The Missing’s Tchéky Karyo livens up a highly stylised film about French garden wildlife, while The Last Leg and Stella get silly and seasonal
This article titled “Friday’s best TV – Wild Tales from the Village; assorted Christmas specials” was written by Grace Rahman, Ali Catterall, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Ben Arnold, Andrew Mueller and Phil Harrison, for The Guardian on Friday 23rd December 2016 07.20 UTC
Wild Tales from the Village
Planet Earth was all very nice, but some of us prefer our nature shows a little less remote. The Beeb’s next offering is a highly stylised film about toads, hedgehogs and pigeons surviving a year in a French village. Narration from The Missing’s Tchéky Karyo reminds you that these aren’t just any old mice loose in someone’s home. Thoroughly dramatised, sadly the plight of rodents just isn’t that exciting – even in slow-mo. Grace Rahman
The Morecambe and Wise Story: Look Back in Laughter
9pm, Channel 5
In 1954, the telly critic for the People wrote that the definition of a TV set was “the box they buried Morecambe and Wise in”. Some 23 years later, the duo’s 1977 Christmas show drew 28 million viewers – roughly half the UK. This festive cracker traces the journey of the beloved Des O’Connor-baiting pair, the specs-waggling clown and his “short, fat, hairy-legged” foil, from variety theatre to big ratings. Ali Catterall
The Last Leg Christmas Special
9pm, Channel 4
Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker offer up some pre-Christmas punch as the team look back over the year, and forward to the festive season. Grayson Perry brushes mince pie crumbs from the spare seat to join the Leggers as they sift through 2016’s nice and naughty lists. Is it OK to hope they have uncovered at least a few morsels of merriness from the wreckage of a year that spawned Brexit, president-elect Trump and Cruz Beckham’s debut single? Mark Gibbings-Jones
Stella Christmas Special
Compounding the fact that the comedy-drama isn’t going anywhere (creator and star Ruth Jones told of “how cross” she was earlier this year over rumours it was facing the axe after five series), here’s a festive special. As the season of goodwill approaches, it’s a time for families coming together, with some new faces in Pontyberry (including folk singer Kate Rusby making a cameo), as well as a few familiar ones returning. Ben Arnold
Walliams & Friend
Walliams’s sidekick tonight is Miranda Richardson, which is obviously no problem: her turn in Blackadder II remains a pinnacle of sitcom performance. However, having a different sparring partner each week emphasises the patchiness of sketch shows; plus, this week it launches with a lazy riff on avaricious estate agents. The lawyers specialising in hurt feelings compensation feels like satire waiting for reality to catch up, though. Andrew Mueller
10.15pm, PBS America
From the day he ran away with a circus at the age of 14, William Morgan was restless. After years of aimlessness, this American drifter found his niche in Cuba in the late 50s. Sheer thirst for adventure drove him to hook up with pro-Castro guerrillas. But gradually, his convictions grew. This enthralling doc tells Morgan’s story, from revolutionary warfare in Castro’s inner circle to an inevitably sticky end. Phil Harrison
Saving Mr Banks (John Lee Hancock, 2013) Friday, 8.30pm, BBC2
The origins of the film legend that is Mary Poppins, here. Emma Thompson is a wonderfully crotchety PL Travers, the awfully protective author of the book that Tom Hanks’s Walt Disney is desperate to bring to semi-animated cinematic life. Travers is witheringly dismissive of Disney’s art (“I can’t abide cartoons”) and carries a poignant backstory (Colin Farrell plays the banker father in her childhood scenes), while Disney masks his steely will to win with twinkly charm. Delightful.
Set in the fictional town of Burnsworth, this is a loving recreation of 1970s Lancashire and the dancehall revolution that was northern soul. Elliot James Langridge is a winning presence as John, who rejects teacher Steve Coogan’s sneery values to bond with new mate Matt (Josh Whitehouse) over dreams of a vinyl-buying trip to the US. It’s a bit flimsy, but the sweaty dancing and marvellous music are a pure joy.
And Now For Something Completely Different (Ian MacNaughton, 1972) 12.05am, BBC2
The Monty Python’s Flying Circus team’s first big-screen guffaw is a rerun of some of their famous TV sketches. The anarchic battiness of these early sketches doesn’t quite hold up; the later efforts, in which the Pythons harnessed humour into a mock-historical context, were more successful. But it’s fun to see Cleese, Palin, Idle and all in the loopy pomp of their youth.
World Darts Championship 1pm, Sky Sports 1
The afternoon session on day nine of the event.
Premiership Rugby Union: Northampton v Sale Sharks 7pm, BT Sport 1
Coverage of the match from the 11th round of fixtures.
Scottish Premiership Football: Motherwell v Aberdeen 7.30pm, BT Sport 2
The top-flight encounter from Fir Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
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