What’s on TV tonight: First Night of the Proms, Those About to Die, The Lady in the Lake and more

Conductor Elim Chan will make her First Night of the Proms debut
Conductor Elim Chan will make her First Night of the Proms debut - Simon Pauly/Simon Pauly

Friday 19 July

First Night of the Proms
BBC Two, 7pm
It’s that time of year again. As summer begins to – finally – heat up, the BBC takes us inside London’s historic Royal Albert Hall to marvel at another packed programme of stunning classical music, patriotic harmony and more modern, innovative events. Clive Myrie is our host tonight, along with guests including Sandi Toksvig. Hong Kong-born conductor Elim Chan will make her First Night of the Proms debut, presenting Beethoven’s timeless Fifth Symphony, Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks and a world premiere from 27-year-old British/Japanese composer Ben Nobuto, with the assistance of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Renowned soprano Sophie Bevan is sure to enrapture in the lead vocal performance of Bruckner’s Psalm 150, while gifted pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason – part of the prodigious musical family – will play Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto.

All in all, it promises to be an excellent introduction to another brilliant season, with the BBC broadcasting from a range of events – from pop with Sam Smith and Florence and the Machine to services dedicated to Nick Drake, disco and Doctor Who – over the next two months. PP

Those About to Die
Amazon Prime Video
A terrific cast – led by Anthony Hopkins – and Hollywood director (in Independence Day’s Roland Emmerich) make this vicious historical epic a must watch for any fans of Rome, Gladiator or Vikings. Over 10 episodes, dive into the bloodthirsty world of ancient Rome – whether that be its gladiatorial games or equally cut-throat politics.

Lady in the Lake
Apple TV+
Oscar-winner Natalie Portman stars in this gripping thriller, centred on the hunt for a missing girl in 1960s Baltimore. Portman is a housewife trying to make it as a journalist; Moses Ingram is a local mother trying to stay afloat who finds herself caught up in the tragedy. The first two episodes are available today; the other five follow weekly.

Apple TV+
What links all of humanity, from the vast, isolated plains of Serbia to backwater towns in the Southern US or exotic beaches of Thailand? Food, of course. Chef René Redzepi takes a bite of some of the world’s most popular ingredients and dishes, from bananas and pork to coffee and chillies, revealing their history and the surprising similarities between how they’re prepared in different nations around the globe.

Champions: Full Gallop
ITV1, 9pm
This entertaining docu-series follows the drama on and off the racetrack as both jockeys and horses prepare to compete at Kempton. In tonight’s opener, it’s Boxing Day, and it’s looking like a close fight between reigning champion jockey Paul Nicholls (with last year’s winner, Bravemansgame) and newbie horse Shishkin.

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown
Channel 4, 9pm
Jimmy Carr is back with more loaded questions and fun-filled challenges, as the comedian welcomes Dan Tiernan, Jon Richardson, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Ryan to the studio.

Terror at 30,000 Feet
Channel 5, 10pm
On 29 December 2000, a mentally ill passenger stormed the cockpit of a British Airways flight from London to Kenya and attempted to crash the plane. This formulaic documentary recounts the event using archive footage and new interviews with crew and passengers – including Ben Goldsmith and pilot Bill Hagan – who thought they were going to die.

Find Me Falling (2024)
Singer and actor Harry Connick Jr (Independence Day) plays a lonely, ageing rock star in this run-of-the-mill romcom. His John Allman decides to take an extended break in Cyprus, but keeping a low profile proves tricky when a stream of characterful locals, and an old flame, pay frequent unwanted visits. Mamma Mia, does this sound familiar? The Grammy-winning Connick Jr, who is currently on a world tour, wrote two songs for the film.

Mean Girls (2024) ★★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 8pm
Twenty years ago, the original Mean Girls pinned down a new millennial strain of adolescent narcissism and pettiness, and because of that – as well as the fact it was very funny – it soon became one of the definitive high-school comedies of the age. Tina Fey’s musical remake, starring Reneé Rapp, translates to the TikTok age and still manages to remain a complete scream. Mean Girls: The Musical is on Paramount+ from Tuesday.

Non-Stop (2014) ★★★
Channel 5, 10pm  
This is the second of, to date, five action films that Liam Neeson has made with director Jaume Collet-Serra (The Commuter and Run All Night among them). Neeson is the dolorous air marshal who spends most of this film bounding up and down the aisle of a hijacked plane with a time-bomb under his arm in a plot so absurd that you can’t help but smile. Every passenger is a suspect, even Julianne Moore’s sweet heart-surgery patient.

Planet of the Apes (2001) ★★★
BBC One, 11.20pm  
An alarmingly ordinary movie, and as such a crushing disappointment from maverick director Tim Burton. His “reimagining” of the 1968 classic, with Mark Wahlberg sullenly crash-landing in the original Charlton Heston role, allows all its fascinating conceits to be melted down into a bland, gelatinous mass. On the plus side, it’s visually splendid: Ape City is a magnificent hilltop habitat of vine-entangled buildings.

Saturday 20 July

Mark Heap and Sarah Parish in Piglets
Mark Heap and Sarah Parish in Piglets - Ricky Darko/ITV

ITV1, 9.30pm
What a treat: instead of another Saturday night spent trawling through TV channels that are chock-full of repeats, there’s a hilariously silly new primetime British sitcom to get stuck into. Created by the team behind classic Noughties hospital farce Green Wing, Piglets follows six hopeless rookie coppers as they try to make it through training. Never mind the criminals or red tape – it’s mostly their messy love lives, un-PC gags and pesky bosses who give them grief as they get stuck into life at Norbourne Training College. Fresh faces Callie Cooke, Sam Pote, Sukh Kaur Ojla, Halema Hussain, Abdul Sessay and Jamie Bisping play the fish-out-of-water aspiring officers with big dreams.

In the lead, meanwhile, Mark Heap’s hapless Superintendent Bob Weekes attempts to guide them through without putting the fear of God into them, while his fearsome senior, Julie Spry (Sarah Parish), has apparently never heard of HR rules about bullying. ITV has refused to change the show’s title despite pressure from the Police Federation, who labelled it “highly offensive” to officers. If you can look past the controversy, the jokes are deftly delivered and the core cast excellent. PP

MH17: The Plane Crash that Shook the World
Channel 4, 8pm
When Flight MH17 – bound for Kuala Lumpur – was shot down over Ukraine in 2014 by Russian forces, the world recoiled: 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed, and it resulted in Putin getting ever bolder in his quest for absolute power; he invaded Ukraine eight years later. This film explores the secret war that was triggered by the event and what it meant for global diplomacy.

Changing Ends
ITV1, 9pm
Alan Carr’s hilarious ode to his Northampton childhood is the most heartfelt British sitcom in years. Expect laughs aplenty tonight as young Alan (Oliver Savell) and his family hide from an Alsatian wreaking havoc on their neighbourhood.

Jay Blades: The West End Through Time
Channel 5, 9pm
The Repair Shop host concludes his foray into the West End’s history with a trip to Piccadilly Circus, the capital’s busiest thoroughfare, before learning how the Second World War revolutionised the Tube network and donning his best dancing shoes for a night on the town  in Soho.

Stewart Lee, Basic Lee: Live at the Lowry
Sky Comedy, 9pm
Filmed in Salford in April, Lee attempts to define what stand-up comedy really is (and deliver the “last jokes I will ever write about a Tory government”) to uproarious effect. Unflinchingly personal, the 56-year-old comedian reminds us why he’s often labelled Britain’s finest living stand-up. Also available on NOW.

High Country
BBC One, 9.15pm & 10.20pm
This brooding Aussie drama has almost as much reason to thank its scenery – the snow-capped mountains of the Victorian Alps – as its actors for building a heady sense of dread. In tonight’s double bill, detective Andie (Leah Purcell) must head deep into the wilderness in search of a missing girl; her discoveries stretch back generations.

Love & Death
ITV1, 10pm
First broadcast on ITVX, this gripping thriller from Big Little Lies creator David E Kelley stars Marvel heroine Elizabeth Olsen as 1970s Texas housewife Candy Montgomery, who swaps marital bliss in the suburbs for murder following a tempestuous affair with a man she meets at church (Civil War’s Jesse Plemons). All seven episodes are streaming now.

Young Woman and the Sea (2024) ★★★
Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley is joined by a stellar cast – Stephen Graham, Fleabag’s Sian Clifford – for Joachim Rønning’s lively sports drama about the first woman to swim the English Channel. Trudy Ederle became one of the most famous women in Britain in the 1920s after she completed the death-defying journey across the sea; Ridley plays her with just the right mix of steely determination and nerves.

How the West Was Won (1962) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 3.30pm  
An epic in every sense – filmed in ultra widescreen and scored by the peerless Alfred Newman. How the West Was Won features more big names than your average Oscars ceremony (it also won three awards): Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda, John Wayne and Debbie Reynolds star as we follow four generations of one family moving west across America. Henry Hathaway, John Ford and George Marshall direct.

Uproar (2024) ★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 4pm  
This charming Kiwi coming-of-age film has echoes of The History Boys or Lady Bird. Set in 1981, it follows 17-year-old Josh Waaka (Julian Dennison), who has mixed Māori and European heritage, as he fights against his family’s dreams of him becoming a professional rugby player and becomes increasingly involved in political activism. Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords) and Minnie Driver co-star.

The Courier (2020) ★★★★
BBC One, 11.05pm  
Director Dominic Cooke provides the straight version of the real story of Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch), a salesman who was enlisted by MI6 in 1960 to smuggle secrets from Moscow to London. Wynne’s contact was a Soviet officer (Merab Ninidze) whose leaks were later credited with helping to alter the course of the Cold War. Jessie Buckley and Rachel Brosnahan co-star.

Sunday 21 July

Jason Watkins in McDonald & Dodds
Jason Watkins in McDonald & Dodds - ITV

McDonald & Dodds
ITV1, 8pm
The fourth series of this charming detective drama opens in medias res. The eponymous odd couple – the bumbling DS Dodds (Jason Watkins) and the straight-talking DCI McDonald (Tala Gouveia) – stand in a family’s kitchen, mid-flow, cracking the case of a journalist who has been fatally poisoned with nuts. She had an allergy, of course, and her lipstick has been found smeared with nut oil. Could the culprit be her money-hungry fiancé? Or perhaps her daughter, played by popstar Pixie Lott?

The seemingly isolated murder has an unlikely link with tonight’s main mystery: the professional assassination of a woman who has been missing for more than 35 years. Her only surviving next of kin is brother Mark (Toby Stephens), a criminal mastermind who specialises in high-wire money laundering. He is the obvious suspect. For Chief Superintendent Ormond (Claire Skinner), however, arresting him is a personal vendetta related to the street-level consequences of white-collar crime. It is, as always, agreeable fare; detective drama in the light and cosy mode. Watkins’ Dodds, for instance, has a subplot about someone in the office stealing his chair. SK

Gabon: Earth’s Last Chance
Sky Documentaries, 7pm
This absorbing documentary tells the story of Lee White, the Manchester biologist who became the environment minister of Gabon in central Africa. His main task was protecting the country’s rainforest (the second largest in the world), which is vital for fighting climate change. It is not an enviable job, however, as illustrated by the shocking scenes from 2023’s coup d’état.

Sir Mark Elder’s Farewell to the Hallé at the Proms
BBC Four, 8pm
After 25 years as music director of The Hallé, Mark Elder and his orchestra take to the Royal Albert Hall for one final performance. And what better way to bow out than with Mahler’s epic and life-affirming Fifth Symphony?

The Jetty
BBC One, 9pm
Jenna Coleman may not have the edge to play a jaded, no-nonsense detective, but this drama’s writing is as sharp as a shark’s tooth. Tonight’s penultimate episode follows Ember (Coleman) as she reels from the murder of investigative journalist Riz (Weruche Opia). Yet there are even bigger shocks in store in Monday’s finale.

Britain Behind Bars: A Secret History
Channel 4, 9pm
Former barrister Rob Rinder explores the history of Britain’s prisons in this timely three-part documentary (available as a boxset). In tonight’s engaging first episode, he goes behind the bars of HMP Dartmoor, “Britain’s answer to Alcatraz”, and traces the historical roots of the 1932 riot which saw the prison set on fire.

Mums on Strike
Channel 5, 9pm
Fancy an hour of rage? The second series of this crass reality show introduces us to two long-suffering mothers, Gaynor and Sarah, who have gone “on strike” in protest of their families’ attitude to housework. Tonight’s resident Prince Charming is Sarah’s husband David, who believes that cooking and cleaning are firmly a woman’s job. Forget a strike – these women need a revolution.

The Turkish Detective
BBC Two, 10pm; NI, 10.55pm
The so-so detective drama continues, as Ayse (Yasemin Kay Allen) investigates the curious case of a serial killer who is targeting Istanbul’s rubbish collectors; resident Brit Suleyman (Ethan Kai) goes undercover to draw the killer out. Disposable stuff that is saved by stylish scenery.

Films of the Week: Chariots of Fire (1981) ★★★★★
BBC Two, 1pm
As the world turns its eye towards Paris for the Olympic Games, which kick off in the French capital with a spectacular mass boat ride down the Seine on Friday 26, here’s a perfect chance to revisit (or discover) one of the finest sporting films ever made. Colin Welland proclaimed that “The British are coming!” when Chariots of Fire made a splash at the Oscars in 1982, no mean feat for a first-time director (Hugh Hudson, who died last year). Welland’s heartfelt script, conveying eternal messages about religion and class, makes you yearn for the good fortune of two English runners – Eric Liddell (played by Ian Charleson) and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) – seeking glory at the 1924 Olympics (which were also held in Paris). The rest of the cast is a veritable “who’s who” of British acting talent: Nigel Havers, John Gielgud, Lindsay Anderson and Kenneth Branagh (in his film debut). Away from the emotional action at the film’s heart, however, it is surely its rousing, award-winning score by Vangelis that has cemented its place in history; its very first notes immediately bringing to mind the ecstasy of sporting success. Also on BBC Four on Thursday at 10.35pm.

Sing (2016) ★★★★
ITV1, 1.35pm  
This well-trodden tale of triumph over adversity would fail in lesser hands than those of British director Garth Jennings (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Son of Rambow). In a city of animated animals, a koala theatre manager (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) tries to save his struggling venue by inviting the townscreatures to compete in an X Factor-style contest – prompting a fun cast of characters to try their luck.

Deep Sea (2023) ★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 2pm  
Chinese director Tian Xiaopeng’s dreamlike, Kaleidoscopic family friendly animation is an easygoing treat for all ages. Swept into the sea while aboard a family cruise, a young girl named Shenxiu stumbles upon a mysterious restaurant under the waves. There, she meets the scheming head chef and his ragtag crew of adorable otters and walruses. They join forces to save the restaurant and reunite Shenxiu with her mother.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (2021) ★★★
BBC One, 3.40pm  
Did the world need a sequel to 2018’s so-so Peter Rabbit, which starred James Corden as an abrasively matey version of Beatrix Potter’s beloved bunny? Well, yes, as it turns out. One of the first films to open in UK cinemas after lockdown, its popularity owed more to collective relief than good film-making. Still, this CGI spectacular is fun for kids, while parents will enjoy spotting all the heist film references.

Salt (2010) ★★★
Channel 4, 10.55pm  
Directed by Phillip Noyce, this thriller is so full of twists you’re never quite sure what to believe. Angelina Jolie is CIA operative Evelyn Salt, who’s named as a double agent by a captured Russian spy looking for revenge. What ensues is a tense cat-and-mouse chase in which Jolie is somehow able to survive ridiculous daredevil escapes. It’s entertaining enough, even if the plot is far-fetched.

Monday 22 July

A new vaccine developed at Oxford could end malaria
A new vaccine developed at Oxford could end malaria - BBC

The Battle to Beat Malaria
BBC Two, 9pm
This documentary traces one of medical science’s greatest quests: to develop a vaccine against malaria in children and save countless young lives every year. With malaria being, as one contributor puts it, “the paramount killer of humanity throughout history” – resulting in over 600,000 deaths a year – it’s a quest that’s been continuously attempted, and repeatedly failed, for more than a century. But over the past 13 years, a new vaccine, R21, has been produced by the Jenner Institute in Oxford (where the groundbreaking AstraZeneca Covid vaccine was also developed) and successfully trialled with “game-changing” results. So much so that it is already being rolled out in Africa with full World Health Organisation approval.

This optimistic film takes us through the history of malaria (did you know that there are more than 3,000 species of mosquito, but only 30 carry the malaria pathogen?) and also allows us to meet the dedicated teams in Oxford, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, India and elsewhere, whose tireless work has culminated in, potentially, one of medical sciences greatest ever breakthroughs. GO

House of the Dragon
Sky Atlantic, 2am & 9pm
At last, season two shows signs of catching fire. Westeros is still in shock after Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) snatched the regency last week, but his reign is looking far from peaceful as Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Jacaerys (Harry Collett) have a lightbulb moment in regards to how to urgently boost their dragon-power.

The Great House Giveaway
Channel 4, 4pm
The Bafta-winning daytime show that gives competitors a house, a renovation budget and a limited time in which to turn their hard graft into a profit, returns. Today, glamour model Alaw and engineer Harri are given six months to transform a complete wreck in Wrexham into a desirable forever home.

Surviving The Post Office
BBC One, 8.30pm
Following on from his role in ITV1’s hit drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, actor Will Mellor meets sub-postmasters whose lives have been blighted by the Horizon scandal. As expected, it makes for an emotional watch; you won’t be able to contain your fury at the bureaucrats who let ordinary people down.

75 Years of Nato: New Challenges and Chances
PBS America, 8.35pm
This balanced documentary explores the dependency of Nato’s European members on US military might, and asks a range of political commentators if, 75 years on from its founding, the alliance is still fit for purpose. It’s an especially pressing question considering the ongoing war in Ukraine, and whether Nato has the capability to deter Russian aggression.

Sophie Morgan’s Fight to Fly
Channel 4, 9pm
Presenter and disability advocate Sophie Morgan dispatches undercover reporters to expose the poor service experienced by disabled passengers when flying. Morgan also visits Downing Street, highlights a useful new invention and becomes the first British female paraplegic to take a zero-gravity flight.

The Apartheid Killer
BBC Two, 11.05pm; NI, 11.35pm
Recorded over four years by journalist Isa Jacobson, this film looks back at the shocking case of South African security guard Louis van Schoor, who killed at least 39 people – all of them black – in the late 1980s. Supported by police claims of “justifiable homicide”, he served only 12 years in prison. The film is accompanied by a deep-dive podcast on BBC Sounds.

The Thief (1952, b/w) ★★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 4.05pm  
It’s testament to director Russell Rouse’s talents that this brooding neo-noir contains no dialogue yet still manages to grip; the only communication in the entire film is through a close-up shot of two telegrams. Ray Milland plays a nuclear scientist who betrays the American government and is pursued by the FBI. Martin Gabel is his Soviet counterpart, while Rex O’Malley and Rita Gam offer support.

Superman (1978) ★★★★★
Sky Cinema Greats, 5.30pm  
One wonders whether any reboot of DC Comics’s iconic comic-strip can ever top Richard Donner’s blockbuster. The special effects may look iffy by today’s standards, but we’ll be lucky if Christopher Reeve’s earnest lead performance, Margot Kidder’s feisty Lois Lane, and a miraculously irony-free screenplay can be replicated in these more cynical times. Superman II is on Sky Cinema Greats at 5.50pm tomorrow.

The World’s End (2013) ★★★★
ITV4, 10.45pm  
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (the hilarious duo behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) team up for a third time in this solid comedy about a group of former friends who embark on a chaotic hometown pub crawl. Pegg, Martin Freeman, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine discover that the town and its residents are not how they left them – in fact, they might just be from outer space. Rosamund Pike co-stars.

Tuesday 23 July

Bulgarian-German entrepreneur Ruja Ignatova
Bulgarian-German entrepreneur Ruja Ignatova - Channel 4

Fugitive: The Mystery of the Crypto Queen
Channel 4, 10pm
This three-part documentary tells the story of Bulgarian-German entrepreneur Ruja Ignatova, who currently features on the FBI’s “10 Most Wanted Fugitives” list for orchestrating a global $4.5 bn cryptocurrency scam. Ignatova persuaded scores of investors (or “idiots” as she charmingly called them) in the UK, US and Uganda to pour their life savings into her company, OneCoin.

But it was allegedly a Ponzi scheme intended to fund her lavish lifestyle and brazen marketing; at her peak, in 2016, Ignatova promoted OneCoin on stage at Wembley Stadium and hosted glamorous parties for millionaire investors in Dubai and New York City. Then, in October 2017, she boarded a flight to Greece and simply vanished with her clients’ money. You may be familiar with her shocking story already, thanks to BBC podcast The Missing Cryptoqueen, but Fugitive – directed by award-winning film-maker Rudolph Herzog, working closely with writer and journalist Raid Sabbah – brings us fully up to date. There are contributions from intelligence experts, defrauded investors and her former employees. VL

Midsomer Murders
ITV1, 8pm
The cosy sleuthing drama trundles on, as DCI Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Winter (Nick Hendrix) are tasked with investigating a murder connected to an organic bakery owned by a pair of unpopular out-of-towners (Robert Gilbert and Rebecca Night).

Roy Clarke Remembers Keeping Up Appearances
BBC Four, 8pm
The writer behind Last of the Summer Wine and Open All Hours reminisces on another of his creations. Clarke reveals how the casting of Patricia Routledge as social-climbing snob Hyacinth Bucket was crucial – and why the series ended in 1995. He introduces the terrific first episode at 8.15pm.

The Body Detectives
Channel 4, 9pm
A new documentary series following the fascinating work of Locate International, an organisation that revisits cold cases among the almost 1,000 unidentified bodies in the UK. The first case that ex-copper Dave Grimstead and his team dig into is that of George Johnston, who vanished off the Norfolk coast in 1984 while on holiday.

London ’48: How Britain Saved The Olympics
Channel 5, 9pm
Postwar London – all bombsites and rationing – was a world away from the triumphant shininess of the 2012 Olympic Games. Using extensive archive and a range of talking heads, this film describes how the capital stepped up to host the 1948 event despite the devastation the Second World War had caused.

Sky Witness, 9pm
Fans of legal dramedy The Good Wife, rejoice: this spin-off is based on that series’ attorney Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), who has moved from Chicago to New York. She soon clashes with police captain CW Wagner (The Wire’s Wendell Pierce) when she starts sleuthing in a case involving a university professor’s relationship with a student who is believed to have killed herself.

Women on Death Row
Channel 4, 11.05pm
This gripping new series tells the stories of six of the 52 female murderers on Death Row in the US (by comparison, there are 2,400 men currently awaiting the death penalty). First is Shawna Forde, the leader of a vigilante nativist group sentenced for the murders of a father and daughter during a home invasion in 2009.

Mission: Impossible 2 (2000) ★★★★
Sky Showcase, 9.30pm  
Tom Cruise reprises his role as IMF agent Ethan Hawke in this follow-up to the hit Nineties film Mission Impossible; there are now seven films, with the eighth set for release next year. In a plot borrowed from Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious, we follow Hawke as he tries to prevent villain Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) from stealing a deadly virus by seducing Ambrose’s ex, played by Thandie Newton. Directed by John Woo.

Before I Go to Sleep (2014) ★★★
BBC Two, 11.05pm  
Based on SJ Watson’s 2011 novel of the same name, Rowan Joffé’s psychological thriller stars Nicole Kidman as a traumatised woman suffering from amnesia. Every morning, she meets her husband (Colin Firth) for the first time; her doctor (Mark Strong) tells her to keep a video diary to try to retain some memories. But all it does is document her deteriorating mental state. As in Big Little Lies and The Others, Kidman thrives in a dark, troubling role.

Sick of Myself (2023) ★★
Film4, 11.25pm  
Kristoffer Borgli’s black comedy combines the body-horror shocks of David Cronenberg with the Scandinavian romantic angst seen in The Worst Person in the World. Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) and Thomas (Eirik Sæther) are caught in a relationship that grows more toxic – they fake allergic reactions, get addicted to drugs – as time goes by.

Wednesday 24 July

Chris Parry with his parents, Christine and Rob
Chris Parry with his parents, Christine and Rob - Rob Parry/BBC

Hell Jumper
BBC Two, 9pm
Chris Parry left Cornwall in early 2022, hoping to join Ukrainians in repelling the Russian invasion. Less than two years later he was dead at 28, killed not as an active combatant but as a “hell jumper”; volunteers who crowdfund vehicles and equipment to evacuate civilians. Paddy Wivell’s extraordinary documentary makes clear the life-threatening peril during an uninterrupted 10-minute sequence, filmed on Parry’s bodycam during an increasingly desperate solo mission. We’re told he was responsible for evacuating more than 400 people – their reactions when he finds them leave no doubt of the fate that they would otherwise have faced.

Yet such tunnel-visioned heroism entailed enormous sacrifice, not just for Parry but also for his family (his sister was forced to keep his activities secret from their parents), friends (equally oblivious) and Ukrainian partner Olya (their courtship forms the emotional heartbeat of the film). Exhausted from her own aid efforts, she was trying to live a relatively normal life in Kyiv; he begged her to join him on the frontline. In a war of relatively clear ethical lines, Hell Jumper illustrates a small facet of its complexity through one short, courageous life. GT

Time Bandits
Apple TV+
It was only a matter of time before Terry Gilliam’s 1981 fantasia Time Bandits was given the TV treatment, and Apple has both provided the budget and the cast for Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi to bring it to glorious life. As with the film, a nerdy young history buff (Kal-El Tuck) is willingly abducted by a chaotic band of thieves, this time of average height. Their stolen map takes them on assorted adventures through the past while garnering the unwanted attention of warring deities (Clement and Waititi). Friends star Lisa Kudrow leads a game cast over 10 episodes of smartly crafted family entertainment.

Dirty Pop: The Boy Band Scam
From Backstreet Boys to NSYNC, Lou Pearlman was responsible for some of pop’s biggest acts in the 1990s, all the while honing a Ponzi scheme which eventually saw him imprisoned. This documentary tells the whole sorry story.

The Great British Sewing Bee
BBC One, 9pm
Three talented finalists take on three final, fittingly testing challenges: design beautiful opera gloves, turn cheap party paraphernalia into an impressive party outfit and create a full outfit by draping on their models.

Turbulence: How Safe Is Your Flight?
ITV1, 9pm; Wales, 10.45pm
Back in May, severe turbulence killed one and injured 104 others onboard a Singapore Airlines flight. What happened, to what extent was climate change responsible, and can we expect more flights to be rocked by similar tough conditions?

Art Matters
Sky Arts, 9pm
The redoubtable Melvyn Bragg continues to bang the drum for the arts as funding hangs by a thread. Lenny Henry, Tracey Emin, Armando Iannucci and Sheku Kanneh-Mason are among the big names he talks to for this rousing call to arms, exploring why the arts are important and how they can be supported with public money at a premium.

Mr Bigstuff
Sky Max, 9pm
Danny Dyer continues to play perfectly to type (laddish, swearing-obsessed – you get the gist) in this fun sibling sitcom. Tonight’s third episode sees Dyer’s Lee kick up a fuss at a DIY shop after someone else buys their last bag of washers; later, he tries his hardest to give just an ounce of his hardman ways to shy brother Glen (Ryan Sampson). PP

Jaws 2 (1978) ★★★
ITV4, 9pm  
Jeannot Szwarc’s follow-up cannot compete with Steven Spielberg’s timelessly tense original, nor the two-tone terror of John Williams’s signature motif. But it’s a strong sequel in a franchise of diminishing returns. Roy Scheider returns as Martin Brody with another toothy problem on his hands. Murray Hamilton is also back as the unsackable mayor of Amity Island. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

The Enforcer (1976) ★★★★
5Action, 10pm  
Police officer “Dirty Harry” Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is downgraded from homicide specialist to everyday bobby after using excessive force. But when a terrorist group hellbent on destroying San Francisco kidnaps the city’s mayor (John Crawford), Harry and his new partner (Tyne Daley) must intervene. The Enforcer was the last film in the series to feature John Mitchum as Inspector Frank DiGiorgio.

Marry Me (2022) ★★★
BBC One, 10.40pm  
Okay, so it was never going to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but Kat Coiro’s silly romantic comedy is a fun watch. Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson have sizzling chemistry in the leads; Lopez is a megastar singer (talk about life imitating art) who decides one night to pluck a random person out from the crowd of her concert… and marry them. Wilson is the crumpled maths teacher who gets swept up in the publicity stunt.

Thursday 25 July

British athlete Linford Christie
British athlete Linford Christie - Getty Images/Popperfoto

BBC One, 8.30pm
Whichever way you look at it, Linford Christie is one of British athletics’ great figures. Not only a gold-winning Olympian and world champion, but the only athlete ever to hold the British, Commonwealth, Olympic and world championship titles for the 100m at the same time. And yet, as is evident from this gripping film, he is one of British athletics’ most unhappy figures, too.

Here, we learn that he has spent many years feeling traduced, overlooked and underappreciated, largely as a result of the long shadow cast by doping allegations he was, in part, cleared of more than 20 years ago (he has always insisted he was innocent). Christie cuts a prickly, somewhat tragic figure, a man undone by the very character traits that made him a champion: a singularity of focus, ego and drive that brooks no compromise, and an unwillingness to “play the game” in the face of shocking racism and the truly gross excesses of the tabloid press when he was at his career peak. For many, perhaps, he has long been his own worst enemy. That’s this documentary’s virtue; it gets under the skin to provide a vivid, nuanced portrait of who Christie really is, and why he is the way he is, too. GO

Cirque du Soleil: Without a Net 
Amazon Prime Video
During the pandemic, the globe-spanning, record-breaking circus troupe were forced to shut down their flagship Las Vegas show, O. This sparkly docu-series goes behind the scenes as Cirque du Soleil’s performers and crew get back to it.

The Decameron
Inspired by Boccaccio’s 14th-century tales, this eight-part romp finds a cast of wealthy egomaniacs and misfits retreating to a villa outside Florence in 1348 to enjoy fun and frivolity while escaping the Black Death. Topical? Hardly. “It’s like Love Island but back in the day,” is how showrunner Kathleen Jordan describes it. Girls’ Zosia Mamet and Derry Girls’ Saoirse-Monica Jackson take the lead.

The High Street: Shops We Loved & Lost
Channel 5, 8pm
A nostalgic two-parter recalling the glory days of Britain’s high streets and the much-missed chains and retailers that gave them life: Woolworths, BHS, C&A, Debenhams… the list goes on. Eamonn Holmes, Anne Hegerty, Lesley Joseph and Nick Hewer are among those mourning the loss.

Tabloids on Trial
ITV1, 9pm
Prince Harry gives his first interview since the conclusion of his damages claim against the publishers of the Daily Mail and The Sun in December. Actor Hugh Grant, singer Charlotte Church and former footballer Paul Gascoigne are among those also speaking out about the impact phone hacking had on their lives, both personal and professional.

Richard Eyre Remembers Country
BBC Four, 9pm
In tribute to dramatist Trevor Griffiths, who died in March, Richard Eyre recalls directing his subversive TV drama Country in the Play for Today slot in 1981. A rare airing follows, with Leo McKern, James Fox and Wendy Hiller as members of the landed Carlion family gathered to protect their interests ahead of a feared Labour victory in the 1945 general election.

Doom Scroll: Andrew Tate and the Dark Side of the Internet
Sky Documentaries, 9pm
Director Liz Mermin explores how and why someone with Andrew Tate’s toxic views can seduce millions of young followers, and how social-media algorithms boosting extreme content can spill over into real-world harm.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024) ★★★
Amazon Prime Video  
Guy Ritchie swaps tough nut Cockney gangsters for heroic (and equal parts chaotic) politicians in this rollicking Second World War action comedy. Prime Minister Winston Churchill enlists a ragtag group of military officials (played by Henry Cavill, Alex Pettyfer, Henry Golding et al) to hatch a daring plan to neutralise Hitler’s fleet of German U-boats so Britain can win the war.

The Trouble with Angels (1966) ★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 5.35pm  
Actress Ida Lupino is most famous for her hard-boiled film roles opposite Humphrey Bogart, but she also blazed a trail for female film-makers, directing a succession of movies in the early 1950s. This is one of her later efforts, a likeable comedy set in a Catholic girls’ school, with rebellious Hayley Mills taking on Rosalind Russell’s Mother Superior.

Rocky IV (1985) ★★★
ITV4, 10pm  
It’s a stew of blood and sweat as the Cold War “rivals” Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, who also directs) and Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) lay it all on the line. Rocky IV is the series’ nadir, and the fight scenes run on, but it gave us one worthwhile moment: the robot butler given by Rocky to his long-term friend Paulie (Burt Young), behind which there’s a sweet tale – it was used by Stallone to help his autistic son communicate.

Friday 26 July

The French capital hosts the Olympic Games
The French capital hosts the Olympic Games - Jewel Samad/AFP

Olympics: Paris 2024: Opening Ceremony
BBC One, 5.45pm
After the Covid-enforced strangeness of the Tokyo Games in 2021, the Olympics will announce their return with all appropriate pomp and grandeur at tonight’s Opening Ceremony in Paris. Created by the maverick theatre director Thomas Jolly (his acclaimed productions include Shakespeare’s The Wars of the Roses tetralogy at 2014’s Avignon Festival), the procession will largely take place along the Seine. There will be some 200 boats carrying the athletes six kilometres along the river to the Jardins du Trocadéro, opposite the Eiffel Tower. Let us hope, given recent news stories concerning water quality, that no one accidentally falls in.

En route, expect some spectacular, unorthodox takes on French history, introducing the athletes hoping to make a little of their own over the next 16 days. Thirty-two sports, 329 events and over 10,000 competitors will equal pure sporting heaven for those not already sated by the recent excitements of Wimbledon, Euro 2024 and the Tour de France – and the Paralympics are still to come. Clare Balding introduces the event, with Andrew Cotter and Hazel Irvine providing commentary. GT

Carmen Curlers
Walter Presents
With the first series having offered a delightful 1960s-set antidote to the clichés of Nordic noir and smashed viewing records in Denmark, this second run finds Axel Byvang’s (Morten Hee Andersen) electric hair-curler manufacturer ramping up production to meet demand. A defect prompts suspicions of sabotage, while unrest grows among the predominantly female workforce demanding better conditions.

Gardeners’ World
BBC Two, 8pm
Monty Don prepares to leave his garden for the summer, cutting plants back and sowing salad seeds, while Carol Klein has some suggestions for bulbs and tubers and Adam Frost is impressed by an Italian-inspired garden in Devon.

Verdi’s Requiem at the Proms
BBC Four, 8pm
From Tuesday night comes a performance by the BBC National Chorus of Wales, Crouch End Festival Chorus and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under the baton of Ryan Bancroft. Verdi’s moving masterpiece is introduced by Katie Derham from the Royal Albert Hall.

Champions: Full Gallop
ITV1, 9pm
This engrossing documentary series continues, with Sean Bowen having assumed his position of frontrunner in the race to be champion jockey. But with Harry Cobden chasing hard, who will win out?

Terror at 30,000 Feet
Channel 5, 9pm
Following last week’s opener, another real-life disaster movie with an unlikely happy ending details Qantas Flight 32, which suffered engine failure over Indonesia while flying from London to Sydney, yet landed without injury to anyone in the air or on the ground. Its passengers relate this striking story.

Louis Armstrong Night
BBC Four, from 10pm
An evening devoted to one of the all-time great voices and trumpeters begins with a concert from his British tour with his All Stars group in 1968, featuring several of his staples including Mack the Knife and What a Wonderful World. At 10.55pm comes another gig from the same tour, showcasing (among others) Hello Dolly! and The Bare Necessities, before “Satchmo” takes his bow alongside fellow luminaries including Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie in performance and interview for Jazz Legends in Their Own Words at midnight.

Robin and the Hoods (2024) ★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 4.15pm  
The classic tale of Nottinghamshire outlaw Robin Hood has been rehashed many times: by Disney, Kevin Costner, and even Shrek. This latest iteration is a sweet-natured family fantasy following the efforts of 11-year-old Robin (Darcey Ewart) and her friends to save their beloved playground from being paved over by a greedy property developer (Naomie Harris).

The Devil Wears Prada (2006) ★★★★
Film4, 4.40pm  
In this enjoyably catty look at the wild world of fashion journalism, Meryl Streep plays the perfectionist editor of Runway (a thinly veiled Vogue). Emily Blunt delivers a magnificent turn as her uptight assistant, while Stanley Tucci’s loveable creative director cemented his star power; it’s a shame that Anne Hathaway is sappy in the lead. Fans will be delighted to learn a sequel is currently in the works.

Moonraker (1979) ★★★
ITV1, 10.45pm  
The 11th film in the Bond franchise, and the fourth to star Roger Moore as the dapper MI6 agent, involves the theft of a space shuttle. It’s one of the weaker 007 films and at times seems more of a comedy than a tense action adventure, but it’s enjoyably frivolous. Michael Lonsdale plays baddie Hugo Drax, who pinches the aforementioned space shuttle to help along his plan to wipe out the world’s population. Also on Sunday at 3.40pm.

The Beach (2000) ★★★
BBC One, 11.30pm  
Leonardo DiCaprio plays second fiddle to Thailand’s Maya Bay beach (which was closed to tourists for years after the film’s release due to environmental concerns) in Danny Boyle’s populist thriller. Based on Alex Garland’s 1996 novel, the story follows backpackers Richard (DiCaprio), Étienne (Guillaume Canet) and Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen) as they explore paradise – but they soon realise it’s less than perfect.

Television previewers

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