New Year Celebrations, throughout the evening on BBC1, BBC2, C4 and Sky1
Party by the Thames, or Jools? Flicking between them might be the answer, depending on whether this year’s pre- and post-fireworks performer, Robbie Williams (11:25pm, BBC1) is playing a hit big enough to tear you from Jools’s Annual Hootenanny (11:20pm, BBC2). Joining in with Jools Holland’s celebrations are several singers who might fare very well in front of his Rhythm * Blues Orchestra: Chaka Khan, Gregory Porter, Imelda May and Ruby Turner are all on the bill, as are Seasick Steve, Ali Campbell, Christine & the Queens and the Move/Wizzard maestro Roy Wood.
Alternatively there’s end-of-year chat with Alan Carr (9pm, C4) who welcomes Danny Dyer, Sinitta and Keith Lemon; and Graham Norton (10:25pm, BBC1) talking to Marion Cotillard, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.
Have a tablet or laptop to hand when midnight strikes: for the first time you can control a 360-degree panorama version of the BBC’s London fireworks coverage via its website. The display’s also on Sky1 (11:50pm).
Peter Pan Goes Wrong, 6:20pm, BBC1
Panto season gets a good clattering in this riotous spoof. Mischief Theatre company conquered the West End with their slapstick disasters The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy about a Bank Robbery. Now their fictional counterparts, Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, attempt to mount Peter Pan in front of BBC cameras and come richly unstuck at every turn.
Each prop and stage effect is a sight-gag waiting to happen: the Darling children’s bunk collapses; Nana the dog gets stuck in the doorflap; Peter flies into the scenery – painfully, by the look of it. No joke is understated, no pratfall unfallen, but the comic energy is hard to resist, partly because you know chaos this complicated needs very slick skills to pull off.
Adding a layer of class is David Suchet as narrator, and in a lovely moment he fills an awkward pause by becoming Poirot…
Dawn French Live: 30 Million Minutes, 9pm, BBC4
This one-woman show taking us through Dawn French’s life (all 30 million minutes or so of it) leaves no stone unturned. There’s her excitement, aged three, at meeting the Queen Mother (and the trauma of Her Majesty’s teeth), the adolescent horrors of trying to impress boys and the problems of dancing to MC Hammer when you’ve got “Harry Secombe legs”.
But this isn’t a gag-a-minute stand-up, it’s more a confessional monologue. She talks about darker times including the suicide of her beloved father when she was 19, her health problems and racist attitudes towards her first marriage to Lenny Henry (although she jokes, “He didn’t tell me he was black!”).
World of Sport Wrestling, 5pm, ITV
Saturday afternoons in the 1970s: Grandstand on BBC1, World of Sport on ITV. And generously included under the heading of “sport” was professional wrestling, with its procession of stout men in leotards bodyslamming each other in front of fired-up old ladies. It was a TV institution – and it’s back, for at least this one-off and possibly more. And it’s rivetingly strange, but still not quite as strange as in the days when Big Daddy was trying to peel off Kendo Nagasaki’s mask, or being flattened by the magnificent Giant Haystacks.
Lovable ICW star Grado is in the first bout. “This isn’t about fun and games, this is about making history,” says the commentator. No, it’s about fun and games.
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore: the Missing Sketches, 8pm, C4
Only eight out of 22 episodes of Not Only… But Also still exist. Like so much classic TV output of the 60s and 70s, the tapes were wiped. But a few snippets of the legendary duo’s philosophical musings and anarchic improvisation that have not been seen in 50 years are now shared with a selection of fans including Josie Lawrence, Richard Ayoade and Barry Humphries.
Some are shockingly politically incorrect, while others are too brief to savour properly. But, oh, the joy of seeing Dudley’s facial contortions as Peter mercilessly refuses to save him from corpsing in front of the live audience.
Dragons’ Den: Pitches to Riches?, 9pm, BBC2
Richard Osman brings the knowledge and enthusiasm of a genuine fan to his hosting of this spin-off from the invention-flogging show. Remember Caner Veli, the nervous but inspired boss of a company producing a spray that waterproofs fabrics? He very nearly won a round of applause from the Dragons when he poured a bottle of red wine over his suit to demonstrate the product.
Osman catches up with him, as well as a pair of pun-loving pork scratching merchants who are setting up a new HQ, and the Dhillon family, with their boot-cleaning brush. What actually happens when the DD cameras stop rolling and the hard work begins becomes a lot clearer here.
Life in Polar Bear Town with Gordon Buchanan, 8pm, BBC2
The polar bear cubs in the recent Life in the Snow were undeniably cute – but the adults can be extremely dangerous. In this film Buchanan is visiting Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, where for a couple of months every year packs of polar bears wait for sea ice to form so they can begin their winter hunt. But while tourists love catching a glimpse of them, humans and polar bears are not natural neighbours.
Buchanan hears from the locals about how they have to dodge these massive (and hungry) creatures while they’re going about their daily business, and one young woman recalls how she was mauled in the town centre.