AFTER a dearth of drama during the pandemic viewers can feel spoiled this week with at least two offerings sure to be in the running for awards and acclaim when the time comes.

Fargo (Channel 4, Sunday, 10pm) returns to the badlands of Kansas City for a 1950-set series. Noah Hawley’s whip-smart and delightfully cynical crime drama, now on its fourth outing, has distinguished itself down the years with big name, sometimes surprising, casting. This time, it is Chris Rock adding his name to a list that includes Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Ted Danson and Ewan McGregor.

The stand-up superstar plays Loy Cannon, part of a band of African-American gangsters who want to take the Italian-American mob on at their own game. Wonder how that works out. As added treats, also showing up are Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), Ben Whishaw (voice of Paddington) and Timothy Olyphant (Justified).

Three Families (BBC1, Monday-Tuesday, 9pm) is written and created by Gwyneth Hughes, who wrote the equally outstanding mini-series, Honour, with Keeley Hawes as a DCI on a murder hunt. Based on true stories, Three Families is set in a Northern Ireland yet to match the rest of the UK in offering women access to abortion. The women whose stories are told are vastly different but their suffering, particularly at the hands of officialdom, is the same. The superb cast includes Sinead Keenan (Little Boy Blue) and Royal Conservatoire graduate Colin Morgan (Humans).

Did you watch the World Snooker Championship final last week? I did not. It’s an admission that would once have been unthinkable given how in love I was with the game. In the words of Chas & Dave, I was snooker loopy nuts for it, and even more so for pool. Even had my own cue. I was useless in comparison with the real talent in the family, but I had a go.

As can be seen in Gods of Snooker (BBC2, Sunday, 9pm), my generation of fans was thoroughly spoiled. This was the age of Hurricane Higgins (a bag of nerves on legs: when he was good he was brilliant, if he wasn’t in the mood watch out); of Dennis Taylor, whose funny antics with his specs were a match for Eric Morecambe’s); of Steve “Interesting” Davies. That was how cool snooker was: we could be ironic about it. When Taylor played Davies in the 1985 final, 18.5 million people stayed up till after midnight to see who won. Take that, Netflix.

Another must-see of the time was the show Pot Black (commissioned by one David Attenborough, then slumming it as a BBC chief), with its famous theme tune. On Pot Black you could see even more exotic creatures, such as Cliff Thorburn and his magnificent moustache.

The three-part documentary Gods of Snooker opens with the real rock star of the bunch, Alex Higgins. Born in Belfast in 1949, Higgins misspent his youth in snooker halls. He wanted to be a jockey but it was snooker that made him world famous. Wildly popular with a section of fans, Higgins was the “people’s champion” who had come to grab boring old snooker by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. He was fast, hence the nickname, but most of all he was furious, especially with what he saw as the game’s old guard, typified by Ray Reardon. After a rivalry stretching through the 1970s, the old king and the young pretender met in the World Championship Final of 1982. No spoilers here about the winner – see for yourself.

The second part looks in depth at Davis and the arrival of serious money in the game courtesy of promoter Barry Hearn. The final strand takes the story on to Jimmy White, a tornado to match Higgins’ hurricane and a gift to the tabloids, before a young Scot by the name of Stephen Hendry comes along. An enjoyable, long overdue look at a sport that was always so much more than a game.

There will be cheering among many a parent for the return of Motherland (BBC2, Monday, 9pm). If you like your families more Simpsons than Waltons, this sitcom is for you. The third series finds the gang of mums wrestling with an outbreak of nits at school. The school briefing, a riff on the Downing Street Covid presentations, is typically Motherland: just that little bit edgier than most of its comedy kind and the better for it. Later, Julia, the central character, and the most harassed of the bunch, is seen in the bathroom screaming into a pile of towels. As if any parent ever does that.

Julia is played by Anna Maxwell Martin, aka DCS Patricia Carmichael in Line of Duty. The two characters could not be more different, one is an ice queen, the other a flake, one can run a large team of officers, the other can’t handle a nit comb to save her life. Anna Maxwell Martin as Everywoman.