The Tudors (Friday 9pm, BBC2)
Henry isn’t a happy little king this week (although as a rule of thumb it’s usually hard to tell). His beloved Anne Boleyn is on a downer following the birth of Elizabeth, which has taken the wind out of H’s sails a bit, not to mention Sir Thomas More sticking his oar in on the royal child’s baptism. It’s all enough to drive a king to distraction, but it’s surely only a matter of time before he’s back on his game - he’s still got a few more wives to get through, after all. Entertaining, stylish and hopelessly inaccurate on historical detail - I love it!
Comedy Connections (Friday 10.35pm, BBC1)
In the great pantheon of the sitcom, Sorry! is not one that generally finds its way to the lips of televisual scholars (aka your mate down the pub). But this Ronnie Corbett vehicle that ran throughout the 1980s is more beguiling than its reputation suggests, full of character, wit and some brooding subtext bubbling beneath the surface of Corbett’s timid librarian Timothy Lumsden. Corbett often loses out to his more feted colleague, the late Ronnie Barker, in the comedy stakes thanks to Porridge and Open All Hours, but in Sorry! he was note perfect, and this edition of Comedy Connections quite rightly celebrates those qualities. Language Timothy!
Z Cars (Friday 10pm, BBC4)
It might feel a little odd sitting in on a Friday night watching Z Cars, but there isn’t much else on, and this, also shown last Tuesday, is a little bit of TV history and pure gold. It’s the first episode (and beautiful quality) of the classic BBC series that brought a new style of production to the police procedural. Detective Inspector Barlow and Detective Sergeant Watt recruit four feisty PCs to man the new unmarked crime cars to patrol the towns of Seaport and Newtown - Z-Victor 1 and Z-Victor 2 - the Z Cars. After nearly 50 years, this is still brilliant, vibrant stuff, with a great cast pulling it all together, with Stratford Johns proving a magnificent figurehead as Barlow, a character who, along with Watt, would outlast the original show that spawned him. Watch and wonder why we can’t make them like this any more.
Doctor Who Weekend (Sci-Fi Channel Saturday/Sunday/Monday)
In the absence of any new Who until Christmas, the Sci-Fi Channel dusts down some gems from the “classic” series, featuring Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Paul McGann, with Patrick Troughton hitching a lift in The Two Doctors. The best of the weekend’s viewing are The Ark in Space on Saturday, seeing Baker, T taking on the insect Wirrn on a space station in the far future, and The Caves of Androzani on Sunday, Peter Davison’s swan song in the role and a contender as finest outing for the original run. Takes me back…
Last Choir Standing (Saturday 6.30pm, BBC1)
We’re at the semi-final stage of this talent show that, personally speaking, has lacked a certain sparkle.
The X Factor (Saturday 7.30pm, ITV1)
Week 2 and The X Factor juggernaut is in Birmingham and London to laugh and point and subject people who really don’t deserve it to some ritual humiliation. And don’t tell me that they didn’t have to audition - Simon Cowell’s terriers in the early selection stages before contestants even get to see the Four Who Rule should be ashamed of themselves for picking hopefuls on laugh value rather than talent. Of course, there are the arrogant, deluded coves that really do know better, but it’s the cruel elements of this show that have started to make me feel uncomfortable. There is entertainment to be had here, but I sometimes wonder at what cost.
Takin’ Over the Asylum (Saturday 10pm, BBC4)
A Bafta winning tour de force for all concerned, Takin’ Over the Asylum, rarely seen since first transmission, receives a long overdue dusting down. My word, it’s one of the best things ever shown on this little box we call TV. Ken Stott is wonderful as down at heel aspiring DJ Eddie McKenna, who takes on the challenge of bringing back a radio station to the drab and miserable corridors of a Glasgow psychiatric hospital. It’s a touching, poignant and funny depiction of a difficult subject, and writer Donna Franceschild works miracles. The series is also notable for an early role for a young fella called David Tennant as manic-depressive Campbell, who becomes McKenna’s enthusiastic sidekick in his battle to keep the station on air. A breathtaking piece of television genius.
Olympics 2008: Closing Ceremony (Sunday 12 noon, BBC1)
Oh god, Boris Johnson is out in Beijing to accept the flag in the handover to London for the 2012 games. Be afraid, be very afraid. Still, the closing ceremony should be a good bun fight if the opening ceremony was anything to go by - just watch out for the lip-synching…
Last of the Summer Wine (Sunday 7.05pm, BBC1)
A nostalgic episode of the sitcom that bravely soldiers on, seeing Clegg and Truly cast their minds back to old friend Compo and the scrapes he used to get into. I still have a great fondness for this old warhorse - I loved it as a kid, and this serves as a nice little tribute to the late Bill Owen who passed way in 1999.
Spooks: Code 9 (Sunday 9pm, BBC3)
London destroyed blah blah… new breed of terrorists blah blah… younger MI5 operatives blah blah… mole in the team blah blah… new world blah blah… new rules blah blah… When are Harry and Adam coming back, please and thank you?
Dexter (Sunday 10pm, FX)
Now if you want edgy, stylish drama but with grown ups on a Sunday night, then look no further than the wonderful Dexter, the second season of which is proving just as tense and exciting as season one, if not more so. Every episode appears to be taking our eponymous serial killer hero a step closer to being unmasked, and as we hit the final third of this second series, who knows where it could go? To a third season, that’s where…
Masterchef: the Professionals (Monday 6.30pm, BBC2)
Saints be praised, a new spin on the Masterchef format that sees Gregg Wallace preside over the trials of a group of young professional chefs who want to take their cooking to the next level. There are no enthusiastic amateurs here, no ill-considered chocolate fondants, and no waspish observations from John Torode. What?! No Torode? Sadly not, although we’re fairly sure he’ll be back for the common or garden Masterchef next year. Gregg’s co-judge for this competition that runs Monday to Friday, is the revered chef Michelle Roux Jr. Will this competition just get tougher? Probably…
New Tricks (Monday 9pm, BBC1)
Final episode of what has proved to be an excellent fifth series for the veteran coppers. The team are up against MI5 spooks and the MoD when they investigate the death of a soldier that may have links to a secret army medical lab. It’s as pithy as always and a great finale to the series, but rest assured, the team will return in a sixth series in the not too distant.
The Last Word Monologues (Monday 10.35pm, BBC1)
First in a three part series of monologues written, produced and directed by Hugo Blick. Sheila Hancock stars in this first piece as a terminally ill woman who prepares for a final conversation with her husband before she takes the path of euthanasia. It’s not quite as powerful as it could be, lacking the depth and honesty of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, but it’s still an engaging piece with a great performer. The series continues on Tuesday and Wednesday with monologues from Rhys Ifans and Bob Hoskins.