and a tribute to Garry Shandling. Miles ahead.

Tuesday 25

Later Live With Jools Holland

10pm, BBC Two

Jools and the gang return for series number, uh…well, I’ve lost count now, to be honest. But when Later works, it still works like no other music show on TV. The guests performing live for this first gathering of the new season include debut appearances by singer Jess Glynne and lively Bristolian post-post-post punks Idles. Elsewhere, let him take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London, it’s only Ralph “Tickle On The Tum” McTell, who’ll show you something to make you change your mind as he marks 50 years on the road. Never mind all that, though, because your actual Soft Cell, Marc Almond and Dave Ball, are in the studio, too, and that doesn’t happen often these days.

Wednesday 26


11.05pm, Channel 4

More Scandi noir business. In this six-part series from Sweden, Alex (Dragomir Mrsic) is a cop with secrets to keep. Despite his straight-up, family man appearance, he is in reality corrupt, drug addled, and under the thumb of organised crime. He hits rock bottom during a meeting gone wrong, when he accidently shoots and kills his friend and partner. Following the catastrophe, he resolves to go straight, but there are two big problems: the gang don’t want to let him go; and he’s been assigned a new partner, Frida (Rakel Warmlander), a by-the-book detective who has her own secret mission to watch him, and prove he’s dirty. It doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s highly watchable nonetheless, thank to an intense performance from Mrsic. After this first episode, the rest of the series is available via All4’s Walter Presents.

Thursday 27

Hollywood’s Brightest Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

9pm, BBC Four

Smarter than your average Golden Era Hollywood documentary. Born in Vienna in 1913 as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, Hedy Lamarr became a world-wide sensation by swimming naked and simulating orgasm in the 1933 Czech film Extase, and in 1938 was brought to Hollywood by MGM’s Louis B Mayer, who determined to make her a dark star through movies that presented her as a sensual, exotically mysterious femme. But director Alexandra Dean’s fascinating profile pushes past that to explore Lamarr’s other career: as a wartime inventor whose pioneering work was used to develop guided torpedoes, and still underpins contemporary Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. Using recordings from a 1990s interview, the spectral Lamarr (who died in 2000) helps narrate her story, lamenting a world that praised her looks, while overlooking her mind.

Friday 28

Bargain Hunt: Music Day Special

12.15pm, BBC One

If you were to ask me to pinpoint the moment British television came closest to fulfilling the Reithian value at its purest – that TV’s function is to inform, educate, and entertain – I would have to say it happened one Sunday morning in the late-1990s, when the man who shall forever be known as Bez From The Happy Mondays turned up on some banging Channel 4 youth programme, the name of which I now forget, because it was the late-1990s, and if you remember, you weren’t really there.

On that day, however, Bez From The Happy Mondays offered a piece of hard-won wisdom I have never forgotten. A moment of profound clarity that shone like capturing lightning in a jar: one of those fleeting flashes seldom if ever repeated. I am about to tell you what he said that Sunday, so catch it while you can, and do with it what you will. This is what Bez From The Happy Mondays said:

If you have really stinky trainers, a good way to get rid of the smell is to burn some toast, then crumble it up and stick it in your shoes.

Some two decades on, Bez From The Happy Mondays has not lost his ability to make you understand the rhythm of the world in a slightly different way. Until now, Bargain Hunt, the daytime junk rummage that isn’t Cash In The Attic or Dickinson’s Real Deal, has only ever made me think three things: (1) Where do the male presenters get their trousers from? (2) Why? And (3) A drab and grimy old-school British horror movie set around the world of afternoon antique auctions could be a chilling thing indeed.

This Friday, however, as part of the BBC’s Music Day event – an annual celebration of how having music in your life is generally a good thing – Bez From The Happy Mondays not only puts a new spin on Bargain Hunt, but on the entire concept of celebrity charity TV specials.

For this well meaning Music Day episode, Bez From The Happy Mondays lines up alongside stalwart Mondays backing vocalist Rowetta Satchell as the Red Team, going head-to-head in a bare-knuckle tat gathering showdown against a Blue Team consisting of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and Candida Doyle.

The resulting 45 minutes is engrossing for several reasons. For one thing, there is the tension around the elephant at the car boot sale, something everyone has noticed, but no one dares mention: Jarvis has clearly refused to wear one of the naff t-shirts Bargain Hunt prefers its contestants to sport. For another, there is the fascinating way that, as they go around scavenging second-hand crap, Jarvis and Candida, unconsciously, begin to assemble exactly the kind of stuff self-respecting Pulp fans would have used to decorate their flats circa 1996.

However, it is Bez From The Happy Mondays who makes this an episode of Bargain Hunt that will live in infamy. First comes the dicey moment presenter Charlie Ross asks him how he originally joined the Mondays: “Well, it’s not really a story fit for daytime television…” which it isn’t, so, thankfully, he tells another one.

Then there is the mysterious way he suddenly changes trousers near the end of the show. (Again, that perennial Bargain Hunt trouser question: Why?) But it is post-auction that there comes news of dastardly behaviour the like of which Bargain Hunt has never witnessed. Burn all the toast you want, Bez From The Happy Mondays, but the whiff of scandal will linger.