TV This week

Pam Ferris. Pic BBC
Pam Ferris. Pic BBC
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Your pick of what’s on the box this week.


Bluestone 42 Christmas Special (BBC Three, 10pm)

When it was first announced that BBC Three were making a sitcom about a bomb disposal detachment in Afghanistan, some people wondered exactly how they were going to wring humour out of such a potentially fraught subject.

The answer was; with surprising ease.

The first series was so successful, it’s getting a second run and the ultimate TV accolade, its own seasonal special. It’s Christmas Eve, and Nick (Oliver Chris) has a new second-in-command in the shape of Corporal Gordon House, aka Towerblock (although he’s better known to viewers as Matthew ‘Neville from the Harry Potter films’ Lewis.)

Even though it’s his first tour of duty, Towerblock thinks that finishing top of the class on the High Threat Course means he knows the score.

But he’s about to get a lesson on life in the field, starting with the revelation that the Taliban don’t take Christmas off.


Last Tango in Halifax (BBC One, 9pm)

The relationship between stepsisters Caroline and Gillian has been rocky to say the least. One minute they’re at each other’s throats, the next they’re best buddies.

Last week, they fell into the latter category, lubricated somewhat by a session of tasting wine for the reception at Alan and Celia’s wedding. In fact, things were so cosy between them that Gillian revealed what really happened on the night of Eddie’s death.

But now, in the cold light of day, she’s horrified by what she said - will Caroline put her mind at rest by keeping the chilling truth a secret? Perhaps so, seeing as she soon has a major concern of her own to think about: Kate is rushed to hospital following complications with her pregnancy.

At least the blessing goes well, with emotional, heartfelt speeches and lots of laughter _ in fact, it provides a fitting ending to what has been another great run for Sally Wainwright’s touching drama.

Will Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid be back as the passionate pensioners? Let’s hope so. And maybe they’ll be joined by Timothy West too, who makes a guest appearance here as Alan’s brother Ted.


Call the Midwife: Christmas Special (BBC One, 6.15pm)

This stunning drama became an instant hit when it debuted last year, so little wonder Jenny Lee and company are back for another helping.

During the latest visit to Poplar, it’s Christmas 1958, and Jenny’s relationship with Alec is blossoming, while Shelagh prepares for her quiet wedding to Dr Turner.

There’s trouble afoot, though, when the police turn up on the doorstep of Nonnatus House - an unexploded bomb has been discovered nearby and the district must be evacuated.

With no electricity and morale at an all-time low, the community tries to ensure Christmas isn’t reduced to ashes, and the Nonnatus House staff reach out to those in need, rekindling the spirit of the Blitz.

The cast includes Jessica Raine (last seen as Verity Lambert in Doctor Who drama An Adventure in Time and Space), Jenny Agutter and Leo Staar.

The good news is we can expect a third series next year.


Still Open All Hours (BBC One, 7.45pm)

After almost three decades away, Roy Clarke’s much-loved sitcom is back, with David Jason reprising his role as Granville.

He was miserly, stuttering shopkeeper Arkwright’s put-upon nephew, who wanted more out of life than being an errand boy.

Granville seems to have got what he wished for - sort of - when we meet up with him again, 28 years after the last episode.

Arkwright (like the much-missed Ronnie Barker who played him) has passed away, so Granville is now in charge of the shop, which he runs with his son, Leroy (James Baxter), a cheerful charmer who turns heads among the local womenfolk.

Still around are Gladys Emmanuel (Lynda Baron), and the formidable Black Widow, who continues to send shivers down Granville’s spine.

They turn up in this special episode which, if recent reports turn out to be correct, could be the forerunner of a full series.


Death Comes to Pemberley (BBC One, 9pm)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that people just can’t stop tinkering with Pride and Prejudice. However, there’s one homage that seems to have impressed even the most hardcore Austen purist, and that’s PD James’ sequel Death Comes to Pemberley, which continues here.

The crime writer’s acclaimed novel takes some of the book’s much-loved characters and puts them in the middle of a detective story. And to mark the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, it’s been brought to the screen in this three-part adaptation.

Matthew Rhys plays Mr Darcy, and Matthew Goode is his arch-enemy George Wickham, six years after Darcy and Elizabeth (Anna Maxwell Martin) overcame their respective pride and prejudices, and married with two young sons. But then comes murder.


Moonfleet, Sky 8pm

Ray Winstone stars as 19th centtury Dorset smuggler Elzevir in this splendid adaptation of John Meade Falkner’s novel. He is up against cruel magistrate Mohune (Ben Chaplin), who has vowed to stamp out smuggling. Orphan John Trenchard comes between them, siding with the smuggler, but who falls for the lawyer’s daughter Grace.


Agatha Christie’s Marple, STV, 8pm

A splendid cast, including Wendy Craig and Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple, in a dramatisation of the novel Endless Night, which was told throught the eyes of young charmer Michael Rogers (Tom Hughes), who falls for American heiress Ellie (Joanna Vanderham) and sets up home on cursed Gypsy’s Acre, where a mysterious death occurs.