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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Pat Stacey

Pat Stacey’s weekend TV picks: Gary Oldman is back in action as the anti-James Bond in Slow Horses

The mysterious death of an old Cold War acquaintance puts the scruffy but razor-sharp Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman) on the scent of an old KGB plot in Slow Horses

Just eight months after its first season, the magnificent Slow Horses (Apple TV+), starring Gary Oldman as the irascible, hygienically-challenged but brilliant spymaster Jackson Lamb, is back with another gripping, mordantly funny six-parter.


It’s based on Dead Lions, the second in Mick Herron’s series of novels (eight so far). When an old acquaintance of Lamb’s from the Cold War days is found dead on a bus, he and his team of MI5 screw-ups uncover the stirrings of a long-dormant KGB operation.

Two episodes today, the rest weekly — and the great news is two further seasons have already got the green light.

Alfred Molina joins the ranks of telly tecs in Canadian series Three Pines (Amazon Prime Video), which is showing two episodes per week. He plays Chief Inspector Gamache, whose investigation into the disappearance of several Indigenous women in Quebec leads to something bigger.

The real-life disappearance of Agatha Christie, who went missing for 11 days in 1926, is tackled in part two of Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley on the Mystery Queen (BBC2 NI, 11.05pm; other regions, 9pm). Christie’s claim that she’d suffered amnesia was ridiculed by the press, who claimed it was a publicity stunt. But Worsley has credible evidence that Christie was being completely truthful.

Vera Pauw, Lenny Henry and Mary Lou McDonald make for an odd combination of guests on The Late Late Show (RTÉ One, 9.35pm). It also features the first of several plugs for the upcoming Dancing with the Stars.

In the 1940s, the busy Alaskan fishing village Portlock was plagued by a string of mysterious deaths and disappearances.

Could the culprit have been the Alaskan Killer Bigfoot (Discovery, 9pm)? The locals thought so and abandoned the place. A team of so-called investigators check out the village in a chunk of hokum that can be summarised as Ghost Hunters with mythical hairy monsters instead of the usual restless spooks.


It’s beginning to look a little like Christmas, at least in terms of morning television. Kicking things off is a day of Christmas Comedy Classics (Gold). It’s an extremely mixed bag. There’s way too much of that Brendan O’Carroll thing later in the day, but a few real gems earlier on, including The Two Ronnies’ Old-Fashioned Christmas Mystery (9.05am) and the Porridge Christmas episode ‘The Desperate Hours’ (1.05pm), which is one of the finest TV comedies ever made.

If you’ve ever wondered what Cliff Richard likes to eat over the festive season — and I never have — then Saturday Kitchen Live: Countdown to Christmas (BBC1, 10am) is the place to be. There’ll also be recipes new and from the archive.

BBC1’s traditional Christmas Day animation this year is an adaptation of Charlie Mackesy’s book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Today, however, Channel 4 shows five classics from previous years back to back, beginning with The Bear (11.10am).

It’s followed by We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (11.40am), Father Christmas (12.15pm), The Snowman (12.45pm), and The Snowman and the Snowdog (1.20pm). Are we starting to feel slightly warm and fuzzy yet?

World War II Unearthed (PBS America, 8pm) finds out what we can learn from poking through crashed aircraft, secret bunkers and wrecked tanks.

Things are getting dangerous in the Spanish thriller Señorita 89

Video of the Day

Spanish-language thriller Señorita 89 (BBC4, 9pm & 9.45pm) continues to be a potent and disturbing look at power, corruption and the exploitation of young women — but you wonder if it needs quite so many titillating scenes to make its point.

The entertaining Chucky (Sky Sci-Fi, 9pm & 10pm) riffs on A Clockwork Orange this week as the teenagers try to reprogramme the possessed killer doll by pinning his eyes open and making him watch a violent horror movie, in a stab at aversion therapy. Best of luck with that.


Branson (Sky Documentaries, 9pm), a three-part HBO profile of Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, is liable to make you misty-eyed for the days when space-obsessed billionaire business moguls didn’t behave like Bond villains.

Meanwhile, the two-part Theodore Roosevelt (Sky History, 9pm) is a reminder of the days when Republican presidents, whether or not you agreed with their political views, were men of honour and character.

Teddy Roosevelt, who held office from 1901-09, was an asthmatic child who transformed himself into a daring military leader who, off the battlefield, fought for society’s underdogs. America’s foremost historian Doris Kearns Goodwin is among the contributors, and British actor Rufus Sewell portrays Roosevelt in dramatised segments.

In the final episode of SAS Rogue Warriors (BBC1, 9pm), Stirling (Connor Swindells) comes face to face with Winston Churchill, who has a dangerous proposition for him and his men.

Still on US history, part two of Simon Schama’s History of Now (BBC2, 9.30pm) looks at the civil rights movement of the 1960s through some extraordinary archive footage. Schama also recalls James Baldwin’s passionate address to the Cambridge Union, at which he was present.

Ludicrously talented all-rounder Tim Minchin, who’s on a creative roll right now with Matilda: The Musical in cinemas and his comedy series Uptight on TV, talks about the many diverse influences on his own work, from Groundhog Day, which he adapted into a musical, to TS Eliot, in This Cultural Life (BBC4, 10.20pm).

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