What’s on TV this Easter? Best shows to watch on Saturday 31 March 2018

Dec takes the reins alone on Saturday Night Takeaway, David Attenborough narrates an ode to eggs and Andrew Scott takes on Shakespeare's Hamlet

Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway

Find out what’s on TV this Easter Saturday, including the TV debut of Andrew Scott’s turn as Hamlet, David Attenborough’s love letter to eggs and Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (minus Ant).

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Check out the best TV below, and click the times for more info.

Hamlet, 9pm BBC2

Of all recent Hamlets, this feels like a good fit for the small screen. Robert Icke’s acclaimed modern-dress production pointedly uses video screens as integral to its sleek setting, a Danish royal court furnished in Scandi good taste.

The ghost appears to Hamlet on CCTV via Elsinore’s scratchy security system; rolling news channels update us on the political turmoil outside. If that sounds gimmicky, don’t worry: the gimmicks work, helped by the fact that the cast is terrific, led by Andrew Scott as a searingly troubled prince.

His soliloquies feel like the soul-searching of a young man for whom the “pale cast of thought” is a sickness, a mental health condition. Meanwhile, Juliet Stevenson brings what you might call a bit of Apple Tree Yard to Gertrude, a middle-aged woman with so much passion she risks destroying her family. At over three hours this is a long haul, but well worth it.


Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, 7pm ITV

Following Ant McPartlin’s much publicised return to rehab and “after much discussion and careful consideration”, Declan Donnelly is presenting the last two shows without his other half.

It’s going to be odd – for him and us. A bit like Tom appearing without Jerry, or Eric Morecambe without Ernie Wise, it’s almost inconceivable. But he will have the on-screen support of Stephen Mulhern and Scarlett Moffatt – plus Paloma Faith and guest announcer Stephen Merchant.

More Places on the Plane are given away in the Happiest Minute of the Week (which makes the audience happy but makes me tearful) because it’s been confirmed that next week’s Florida finale is going ahead.


David Attenborough’s Wonder of Eggs, 8pm BBC2

All our Easters have come at once. Sir David Attenborough holds forth on a subject close to his heart and one that could hardly be more seasonal – the fascination of eggs. “It’s time to introduce some wonder into this miracle of nature,” he tells us, before launching on what becomes part eulogy and part biology, a love letter to “nature’s most perfect thing”.

If you’ve wondered why eggs are oval or which end comes out of a chicken first, you’ll find out – although the latter question is trickier than it seems. One interesting section covers the latest research on how great tits can control when their eggs hatch to make sure the young arrive while food is plentiful in English woodland: each chick will need to eat 1,000 caterpillars in its first two weeks.

With sections on guillemots and their pointy green eggs, the cuckoo’s deception and the importance of albumen, it’s a perfect prelude to tomorrow’s eggy binge.


Easter at King’s, 6.15pm BBC2

Sometimes we need reminding that Easter is about more than simply chocolate eggs and hot cross buns.

In this special service, the famous choir conducted by Stephen Cleobury sings a selection of choral music for the season while the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection, taken from the gospel of John, is told by members of King’s College. Easter hymns include My Song Is Love Unknown, Were You There?, Greater Love Hath No Man and This Joyful Eastertide.

While the choir is known worldwide for its Christmas broadcasts, in recent years this celebration of Holy Week has become an equally important fixture in King’s calendar.


Casualty, 8.20pm BBC1

The emergency department is more tense and emotional than usual with the admittance of newlyweds Robyn and her desperately sick husband Glen after their honeymoon car accident.


Troy: Fall of a City, 9.10pm BBC1

King Priam takes his life into his hands to visit the Greek camp and Achilles. An agreement is reached, but the Greeks are furious – will the truce hold?

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Best film: Gone With the Wind, 10.10am Channel 5

Running to nearly four hours and boasting at least three directors, this epic American Civil War romantic drama is more of a symbol of the Hollywood studio system than a mere movie. Forever dividing critics, it will remain an audience favourite for all time.