SCOTLAND v ITALY Saturday 12.10pm (k/o 12.30pm) BBC1, 12.30pm 5 Live Sp Ex
FRANCE v WALES Saturday 2.25pm (k/o 2.45pm) BBC1, 5 Live Sports Extra
IRELAND v ENGLAND Saturday 4pm (k/o 5pm) ITV, 5pm 5 Live
Scotland v Italy (kick-off 12.30pm) begins the traditional Six Nations’ Super Saturday marathon, with all six sides facing each other on the final day of the tournament. In years gone by, this first match would have been a battle to avoid the Wooden Spoon. Not any more; the Scots have been one of the most potent attackers in the tournament, and will be in search of a bonus point win to secure their new stature.
France v Wales: Neither side has had a tournament to remember, with Wales looking especially short of imagination with regular coach Warren Gatland absent on Lions duty.
Ireland v England (kick-off 5pm) was billed as the decisive match at the start of the tournament, and it still could be, despite Ireland’s early stumble against Scotland. Being the last teams to play, both will know exactly what they need to do. But that precious knowledge comes with its own pressures…
During the Second World War Vera Lynn promised that we’d meet again and so tonight we join the Forces’ Sweetheart as she reaches her 100th birthday. Amazingly, she only had one singing lesson in her life – as a youngster a vocal coach snootily told her she couldn’t train her because it wasn’t a “natural voice”. “I wonder if she heard me when I was on the radio?” she now asks without rancour.
Although the troops adored her, in 1942 it was suggested she sang more “virile”, less sentimental material on her radio show because it was making the soldiers homesick. Quite rightly, she took no notice.
Dame Vera reminisces with her daughter, Virginia, as they look at archive footage and charming family photos, while tributes from modern artists including Paul McCartney and Tim Rice paint a portrait of someone who went from humble East Ham beginnings to become the singer who personified the British spirit more than any other.
The body of a young woman is found washed up on the shore of an island off the Northumberland coast where she worked as a conservation officer. She’s been murdered. DCI Vera Stanhope is first on the scene, heralding a seventh series of ITV’s perennial Sunday-night hit.
The story is classic Vera. She doggedly traipses from crime scene to witnesses and to suspects, piercing everyone with her gimlet eyes, the ones that miss nothing. You know she’ll get to the truth in the end, otherwise it’s a waste of two hours.
It’s a solid tale of anger, guilt and past tragedies, all set beneath those gorgeous big, empty Northumberland skies. (Most of the action takes place outdoors – why stay in when there’s so much rugged beauty to see?) Brenda Blethyn is the inimitable Vera, blunt, sharp but kind, too.
Not much is going according to plan in this expedition’s enjoyable (to watch) descent of the River Baliem in New Guinea. “So far, we’ve managed to handle everything the river has thrown at us,” Steve Backshall crows to the camera, ignoring the fact that they’ve skipped over whole stretches of the Baliem using their convenient on-call helicopter because the white-water gorges were simply too dangerous to kayak.
No shame in that, though: freak rainfall has swollen the river to a torrent and watching the sections they do paddle down is dramatic enough. Away from the river, there’s a nice encounter with the local Yali tribesmen, an excursion into the almost impenetrable jungle that goes quite badly and an excellent scene where Steve demonstrates exactly what not to do around a swarm of wasps.
Director Luc Besson deals in the mind-blowing as much as the physical in this crazy-quilt collision of Limitless and 2001: a Space Odyssey. Scarlett Johansson gets a rude awakening here as an American everywoman abroad who’s forced to act as a drug mule for vicious crime boss Mr Jang (played by Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik). Trouble is, she accidentally ingests the experimental substance, causing her cerebral capabilities to expand towards the godlike.
Morgan Freeman adds his usual gravitas as a scientist who offers both enlightenment and incredulity, as the increasingly super-powered Lucy desperately tries to hang on to her humanity while evading vengeful Jang and his henchmen. This is not a patch on Besson’s best work – Nikita, Leon – and Johansson is more ultra-evolved brainbox than action heroine (unlike her Black Widow character in the Avengers movies). It’s barmy, but to compensate there are plenty of enthralling moments as action clichés (fights, car chases) are turned on their head, to often breathtaking effect.
The Porridge revival is in the making, so why not refresh your memory with every episode of one of TV’s greatest sitcoms on BBC Store. Ronnie Barker plays the petty crook making his stint in prison bearable by tormenting the staff as much as possible.
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