Christmas 2014: best TV on today, New Year’s Eve

New Year celebrations, Rita & Me and Britain's Favourite Sitcoms are not to be missed

Tigers about the House: What Happened Next, 7.00pm, BBC2

Advertisement

Sumatran tiger cubs Spot and Stripe charmed millions earlier this year as they gambolled with “dad”, Australia Zoo tiger expert Giles Clark.

We return as the pair approach their first birthday and they are magnificent, hefty creatures who still play happily with humans. The siblings, who will remain in captivity, are totems for endangered Sumatran wild tigers, and money raised by popular zoo events funds protection programmes.

Here Clark, his wife Kerri and son Kynan view some of these life-savers, arriving in Jakarta where Clark visits a market that does a roaring trade in illegal pets. As they head deeper into the rainforest, poor Kerri is made out to be a soppy girly, and the camera gets close when she cries about an ill-treated orangutan. Concludes tomorrow.  Alison Graham 

Coronation Street, 7.30pm, ITV

Claire King has always been the go-to choice to play a TV maneater ever since she cut a swathe through Emmerdale as Kim Tate. And she’s certainly had quite the effect on Nick since rocking up as Liz’s friend Erica. Now, though, Erica is confiding in Liz that she only ever wanted a holiday fling with Nick and is worried that he expects more. But how does he feel?

Unfortunately, there’s little in the way of spice to be had where Alya and Gary are concerned. She obviously has high hopes of a reconciliation, but does any viewer really care about what happens to the two of them? David Brown 

Rita & Me, 8.00pm, ITV

Over her 50-year association with the Street, Rita may have gone from flame-haired chanteuse to Kabin confidante, but she’s always been the epitome of Corrie glam. Those cocktail dresses from the early 1970s have long been replaced with sequined mohair cardigans, but our Reet is still the archetypal Weatherfield heroine, the type of woman for whom a life of adversity has bred backbone and a wry line in telling comment.

Here, we get a one-hour retrospective of actress Barbara Knox’s half-century of service on the ITV soap (she first appeared in 1964 and then returned to stay in 1972). Expect plenty of archive clips, including Rita’s partnership with Mavis and her persecution at the hands of evil Alan Bradley.  David Brown 

Mapp and Lucia, 9.00pm, BBC 1 

It’s pelting with rain in Tilling, and the dark skies herald bad news for Lucia, reigning queen of the social scene, when she hears that a fluent Italian speaker is to visit.

The conceit is, of course, that Lucia and her confirmed bachelor best friend Georgy Pilson (Anna Chancellor and Steve Pemberton) pretend that they love nothing more than whiling away hours together talking Italian.

I’m well aware that this sounds like torpid tosh, the kind of petit bourgeois nonsense that maybe people cared about in the 1930s when EF Benson wrote his Mapp and Lucia books, but as a piece of escapist confectionary, this is hard to beat. Au reservoir! Alison Graham 

Britain’s Favourite Sitcoms, 9.00pm, Channel 5

Hunker down for a solid three hours of clips and talking heads, counting down the 50 best sitcoms of all time, as decided by a viewer vote. A limited roster of actors, comedians and journos pop up repeatedly with soundbites that aren’t always insightful, but there are flecks of gold: Ardal O’Hanlon’s paean to The Royle Family is joyous, and Shelley Long’s paean to Ted Danson is… a bit scary.

The constant flicking from UK to US and from recent to classic means boredom never sets in, and the list holds surprises, too. Two British sitcoms from the 1980s are shock inclusions in the top ten. As for the top spot, it has to be Fawlty Towers… doesn’t it? Jack Seale

New Year Celebrations, From 9.00pm ITV, C4; 10.15pm BBC1; 11.20pm BBC2 

Advertisement

Going out tonight is risky. Get to one party and you might instantly wish you’d chosen another. But with the festivities laid on by the main channels, you may hop between spangly bashes as much as you please. Drop in on Jools Holland’s year-end stalwart, the Hootenanny 2014 (11.20pm BBC2), to hear Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding and Paolo Nutini, the literally revitalised Wilko Johnson, and soul serenaders William Bell and Ruby Turner. Pop to ITV for a light-hearted look back with Funny Old Year (9pm), or the Channel 4 equivalent, 50 Funniest Moments 2014 (11.05pm). And there are stellar guests on The Graham Norton Show (10.15pm BBC1) and Alan Carr’s New Year Specstacular (9pm C4). The main event is on BBC1 (11.15pm), where Queen — Brian May, Roger Taylor and guest singer Adam Lambert — play live next to Big Ben. Jack Seale