From Big Little Lies to Yellowstone, viewers have long become accustomed to movie stars appearing in television series. Nevertheless, there is still a frisson when the star of True Detective: Night Country (Sky Atlantic /NOW, Wednesday, 9pm) appears. Those sculpted features, the no-nonsense blonde bob, the attitude. Well, if it isn’t Jodie Foster as I live and breathe.

In some ways it is fitting that the double Oscar winner should be back on TV - it is where she made her acting debut in 1968 - and that she should choose True Detective. When the first series debuted in 2014, with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey on the trail of a serial killer in Louisiana, the move from big screen to small became not just possible but desirable. It bought McConaughey a ticket out of rom-coms and, eventually, an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club.

Night Country is the fourth in the series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each is a standalone story heavily influenced by its location. Harrelson and McConaughey did their thing in Louisiana, series two (2015) took place in California and starred Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams, and three (2019), with Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff, in the Ozarks.

Night Country beats them all hands down for out-of-this-world weirdness. We are in Alaska, 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in December. The last sunset of the year has taken place and it is dark all day, every day.

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Ennis (town slogan: “Welcome to the end of the world”) is home to the Tsalal Arctic Research Station. When a report comes in that the scientists who live and work there have gone missing, local detective Liz Danvers (Foster) and former colleague Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis), take up the case.

Created, written and directed by Issa Lopez and also starring Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve), Night Country would be an engrossing piece of television without Foster. She, however, takes the series to a new level, and in co-star Kali Reis, a former world boxing champion, a star is born.

(BTW, for those of us who spent the last week shivering, please note the police coats in Night Country will leave you with a serious case of parka envy. Man they look cosy.)

The location of this week’s Landscape Artist of the Year (free to view Sky Arts/Now, Wednesday, 8pm), could not be more different from last week’s, Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire, described by one of the judges as “one of our most jaw-dropping locations ever”.

This time the competition for amateur and professional artists sets up shop at Liverpool Docks. Where Dunnottar offered vast skies and moody ruins set over a wide area, the docks are a dense blend of new architecture and old. Some of the artists chose to home in on a detail, others go big, cramming in as much as possible. 

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Maybe it’s the sunshine that host Stephen Mangan and the crew seem to take with them wherever they go, but Landscape Artist, like its sister competition Portrait Artist of the Year, has a relaxed, welcoming vibe. Judging by the size of the crowds who turn up to watch, or try for a place in the competition via the wild card route, the locations will have to get even bigger for the next series. Wonder how many artists it takes to fill the Albert Hall?

We’re now approaching the halfway mark in Amanda and Alan’s Italian Job (BBC1, Friday, 8.30pm). Don’t worry if you are late to the house renovation party - all episodes are on iPlayer, and at half an hour each you can catch up faster than this pair can down a G&T.

The deal is the same as last time - buy a house in need of some TLC for a euro, do it up, and sell it for charity. This year’s house is in need of some serious work, so lucky for Alan and Amanda that there’s cast of thousands of builders on hand to help out.

The garden is no walk in the park either: huge, overgrown, on a slope, and the Tuscan temperature is soaring by breakfast. Seeking inspiration/leaving others to it, A&A visit the garden of Warrie Price, the force of nature behind Battery Gardens in New York. “She’s like a cross between Liza Minnelli and Alan Titchmarsh,” says Alan.

Displaying the kind of perfect timing that nearly lifted the glitterball trophy on Strictly, Layton Williams is back with a new series of Bad Education (BBC3, Sunday, 9pm, 9.30pm).

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The school-set sitcom, first shown in 2012, is where most viewers will have first made the acquaintance of Williams. His character Stephen, along with Charlie Wernham’s Mitchell, still walk the halls of the fictional Abbey Grove as the drama master and PE teacher respectively.

The gags arrive thick and fast, but as with any good sitcom the heavy-lifting is done by some great characters, including Vicki Pepperdine’s despairing head teacher. School’s in for winter, or the next few weeks at least.