Christmas 2016: best TV on today, Monday 19th December

Last Tango returns to screens, Jamie Oliver shows us how to cook the 'ultimate' Christmas dinner and Prince Harry heads back to Lesotho


Last Tango in Halifax, 9.00pm, BBC1 


Life is moving on for Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) as Sally Wainwright’s warm but spiky family drama hangs up the decorations for a two-part Christmas special. Caroline wants to “put something back” into society, so she’s taken a post as head teacher of a tough school in Huddersfield. Her mum, Celia, a copper-bottomed snob, is appalled, even after she’s been assured that Caroline isn’t moving “down South” (the ultimate betrayal). But, wails Celia (Anne Reid), “It’s a state school!” Caroline, Celia and Alan’s new home is a damp and draughty farmhouse, infested with mice. Her kids are furious and Caroline feels got-at, so she has a revealing heart-to-heart with her new best pal, Alan’s daughter Gillian (Nicola Walker). I like these chats; Wainwright writes such deft dialogue — hesitant, funny, wise — but this conversation delivers a bombshell. Gillian thinks she’s being haunted by her evil ex-husband. Concludes tomorrow.

Jamie’s Ultimate Christmas, 8.00pm, C4

Jamie Oliver promises he’s only showing us the “ultimate” festive recipes this year, the type of Christmas staples that make the family grin with gluttony. I’m not sure what that means he’s been doing for the past 16 Christmasses, but with under a week to go until the big day, any last-minute advice is welcome. To be fair, nobody makes Christmas cooking look more inviting or more manageable, from his spoon-grippingly thick gravy and golden-buttery turkey to roast potatoes crisp enough to crack Nan’s dentures. Every recipe oozes comfort and joy, and if it’s good enough for the Oliver brood, it’s good enough for us.

Prince Harry in Africa, 9.00pm, ITV

Prince Harry has a message — don’t get caught up in the flood of negativity sweeping the world, get out there and do some good. As he returns to Lesotho in southern Africa to focus on the work of his charity, Sentebale, which helps youngsters affected by HIV and Aids, the Prince tells Tom Bradby of his joy at the friends he’s made there. “Every single time we turn up somewhere, there’s always singing. It’s never shake hands, it’s sing, dance, embarrass yourself.” Prince Harry helps with the charity’s work, plays with the kids and talks about the abiding influence of his mother, Princess Diana.


Sir Lenny Henry: a Life on Screen, 9.00pm, BBC2

A Bafta tribute that will have you smiling constantly, even through the odd tear. The right contributor is on hand for every section of Henry’s CV, from Michael Grade and Chris Tarrant to Trevor McDonald and Richard Curtis — but the star interviewee is Lenny himself, who recalls his successes with humility and wit. It’s as good to see clips of less readily remembered work — The Fosters or Three of a Kind — as it is to relive Tiswas, The Lenny Henry Show and his contributions, funny and serious, to Comic Relief. Great careers need a surprising third act, but his transformation into a Shakespearean actor extends the theme of a humble, curious kid made good. His knowledge of the plays didn’t come from his days at a secondary modern in Dudley: in his late 40s, he taught himself by playing audiobooks in the car.

Would I Lie to You? at Christmas, 8:30pm, BBC1

It’s the perfect festive family game. Instead of playing another hand of Uno, gather everyone on the sofa to second-guess the panellists’ claims. Keep score and whoever gets the most has a free pass on the washing-up. It’s a good episode for that, too, as several of the claims feel nicely 50/50. Did Chris Kamara fake a burglary as a teenager? Does Sir Tom Courtenay have Baileys on his Christmas cornflakes? Listen out for a lovely exchange when host  Rob Brydon tries to quiz David Mitchell on his Christmas routine: “I imagine, Buck’s Fizz at 11?” And Mitchell shoots back, “Oh no, we don’t book a band…”

Celebrity Mastermind, 7pm, BBC1
University Challenge, 8pm, BBC2


Ordinary quiz contestants get a bit of holiday leave as the general knowledge quizzes put celebrities under the spotlight. John Humphrys grills Omid Djalili on Chelsea FC, chef Paul Rankin on Stieg Larsson, TV presenter Sonali Shah on the human body and CBBC puppet Hacker T Dog on the Pet Shop Boys. And in University Challenge, Jeremy Paxman tests two teams of alumni, including poet Simon Armitage, broadcasters Sarfraz Manzoor and Janina Ramirez, and Dame Mary Archer. Next rounds of both are tomorrow.