The best TV to watch tonight

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


The Big Family Cooking Showdown


8pm, BBC2


The BBC is cursed, because before every new competitive cooking show, there will for ever be hopeful cries of “Is it the Beeb’s replacement Great British Bake Off?” On the evidence of the first episode, The Big Family Cooking Show won’t be filling those big boots.

The gladiatorial aspect of GBBO — individual competitors throwing themselves into creating joy with their hearts and souls — is replaced by teams of three, all members of the same family. So there’s a bit of friendly bickering and a few tears, but the overall feel is of watching your mates knock up a few meals.

Zoë Ball and Nadiya Hussain don’t have much to do apart from cheerleading on the sidelines, while judges Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Locatelli and cookery teacher Rosemary Shrager don’t have that all important Berry/Hollywood alchemy. But it’s early days — there are 12 episodes — so who knows, maybe the recipe will gel as the show wears on.  


10pm, BBC2


Robert (Rory Kinnear) is a fabulously vain celebrity surgeon in 1840s England, performing blood-curdling operations to a gallery of love-struck women. His friend John (Tom Basden) is a pioneer of anaesthetics and William (Mathew Baynton) a psychiatrist.

Together they are ahead of their time as medical practitioners, but not so far that they’re entirely comfortable with John’s bizarre ideas about offering pain relief for amputations by saw. It’s an original conceit from Rev writer James Wood with some bold flashes of wit and a fabulous performance by Rupert Everett as Dr Hendrick, the slightly hateful boss of the local asylum. The sheer weirdness may take a while to get used to, but I’m happy to submit to the surgical saw for a follow-up procedure. 

Seven Days in Summer: Countdown to Partition

9pm, BBC2


The BBC’s admirable Partition season is looking back at the events of 70 years ago on the Indian subcontinent from every angle and through every lens. This programme uses first-hand testimony (voiced by actors), archive footage and a cast of experts to retell the story. Set over the seven days leading up to the partition of India and creation of Pakistan, it charts how chaos was let loose during the last days of British rule. From the flashpoints of the Punjab and Gandhi’s base in Calcutta to the burning streets of Lahore and beyond, we hear the stories of some of the millions of people affected and explore why the violence was so intense. 

The Family Way

10pm, Talking Pictures TV



Considered somewhat risqué on its original release, this gentle comedy can now be seen as a fond portrait of an era when sex was still taboo. Complete with a score by Paul McCartney, it recounts the experience of so many 1960s newlyweds who had to share a house with their in-laws for much of the early part of their married lives.

Hywel Bennett is bang on form as the husband so wound up by cohabitation that he is unable to consummate his marriage to the equally impressive Hayley Mills. But it’s her real-life dad, John Mills, who steals the show with a splendid study in working-class cantankerousness, closely followed by Marjorie Rhodes as his long-suffering but speak-as-you-find wife. 

Carpool Karaoke — The Series

Apple Music

The segment that propelled James Corden to US talk-show acclaim has its own show. Every Tuesday, Apple Music subscribers can watch a new spin-off episode, with one of the changes to the format being that it’s not always Corden driving. Among the stars in cars will be Will Smith, LeBron James, Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Game of Thrones cast members.