Poppy Shakespeare (Monday 9pm, C4)
Poppy Shakespeare is a strangely touching piece of drama about two women who meet in a psychiatric day centre and form a close bond. Naomie Harris plays Poppy, a seemingly normal woman with a seemingly normal life. She is unexpectedly diagnosed with mental health problems and packed off to a day centre where she encounters N (Anna Maxwell Martin). While Poppy is determined to get out of her current situation and go back to living a normal life, N is quite happy staying where she is and dreads the day when she might be discharged. Excellent performances from the two leads make this a well-balanced piece of work. In different hands it could have keeled over into sentiment or come across as heavy-handed.
Dis/Connected (Monday 9pm, BBC3)
Dis/Connected will perhaps receive more attention due to the fact it’s the postponed addition to BBC3’s drama pilots season, held over due its sensitive subject matter in relation to the recent spate of teen suicides in Bridgend. Members of a sixth-form at an East End school are brought together following a classmate’s suicide. It’s a one-line premise, and sadly, Dis/Connected rarely breaks free of that constraint and doesn’t offer anything new that other dramas haven’t covered in recent times.
Damages (Monday 10.45pm, BBC1)
The end is nearly in sight - or is it? You never quite know where you are with Damages, despite the ending being revealed by degrees from the start of episode one. Just how does a blood-soaked Ellen end up running from a building, with a dead fiancée in the bath? As we head for the finish line of next week’s closing episode, things are starting to look a little clearer, but not by much. At the centre of everything is Glenn Close as Patty Hewes, one of the great creations of modern TV drama and played with typical perfection by this superb actress. Will I be able to last until next week?
EastEnders (Tuesday 7.30pm, BBC1)
Any long-standing fans of EastEnders will want to be there for tonight’s episode, tissues at the ready, as Walford says goodbye to Frank Butcher. This is a fitting tribute to the late Mike Reid, and it seems right and proper that EastEnders should give the legendary Albert Square character the send off he deserves. Typically, Peggy and Pat are locked in a battle of wills as the former wives, whose rivalry has never quite gone away, and there are some beautifully bittersweet moments throughout. This episode also marks the return of Sid Owen to the Square as Ricky Butcher, alongside sisters Diane and Janine. We know Ricky is staying, but the big question is: where’s Bianca?
Doctor Who (Tuesday 8pm, BBC3)
Ahead of Saturday’s rematerialisation of everyone’s favourite Time Lord for a new series, enjoy this repeat of David Tennant’s Doctor Who debut in The Christmas Invasion. You can catch the other Christmas specials throughout the week on BBC3.
*Hotel Babylon (Tuesday 9pm, BBC1)*
Must… resist… must… turn off… television… Oops, too late! I can’t help it; I’m just a sucker for those cheesy titles, the décor, and the torturous dialogue. Hotel Babylon is like a nice dessert that gets sickly after a couple of spoonfuls, but you just have to keep going to the last mouthful.
Later Live… with Jools Holland (Tuesday 10pm, BBC2)
A BBC2 institution gets a new, live slot, for those that aren’t in the mood for telly so late on a Friday night. Some might say it’s sacrilege, but you’ll still have the Friday outing with extra material to enjoy if you are so disposed.
The Apprentice (Wednesday 9pm, BBC1)
From fish to smalls - Sir Alan’s challenge this week to the most depressingly useless bunch of The Apprentice hopefuls ever, is to set up an overnight laundry. They must work through the night to wash a multitude of garments and return them intact to their owners. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, isn’t it?
Hughie Green, Most Sincerely (Wednesday 9pm, BBC4)
The excellent season of tragic Curse of Comedy dramas continues with this tour de force performance from Trevor Eve as Hughie Green, legendary presenter of Opportunity Knocks. Having played shouty Boyd on Waking the Dead for so long now, it’s easy to forget what a good actor Eve is - his decision to turn his back on Shoestring, in hindsight, was perhaps the right thing to do. This piece focuses mostly on Green’s regrets over his daughter - a daughter he never knew. Her name? Paula Yates.
Mark Lawson Talks to Barry Cryer (Wednesday 10.50pm, BBC4)
One of my favourite personalities gets the Mark Lawson treatment this week as he talks to veteran comedy writer and performer Barry Cryer. Cryer is always great value in any venue, and the insights here are a delight.
Holby Blue (Thursday 8pm, BBC1)
Made you look!
House/Grey’s Anatomy (Thursday 9/10pm, Five)
When Holby Blue is the best thing on TV, there’s only one solution - settle down for a double bill of US drama on Five. Despite my misgivings about House, it’s still well made fare, and passes an hour without troubling the scorer. And at least you get Grey’s Anatomy straight after, which I seem to have developed quite a fondness for in my post-Holby hysteria. It’s very sweet, and has a wicked sense of humour, which can be quite surprising. And it doesn’t have any shouty policeman, for which we can all be thankful.