Small-Screen Jabber 15-21 April

Drama

Doctor Who Capaldi 2017

It’s been looking rather tired and dusty the last couple of years, but Steven Moffat’s final series as showrunner of Doctor Who (Sat, BBC1, 7.20pm) looks, at first glance, a decent attempt to inject some of the first series’ oomph into this one. It needs it. Peter Capaldi hasn’t been the most successful Doctor and he’s off too at the end of this one. New companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) is a breath of fresh air – and much-needed diversity – as a lesbian of colour. Opening episode The Pilot sees Bill, a sparky canteen worker at Bristol University, run into the Doctor, who is living on campus with the Tardis stored in his bedroom and delivering lectures. Soon they are racing across the universe to stop an alien puddle, assisted by Nardole (Matt Lucas).

Rowan Atkinson returns to the title role of Maigret’s Night at the Crossroads (Sun, ITV, 8pm), the third of ITV’s adaptations of the Georges Simenon crime tales. A diamond dealer has been shot dead in his car, which is parked outside the mansion of a religiously obsessive Dane, Carl Anderson (Tom Wlaschiha), who refuses to confess, despite a long interrogation by Maigret. The detective starts to unravel a complex tale of murder, deceit and greed in an isolated rural community where the villagers keep many secrets.

born to kill garai

Romola Garai and Daniel Mays head the cast of Born to Kill (Thurs, C4, 9pm), a four-part psychological coming of age drama about teenager Sam, who is on the verge of acting out suppressed psychopathic desires. His single mum Jenny (Garai) has lied to him about his father dying in a car crash, when he’s actually in prison for murder. Jenny meets single dad of Chrissy, Bill (Mays) through work. Their world starts to unravel when Sam meets Chrissy, the moody new kid in town, at school and they start sharing fantasies of killing. Decades of family deceits start to emerge as the two teenagers become out of control and Sam’s dad gets parole. Jack Rowan is excellent as the disturbed Sam in this bleak, gripping thriller.

Factual

When former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko turned up in a London hospital with a mysterious illness, it was quickly established he’d been poisoned with polonium, at a million times the lethal dose. Hunting the KGB Killers (Mon, C4, 9pm) is a gripping investigation into the murder of Litvinenko, following the trail of the two Russian agents who poisoned him (allegedly on Putin’s orders). The Scotland Yard detectives charged with uncovering the plot reveal the extraordinary diplomatic and political obstacles they faced in their search for the truth.

As house prices, and rents, spiral beyond the reach of many of us, some have found a way to buy a roof over their head without saddling themselves with horrendous debt. How to Live Mortgage Free (Wed, C4, 8pm) is a six-part series fronted by Sarah Beeny, who meets the people who have cracked this holy grail. Channel 4 is rather good at property shows and obviously this is a great opportunity to nose at lovely interiors, but the interest is in the clever tricks they use to avoid taking out a mortgage. All are self-building on the cheap, from 27-year-old Annie who bought a disused brownfield site for £25k to Nick who snapped up a Victorian flat pack tin chapel for just £90,000. Beeny also interviews people who’ve already achieved their goal of going mortgage free.

Music

Everything Must Go was the first record released by the Manic Street Preachers following the disappearance of lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards. Manic Street Preachers: Escape from History (Sat, Sky Arts, 9pm) tells the story of how the band regrouped to make this award-winning album, markedly different in tone and style from their “sound” with Edwards.

prince icon genius slave

The Prince Story: Icon, Genius, Slave (Sun, Channel 5, 9pm) is a feature-length documentary exploring the star’s troubled private life and screening on the first anniversary of his death. Partly dramatised (with Mark Anthony as Prince), Prince Rogers Nelson’s traumatic youth affected his future and fed into his music. It looks at his failed marriage, his fight with his record label, whose contract he described as slavery and prompted him to change his name to a symbol, and his secret drug addiction that led to his death at 57 from a fentanyl overdose. Mica Paris and Alan Leeds are among Prince’s close friends and colleagues to be interviewed.

Entertainment

World no 1 tennis player Andy Murray pops up as an unlikely superfan in Biilly Connolly & Me: a Celebration (Tues, ITV, 9pm), revealing how he used to sing the Big Yin’s Welly Song on route to tournaments. Connolly’s been entertaining us for five decades, doing everything from standup to TV travelogues and serious drama (Mrs Brown) and this is the sort of tribute show normally reserved for those recently departed. Connolly himself puts in an appearance, there is previously unaired archive footage and Judi Dench, Peter Kay, Elton John and David Tennant join Murray in explaining just why Connolly is so funny.

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Louise Bolotin is Screenjabber’s TV critic. She has a penchant for quality drama and quirky documentaries, slums it with EastEnders and pities people who watch reality TV, which might be why she never writes about The X Factor.

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