9pm, STV

The four-part psychothriller Cheat opens with a brief, teasing, flash-forward in which the lead characters, Cambridge sociology lecturer Leah Dale (Katherine Kelly) and her twenty-ish student Rose Vaughan (Molly Windsor), face each other through the glass divide of a dim prison visiting room, hostility crackling like static. But it was only halfway through the first episode that it dawned on me that I didn’t know which of them was visiting, and which was the prisoner.

Written by Gaby Hull, the drama has a fair few tricksy, surprising moments like this. At the same time, though, a lot of what happens is highly predictable. Still, as it draws its mystery out, it’s all nicely nasty enough to keep you hooked, and is carried over any bumps by the performances of Kelly and Windsor.

Leah and Rose quickly line up as enemies, but, as that opening image suggests – the pair facing off on either side of a thin glass wall – in some respects they mirror each other. Most obviously, both tutor and student have had to deal with the suspicion that each won her place at university not through her own merit, but thanks to the unspoken influence of her father. Leah’s dad (Peter Firth) is a well-established veteran lecturer at the place, while Rose’s millionaire father (Adrian Edmondson) has been responsible for a colossal amount of recent funding.

Possibly, though, the women’s biggest doubters are themselves. Certainly, Leah, despite her bright, brisk manner and her impending promotion to a permanent position, has a chip nagging away on her shoulder. As a result, she’s determined not to give anyone a free ride, and especially not Rose.

Irked by Rose’s slack attitude in class, her habit of showing up late, refusal to contribute, and air of never listening, Leah reaches the end of her tether when Rose hands in a dissertation. It’s not that the essay is bad. Rather, Leah reckons it’s far, far too good to have been Rose’s work at all, and marks it a Fail, for suspicion of cheating.

From here, things escalate quickly, as Rose goes out for revenge, launching on an obsessive scheme to destroy not only Leah’s reputation and career, but her entire life. She begins by focussing on the stresses in Leah’s marriage – her relationship with husband Adam (Tom Goodman-Hill) is under strain as a result of recent, fruitless attempts to have a baby. Before long, as the acid feud unfolds, there comes another sudden flashforward: police zipping a corpse into a bodybag.

Some of these narrative gimmicks feel like a failure of nerve. Instead of telling the story straight, drawing the audience in with a slow, steady reveal, the show flashes forward to reassure us, don’t worry, there’s violence coming. Cheat might have been more interesting if, instead of the killer stuff, it stuck on the question of whether Rose really was cheating academically, or whether Leah had got it wrong. As it is, it gives away a little too much too early, and plays out like a feminine spin on Cape Fear, with Rose as the unstoppable, vengeful force out to wreck Leah’s comfortable existence, aided in part by Leah’s own failings.

But it’s a decent way to kill a week, with a fine cast, including Burn Gorman, who can still disturb a scene simply by appearing. Kelly – one of our greats, who still hasn’t quite found the screen role she deserves ­– and Windsor, confirming the astonishing talent displayed in Three Girls, are excellent. As they join in a tight, toxic waltz, the chance to watch them is almost enough to justify the decision to run the entire series over four consecutive nights.




9pm, BBC Four

This entrancing, at times disturbing piece of cinema-as-poetry is another in the series of impressionist collage films for which the BFI has offered a director a free hand to plunder its National Archive, editing together clips from countless pre-existing films to form something new. Drawing from a vast and surprising array of sources, filmmaker Paul Wright crafts a weird, bewitching meditation on Britons’ relationship with the countryside, and the enduring stereotypes, myths, ceremonies and rituals arising from it. Aided by a soundtrack from Will Goldfrapp and Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Wright weaves together everything from an uncanny silent Alice In Wonderland to cosy 1950s Pathé reels, obscure local news clips and footage from the neo-paganism of the big music festivals. Strange, witchy and woolly, the result is part bucolic vision, part folk-horror.


The Miracle

9pm, Sky Atlantic

This trancey Italian import is the most striking new drama on TV, even if hardly anybody’s watching. As this penultimate double bill begins, it’s still impossible to predict where the series will end up, but the signs are growing ominous. With his wife’s actions all over social media, and the referendum on whether to leave the EU going suicidally badly, the Prime Minister is under intense pressure, and determined to keep the miraculous object a secret. But the cracks in the wall of silence are growing. Meanwhile, the general continues his cross-country quest to locate the statue’s origin, while the scientist Sandra is obsessed with learning the identity of the man whose blood seems to be pouring from it. Elsewhere, out in their little village, a father prepares to sacrifice his son. And everyone is having terrible dreams.



9pm, BBC Two

In the second episode of Tom Rob Smith’s slightly overinflated drama, Kathryn, as beautifully played by Helen McCrory, comes to dominate. With their son Caden (Billy Howle) fighting for life following his massive, drug-exacerbated stroke, both she and her ex-husband, media baron Max (Richard Gere) are left examining their relationship, and in flashback we see the circumstances of their break-up, and the effect it had on Caden. Meanwhile, Kathyrn’s tentative relationship with Scott (Joseph Mawle) comes under pressure from outside, and we glimpse Max’s involvement in the underlying plot about a missing woman and murdered detective, with a sense of dark secrets waiting to be exposed. Elsewhere, Max ponders whether to give his paper’s backing to the Prime Minister or new force Angela Howard (Sarah Lancashire) in the forthcoming election.


60 Days On The Streets

9pm, Channel 4

This new documentary series comes in gimmicky wrapping, but despite the uneasy/ easy voyeurism, it has shocking and moving moments, and if it helps turn more minds and hearts to homelessness and rough sleeping, it’s for the good. Survivalist expert Ed Stafford sets out to spend 60 days of winter without money or shelter in three cities. Glasgow and London follow, but he begins tonight in Manchester, where the rise of homelessness since 2010 has been very visible. The city has proclaimed zero tolerance on rough sleeping, but so far the problem, intertwined with a drugs epidemic, remains far from being solved. Offering a ground-level portrait of the city, Stafford lives alongside some of its homeless, encountering trouble with police and other rough sleepers, and spending time with some who have all but resigned themselves to a life on the streets.


Comic Relief Night

From 7pm, BBC One

As the feelgood charity juggernaut returns, the biggest draw is, of course, the participation of the BBC’s prodigal son, Alan Partridge, who will be live on the ground in Norwich, attempting to raise money via his massive conga line. Mind you, there are some who would argue that this year’s big draw is the reuniting of the Four Weddings And A Funeral crew, who have got back together with a host of guest faces for a special one-off mini-sequel. And there are even people who would contend that, actually, Jennifer Saunders star-stuffed spoof of Mama Mia! Here We Go Again is the really big draw. These people are wrong. The big draw is Alan. Hosts including David Tennant, Zoe Ball, Lenny Henry and Romesh Ranganathan present all this and much more, along with reports on the charity’s work in the UK and abroad.


Tutti Frutti

9.30pm, BBC Scotland

Another swinging Saturday night, and the hottest ticket in the whole of TV land remains a 32-year-old repeat. But when you get to spend time witnessing Miss Toner (Katy Murphy) and Eddie Clockerty (Richard Wilson) exchanging dialogue, who’s complaining? It’s episode three of John Byrne’s peerless drama, and, as The Majestics continue their tour of what’s left of the post-industrial wastelands, Mr Clockerty has finagled their biggest publicity opportunity yet. A BBC news crew is planning a documentary slot on the life and career of the group’s departed singer, Big Jazza McGlone (Robbie Coltrane), and it’s been arranged that Danny (Coltrane) should appear. But the rest of the band, and particularly Vincent (Maurice Roeves), are feeling increasingly bitter about being left out of the picture. Meanwhile, there’s danger on the roads.