David Beckham into the Unknown - 8:30pm, BBC1
This, as the trailers will inevitably say, is David Beckham as you’ve never seen him before. Out of his comfort zone certainly and, dare we suggest it, exhibiting the first signs of the thus-far-undeclared condition Refs – Restless Ex-Footballers’ Syndrome.
Now retired, after 22 years of global fame and acclaim, Becks is looking to “find” himself in the wildness of Rio and the wilderness of the Amazon. “I have aspirations to do something different. I want to do a trip. I want to go to Brazil, ride bikes and do it through the Amazon.” Of course what he finds are snakes and considerable personal discomfort.
And though his search for nirvana is, inevitably, in the company of a film-maker’s camera, this is indeed Becks as you’ve rarely, if ever, seen him before. And it can’t be too often you say that about the world’s most famous sportsman.
Britain's Whale Hunters: The Untold Story - 9pm, BBC4
Watching archive footage of whaling is not a comfortable business, but a business it was – one that Britain played a major role in. In the first of two documentaries, Adam Nicolson examines the practicalities of an industry that, less than 100 years after its Antarctic peak, horrifies so many. The history of our reliance on whale products (the oil once lit London’s streets, while the bones held up corsets and umbrellas) is something to contemplate, but it’s Nicolson’s visit to the British overseas territory of South Georgia that’s grotesquely fascinating.
Stunning, isolated Leith Harbour was once home to the largest whaling concern in the world. An industrial time capsule, it was only abandoned in 1965. The Scottish men who worked there recall it, as Nicholson explores the clanking efficiency of the site and the old worker’s quarters, where there are still pin-ups on the wall and hooch under the beds.
Gail & Me: 40 Years On Coronation Street
This brief carnival of nostalgia celebrates the much-married Gail’s 40 years on Coronation Street. Soaps love these kinds of meta-anniversaries as they provide a harmless excuse for lots of clips and giggly reunions – here we see actress Helen Worth reunited with one of her four husbands, the serial-killing financial adviser Richard Hillman (Brian Capron).
It was Hillman who provided Gail with her most memorable line, as she confronted him with the brutal “You’re Norman Bates with a briefcase.” Fair enough, he had tried to kill her. Twice. And there’s a tidal wave of chortles as Amanda Barrie, who played the magnificently daffy Alma, one of Gail’s best pals, pops by to say hello.
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