From There to Here, Life of Ryan: Caretaker Manager, If I Don’t Come Home – best TV on tonight

Treat yourself with our top TV picks tonight Thursday 5 June


From There to Here – 9pm, BBC1


Daniel Cotton’s wife has had enough of his moods and disappearances; her husband became an altered man after he escaped the 1996 IRA blast that wrecked Manchester city centre. She knows there’s something deeper going on, and she wants an explanation, yelling: “Please don’t talk about the bomb again. Marks & Spencer has managed to recover, and you haven’t.”

As Peter Bowker’s funny, clever series ends, Daniel (the excellent Philip Glenister) is adrift, enduring a melancholy start to the new millennium as we reach 2000. He’s a lost soul and the family celebrations feel forced, though his dad (the mighty Bernard Hill) also tries to snap Daniel out of his funk with a bold suggestion.

From There to Here is a warm, optimistic series that celebrates the fault lines that run through most families. It’s old-fashioned, too, because it’s all about love. Aaah.

Life of Ryan: Caretaker Manager – 9pm, ITV

A documentary that charts a Premier League managerial stint that lasted all of four games might seem underwhelming. But this is Ryan Giggs we’re talking about. When English football’s most decorated player (13 league titles, four FA Cups, two Champions Leagues and more) took over as interim manager at Manchester United for the tail end of a lousy season, cameras were allowed in to follow him at work. 

So rarely do film crews penetrate the gilded playpen of the Premier League, this would be interesting even if it weren’t following a watershed in the career of a sporting legend. But with Giggs at the centre, it promises to be unmissable.

If I Don’t Come Home – Letters from D-Day – 10:35pm, ITV

There’s no reason why you should know the names of Norman Skinner, Maurice Hardstaff, Alastair Bannerman and Glenn Dicken, but they were four of the 165,000 servicemen who took part in the 1944 D-Day invasion. Like all of their comrades, they could write just one letter home to their wife or parents, in case they didn’t make it back alive. 

And it’s these letters, some in the form of a diary, but all read beautifully by actors such as Sam West, that are at the heart of this poignant documentary. Through them and other documentation we learn about the horrors of the invasion and the fate of the four individuals. 

There are a few lighter moments, though, such as when Alastair’s sons laughingly read out how the soldiers all painted their girlfriends’ names on a jeep: “So I have added yours [their mother’s] between the Doris of Lance Corporal Baker and the Vera of Sergeant Matthews.”


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