Over the past 27 years, Ian Hislop has never missed a single episode. And he’s still there, of course, for series 53 of this unstoppable comedy juggernaut, which Iaughs in the face of serious illness (the Private Eye editor once braved appendicitis in 1994) and cocks a snook at suggestions that today’s crazy news palette has no need for more absurdist satire.
This nine-episode run will feature some new faces alongside confirmed star hosts Kirsty Young, Alexander Armstrong, Victoria Coren Mitchell and Jo Brand. Here, former Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart will beam in to referee captains Hislop and Paul Merton’s teams (their guests had not been confirmed as RT went to press) in a move that will no doubt delight sci-fi fans.
Stewart, though, is not the first commander of the Starship Enterprise to chair the show. And he’d do well to match the brilliance of William Shatner’s 2012 star turn, which was peppered with superb ad-libs and a shocking (false) claim about prostitution in the lovely north Devon town of Ilfracombe.
King Louis XIV of France has enemies everywhere. Most of his courtiers hate him and other monarchs, notably William of Orange, would love to see him wiped from the face of the earth.
But as we return to this great big blancmange of a costume drama, Louis (George Blagden) is very much alive, sleepwalking in the snow-crisp grounds of his adored Palace of Versailles in a diaphanous nightie while his brother Philippe can’t get out of bed because he’s covered in naked men.
It’s impossible to take any of it seriously thanks largely to the acres of boob-age as Louis romps with his pregnant doxy, a woman who, when replete, murmurs to her beloved, “The more of you I consume, the hungrier I become.” So once again we must hail the great Pip Torrens as the wily Cassel, who drips class wherever he walks.
Snogging musical men comes naturally to Mrs Brown (just ask James Blunt and Ricky Wilson). So we can imagine Harry Styles would be sure to get a smacker if TV’s most infamous mammy coaxed him down to Foley’s pub. Lucky thing, then, that the One Direction star is sharing Graham’s sofa with Brendan O’Carroll this evening, and not the Irish funnyman’s alter ego.
Styles appears without his bandmates for the first time, to perform his debut solo single, Sign of the Times. And to round off the rather melodic line-up, Wales’s very own Rob Brydon is on hand to talk about his Trip to Spain with Steve Coogan.
An all-female production team is behind this documentary series about how technology and sexuality interact. From dating apps to online pornography, it’s a robust, responsible, unembarrassed examination of issues it’s all too easy to block out.
Joaquin Phoenix gives a remarkable performance as country-rock legend Johnny Cash in director James Mangold’s impressive biopic. The film begins with Cash’s legendary live recording at Folsom Prison in 1968, flashing back to his childhood and feelings of guilt over the accidental death of his brother, then picks up the story with Cash writing songs in the air force, before hitting the road with fellow Sun recording artists Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. Joining them on tour is June Carter (Reese Witherspoon), the woman whom Cash pursued for years despite the fact that both were already married. Phoenix successfully captures the spirit of an artist who writes songs and sings because it is the one thing he does well, but who also drinks and pops pills out of frustration and guilt. He needs the love of a good woman to save him, and Phoenix and Witherspoon (who won an Oscar) convincingly bring the relationship between Johnny and June to life without lapsing into impersonation. This classic tale will be largely familiar to fans, but with both stars also contributing their own vocals, it may now bring the couple – and their music – to a new audience.