Tuesday 28 November
The Great British Bake Off
Channel 4, 8pm
Even though this hasn’t been the most spectacular of seasons (new co-presenter Alison Hammond has raised the energy in the tent but the skill level of contestants seems to have been on a downward trajectory in recent years), 10 weeks have still flown by in a haze of flour and icing sugar – and we find ourselves, almost sadly, arriving at the climax of the nation’s favourite baking competition.
Following the shock departure of Tasha last week, for only the second time in Bake Off’s history (the last was in 2011, when the show was in its third year and still on BBC Two) there is an all-male trio of finalists battling it out for the 2023 crown. A tough set of challenges lies ahead for Dan, Josh and Matty, with a deceptively simple Signature round putting their choux-pastry baking to the ultimate test, while judge Paul Hollywood sets a backward-looking Technical trap that leaves them all floundering equally. It’s the Showstopper round that always counts for most, though, and if one contestant might seem to be edging ahead slightly at this stage, don’t go anywhere – there are more than enough surprises left, even then, to take the competition to a nail-biting finish. GO
Secrets of the Aquarium
BBC One, 8pm
Another action-packed episode of marine life, as Marcus and Emma head for the Maldives to rescue an injured turtle, while, back in Plymouth, Andrew must find fresh seaweed for Larry the Lobster and Ian trains a zebra shark called Zeus.
Louis Theroux Interviews: Raye
BBC Two, 9pm
A powerful, soul-baring encounter with Rachel Keen – better known as multi-award-winning singer-songwriter, Raye. Interviewees rarely reveal themselves so fully and there’s real emotional heft to her experience as a determined woman who’s met more than her share of music-biz monsters and obstacles on her way to the top. Theroux at his very best.
BBC Four, 9.10pm
The shocking speed with which the Nazis took over once they got a foothold on power in Germany is the subject of a new three-part documentary. Told via diaries, letters and archive footage, this opener recalls how in just six weeks, through a campaign of division, media-manipulation and violence, Hitler seized control.
The Art of Architecture Special: Saudi Arabia
Sky Arts, 10pm
With limitless oil wealth and a ruler keen to portray his kingdom as a land of technological progress (if not one of civil liberty), Saudi Arabia is currently home to some of the world’s biggest architecture projects. This eye-popping tour covers the most extravagant, from spectacular hotel complexes in the desert to a mountaintop skyscraper.
BBC One, 10.40pm & 11.30pm
The best asset of this violent Irish gangster drama continues to be its sharply drawn female characters, especially empire-building Amanda (Clare Dunne). In tonight’s double bill, when warnings to Frank Kinsella (Aidan Gillen) about Viking (Sam Keeley) go unheeded, you know the consequences will be disastrous.
ITV1, 11.05pm; STV, 11.25pm
Ahead of the Cop28 climate conference, an edition on game-changing climate projects in Iceland, Sweden and Denmark. Sangita Lal visits an innovative plant that captures carbon directly from the air, Stacey Foster finds out how seaweed can reduce deadly methane emissions and Chris Choi explores the positive difference sustainability-focused eco-villages can make.
The Aviator (1985) ★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 10.50am
George T Miller directs this entertaining survival film, starring Christopher Reeve and Rosanna Arquette. Edgar (Reeve) is a former military flyer turned commercial pilot who gets stuck transporting a spoilt rich girl (Arquette) from Nevada to Washington. Their animosity isn’t his only problem, though, after a crash landing leaves them in grave danger. Sam Wanamaker and Jack Warden co-star.
Sahara (1943, b/w) ★★★
Great! Action, 4.55pm
Zoltán Korda’s war film stars Humphrey Bogart as Joe Gunn, an American tank commander as no-nonsense as his name suggests. After the Libyan port of Tobruk falls to the Axis forces, Gunn and his men retreat, with their tank, across the desert. They pick up stragglers on the way, but need to find supplies before either the Nazis or Sahara finish them off. It’s a little preachy – there was a war on – but the story is still thrilling.
Chappie (2015) ★★★
Great! Movies, 9pm
This action romp from director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is brawny and inventive. It’s set in near-future Johannesburg, where law enforcement has been contracted out to a fleet of androids, one of whom turns sentient en-route to a scrapheap. Dev Patel stars as the robot’s inventor, while a sadly underutilised Sigourney Weaver plays his boss. The effects are far more compelling than the plot.
Wednesday 29 November
One of the most remarkable aspects of “peak TV” – the idea that there is too much television to keep up with – is that a show such as Slow Horses, a lavish spy thriller starring Gary Oldman, can enter its third series and still be relatively unknown. Is its home on Apple TV+ to blame? Adapted from Mick Herron’s Slough House novels, it follows a group of MI5 rejects who have been condemned to a life of pushing paper. Their boss is Jackson Lamb (Oldman), a cantankerous, grumbling slob who is the conduit for The Thick of It writer Will Smith’s best lines. “Bringing you up to speed is like trying to explain Norway to a dog,” is one such classic.
Premiering today with two episodes, the third series centres on the kidnapping of office administrator Catherine (Saskia Reeves). Led by Lamb, the team of bored, bickering misfits spring into action to disentangle the resulting conspiracy. There is a particularly thrilling sequence in episode two in which disgraced spy River (Jack Lowden) is coerced into infiltrating the headquarters of MI5 – a building he is no longer welcome in – to steal a top secret file. Much like the show, it is an elegant blend of sharp humour and atmospheric spy craft. SK
The wry Native American comedy, which follows four Indigenous teenagers growing up on a reservation in Oklahoma, reaches its third and final series. It is worth catching up on, not least for its ability to balance adolescent cheekiness and pathos. If you’re in the mood for something a bit darker, the new series of American Horror Stories also premieres on Disney+ today (Wednesday).
The Incident Room
Channel 5, 8pm
This dramatic two-part documentary charts the investigation into the murder of Julie Hogg, a single mother who was killed in Stockton-on-Tees in 1989. Told through the actions of the police’s incident room, it ultimately amounts to little more than the usual reconstruction.
Portrait Artist of the Year: 2023
Sky Arts, 8pm
This year’s series of the cosy painting contest reaches its semi-finals, where the remaining artists must spice up the portrait of pop singer Emma Bunton. Only three of the artists will progress to next week’s final, where eventually two become one.
BBC One, 9pm
The penultimate episode opens with some devastating news for Ashley Jensen’s detective Calder, while Tosh (Alison O’Donnell) grows suspicious of the Sadats, who appear to be hiding something regarding their relationship with murdered Ellen Quinn (Maisie Norma Seaton).
Being Kae Tempest
BBC Two, 9pm
This intimate Arena documentary follows rapper, novelist, playwright and performance poet Kae Tempest during a period of personal and artistic change. The most significant is their struggle with poor mental health, related to the “agony” of their gender identity; in 2020, Tempest made the decision to come out as non-binary.
Secrets and Power: China in the UK: Dispatches
Channel 4, 10pm
Dispatches investigates the strained relationship between the UK and China, which has been complicated by deep economic ties and accusations of Chinese spies trying to infiltrate British institutions, including Westminster. The report also examines alarming allegations that UK-based Hong Kong dissidents are being targeted and harassed by suspected Chinese agents. Fascinating, timely fare.
Love Again (2023) ★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 12.50pm & 10pm
Could a text message from an unknown number lead you to the love of your life? That’s the premise of Jim Strouse’s romcom, starring Priyanka Chopra and Sam Heughan. Widow Mira (Chopra) starts to text her boyfriend’s old phone number, not realising that it’s been reassigned to journalist Rob (Heughan) – who quickly responds. Watch out for a cameo from Céline Dion in her first film role.
Ronin (1998) ★★★★
After a wobbly opening, this John Frankenheimer film develops well, introducing its shady mercenaries (the starry combination of Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgård and Sean Bean) who steal a briefcase from rival hoodlums but are double-crossed by one of their own. The French locations are gorgeous and the car chases in a class of their own. It’s somewhere in the realm of a European version of 1995 film Heat, also starring De Niro.
Just Mercy (2019) ★★★★
BBC One, 10.40pm
Destin Daniel Cretton directs this powerful true story with verve, helped hugely by the talents of his two leads (Michael B Jordan and Jamie Foxx). Young Harvard-educated lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) heads to practice in Alabama, where Walter McMillian (Foxx) has been sentenced to death for the murder of an 18-year-old white girl. In the years that follow, the pair fight for release in a justice system saturated with racism.
Thursday 30 November
“I don’t care how messed up we are, we’re still the best in the game,” slurs US elite forces hunk Chad McKnight (Nick Zano), confronted with the bad news that, having saved America from one terrorist threat, he and his crew of military mavericks – still flying high on booze and every drug known to modern chemistry from the after party – have just hours to save Las Vegas from nuclear armageddon.
That’s the crazed idea behind this uproarious comedy thriller series, which wildly sends up every action-hero cliché Hollywood has ever invented, while at the same time revelling in the explosive high-octane, shoot’em-up format of the best of them. Created by the team behind the successful Karate Kid spin-off Cobra Kai, it is lavishly produced and makes great use of a relatively unknown but hugely enthusiastic cast led by Zano and Shelley Hennig as his spiky-but-brilliant NSA boss Ava Winters (both, of course, secretly lusting after one another). Over eight hour-long episodes there are moments when the pace drops off and the humour regularly verges on the offensive – but the parody hits the sweet spot on just as many occasions. It might not be deep, but it’s a whole lot of fun. GO
Saving Lives at Sea
BBC Two, 8pm
On the Isle of Wight, the Bembridge lifeboat crew race against time to save a sinking trawler, while across the island at Cowes, the rescue team embark on a search for a jet-skier who’s been reported missing.
Inside the Tower of London
Channel 5, 8pm
The team prepares for a changing of the guard: after 14 years of service, Chief Yeoman Warder Peter McGowran is retiring. Meanwhile in the King’s House, the new Tower Constable is enjoying soaking up the atmosphere in his history-drenched abode and preparing for his first Whitsun Parade.
New Knees & Hips: Britain’s Biggest Queue? Tonight
ITV1, 8.30pm; UTV/STV/Wales, 11.05pm
With numbers on the NHS waiting list at a record high of 7.75 million and rising, Dr Zoe Williams investigates the health impacts on the estimated one million-plus people currently waiting, in some cases for years, for orthopaedic treatment. She also explores whether surgery is the only option for patients in severe pain.
My Teacher the Abuser: Fighting for Justice
BBC One, 9pm
Nicky Campbell went public last year about abuse he saw and experienced at school. He’s since become the public face of a campaign by former pupils to have an alleged abuser returned to the UK to face trial. Here victims speak out about why, after years of silence, they are now determined that justice should be done.
The King’s Guard: Serving the Crown
Channel 5, 9pm
Having successfully negotiated the ultimate challenge of the Coronation celebrations, the Household Division prepare for the next big ceremonial event, the King’s first Trooping the Colour as monarch. And on Salisbury Plain, newly qualified officers are preparing for their next test: a gruelling four-month tank commander course.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK
BBC Three, 9pm
It’s the grand final and choreographer Claudimar Neto is preparing the queens to star in Drag Race UK’s first ever all-singing, all-dancing music video. Meanwhile, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr, Graham Norton, Danny Beard and the eliminated queens join RuPaul for the crowning of the 2023 Drag Race superstar.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) ★★★
Sky Showcase, 8pm
This is the second leg of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings prequel. It’s full of real charm and zesty action that propels its heroes towards their goal of reclaiming the Lonely Mountain from dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). But it drags; withstand it by gazing upon those magnificent New Zealand landscapes. Also showing on Sunday at 8pm.
Double Indemnity (1944, b/w) ★★★★★
BBC Four, 8.15pm
Billy Wilder’s corrosive tale of murder perfumed with honeysuckle is based on the novel by James M Cain. The film casts the genial Fred MacMurray against type as a cocksure life-insurance salesman besotted with Barbara Stanwyck’s brassy blonde, who wants to kill her husband. The screenplay, narrated in flashback by the dying anti-hero, is pure gold, while the chemistry between the leading pair sizzles with life.
Escape From Mogadishu (2021) ★★★★
This South Korean political thriller, from director Seung-wan Ryu, pummels blow after blow as it races through the events surrounding the two Korean nations’ efforts to be admitted to the UN in the late 1980s. Their chances grow slimmer when rival diplomats from both countries become trapped in Mogadishu, Somalia, as civil war rages. Koo Kyo-hwan and Zo In-sung star.
Friday 1 December
The Big British Beef Battle
Channel 4, 8pm
Of all the foods, beef production has the biggest impact on the climate – around seven times higher than that of chicken in the UK. Hot on the heels of The Great Climate Fight, in which Kevin McCloud, Mary Portas and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall took the government to task on its environmental policies, fellow Channel 4 mainstay Ade Adepitan considers not just whether to renounce his own love of eating beef, but if he should launch a campaign to persuade others to follow him. Yet he is by no means a zealot manning the barricades with Extinction Rebellion, instead coming across as equivocal in a way that will be familiar to many concerned about climate change yet reluctant to change their lifestyle. “I’ve got beef with beef,” he reasons. “I do like a burger, though…”
Among the options explored are ventures into guerrilla counter-marketing (stickering warnings on supermarket beef) and promoting small, achievable changes, all bolstered by statistics illustrating how damaging beef is to the environment, from deforestation in the Amazon to bovine methane emissions. But with beef inextricably linked with Britain’s national self-image, is his mission doomed to failure? GT
BBC One, 12.15pm
Marking Blue Peter’s 65th anniversary, current presenters Joel Mawhinney and Abby Cook join two children scouring toy fairs for vintage treasures, while Anthea Turner reminisces about her homemade Tracy Island that launched a national craze.
Channel 4, 7.30pm
Paraic O’Brien casts light on the turf warfare between drug gangs in Stockholm and Gothenburg – not somewhere you might imagine to be one of Europe’s gun-crime capitals. It has become so serious that the Swedish military have become involved.
Have I Got News For You
BBC One, 9pm; Wales, 9.30pm
Guz Khan makes his debut in the hot seat, hosting the satirical overview of another chaotic week in politics while Janet Street-Porter, Ross Noble, Paul Merton and Ian Hislop swap one-liners and surreal diversions.
The Good Ship Murder
Channel 5, 9pm
This sunkissed whodunit may be supremely daft but the pure silliness of its crime-on-a-cruise-ship set up does make for entertaining viewing. As we reach the last episode of the series, will we finally learn why former detective Jack Grayling (Shayne Ward) gave up his career to become a cabaret singer? But first he and First Officer Kate (Catherine Tyldesley must solve a murder in Malta.
Two Doors Down
BBC One, 9.30pm; Wales, 11.30pm
Still comfortably holding its own on BBC One, the Scottish sitcom finds Beth (Arabella Weir) and Eric (Alex Norton) reaching the end of their tethers as Christine (Elaine C Smith) dithers over a new bathroom, while Cathy (Doon Mackichan) and Michelle (Joy McAvoy) endure an uneasy, alcohol-fuelled lunch.
The Graham Norton Show
BBC One, 10.40pm; NI, 11.10pm; not Wales
Tonight’s occupants of Graham Norton’s sofa are a stellar bunch indeed: Cher will be promoting her new song, Timothée Chalamet drops some treats about Wonka, Tom Hanks is in town to plug The Moonwalkers – an immersive installation in London following the past and future of lunar exploration (narrated by Hanks) – and Julia Roberts makes her debut on the show to talk about Leave the World Behind, a novel twist on the apocalyptic disaster movie.
Candy Cane Lane (2023)
Amazon Prime Video
Well, today is the first of December – so it’s perfectly acceptable to tuck into this sweet-natured Christmas film, starring Eddie Murphy, right? When Murphy’s suburban house-husband becomes obsessed with winning his local festive decorating contest, he turns to a magical elf to help him win. But the elf’s decision to cast a spell that brings the 12 days of Christmas to life soon brings chaos to the sleepy American town. Chock-full of easy, family friendly laughs.
While You Were Sleeping (1995) ★★★★
Romantics will rejoice at this festive classic, in which pure, simple love blossoms at Christmas-time when the lonely Lucy (Sandra Bullock) saves a handsome stranger’s (Peter Gallagher) life on Christmas Day and, due to a case of mistaken identity, pretends to be his fiancée while he’s in a coma. The closer she grows to his family – and charming brother Jack (Bill Pullman) – the stickier her lie becomes.
Genie (2023) ★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 8pm
Keep the Christmas spirit rolling with this festive fantasy comedy directed by Sam Boyd and written by Love Actually’s Richard Curtis. It follows Bernard Bottle (Paapa Essiedu), a man in the midst of a crisis, who accidentally summons Melissa McCarthy’s genie Flora. With unlimited wishes at his disposal, Bernard sets out to fix his life and win back his family in time for the big day – but of course, it doesn’t go to plan.
Reservoir Dogs (1992) ★★★★★
Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut was a resounding cult success that re-adrenalised the gangster film. Even though it’s heartless and violent, it’s well written, wry and entertaining. The plot, in brief: a failed robbery has consequences for thugs who dress like the Blues Brothers, and whose strange colour-coded pseudonyms include Mr White (Harvey Keitel), Mr Pink (Steve Buscemi) and Mr Orange (Tim Roth).
Stephen Kelly (SK), Veronica Lee (VL), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Poppie Platt (PP), Gabriel Tate (GT) and Jack Taylor (JT),