The best TV to watch tonight

Your indispensable guide to the best things on the box...

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Fargo

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10pm, C4

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Another year, another visit to freezing, folksy Minnesota where the accents are slow and the snowscape is usually steeped in blood. You may not have the stomach for more, after the horrors of the last two series, and there is definitely a sense that showrunner Noah Hawley knows his formula: a self-consciously told story of bungled crime that spirals out of control, leading to death, disaster and mayhem, all investigated by kind, well-meaning police officers.

It’s familiar, yes, but my, is it stylish, with more finger-clickingly good music and the bold trick of having Ewan McGregor leading the cast as the two Stussy brothers – rich and successful Emmit and bitter and hapless parole officer Ray, who both kick-start the trouble in their own particular ways.

Other (fabulously-named) delights come from Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Nikki Swango, Ray’s unexpectedly sassy girlfriend and bridge hustler, and David Thewliss’ chilling, snaggle-toothed gangster VM Varga, whom Emmit has been foolish enough to become entangled with. Will he regret it? You betcha, as they say in these parts. 

The BBC Election Debate

9pm, BBC1

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It’s not perfect, but in terms of the classic, freewheeling, multi-party ding-dong, this is our best bet. It is the debate for the many not the few, as Today presenter Mishal Husain moderates a seven-way podium-style discussion live from Cambridge, with senior figures from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and Ukip. 

Of course, neither the Prime Minister nor the leader of the opposition will take part (Theresa May perhaps wary of the ganging-up an incumbent PM faces in this format), which raises the question of who will attend in their stead. That was unresolved as RT went to press, but check radiotimes.com/debate for the latest. 

The Met: Policing London

9pm, BBC1

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There’s an epidemic of phone snatching in London, where mainly teenage boys on mopeds and bicycles mount pavements to grab devices from unsuspecting, preoccupied members of the public. 

Sergeant Steve Brown knows lots of the kids responsible – and they are kids, the age of those arrested has dropped to between 15 and 17 – and they know him. When he and colleagues stop and search a little group of cocky boys suspected of multiple thefts (two stolen mopeds have been recovered round the corner) they get a lot of cheek: “You’re searching me for no reason… it’s like you like touching little kids.”

The most mouthy of the gesticulating gang is on bail for 15 phone snatches; “Fifteen, brother,” boasts the boy, “that’s a real man number.”

It’s another chilling, unsettling look at the virulence of crime on the capital’s streets. 

Pompeii

9pm, 5Star

Corrupt Roman senator Kiefer Sutherland arrives in Pompeii to invest in Jared Harris’s plans to modernise the city, but mainly to nab Harris’s daughter, Emily Browning, as his wife. Trouble is she’s smitten by horse-whispering slave-turned-gladiator Kit Harington (Game of Thrones).

Not that any of this turgid soap in togas matters because it’s 79 AD and Mount Vesuvius is about to erupt and annihilate the “holiday resort” as the jarringly modern script describes it. Actually everything about director Paul WS Anderson’s sword-and-sandal spectacular is off-kilter, from the laughable dialogue and predictable romance to the ludicrous carnage and cheesy acting (where did Sutherland get that British accent?). But when the volcanic fire and brimstone explodes, the lava flows and the CGI catastrophe runs rampant, this disaster pot-boiler finally provides the thrilling epic destruction you’ve waited an hour to witness. Complete with tsunami!

Absolute nonsense, highly entertaining (on certain camp levels) – and never boring. 

House of Cards

Netflix

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As our anti-hero President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey)  stands for re-election, this brutal political drama tantalisingly nods at the outlandish character who now occupies the real White House. In trying to keep up, season five is a wilder ride than ever.