What’s on TV tonight: Insomnia, The Blue Angels, and more

Vicky McClure in Insomnia
Vicky McClure in Insomnia - Nyree Riding/Paramount+/Left Bank TV

Thursday 23 May

Insomnia
Paramount+
There’s a gut-twisting creepiness at the heart of this six-part thriller starring Line of Duty’s Vicky McClure as Emma, an insomnia-suffering lawyer and mother who becomes increasingly convinced that she’s inherited “bad blood” from her mentally ill mother, pushing her towards a breakdown. Adapted from Sarah Pinborough’s bestseller, and atmospherically directed by Börkur Sigthorsson, we first meet Emma in full-on plate-spinning mode – under pressure to win a partnership at her busy firm and wrangling with her obstinate teenage daughter, but generally enjoying life thanks in no small part to her handsome, level-headed, furniture designer husband Rob (Tom Cullen).

Things begin to fall apart, however, when her older sister, Phoebe (Leanne Best), with whom she was brought up in care, reappears after a spell abroad and begins to insinuate herself deeper into Emma’s life. McClure and Best are a perfect pairing – the stress of their troubled relationship crackles, and Sigthorsson’s direction bring palpable menace to Emma’s shaky psychological state. GO

The Blue Angels
Amazon Prime Video
Top flight thrills as a documentary team follow the US Navy’s version of the Red Arrows for a year, as they select, train up and perform with – over a gruelling six-month show season – new recruits for their prestigious aerobatics display team, in the biggest new-pilot intake of their 78-year history.

Bay of Fires
ITVX
Imagine Ozark mixed with Fargo plus a dollop of Schitt’s Creek and you’ll get a sense of this Australian drama about a businesswoman (Marta Dusseldorp) who finds her life upended when she and her two teenage children are forced to go on the run in Tasmania, with a gang of murderous Russian criminals in pursuit.

The War on Britain’s Motorists: Dispatches
Channel 4, 8pm
For many the appalling state of our roads has become emblematic of a more serious malaise. Journalist Ginny Buckley assesses the current plight of British motoring – potholes everywhere, eco-friendly low-traffic neighbourhood schemes dividing communities, plans to transition from fossil-fuel to electric motoring stalled – and, unsurprisingly, is not impressed.

Panorama
BBC One, 9pm
What happens to criminals when they are sent to prison is well-documented. But this damning Panorama looks beyond that to the Probation Service, who are supposed to monitor those recently released in order to keep the public safe from harm. With budgets slashed and staff numbers constantly depleting, though, it’s a difficult task.

A Small Light
Drama, 9pm
A free-to-air run of this powerful eight-part drama retelling the story of Anne Frank through the eyes of remarkable young Dutchwoman Miep Gies, who risked her life to shelter the Frank family from the Nazis. Bel Powley is superb as Gies, a woman of exceptional courage and resilience who was also instrumental in getting Frank’s diary published after the war. The boxset is on Disney+.

Johnson & Knopfler’s Music Legends
Sky Arts, 9pm
The pair are in California to meet guitarist Carlos Santana, who developed a unique sound fusing psychedelia, rock’n’roll and Latin American rhythms in the early 1960s. They swap anecdotes, talk music and mysticism, and play Santana classics such as Oye Cómo Va and Black Magic Woman.

They Who Dare (1954, b/w) ★★★★
5Action, 1.45pm  
A sorely underrated Second World War film from All Quiet on the Western Front director Lewis Milestone. Based on the events of Operation Anglo, where British special forces stationed in the Dodecanese islands attempted to prevent the Luftwaffe from threatening the Allies in Egypt, it’s chock full of terrific action sequences and memorable performances from Dirk Bogarde, Denholm Elliott and Akim Tamiroff.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004) ★★★★
Film4, 4.50pm  
“I don’t even have any good skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bow-hunting skills, computer- hacking Skills.” Jared Hess hasn’t yet topped his debut about a colossal nerd (Jon Heder) who doesn’t fit in – especially after his uncle (Jon Gries) shows up to keep an eye on him and he befriends new kid Pedro (Efren Ramirez). This stoned underdog comedy is an acquired taste, but the wacky characters gets funnier with every watch.

El Cid (1961) ★★★
BBC Four, 9pm  
Charlton Heston stars as the 11th-century warrior who fought in Spain during its occupation by the Moors. Director Anthony Mann, known at the time as a genre director, but later revered by cineastes for exactly these kind of westerns and crime films, casts him as a tormented hero in this three-hour epic that mixes spectacular sets with extreme passions – not least between El Cid and the beautiful Chimene (Sophia Loren).

Friday 24 May

The Beach Boys in 1962
The Beach Boys in 1962 - Michael Ochs Archives

The Beach Boys
Disney+
Dampened somewhat by the recent sad news that Brian Wilson is once again being placed under a conservatorship, which enables his family to manage his personal and medical decisions (necessary, according to the LA judge, because of his “neurocognitive disorder”), this sparkly feature-length documentary celebrates the timeless music and impact of the Californian rock band. With the release of their opus Pet Sounds in 1966, which spawned hits such as Wouldn’t It Be Nice and God Only Knows, The Beach Boys – made up of the Wilson brothers, Brian, Carl and Dennis, along with their cousin Mike Love and family friend Al Jardine – were catapulted to global fame.

Directors Frank Marshall and Thom Zimny blend archive footage from the band’s early years with never-before-seen or new interviews with Brian, Love and Jardine, as well as famous fans including Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and R&B singer Janelle Monáe. It does, disappointingly, gloss over the darker periods that plagued the band (and, in particular, Brian), meaning that it serves more as hagiography than deep-dive, but fans will relish the footage – and the music. PP

Unreported World: Inside the K-pop Dream Machine
Channel 4, 7.30pm
High suicide rates, eating disorders, online trolling – these are “the dark side of the [K-pop] industry,” says former boyband star Min Su. He quit music after fans complained about his tattoos and smoking; just one signal of how contrived K-pop (the lucrative genre that has exploded out of South Korea) is. Krishnan Guru-Murthy looks at the dark side of the $8 billion-dollar industry, and how teenagers at elite music schools chase fame – at the cost of starving themselves and eradicating any semblance of individuality.

The Big Steam Adventure
Channel 5, 8pm
Peter Davison, John Sergeant and Paul Middleton conclude their Scottish rail odyssey in the Highlands with a scenic ride along the river Spey (complete with a helping of neeps and tatties) and a trip to Loch Ness that’s almost ruined by dire weather.

Hidden Treasures of the National Trust
BBC Two, 9pm
Tonight’s episode takes us to the grand Palladian villa in Stourhead, where curators are eagerly awaiting the return of Angelica Kauffman’s neoclassical masterpiece, Penelope and Eurycleia, last seen in public in the early 1990s.

Rebus
BBC Scotland, 10pm
Brotherly interference leads to jeopardy in the second episode of Gregory Burke’s reboot, as John (Richard Rankin) deals with the aftermath of Michael’s (Brian Ferguson) altercation in Fife and Siobhan (Lucie Shorthouse) digs for answers. Also on BBC One tomorrow (9.25pm).

The Nevermets
Channel 4, 10pm
Dawn French narrates this series following couples who are in love and looking to take the next step – but have never actually met in real life. In tonight’s opener, we meet a 17-year-old Briton who is preparing to fly to India to meet a girl he met online on a Game of Thrones forum.

The Cancellation of Jim Davidson
Channel 5, 10pm
Once named the “funniest man on television”, the comedian and Generation Game host’s racial caricatures and right-wing views rendered him an industry pariah. Here, Davidson looks back at his working-class childhood in south London and rapid ascent to household name status in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as his wrongful arrest under Operation Yewtree and newfound fame on Celebrity Big Brother.

Atlas (2024)
Netflix  
Best known for his films with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (San Andreas, Rampage), Brad Peyton here directs popstar-slash-actress Jennifer Lopez in a sci-fi flick more than a little in debt to Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. Lopez is Atlas Shepherd, a brilliant data analyst with a deep mistrust of artificial intelligence who gets sucked into a mission involving a mysterious robot. Recent Oscar nominee Sterling K Brown (American Fiction) co-stars.

Blue Beetle (2023) ★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 8pm  
After more than a decade of Marvel Studios dominating Hollywood, DC Comics is still searching for a comic-book box-office colossus of its own (even Superman doesn’t seem to be up to the job). Unfortunately, only die-hard fans will agree that Blue Beetle – a CGI-heavy, laboured tale about a recent graduate (Xolo Maridueña) who is given a special armour that grants him superpowers – is the film to do it. Adriana Barraza and Susan Sarandon also star.

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) ★★★
Film4, 9pm  
Mad Max genius George Miller (see Film of the Week, above) directs this curious adaptation of AS Byatt’s 1994 short story The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye. Idris Elba plays an ancient genie unleashed from a bottle by Tilda Swinton’s frazzled academic, who then regales her with stories from his thousands of years of existence. It’s dreamlike and beautifully shot, if slightly too whimsical.

Dr No (1962) ★★★★★
ITV1, 11.15pm  
Sean Connery was transformed from gruff Scottish bit-part actor (and former milkman) to suave gentleman for this first Bond film, directed by Terence Young. He brings just the right blend of light touch and inner steel to the martini-necking spy, as he swans around the tropics of Jamaica with gold-bikinied Ursula Andress, on the hunt for the titular villain. It’s considered a classic for a reason. Also on Sunday at 2.25pm.

Saturday 25 May

Next month marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day
Next month marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day - U.S. Coast Guard Photo

D-Day: Secrets of the Frontline Heroes
Channel 4, 8.20pm
Next month marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day. This fascinating documentary, however, is devoted to those who were there to shoot film, not the enemy: the cameramen and photographers whose mission it was to document the horror and heroics of Operation Overlord. Many of these figures were considered an essential part of the war effort. Hollywood director John Ford, for instance, was tasked by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, to capture on the ground footage.

This proved an important diplomatic tool for placating Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin – who wanted the Allies to open a new front in the west – and keeping the alliance together. The images are extraordinary. In one clip, shot just before the invasion, a laughing soldier can be seen using a comb to mock Adolf Hitler. In another, taken by wounded American Sergeant Richard Taylor, a member of 165th Signal Photographic Company, men fall to the ground as they are killed by Nazi machine gun fire. It is a haunting, sobering reminder of their sacrifice – made possible by those brave enough to immortalise them. SK

The Famous Five
BBC iPlayer
Nicolas Winding Refn’s invigorating take on Enid Blyton’s books concludes (for now, at least) with an adventure full of magic and mischief. Guest star Jason Flemyng is in delightful form as the Great Supremo, a mysterious magician who enlists the Five in a quest concerning a mind-controlling diamond. The episode airs on CBBC tomorrow at 5.15pm.

Doctor Who
BBC One, 6.50pm
Last week’s episode, the astonishing landmine thriller Boom, was one of the show’s best stories in years. Tonight’s creepy folk horror 73 Yards, however, is just as worthy of praise. It sees the Tardis land on the coast of south Wales, where the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby (Millie Gibson) find themselves stalked by an ancient legend.

Inside Windsor Castle: A Royal Residence
Channel 5, 7.30pm
When Elizabeth II took the throne in 1952, she decided that Buckingham Palace would be for business and Windsor Castle for play. Tonight’s edition of the jaunty documentary explores the castle’s role as a private retreat for the late Queen’s family, as well as its secondary function as a venue for state banquets.

The 1970s: Those Were the Days
Channel 5, 8.30pm
This fluffy two-part retrospective employs the likes of Shaun Ryder and Anneka Rice to take a rose-tinted look at 1970s Britain. Unsurprisingly, it is fairly broad stuff – encompassing everything from punk rock to decimalisation, from space hoppers to the Three-Day Week. It was the best of times (David Bowie), it was the worst of times (Noel Edmonds).

Rebus
BBC One, 9.25pm
The second week of the dark and brooding Rebus reboot reaffirms its commitment to unrelenting bleakness. For there are not one, but two grisly scenes tonight. To reveal more would spoil the shock, but suffice to say that Rebus’s (Richard Rankin) investigation into the assault of Jimmy McJagger (Gilly Gilchrist) takes a disturbingly violent turn.

Gladys Knight at the BBC
BBC Two, 9.25pm
Gladys Knight, the Empress of Soul, turns 80 this week. To celebrate, this now-familiar compilation show collects together some of her most memorable BBC performances. Make sure to stick around afterwards too for Knight in concert: performing with her band the Pips at the New London Theatre in 1981 (from 11.10pm).

The Great Dictator (1940, b/w) ★★★★★
Sky Arts, 1pm  
Perhaps Charlie Chaplin’s most famous – and historically significant – film, The Great Dictator was also his first to use complete sound. A stirring anti-war satire, it was intended to condemn Hitler and Mussolini; Chaplin’s central monologue is regularly praised as the greatest in cinema’s history. He plays both fictional dictator Adenoid Hynkel and a Jewish barber persecuted by Hynkel’s regime. Also on Sunday at 8.40pm.

Laura (1944, b/w) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 1.45pm  
Otto Preminger, master of film noir, made his name with this adaptation of Vera Caspary’s sumptuous novel that, according to some critics, is better than Vertigo. A beautiful woman, Laura (played by Gene Tierney), is murdered by shotgun before the film even begins, with Dana Andrews the detective who becomes obsessed with the case – and Laura. A bitter, brilliant thriller that is also an acid-sharp examination of desire.

South Pacific (1958) ★★★★
Sky Arts, 6pm  
You’ll be carried away by some of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s finest songs in this musical about a love affair between a US Navy nurse (Mitzi Gaynor) and a French planter (Rossano Brazzi). Enjoy more Rodgers and Hammerstein magic on Monday, at 6pm, with Oklahoma! Elsewhere, Sunday’s 80th Rodgers and Hammerstein anniversary concert promises to be wonderful fun (see p27).

Close (2022) ★★★★★
BBC Four, 9pm  
This miraculously subtle Belgian drama from director Lukas Dhont (Girl) packs a formidable emotional wallop, mostly thanks to the talents of its young stars. We follow best friends Léo (Eden Dambrine) and Rémi (Gustav De Waele) through their adolescence, as their relationship is slowly threatened by the cruel taunts of homophobic bullies. However, this is not a “gay love story” but a tender portrait of boyhood growing pangs.

Sunday 26 May

Ranulph and Joseph Fiennes stand on the Athabasca Glacier in Canada
Ranulph and Joseph Fiennes stand on the Athabasca Glacier in Canada - National Geographic/Disney/PA

Fiennes: Return to the Wild
National Geographic, 8pm
Five years on from retracing Fiennes Sr’s epic journey up the Nile, cousins Ranulph and Joseph reconvene to follow the route across western Canada taken by the adventurer in 1971 – the first recorded crossing of British Columbia by waterway. “I can’t wait to learn more about the man behind the adventurer,” explains actor Joseph at the outset. This is perhaps a curious comment to make about his cousin, but one senses that “Ran” (as Joseph refers to him) is not a man accustomed to displaying vulnerability – which makes his candid revelations about his Parkinson’s diagnosis all the more touching.

At the age of 80, Ranulph is also understandably doing less of the hard grafting as they cross glaciers and paddle up to, although not through, several perilous rapid runs. The exertion, interspersed with more contemplative acts such as seeking blessings from First Nations peoples or a spot of fishing, works as a prompt for stoic reminiscences from Ranulph about his achievements. Above all, the vistas are a stunning showcase for the country’s natural wonders – not for nothing is this two-parter sponsored by Destination Canada. GT

The Rodgers & Hammerstein 80th Anniversary Concert
Sky Arts, 6pm
Michael Ball, Marisha Wallace and Maria Friedman are among the West End and Broadway superstars belting out some of the pair’s most famous songs, drawn from musicals including South Pacific, The Sound of Music and Oklahoma! in a one-off performance from last Christmas.

Inside Classical
BBC Four, 7.30pm
With Friday Night Is Music Night having made a controversial transfer from Radio 2 to Radio 3, Katie Derham introduces this concert from London’s Alexandra Palace with Ann-Maria Helsing conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra. Nessun Dorma and the theme from The Magnificent Seven are among the favourites performed.

The Responder
BBC One, 9pm
Chris (the excellent Martin Freeman) edges ever closer to breaking point in the penultimate episode of this breathlessly engrossing thriller, unsure whether to turn Franny’s (Adam Nagaitis) phone into the drug squad or hand it back to its owner, who is scouring the city for him.

Rob and Rylan’s Grand Tour
BBC Two, 9pm
By turns uproarious and affecting, this three-part travelogue concludes with Rob Rinder and Rylan Clark in Rome, where they transform themselves into a Caravaggio painting, learn about the castrati and work on their look.

Maya Angelou at the BBC
BBC Four, 9pm
The BBC marks 10 years since the passing of the great American writer Maya Angelou with a dedicated night of programming. It begins with Bonnie Greer finding ample evidence of Angelou’s easy onscreen charisma in the BBC archives, before the charming 1995 documentary Angelou on Burns at 10pm, in which she travels to Ayrshire to meet locals and exchange poems. Then, in Imagine at 10.50pm, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Quincy Jones are among those paying tribute and telling Angelou’s story just months prior to her death at 86.

Red Eye
ITV1, 9.05pm
Strongly tipped to return for a second series, this daft yet enjoyable high-concept thriller has anything but a smooth landing in tonight’s finale, with the truth behind the conspiracy revealed and both Hana (Jing Lusi) and Delaney (Lesley Sharp) forced to run for their lives with intelligence services on their trail.

Film of the Week: D-Day the Sixth of June (1956) ★★★★
BBC Two, 11.45am
Ahead of next week’s 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, catch some of cinema’s finest Second World War films. Henry Koster’s romance D-Day the Sixth of June is based on Lionel Shapiro’s 1955 novel, and is saved from being too schmaltzy by strong performances, particularly from Richard Todd – who took part in the Normandy landings in real life. It follows the attempts of two soldiers (Todd and Robert Taylor) to compete for the affections of the same woman (Dana Wynter) as they prepare to go off to battle. Todd also stars in The Dam Busters (Sunday, Channel 5 at 1.30pm), Michael Anderson’s epic depiction of Operation Chastise, when the RAF’s 617 Squadron attacked the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Nazi Germany with Barnes Wallis’s revolutionary bouncing bomb. If you’re in the mood for something more contemporary, Steven Spielberg’s 1998 blockbuster Saving Private Ryan  – which, unbelievably, lost out on the Best Picture Oscar to Shakespeare in Love – is on Saturday (Channel 4, 9.25pm). Tom Hanks and Matt Damon delivered the greatest turns of their career; the film will still leave you weeping.

Dr Seuss’ The Lorax (2012) ★★★
ITV1, 2.30pm  
For those who didn’t get tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, catch her in this colourful animated adaptation of Dr Seuss’s story instead. It follows a young boy (voiced by Zac Efron) from the vegetation-less city of Thneedville who goes in search of a tree to impress a nature-loving girl (Swift). But he stumbles on the Once-ler (Ed Helms), the man responsible for harvesting all of the world’s plant life. Danny DeVito voices the curious Lorax.

Clueless (1995) ★★★★
Channel 4, 3pm  
Loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, this highly amusing high-school satire launched the Hollywood careers of Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd and the late Brittany Murphy. The plot follows the trials and tribulations of Cher (Silverstone), a bubbly 15-year-old shopaholic who’s the most popular girl at Beverly Hills High and wants to make the world a better place. Packed with pop-culture gags, it’s become a cult classic.

The Train Robbers (1973) ★★★
ITV4, 7.30pm  
Burt Kennedy’s rollicking Western is worth a watch for the scenery alone – the wide shots of Mexican desert vistas are stunning. Mrs Lowe (Ann-Margret) enlists a rag-tag bunch of cowboys (brought together by John Wayne) to help find her train-robber lover’s lost fortune, but, on the way to Mexico, they realise they’re being pursued by ruthless bandits and a single, mysterious rider (Ricardo Montalban) with skin in the game.

Saturday Night Fever (1977) ★★★★★
Channel 4, midnight  
This is the film that gave John Travolta superstar status. It also boasts spangled Seventies disco outfits, excellent dancing and the hugely successful Bee Gees soundtrack (Stayin’ Alive or How Deep Is Your Love, anyone?). More often forgotten is the bleak storyline: a troubled Brooklyn paint-shop worker (Travolta) can only forget his dead-end existence when he hits the dancefloor.

Bank Holiday Monday

Hoa Xuande as The Captain and Robert Downey Jr as Claude in The Sympathizer
Hoa Xuande as The Captain and Robert Downey Jr as Claude in The Sympathizer - Sky/HBO/Warner Media

The Sympathizer
Sky Atlantic, 2.05am & 9pm
This stylish seven-part series (box-setted on Now) is based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Straddling a few genres including dark comedy, political satire and espionage thriller, it subtly reflects on identity, belonging and recent American history as it tells the story of a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist spy during the final days of the Vietnam War (played by Hoa Xuande), who narrates the action as if writing a confession.

The spy – known only as the Captain – is a North Vietnamese mole in the South Vietnamese army, torn between his loyalties to the party, the army, his CIA handler and, eventually, his own conscience. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Captain becomes a refugee in Los Angeles, where he abruptly learns that his spying days aren’t quite over and he has to take some desperate measures to protect his cover. Robert Downey Jr has a ball playing the aforementioned CIA spook, as well as several other roles under heavy prosthetics, including the director of an Apocalypse Now-type film that the Captain is an adviser on – one of a few knowing contrivances in Park Chan-wook and Don McKellar’s playful adaptation. VL

Clive Myrie’s Caribbean Adventure
BBC Two, 6.30pm
The genial newsreader begins a new travelogue series. Myrie’s parents emigrated from Jamaica in the early 1960s and the island, which he fondly remembers from childhood holidays, is where he begins his jaunt; he meets up with family, learns about the island’s Maroon history and even tries a bit of (wobbly) stilt-walking.

Springwatch
BBC Two, 8pm
Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan present another spring season of the nature series from RSPB Arne in Dorset. Iolo Williams is at nearby Corfe Castle to oversee the launch of a live nest camera and Megan McCubbin reports from the Isle of Bute, hoping to see osprey.

D-Day 80: We Were There
BBC Two, 9pm
As part of its coverage to mark the upcoming 80th anniversary of D-Day, the BBC has been recording reminiscences of servicemen and women who landed on Normandy beaches or were involved in the planning of Operation Overlord. It’s striking how matter-of-factly those featured here tell their inspiring and moving stories; one ex-soldier says he and his colleagues were “scared to death – but we had a job to do and had to get on with it”. Rachel Burden hosts.

Kill Zone: Inside Gaza – Dispatches
Channel 4, 9pm
The Dispatches team report on the worsening situation in Gaza as doctors, journalists and children describe the effects of Israel’s military campaign there after Hamas murdered 1,200 Israeli citizens on October 7 last year.

Mysteries of the Pyramids
Channel 5, 9pm
This week Dara Ó Briain investigates how Egyptian pyramids’ complex structures were designed to fox tomb raiders – and how the illicit antiquities trade is the third largest black market in the world. But today’s criminals merely get a prison sentence, rather than being impaled as their predecessors were.

Cumbria’s Red Squirrels
BBC Four, 9pm
This delightful documentary follows the work of volunteers, scientists and landowners aiding the survival of red squirrels, whose numbers across the UK have declined from an estimated 3.5 million to fewer than 300,000 today. Their main competitors are grey squirrels, and scientists are hoping that the contraceptive they have developed will decrease their populations.

Theresa May: The Accidental Prime Minister
ITV1, 10.25pm
This timely new documentary tells the inside story of Theresa May’s premiership, with contributions from May herself. Directed by award-winning film-maker Sam Collyns and produced by the team behind 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room, Adam Wishart and Neil Grant, it focuses on key events in her time in No 10, from Brexit negotiations, the 2017 election and the Grenfell Tower disaster to the Windrush scandal.

Annie (1982) ★★★★
Channel 4, 10.40am  
Director John Huston delivered one of the great Broadway adaptations with this big-hearted tale of orphan Annie (Aileen Quinn) who is fostered by a billionaire. Albert Finney is deep-pocketed Daddy Warbucks, while Tim Curry is typically camp – and very fun – as the brother of the orphanage’s owner Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett), who hopes to claim a monetary reward by pretending to be Annie’s real father.

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010) ★★★
ITV1, 3pm  
Emma Thompson returns to the role of the formidable nanny, whose old-boot phizog (warts and all) is transformed by her charges’ good behaviour. The setting this time is a chaotic farm where a mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is struggling to cope with her three children and two prissy cousins evacuated from wartime London. It’s charming fun with terrific period costumes to match. Ralph Fiennes co-stars.

Hope and Glory (1987) ★★★★
BBC Two, 10pm  
John Boorman’s highly personal account of the Second World War draws on his lower-middle-class suburban boyhood during the Blitz. It’s an affectionate piece with real moments of high drama, and a sense of a community living on a knife edge. David Hayman excels as his stern, cricket-loving father, and Sebastian Rice-Edwards is assured as 10-year-old Bill. Richie Adams’ First World War epic The Road Dance (2021) follows.

Tuesday 28 May

Mark O'Sullivan
Mark O'Sullivan - Channel 4

My Sexual Abuse: The Sitcom
Channel 4, 10pm
Trauma can be processed in all sorts of ways, with humour often the most controversial and divisive technique of all. Yet it is through the medium of the sitcom that writer and actor Mark O’Sullivan (Tell Me Everything, Lee and Dean) has boldly decided to address the sexual abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of a member of his extended family, a man who was imprisoned thanks in part to O’Sullivan’s testimony at a trial years later.

This extraordinary film – which other broadcaster would have commissioned it? – documents the background to and making of the sitcom and O’Sullivan’s unflinching analysis of why he is making it, both on his own and in conversation with his wife, family, fellow survivors, friends and sitcom co-stars, including Cariad Lloyd and Rufus Jones. O’Sullivan takes the expected questions and concerns – Why not say something at the time? How did it affect you and your family? How can you make this funny? – head on, and yes, it is darkly funny in places. It is also deeply uncomfortable, confronting and never less than searingly honest and valid, both artistically and ethically. The sitcom itself is available to view online after broadcast. GT

Blood on the Dance Floor
BBC One, 9pm
Part of BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight strand, this troubling film follows reporter Jordan Dunbar as he investigates the unsolved 1997 murder of RUC officer Darren Bradshaw in Belfast’s only openly gay bar. With the shooting carried out by Republicans at a critical time for the peace process and with homophobia still rife, Dunbar’s interviewees, among them fellow police officers, reflect on how much has changed.

The Gathering
Channel 4, 9pm
Helen Walsh’s skilful, bleak drama diligently lays the groundwork for tomorrow night’s revealing climax, with a rave scheduled on Hilbre Island, Kelly (Eva Morgan) furious and Bazi (Luca Kamleh-Chapman) in her sights. Gripping.

The Pilgrimage of Gilbert & George
Sky Arts, 9pm
Outliers of the art establishment for over five decades, Gilbert and George are reliably good value in Mike Christie’s comprehensive profile tracing their long career of pushing boundaries while cleaving tightly to what they reluctantly concede could be a “manifesto”: Art for All.

Dalton’s Dream: Storyville
BBC Four, 10pm
The X Factor’s “journeys” are frequently more complicated than they are packaged to be – none more so than that of Dalton Harris, the prodigiously gifted Jamaican singer who won the competition in 2018. Kim Longinotto and Franky Murray Brown’s documentary follows the post-victory comedown which has afflicted many, but for the openly gay Harris, both hero and pariah in his homeland, it proved even harder. With the exposure bringing out childhood trauma, and anxiety and addiction begin to grip, there is no Cowell-crafted catharsis here, but hope simmers below the struggle.

Stormy
Channel 5, 10pm
A superficially unlikely figure to dominate news cycles over the past few months, the former adult-film star and alleged lover of the 45th President of the United State of America shares her life story and the strain of scrutiny caused by her involvement in Donald Trump’s hush money trial.

Newsnight
BBC Two, 10.30pm
The first edition of Newsnight’s new, streamlined incarnation, 15 minutes shorter and focused on discussion over investigation, will have Victoria Derbyshire at the helm and many curious eyes on it. Does leaner mean meaner?

Born on the Fourth of July (1989) ★★★★
Film4, 9pm 
A film worth seeing just for the fact that it marked Tom Cruise’s graduation from Top Gun heart-throb to serious actor. The part of real-life Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, paralysed in battle and an anti-war campaigner from then on, was a gift for Cruise, who earned his first Oscar nomination. It’s a far cry from Oliver Stone’s serious 1986 masterpiece Platoon, but stirring stuff nevertheless.

Tenet (2020) ★★★★★
BBC Three, 7pm  
The head-spinning first of this week’s Christopher Nolan triple bill (see Wednesday and Friday) is set at what feels like the entropic endpoint of human progress. The protagonist, known as The Protagonist (John David Washington), is tasked with investigating a new technology capable of “inverting the entropy” of people and objects – that is, it switches the direction in which they move through time. Trippy. Also on Sunday (BBC Two, 10pm).

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) ★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 11pm  
Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel, written when she was just 18 years old, has been adapted countless times on screen. Terence Fisher’s film – a sequel to 1957’s The Curse of Frankenstein – follows the unconvincingly aliased Doctor Victor Stein (a brilliant Peter Cushing) after he escapes execution and continues his experiments – this time putting a living brain into a “perfect” body. Great fun.

Wednesday 29 May

Stephen and Viv
Stephen and Viv - Studio Lambert/BBC

Race Across the World: The Final
BBC One, from 9pm
It’s a thrilling finale as the four remaining teams – husband and wife Stephen and Viv, brother and sister James and Betty, mother and daughter Eugenie and Isabel, and friends Alfie and Owen – complete one last leg as they vie for the £20,000 prize. The top two teams – Alfie/Owen and Eugenie/Isabel – start only 12 minutes apart but, as all the players have found previously, anything could happen before they reach their destination.

The four couples must make their way from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, to the island of Lombok, 1,400 km away, and it ultimately comes down one last nail-biting race across water to reach the end line. There’s some canny bluffing when one of the teams wants the others to believe their kitty is much smaller than it really is; you might have thought at this point, more than 40 days into the process, they wouldn’t fall for it – but they do. Race Across the World: The Reunion follows after the news at 10.40pm (NI, 11.40pm) on BBC One, when the five original teams reunite in London six months after filming to look back on their 15,000 km adventure, and reflect on the impact it has had on their lives. VL

Camden
Disney+
Noel Gallagher, Dua Lipa, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Little Simz, Pete Doherty and Carl Barât of The Libertines, Boy George and Suggs are among the very starry list of names that have been assembled to reminisce about the music history of Camden, north London – from early gigs to many many raucous nights out.

Poundland: Can You Get it Cheaper?
Channel 5, 7pm
Poundland is leading the way as discount stores slash prices to lure customers during a cost-of-living crisis. But in an increasingly crowded part of the retail market, this documentary (updated from a version shown late last year) asks where the best bargains are to be found.

The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan
BBC Two, 9pm
The reluctant traveller returns with a new series (his last, he says) about less visited destinations by British tourists. Tonight he’s in Uganda, a country of which he knows little beyond the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin, something that his host, a Ugandan princess, aims to change.

Painting Birds with Jim and Nancy
Sky Arts, 9pm
This week the couple are in north Wales, where they’re in search of “bolshie disco bird”, the black grouse. They speak to experts who describe the local terrain and meet fellow amateur artist Joe Pasquale, whose horror-based oeuvre is distinctive, to say the least.

Hold the Front Page
Sky Max, 9pm
Would-be journalists Nish Kumar and Josh Widdicombe conclude this series with a visit to Newport, where they land a gig on the South Wales Argus, a venerable daily dating back to 1892 with a circulation of 20,000. “We’ll turn Newport into News-port,” Widdicombe says when the editor tells them to go out in search of stories. Celebrity mate Charlotte Church hands them a scoop about a local environmental issue – will they get that front-page story and go out on a high?

Inside No 9
BBC Two, 10pm
Another strong instalment of the black-comedy anthology (and its third-to-last), in which Steve Pemberton and Katherine Kelly play a couple who take their teenage daughters to a local escape room called The Killer’s Lair, run by Reece Shearsmith’s jobbing actor. A nicely scary tale with an excellent twist.

Fresh (2022) ★★★
Film4, 9pm  
Daisy Edgar-Jones (of Normal People fame) stars in this disturbing, captivating comedy-thriller from first-time director Mimi Cave. The set up is conventional enough: a disaffected young woman finds excitement with an off-grid enigma who she meets in a grocery store (Sebastian Stan). But the second act gives way to something much darker and less comfortable, with a debt to Julia Ducournau’s excellent horror Raw.

The Way of the Dragon (1973) ★★★★
Sky Cinema Greats, 9.40pm  
The Way of the Dragon was Bruce Lee’s only complete directorial film, and the last one released during his lifetime (he died, aged 32, in 1973). It was also a box-office smash, earning a thousand times its budget of $130,000. Lee plays a martial artist called on to protect his relatives, who own a restaurant in Rome, from a local gangster. The fight scenes are terrific and Lee, as ever, is a magnetic presence on screen.

The Prestige (2006) ★★★★
BBC One, 11.40pm  
This deft adaptation of Christopher Priest’s novel may be Christopher Nolan’s most purely entertaining film. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play stage magicians in Victorian London, but when a trick goes horribly wrong, they become rivals, with Jackman obsessed with discovering how Bale pulls off his famous “Transported Man” illusion. Scarlett Johansson is strong in support, but David Bowie steals the show as Nikola Tesla.

Thursday 30 May

Benedict Cumberbatch and Ivan Howe in Eric
Benedict Cumberbatch and Ivan Howe in Eric - Netflix

Eric
Netflix
You could hardly accuse this eccentric six-part drama of lacking originality. Created by Abi Morgan (River, The Split) it stars Benedict Cumberbatch as hard-drinking 1980s New York puppeteer Vincent. He is the genius behind Good Morning Sunshine, a Sesame Street-style children’s show full of colourful puppets and upbeat songs about kindness. The irony is that he is a terrible father; a flaw writ large after he allows his nine-year-old son, Edgar (Ivan Howe), to walk alone to school, leading to him going missing. As the police investigate, Vincent suffers a breakdown, and begins to hallucinate Eric, a giant fluffy monster who tells him to “get your s--t together, a--hole. Let’s go find your f--king kid”.

It is compellingly bonkers stuff. Half of it is a sincere missing-persons mystery, following sombre detective Michael Ledroit (McKinley Belcher III) as he untangles a potential sex-trafficking conspiracy. The other half is a tragicomic character study featuring scenes of puppets snorting cocaine. On paper it shouldn’t work and yet it is an intoxicating combination, held together by sharp writing, handsome production values and a mesmerising lead. SK

Geek Girl
Netflix
Emily Carey leads this 10-part tween drama about a nerdy teenage misfit who is miraculously scouted to be a top model. Adapted from Holly Smale’s 2013 book of the same name, it is standard Young Adult fare: high-school theatrics and dreamy boys.

The Truth About Temu
Channel 4, 8pm
Chinese shopping app Temu has exploded in popularity due to its rock-bottom prices. Dispatches investigates whether those bargains are too good to be true. A particularly disturbing suggestion, for instance, is that some of their products are made with high levels of harmful materials.

The Outlaws
BBC One, 9pm
Stephen Merchant’s delightfully droll community service thriller returns for a third series. This time the gang is blindsided by the return of Rani (Rhianne Barreto), who turns up with a body in need of burying. Cue Dillard (Merchant) Googling “How do you dispose of a corpse”. The show’s big star, Christopher Walken, doesn’t show up tonight but if you’re impatient for a cameo all episodes are on iPlayer now.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Sky Atlantic, 9pm
A pervading discomfort looms over this Holocaust drama. Namely, that no matter how noble its intentions, there is something inherently crass about exploiting the events of Auschwitz for narrative twists and turns. Take tonight’s penultimate episode, in which a pregnant inmate must give birth in secret. It is skilfully done, of course, but some horrors feel too sacred for the titillation of suspense.

We Are Lady Parts
Channel 4, 10pm & 10.35pm
The second series of this anarchic comedy – set around a dysfunctional all-female, all-Muslim punk band – is just as brilliant as the first. Tonight’s two-part premiere picks up with lead guitarist Amina (Anjana Vasan) in her self-described “villain era”, which leads to a superb song about how she will not respond to emails out of work hours. All episodes are on Channel4.com now.

Johnson & Knopfler’s Music Legends
Sky Arts, 10pm
AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler finish their series of interviews with a trip to Nashville to meet country rock’s “reigning Queen” Emmylou Harris. She shares her career highlights and discusses her relationship with pioneer Gram Parsons.

Turtles All the Way Down (2024) ★★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, noon  
American author and king of the weepy coming-of-age novel (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska) John Green gets another big screen adaptation, directed by Hannah Marks. Isabela Merced (who also starred in Green’s Let It Snow) plays a 16-year-old with OCD who becomes obsessed by the disappearance of a local billionaire. Felix Mallard, Maliq Johnson and Debby Ryan co-star. Streaming on Now from Sunday.

Cast Away (2000) ★★★★
Film4, 6pm  
Robert Zemeckis’s survival drama stars Tom Hanks as a FedEx employee who finds himself washed up on a desert island after a plane crash. With music and dialogue stripped to the bare minimum, the middle section charts his struggle to survive and remain sane. The parts depicting life among civilisation are less compelling, but Hanks’s remarkably strong physical performance, for which he deliberately shed 55 lb, carries the action.

Rhubarb (1968, b/w) ★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 7.15pm  
Rhubarb is directed by and starring Eric Sykes – so of course it’s equal parts hilarious and random. Centred on a police inspector and a vicar as they play a round of golf, the short’s dialogue consists entirely of repetitions of the word “rhubarb” – harking back to The Goon Show, whose three-person cast would pretend to sound like a larger group by quickly uttering “rhubarb!” over and over. Harry Secombe and Jimmy Edwards co-star.

Friday 31 May

Danai Gurira in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live
Danai Gurira in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live - Gene Page/AMC

The Ones Who Live
Sky Max, 2am & 9pm
“I tried. Please know, I tried.” Rather than Andrew Lincoln talking about resisting a return to the role which has occupied him almost exclusively since 2010, these are the first words of Lincoln’s Rick Grimes in this spin-off from hit zombie series The Walking Dead. The Ones Who Live finds his redoubtable sheriff trying to track down the equally maverick love of his life, samurai sword-wielding Michonne (Danai Gurira), and his daughter, Judith, who have long presumed him dead. Rick, last seen on screen back in 2019, is now in Philadelphia working for the paramilitary CRM, who are prepared to overlook his dogged detachment and repeated attempts to escape thanks to his zombie-killing talents and obvious leadership potential.

Initially intended as a film before the onset of a real-world pandemic, The Ones Who Live inevitably labours in the shadows of such fresher, more vigorous post-apocalyptic epic series as The Last of Us or Fallout, but the occasional set-piece still impresses and Lincoln’s gruff charisma endures. While newcomers will be baffled, long-time fans will be delighted by a few other familiar faces over the six episodes. GT

Kafka
Channel4.com
Walter Presents’ latest import is an enjoyably irreverent six-parter from novelist Daniel Kehlmann and director David Schalko, with Joel Basman as the writer whose mastery of bureaucracy is counterbalanced by the chaos of his private life, anxious relationship with his father and rollercoaster friendship with Max Brod (David Kross).

Smart Motorways: The Shocking Truth 
Channel 5, 7pm
This is a sober report on the disastrous introduction of smart motorways in Britain, with alarming anecdotal evidence to go with the cautionary statistics, and contributions from Telegraph journalist Steve Bird. Hell on the Highway at 8pm, on the other hand, asks analysts to comment on an array of road accidents.

Double the Money
Channel 4, 8pm
Sue Perkins’s curiously compelling reality show reaches its penultimate stage with the remaining couples given three weeks to make £8,000 from £4,000: a party-bus tour threatens to veer off track, unwanted bric-a-brac may not prove a money spinner and tickets prove hard to shift for haphazardly conceived food and music festivals (former Apprentice contestants will watch on with enormous sympathy).

Have I Got News For You
BBC One, 9pm; Wales, 9.30pm
The Telegraph’s TV columnist Victoria Coren Mitchell sits in the hotseat for the 19th time, with comedian Chris McCausland and debutante Sophy Ridge, the Sky News journalist, joining Paul Merton and Ian Hislop.

Hidden Treasures of the National Trust
BBC Two, 9.30pm
Urban Huttleston Rogers Broughton had a collection almost as extraordinary as his name, with some of Anglesey Abbey’s 15,000 objects showcased tonight including books, paintings and crucifixes. There’s also time to visit a superficially boring Worksop semi and Killerton House’s rare fashion collection.

The Nevermets
Channel 4, 10pm
This neat twist on the dating show continues with three more long-distance couples meeting for the first time: a law graduate hopes to meet her elusive boyfriend in Dubai, a 17-year-old forks out for a 4,500-mile journey to Kerela, and Sarah goes even further – her boyfriend lives in the Philippines with a phalanx of friends who could turn her trip into a waste of time.

We’re the Millers (2013) ★★★
ITV2, 9pm  
David (Jason Sudeikis) is a small-time drug dealer who takes on a job to clear a debt, disguising himself as a family man alongside a stripper (Jennifer Aniston) and two loner children. The key to the film’s success is Aniston’s hilarious play against type, her character struggling in vain to maintain her sweetheart persona as she gets caught up in the mad goings-on of the criminal underworld. Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) directs.

Dunkirk (2017) ★★★★★
BBC One, 10.40pm
Christopher Nolan is still riding high after his Oscars sweep for Oppenheimer and consequent knighthood. But as any admirer will know, Dunkirk is Nolan at his most ambitious: technologically impressive, yet not a bit of CGI in sight, and entrusting a young cast – Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Harry Styles – with bringing his vision to life. The story is told through three perspectives, taking place in the air, sea and on land.

Team America: World Police (2004) ★★★★
Channel 4, 11.05pm  
The film that answered the question we never thought to ask: what would happen if South Park were crossed with Thunderbirds? A group of all-action marionettes must save the world from terrorists, led by Kim Jong-Il. This is a hysterical romp that remains remarkably relevant, but it’s not one for the easily offended – it caused quite a stir when it was released. Trey Parker directs the puppets.


Television previewers

Stephen Kelly (SK), Veronica Lee (VL), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Poppie Platt (PP) and Gabriel Tate (GT

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