The best TV to watch this weekend

SS-GB(Sunday, BBC1, 9pm)Genres collide in this atmospheric film-noir-crime-thriller-war-fantasy. Based on Len Deighton’s 1978 novel, it imagines how London would have looked in 1941 if Germany...


(Sunday, BBC1, 9pm)

Genres collide in this atmospheric film-noir-crime-thriller-war-fantasy. Based on Len Deighton’s 1978 novel, it imagines how London would have looked in 1941 if Germany had won the Battle of Britain. Answer: a moral maze of corruption and betrayal, with swastikas hung on every building.

Our hero Doug Archer (who should really be played by Dirk Bogarde but Sam Riley stands in) is a detective at Scotland Yard, investigating what appears to be a simple black market murder. He is cool and callous, popular with his German masters and content to play along while they tighten their regime. 

Perhaps he has been hollowed out by the loss of his wife: “Were you always like this,” his girlfriend (Maeve Dermody) wonders, “or was it her dying that did it to you?” Doug’s cynicism looks set to be tested as a harsh new SS boss arrives and somewhere, the Resistance gathers force.

Black Mirror

(Netflix, available now)

It began as a Channel 4 shot in the dark, but Charlie Brooker’s drama quickly became one of the most bleakly gripping series on TV. Then Netflix jumped in – because clearly a dystopian vision of the future where technology has taken over our lives is just the thing to show on a service specifically designed to keep you watching your screen for hours on end…

Season 3 has been beefed up with six episodes instead of the usual three, with another six coming down the line. You won’t be able to look away…

Let it Shine

(Saturday, BBC1, 6.55pm)

Guessing the identity of the guest judge on Let It Shine has certainly added a little frisson of excitement to the experience. Congratulations if you named Ricki Lake for the first live show. For the semi-finals the regular trio of judges are joined by former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts. There’s also a twist for the competitors this week. 

After the sing-off, five boys in the bottom two groups are picked out to form a new, third ensemble to put through to the final. Graham Norton and Mel Giedroyc are on hand with a comforting hug for the disappointed ones. Over on The Voice UK, the blind auditions go on… and on. Or at least they do until next week, when the battle rounds start.

The Karate Kid

(Sunday, Channel 4, 5pm)

A spoilt American kid is transplanted to China in this fun remake of the 1984 children’s favourite. Dre (Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada Pinkett) moves from Detroit to Beijing with his widowed mother (Taraji P Henson of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), only to find himself up against the school bullies in a martial arts tournament. Jackie Chan keeps his usual ebullience under wraps as Mr Han, the quiet janitor who becomes Dre’s reluctant trainer. The action sequences, as expected with Chan, are amazing. These, along with a snappy pace, stunning locations and credible performances, counterbalance the film’s overlong running time. Thanks to a tight script, even fans of the original franchise will find the ending stirring and surprising. Sticklers will, however, love pointing out that what Mr Han teaches Dre is not karate, but kung fu.

Dragons’ Den

(Sunday, BBC2, 9pm)

It’s nothing to be proud of, but there’s an unworthy part of me that does enjoy seeing a bullish entrepreneur come into the Den, full of breezy self-belief, and get pasted. Scottish fitness entrepreneur Stephen is very plausible and self-assured, perfectly charming, knows his numbers… but he runs into a brick wall in the shape of Peter Jones. 

The latter gets really quite shirty with him: “I’m not even going to waste my breath and my time,” he snarls, nastily. But if you’re worried it’ll all be a bit joyless, don’t be: the last pitch turns into the biggest love-in we’ve seen for a while, so everyone leaves on a high.

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The best TV to watch this weekend

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