Natural World, The Story of a Child Prodigy, The Graham Norton Show – best TV on tonight

A real life bat man, a child prodigy and Samuel L Jackson talking balls in our top TV picks tonight Friday 13 June


The Natural World: The Bat Man of Mexico – 9pm, BBC2


Bram Stoker has a lot to answer for, says bat-loving Rodrigo Medellin. The author’s creation – neck-nibbling, blood-guzzling Count Dracula – gave vampire bats an undeserved rough deal, saddling them with a deadly reputation from which they have never recovered. Medellin is here to tell us that they are rather lovely creatures.

From being a small boy in his native Mexico, Medellin has loved vampire bats; as a child he kept pet vampires in the family bathroom, feeding them on cows’ blood he kept in the fridge. As an adult he has devoted his life to running education programmes for a Mexican population that sees vampire bats as evil. 

Medellin’s enthusiasm is infectious, if you can bury that atavistic fear of the blood-sucking little blighters.

The Story of a Child Prodigy: I Am Not a Rockstar – 8pm, BBC4

Miles from home, jetlagged and under huge pressure to perform at an audition, young classical pianist Marika Bournaki throws a completely understandable, but fabulously teenage, strop about the dirt in a miserable London hotel room. It’s part of a particular kind of growing up, done under the observation of father Pierre (a former violinist), teachers at New York’s Juilliard School, and the documentary camera following her from age 12 to 20 to make this absorbing film. 

Even without pushy parents (Pierre is mostly encouraging but mild), being a prodigious talent sets Marika apart from her friends and family in Montreal, and forces her to make decisions that will affect her career for life. It’s a relief to see her at 20, sitting down at the instrument she still loves, to perform a duet with a very small, very sweet fellow player.

The Graham Norton Show – 10:45pm, BBC1

Samuel L Jackson is extremely good value on talk shows, and especially Graham Norton’s. Last time he was on, he threatened to do Snakes on a Plane 2 and 3, explained how he managed to get a special purple lightsaber out of George Lucas, and admitted that, when it comes to the Oscars, it’s never just an honour to be nominated and fine to lose. Today he’ll be talking balls. He’s in London to host a fashion party for a male cancer charity, and is likely to have acquired a new hat for the occasion. 

Joining him is Formula One’s Jenson Button, also a big fundraiser for cancer causes, and Keira Knightley – who has good Norton form, too, having helped fellow guests to replicate her famous pout on the sofa earlier this year. Music is from Kasabian.


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