“Imps of darkness” is how Darwin described the marine iguanas of the Galapagos, Liz Bonnin tells us. 180 years after Darwin was inspired by the islands’ wildlife, she is joining an expedition to explore and research these and the archipelago’s other bizarre inhabitants.
In the first programme’s strangest piece of science, we gather that the iguanas appear to have a way of shortening their whole skeletons in response to a shortage of food and lengthening again when supplies recover, “kinda like a lizard accordion” says the world expert on the subject.
Of course, there’s nothing here quite like the unforgettable sequence in Planet Earth II where newly hatched iguanas scampered past racer snakes trying to throttle them, but there are other fine reptiles, including big, old phlegmatic giant tortoises and, tucked away on a remote volcano, the recently discovered pink iguanas that look as if they were designed by a 1980s punkette.
More 4, 9pm
The opening shot of The Good Wife spin-off focuses on lawyer Diane Lockhart as she watches television, aghast, as Donald Trump is sworn in as US president.
It’s a great start to what looks like it will be a thunderingly good series with two of its parent’s best characters – Diane and the doughty Lucca Quinn (Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo).
But as we return to Chicago’s top legal circles Diane is preparing to retire. She’s earmarked a very expensive and rather lovely house in France, and hands in her notice at the firm. But not before she welcomes her goddaughter, fresh-faced young intern Maia (Game of Thrones’s Rose Leslie).
And then everything goes pear-shaped when Diane loses all her retirement money in a financial scandal that torpedoes her reputation and leaves her with nothing. So she must find another job, fast.
Brace yourselves because this is a moving episode, a real gut-wrencher. If you haven’t seen last week’s instalment yet, best stop reading now because this chapter in Uhtred’s life is a grim lowpoint, after he was betrayed by that wet weasel Guthred (who owed him his throne, for heaven’s sake!) and sold into slavery.
He and loyal sidekick Halig are now heaving on the oars of a trading ship in the North Sea, shackled and whipped (“Bail, you dogs!”) and generally dehumanised. Back in civilisation, King Alfred welcomes the flinty old king of Mercia to what proves a disastrous dinner party and eligible young women are treated as bargaining chips by their men. It’s not pretty.
Channel 5, 10pm
This feel-good dance drama works a curious charismatic magic and catapulted the then-unknown Patrick Swayze to stardom. It was intended as a low-budget filler, a tale of sexual awakening at a Jewish holiday resort in 1963, but it became a much-loved blockbuster and kick-started major industry careers for its production team. The casting is perfect, with Swayze playing the sexy bad boy dancing coach and Jennifer Grey as the feisty middle-class teenager, and their relationship never strikes a false note. But what really makes the film unmissable is the fabulous dancing – despite being highly erotic, it’s never tacky.
Ben Zand presents a three-part documentary series on the world’s most brutal and, at times, grimly hilarious totalitarian regimes, investigating how rulers’ caprices can have silly and horrifying consequences. The whole series is up: Kazakhstan, Belarus and Tajikistan.