9:15pm Saturday, BBC1
Bow down, Ricky Gervais, James Corden and Miranda Hart. Sniffy critics, too. The viewers have spoken; Mrs Brown’s Boys triumphs in the ratings every Christmas. It’s also tops with RT readers; last summer you voted it your Best British Sitcom of the 21st Century. I wouldn’t go quite that far myself but admit I snigger at the antediluvian innuendo, often howl at Agnes’s pratfalls and the corpsing among the cast, while groaning at the lame set-ups and Mammy’s twee homilies. It’s a queasy mix but the BBC is hungry for more. It has Brendan O’Carroll in a headlock to pump out festive specials until 2020, and meantime they’ve souped up this new vehicle for his team.
The shtick is that Cathy (Jennifer Gibney) interviews celebs and zelebs, while Agnes/Mammy (O’Carroll) has a revealing natter with some of their mothers. It’s a wonder they can muster anyone game enough for this potentially excruciating spectacle. But in this first show, they’ve lassoed Pamela Anderson, Louis Walsh and Judy Murray (yes, we meet Judy’s mum, not her boys). We’re promised “audience shenanigans”, whatever they entail, and music from James Blunt.
6.55pm Saturday, BBC1
It’s the live final! Even if the introduction of singing as well as dancing has probably detracted from the format rather than added to it, the fundraising muckabout has been at least 45 per cent more entertaining this year thanks to its new hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who have helmed it with all the chaotic spontaneity of their Great British Bake Off interruptions.
Among the finalists are radio DJs Rickie Haywood-Williams and Melvin Odoom, whose costume-swapping Will Smith medley in the heats was impressive, and a trio of Casualty/Holby City stars, who might just by now have recovered from their punishing rendition of Uptown Funk. Relying more on enthusiasm and comic timing are Sara Pascoe and the quizzing experts from The Chase.
9pm Sunday, BBC1
A young woman is knocked down by a car and abducted in the face-slapping febrile opening to the fourth series of Jed Mercurio’s visceral crime drama.
There’s a furious police chase and a full-on investigation led by Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton), who’s convinced that the kidnapper is responsible for the murder of two women. This will be the third victim, unless the cops can get to her first.
Mercurio, who also directs, is so good at kicking his audience in the knees with bursting tension and a screen that thuds with action and incident.
But when the noise stops a forensic coordinator, Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins), feels that there’s something badly wrong with the investigation. So he visits our old mates the AC-12, the corruption busting squad led by the mighty Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and asks Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) for help.
9pm Sunday, BBC2
Two and a half million Brits used to holiday there every year, but last summer the hotels on the Aegean coast were empty. Turkey is a country in turmoil: a failed military coup, terror attacks, more journalists in jail than Iran and China and an influx of three million Syrian refugees.
In this fascinating two-parter, Simon Reeve takes the pulse of a deeply divided nation. He talks to staunch supporters of the increasingly authoritarian President Erdogan, a businessman reaping the rewards of the building boom, worried hoteliers and Syrian refugees. Astonishingly, he also meets a people-smuggler who is now smuggling refugees back from Germany and Greece because they’d rather live in Turkey.
3:45pm Saturday, BBC1
Pixar’s 13th full-length film is the studio’s first to feature a female as its central character, and a memorable creation she is, too. Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a Scottish princess whose head of unruly red hair conveys her fiery spirit: this is a young woman who prefers horse riding and archery to the restrictive life of the court.
When Merida learns that her mother (Emma Thompson) plans for her to marry to preserve peace in the kingdom, the princess takes off. But this being a fairy tale, she winds up in a forest, where she meets a witch and begs for a spell that will change her mother’s mind. Bad idea.
In terms of story Brave seems rather old-fashioned alongside Pixar films such as Up and WALL-E, but there is still plenty to admire. It looks stunning: from the re-creation of the Scottish countryside to Merida’s live-wire hair, the film is a technical marvel. Also, while Merida matures during the film, hers is not the predictable romantic fate of spirited princesses past. That said, Brave serves up some lazy clichès in its depiction of the kingdom’s menfolk and while the film is very entertaining, it lacks the audacious spirit of the studio’s earlier offerings.
Sharon Horgan’s acerbic gem of a comedy piloted last year starring Anna Maxwell-Martin and Diane Morgan as two mums in chaos. They are surrounded by Alpha Mums: competitive, cross, and just plain crazy. Painfully funny stuff and thankfully commissioned for more episodes.