There’s no time for being romantic on Valentine’s night, there’s too much great TV to watch!
Here’s our indispensable guide to the shows you shouldn’t miss this February 14th…
1. The Moorside (BBC1, 9pm)
There’s jubilation on the streets of the rough and ready Moorside estate; one of their own, nine-year-old Shannon Matthews, has been found safe and well after her abduction. There’s a sense of community pride along with impromptu street parties and firework “displays” as the estate, led by the redoubtable Julie Bushby (Sheridan Smith), prepares to welcome Shannon home.
Jeff Pope and Neil McKay’s drama is clearly not any kind of whodunnit, we all know how the story ended, with Shannon’s damaged, ineffectual mother Karen convicted of colluding in her daughter’s 24-day disappearance.
The Moorside is about betrayal, the wounding of a group of people who are left humiliated in the eyes of a world that despises them. Siân Brooke (Eurus in Sherlock) is particularly good as Natalie, who spots cracks in Karen’s hopeless façade.
More on this: Meet the cast of The Moorside
2. Andrew Marr: My Brain and Me (BBC2, 9pm)
Journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr is clearly frustrated trying to do nursery-school puzzles to get his largely useless left arm working again. “I don’t want to do much of this on camera, I’ve had enough….I said no.”
He sounds grumpy, but he isn’t, he’s fizzing with energy he can’t use. In 2013 Marr had a catastrophic stroke that nearly killed him; “I never thought I was going to die, but other people did.” He underwent gruelling therapy to restore his speech and movement to his left side.
Here film-maker Liz Allen follows Marr as he meets other stroke survivors and undergoes revolutionary treatment in the US. Marr looks too at the brain’s remarkable resilience, even after such trauma, and its ability to knit itself together again.
Throughout Marr is focused, optimistic and refuses to feel sorry for himself ; “There is no human crime like self-pity.”
3. The Great British Skinny Dip (Channel 4, 10pm)
This is a gentle, perceptive film about British naturists, but it’s also very funny.
At a Blackpool hotel people sit around a medium-sized conference room. Andrew, head of marketing for British Naturism, gives a presentation about a national skinny dipping day, and the fact that he is naked, as he runs through his PowerPoint slides, is childishly comical, it just is.
The naturists we meet make their case well: “It’s a beautiful feeling being free as nature intended,” says former head teacher Christine. Only later do we learn the price she paid for her freedom.
4. The Secret Life of Dogs (ITV, 9pm)
Like the four-legged marvels it hails, this series is well balanced. If you’re not a particularly soppy dog person, you could tire of the slo-mo shots of very good boys leaping about cutely. But around every corner is a bit of science to make you prick up your ears again. Collies, we learn tonight, have a wider field of vision than shepherds, and process visual information more quickly; Newfoundlands suit swimming thanks to their double-layered coats.
Sometimes, dogs’ enhanced senses and ability to learn make them much more than companions. We’re privileged here to meet animals who have trained themselves to help vulnerable owners: the case of the woman with type 1 diabetes is astonishing.
5. Ghost (Film 4, 10.50pm)
This romantic and glamorous mix of the sentimental and the supernatural reaps higher rewards than Patrick Swayze’s acting ability deserves. He plays the murdered banker trying to warn girlfriend Demi Moore she’s in mortal danger via psychic Whoopi Goldberg, who provides the comic moments so necessary to lighten the potentially maudlin atmosphere. In fact, her performance is so good, she deservedly won a best supporting actress Oscar. The special effects are a real treat, the love-beyond-the-grave theme is very touching and the ending is a wonderful piece of schmaltz. Who says sweetness and light are, er, dead?
As it’s Valentine’s Day…