A YEAR ago, Peter Kay, a comic so amiable he makes Lorraine Kelly look like The Grinch, upset some viewers by not giving them the happy ending they wanted to his tale of star-crossed lovers. Outraged, they rustled up a petition insisting he have another go. The result was Peter Kay’s Car Share: The Finale (BBC1, Monday, 10pm).

Kay tried not to be a pushover. Resuming the tale just hours after supermarket worker Kayleigh’s grand walkout, he had her boss John write a song for her. She was thrilled, but John still needed time. With 20 minutes still to go, would he meet the deadline?

It was touch and go with Kay putting his characters (played by his good self and Sian Gibson) through the ride home from hell. For two people who hated change, the chaos looked like an omen. Stray off the path and BOOM, life blows the bloody doors off. As a metaphor for falling in love, it will do.

All was eventually well, but the previous ending, the one that left things unsaid and messy, was more memorable, convincing, and, well, more Kay.

Just as well it was Shakespeare wot wrote King Lear (BBC2, Monday, 9.30pm) and not Peter Kay, otherwise the tale would have ended with the old dear winning the lottery and starting a blissful new life in France.

Richard Eyre directed. One imagines he assembled the cast by demanding, Withnail-style, to be served with the finest British actors known to humanity. So up rocked Anthony Hopkins as Lear, Emma Thompson as Goneril, Jim Broadbent as the Earl of Gloucester, and several other well kent faces.

As is often the case with some of us and Shakespeare, it took a while to tune in to the language and resist the temptation to nod off. Patience was rewarded, though, with an adaptation that crackled like a bonfire. Lear was the same tale of ageing, family, and loyalty as it has ever been, but this time it was played out in modern London, offering the once in a lifetime chance of seeing Anthony Hopkins wandering around with all his worldly goods in a stolen supermarket trolley. At times, though, the obvious lack of cash made the piece look rather Play for Today circa 1975.

Hopkins dominated, no surprise there, but it was Emma Thompson who dazzled, playing Goneril like a cougar with a lion-sized appetite. This was pure licence fee TV, something the Beeb can point to next time the government comes calling for cuts, but it was also entertaining, accessible, and in the scene where (spoiler alert) Cordelia and Lear were reunited, rather moving.

So Hopkins makes a brilliant Lear. But could he play the Pavilion on a Friday night and get out alive? The acts featured in The Collins Variety Agency (BBC2, Tuesday, 9pm), a documentary about the Scots family who were the Cameron Mackintoshes of their day, soon found out if they had what it took. “If you were billed on a variety show in Scotland as ‘England’s favourite young comedian’, it was like a death warrant,” chuckled Michael Grade, one of several talking heads turning out to praise the theatrical agents and entrepreneurs.

Victoria Brown’s film could have been a slog, but what brought the programme and the times roaring back to life was the never before seen footage from the golden age of variety in Scotland. Of the many weird and wonderful acts that crossed the paths of the Collins, “The Human Aquarium”, a chap who swallowed fish and regurgitated them seemed the most likely to win Britain’s Got Talent.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) is back. UKS is the comedy that shouldn’t work, being as it is the tale of a woman returning to society after being held hostage for years, but it was created by Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Robert Carlock, so it does. As we rejoin the NYC chums, Kimmy is accused of sexual harassment, Titus fakes his appearance in a show called The Capist to impress his ex, and landlady Lillian has to scatter her old man’s ashes in a place that has been turned into a swanky club for bankers, complete with a suite called “The Prostitutes Room”. Oh Kimmy, we’ve missed you.

The Split (BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm) ended as it began, as a steaming pile of designer soapiness. The story of divorce solicitors to the rich and famous was Casualty with affidavits, and if not for its talent-stuffed cast, including Nicola Walker and Stephen Mangan, it would have sunk without trace.

As the final episode inched towards a close I wouldn’t say it pushed hard for a second series, but it did everything bar posting a card with a fiver inside to every address in the UK. And lo it has a second series. Viewer reaction doesn’t always count, apparently.