What to watch on TV this weekend (and what to avoid)

Pat Stacey has cast his eye over the weekend’s TV so you don’t have to…

TONIGHT

“He couldn’t stop laughing, he was a huge Morecambe and Wise fan,” Gary Morecambe tells Lenny Henry and the studio audience in the second instalment of Trust Morecambe and Wise (Gold, 8pm).

He happens to be talking about his father, Eric, who he says used to love watching his and Ernie Wise’s shows as much as any viewer. It’s nice to hear he enjoyed the shows, since he put so much work into them, fretting over every tiny detail. Other guests on this delightful clip-and-chat show are Michael Grade and John Thomson.

The late Umberto Eco wasn’t entirely happy with the film of his novel The Name of the Rose (BBC2, 9pm), so what would he think of the people behind this miniseries version adding a second female character that isn’t in the book? Not a lot, I imagine. It’s probably the first case of a television adaptation being unfaithful with another woman.

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https://youtube.com/watch?v=5TQeXJefIws%3Frel%3D0%26enablejsapi%3D1

Given the sheer number of series about dogs on television, it’s about time cats got a piece of the action. Cat Hospital (RTÉ1, 8.30pm) brings us inside Ireland’s first purpose-built clinic catering exclusively for cats, nestled in the leafy environs of Glanmire outside Cork city. In this first episode, veterinary surgeon Clare Meade and her team meet the families of the cats they treat to try to understand their ailments. The cats’ ailments, that is.

In the excellent Unreported World (Channel 4, 7.30pm), which really merits a better timeslot, reporter Adnan Sarwar meets the pupils, parents and teachers trying to survive at a primary school caught in a turf war in Cape Town, South Africa, between lawless, drug-dealing gangs. With 279 children killed in the Cape Flats in the last year alone, the government has now sent in the military.

The two-hour documentary Very Ralph (Sky Atlantic, 9pm) is an intimate portrait of fashion designer and noted philanthropist Ralph Lauren, exploring the extraordinary life of the boy from the Bronx who became an emblem of American style all around the world.

SATURDAY

The list that spawned Novels That Shaped Our World (BBC2, 9.45pm) is of dubious value, but the series itself is excellent. In the second of three parts, the topic is how race and colonialism was dealt with in novels including Robinson Crusoe (the white hero was a slave trader) and two key American books published a century apart, Harriet Stowe Beecher’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

It’s 1964 and Elizabeth is troubled by rumours that Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins) is a KGB spy, while getting along famously with her art curator Anthony Blunt (Samuel West), who it turned out really was a Soviet spy.

Among the revamped cast are Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, Ben Daniels as Lord Snowden and Tobias Menzies as a convincingly tetchy, glowering Prince Philip.

The BBC is being strangely muted about the three-part The War of the Worlds (BBC1, 9pm). Surprisingly, it doesn’t feature on the cover of the current Radio Times and doesn’t get much of a splash on the inside pages, either. Frankly, it doesn’t auger well for a series that was originally slated to be a centrepiece of the Christmas schedule – last year’s Christmas schedule, that is. Eleanor Tomlinson, Rafe Spall and Robert Carlyle star.

It’s in sharp contrast to the huge promotional push given to His Dark Materials (BBC1, 8pm), which has more than lived up to the hype. Having escaped from the Gobblers, Lyra (Dafne Keen) finds help from an unlikely source and learns more about her past. Tremendously enjoyable.

We stay in the realm of the fantastical for The Worlds of Ursula K Le Guin (BBC4, 10pm), a documentary about the late, great science fiction author – although, like one of the contributors to the film, Margaret Atwood, she disliked the practice of writers being bracketed by genre.

Among others paying tribute to Le Guin, whose speculative fiction was way ahead of its time in terms of its handling of feminism and race, are Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon.

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