ATTENTION, young people. Think you have it hard with your inability to afford housing, your struggle to find a job, your ailing planet? Well, consider this. When some of us were younger there were only three channels on television, and on some nights, now almost too painful to recall, one channel would show The Royal Variety Performance.

Seemingly endless hours of cheesy comedians, sexist dance routines, and ear-bleeding singers. I have often thought the reason the British monarchy did not go the same way as the French was because the mob in Blighty had a glimpse of the future. They saw the horrors of Royal Variety Performances to come, and reckoned British kings and queens would suffer enough.

Well blow me down with a quill feather if I did not find myself the other day crooning the praises of The Royal Variety Performance (STV, Tuesday, 7.30pm). Certainly, there was still a fair bit of tat to wade through, making the two and a half hours show something of a car boot sale viewing experience. Host Greg Davies, his mum in the audience, did his best to be as bland as possible. There were plenty of cringeworthy cuts to Harry and Meghan, sitting in the royal box, to find out if they were laughing.

But here and there was some genuinely fine material, including Cirque de Soleil and an extract from Tina, The Tina Turner Musical. Best of all was the opening number from Hamilton, complete with lavish staging. A clip of Aretha Franklin at the 1980 performance, singing Amazing Grace, featured in the obits part of the evening. Goodness, if they keep up this standard I may have to watch again next time.

Care (BBC1, Sunday, 9pm) was not a drama designed to send you off for a good night’s sleep. It was instead a reminder, if it were needed, that as a society we are nowhere near being able to treat old, infirm people with the respect and resources they deserve. This is despite us all heading the same way. The message from Jimmy McGovern’s drama was that unless things change we should be afraid, very afraid, of what might lie ahead, whether you are the carer or the person being cared for.

Alison Steadman played Mary, a jolly gran who was a godsend to her daughter Jenny (Sheridan Smith), a single parent of two. Gran did not get to be jolly for long. While driving home with the grandchildren she was felled by a stroke and crashed the car. When Jenny and her estranged sister got to the hospital they learned their mother was also suffering from dementia.

So began the family’s descent into that seventh circle of hell known as care for the elderly. There were no places in rehab for Mary. Everyone spoke to her as though she was five-years-old. Her speech had gone, but we knew what she was trying to say via subtitles on the screen. Her daughters were told the only realistic option was a local care home, which promptly let her walk out of the door unchallenged.

Care was harrowing, depressing viewing, and for some it would have been rather too close to reality for comfort. It was in fact based on the personal experiences of McGovern’s co-writer, Gillian Juckes. Superb performances from Steadman, Smith, and Sinead Keenan as the sister who could not cope, Care’s only failing was the rather speedy way things were resolved, as if viewers could not be left with the thought that things were awful for Mary and her family and chances are they would stay that way. That, sad to say, is what happens to too many. As with many a McGovern piece, Care left you angry, and rightly so.

The Apprentice (BBC1, Wednesday, 9pm) reached my favourite round: the interviews. With five eejits, sorry, contestants left, it was time to head off to some office block in the City and be put through the wringer by Sir Alan’s pals: magazine mogul Mike, media agency boss Claudine, Claude from the show, and the really scary one, design agency owner and Joan Rivers lookalike, Linda.

Surprise, surprise, the candidates’ business plans turned out to be as bad as Sir Alan’s dad jokes. Sian the swimsuit designer came unstuck with Mike after he asked what was going to be big next year.

“Big tassles,” said Sian.

“What else? Mike asked.

“Big sleeves.”

“Big sleeves on swimwear! You’d drown!” gasped Mike.

The five were very hurt that cuddly Claude wasn’t being a teddy bear any more, as when he called Daniel, the only man left in the process, “bloody untrustworthy”. There were tears before bedtime, including from the previously take no prisoners Kadija who thought she would need a London office for her Peterborough-based cleaning firm. “You haven’t conquered Peterborough yet,” barked Linda. A tad harsh.

Two were left standing at the end: Camilla, who dreams of making a fortune from nut milk, and Sian, who will never imagine sleeves on a swimsuit again. The final is tomorrow night. May Lord S have mercy on their souls.