Easter TV treats: Ashes To Ashes (April 2)/ Doctor Who (April 3)
Double whammy: Keeley Hawes and Philip Glennister in Ashes To Ashes (left); new boy Matt Smith in Doctor Who
So, for all you Blighty readers out there, tell me, have your exciting BBQ and picnic-based double bank holiday plans been quashed by the weather and now you’re wondering what to do with yourselves as, outside, Easter looks set to feel more like Christmas?
Well, fear not, because, given you’re likely to be inevitably drawn to the gogglebox, instead of having to sit through either Jesus Christ Superstar or The Ten Commandments this Easter there’s two genuine – yes, really genuine – telly highlights to look forward to.
First up is the opening episode of the third series of the ’80s-tastic Ashes to Ashes (tonight, 9pm, BBC1). Yes, after two solid series, the Life On Mars follow-up, which has pleasingly found its own feet as opposed to becoming branded as the latter’s weaker brother, is having one final fling. And this last helping promises to tie up not just what the hell’s going on with modern heroine Alex Drake (the lovely Keeley Hawes) – hopefully not least why she’s returned to the ‘past’ after coming out of her coma at the end of Series Two – but also digging deeper into the entity that is Gene Hunt (Philip Glennister), as well as supposedly unravelling the whole brouhaha behind original Life On Mars protagonist Sam Tyler’s trip back to his own fantasy ’70s cop show world. Frankly, methinks it’ll do well to explain away all that, but as long as it’s good fun like the first two series, with the Gene Genie on his best uncompromising thief-takin’ form, who really cares?
Hmmm, who’d be a fool and go out on Saturday ensuring they miss the curtain-raiser of the brand-spanking new series of Doctor Who (Saturday, 6:20pm, BBC1)? Erm, well, me – still, it is for a friend’s 21st, which is a good excuse, right? All the same, I certainly can’t wait to catch up with the episode that promises properly to introduce us to Matt Smith’s new Doctor (following the few final seconds of the New Year’s Day special and that gimmicky thing you can watch on the Red Button). What will he be like compared to David Tennant’s hugely popular interpretation? Darker? Lighter? More old-fashioned (he is going for a tweed jacket and bow-tie look, after all)? Not as good? Or even better?
In the end, of course, the only way of finding out is to watch the new series of Doctor Who, now in control of executive producer Steven Moffat, something methinks that bodes well seeing as he wrote some of the best of the Ecclestone and Tennant episodes. Plus, there’s the fine-looking new assistant to look out for, in the shape of Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond. A lithe redhead with a Scottish brogue? Yup, I’m there with bells on. And, lest we forget, it looks like both the Daleks and the Cybermen will be back, as will those eerie stone statue things and there’ll be vampires in Venice. Oh yes, I really can’t wait – beam me up, Scotty! Ah, no, that’s another series, isn’t it?
More Easter telly highlights
The Sting (film) ~ today, 12:45pm, ITV4 Oscar-winning ’70s Depression-era con-caper starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford
The BFG (film) ~ today, 1:05pm, ITV3/ Saturday, 2:50pm, ITV3 Sprightly ’80s animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel, featuring the voice of Only Fools And Horses‘ David Jason as the enormous, eponymous hero
Casablanca (film) ~ Saturday, 1:40pm, More4 Eternal WWII-set Hollywood classic starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt and Peter Lorre
When Harry Met Ali: A Tribute To Harry Carpenter ~ Saturday, 5:10pm, BBC2 Documentary of boxing commentator Harry Carpenter’s encounter with Muhammad Ali – see my blog on Harry Carpenter here
Crocodile Dundee (film) ~ Saturday, 5:30pm, Film4 Evergreen ’80s fish-out-of water comedy starring Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski
Private Life Of An Easter Masterpiece ~ Saturday, 6:55pm, BBC2 Documentary featuring Rogier van der Weyden’s painting The Descent Of The Cross
Apollo 13 (film) ~ Saturday, 6:55pm, ITV2 Engaging cinematic re-telling of NASA’s failed 1971 moon-launch, starring Tom Hanks
Oklahoma! (film) ~ Saturday, 7pm, BBC4 Glossy if stagey ’50s Hollywood version of the hit musical, starring Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones
The Cannonball Run (film) ~ Saturday, 8pm, Five USA Silly, knockabout car race caper, featuring Burt Reynolds and Roger Moore
Alfie (film) ~ Saturday, 9pm, Film4 Oscar-nominated 1966 drama, set in the Swinging Sixties and starring Michael Caine, Shelley Winters, Jane Asher and Eleanor Bron
The Italian Job (film) ~ Saturday, 9:05pm, Channel 4/ Sunday, 9pm, Film4 Hugely popular ’60s Brit crime caper starring Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill and Simon Dee
Fiddler On The Roof (film) ~ Saturday, 1:20am, ITV1 Oscar-nominated 1971 Hollywood musical starring the terrific Topol
Up Pompeii (film) ~ Sunday, 11:50am, ITV3/ Monday, 10:20am, ITV3 Bawdy comedy based on the ’70s BBC series, starring Frankie Howerd as the legend that is Lurcio
Freaky Friday (film) ~ Sunday, 1pm, Film4 Fun body-swap comedy from the ’70s, starring Jodie Foster
Carry On Screaming (film) ~ Sunday, 1:30pm, ITV3/ Monday, 9pm, ITV3 Great horror film pastiche starring Kenneth Williams, Harry H Corbett, Fenella Fielding, Jim Dale and Angela Douglas
Carry On Cowboy (film) ~ Sunday, 3:30pm, ITV3/ Sunday, 8:20am, ITV3 Wonderful western parody, featuring Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey and Angela Douglas
Carry On Cleo (film) ~ Sunday, 9pm, ITV3/ Monday, 1:50pm, ITV3 Classical-set comedy, partly based on 1963’s Cleopatra, starring Sid James and Kenneth Williams
Arena: Johnny Mercer – The Dream’s On Me ~ Sunday, 9:25pm, BBC4 Documentary about the writer of Moon River from Breakfast At Tiffany’s and other classic songs
Oliver! (film) ~ Monday, 3:10pm, Fiver Vibrant, Oscar-winning film version of Lionel Bart’s ’60s musical, starring Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Shani Wallis and Jack Wild
Van Gogh: Painted With Words ~ Monday, 5:10pm, BBC1 Documentary about the troubled Dutch painter genius
Romancing The Stone (film) ~ Monday, 6:55pm, Film4 Robert Zemeckis’s 1984 answer to Indiana Jones, starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito
Casualties Of War (film) ~ Monday, 11pm, Five Brian De Palma’s 1989 Vietnam drama featuring Michael J Fox and Sean Penn
Richard Pryor Live In Concert ~ Monday, 12:30am, BBC2 The legendary stand-up in a 1979 performance