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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Ali Catterall, Graeme Virtue, Phil Harrison, Kayleigh Dray and Simon Wardell

TV tonight: celebrating the life of Paul O’Grady – and Lily Savage

Paul O'Grady as Lily Savage
Legendary … Lily Savage. Photograph: ITV

The Life and Death of Lily Savage

9pm, ITV1

To mark the first anniversary of the death of Paul O’Grady, this affecting documentary explores his life via his famous alter ego. As an underground cabaret star who started out in gay clubs but fully infiltrated the mainstream, Lily Savage’s story works as a parallel history of recent LGBTQ+ life in Britain. Graham Norton, Ian McKellen and O’Grady’s sister, Sheila Rudd, are among the contributors. Phil Harrison

Pilgrimage: The Road Through North Wales

9pm, BBC Two

A return of the series in which celebs of varying spiritual outlooks trek through intelligently designed landscapes. Features the wildlife presenter Michaela Strachan, the lapsed Muslim standup and actor Eshaan Akbar and The Traitors’ sweetly smiling assassin Amanda Lovett. Ali Catterall

Susan Calman’s Great British Cities

9pm, Channel 5

The peripatetic Calman continues her UK jaunt with a stop-off in Leeds. As well as exploring the city’s industrial past – and learning the origin of the phrase “little nipper” – she has a great chinwag with soulful geezer Arthur France, the man who first brought Caribbean carnival culture to the city back in 1967. Graeme Virtue

Terry Hall at the BBC

9pm, BBC Four

An evening celebrating the life of the late, great Terry Hall. The propulsive two-tone ska of the Specials is well represented but expect tunes from Hall’s subsequent career, from Fun Boy Three and the Colourfield to his underrated solo work. An alternative national treasure. PH

Chernobyl: Countdown to Armageddon

10pm, Channel 5

If you’re looking to trigger your nucleomituphobia, Ben Fogle is all too happy to oblige. This documentary explores the events that led to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Expect cover-ups, corruption and a catalogue of threats posed by all that ongoing radiation. Kayleigh Dray

Helgoland 513

10.05pm, Sky Atlantic

Another double bill of dystopian German drama about an insular North Sea island with a brutally strict social hierarchy. The whole point of Helgoland is to be a secure refuge from an apocalyptic virus. So what happens when a resident begins to display unwelcome symptoms? GV

Film choices

Barbie (Greta Gerwig, 2023) 11.40am, 8pm, Sky Cinema Premiere
The biggest film of last year is also arguably the smartest. Director Greta Gerwig and her co-writer Noah Baumbach have managed to make a big-budget, Mattel-approved film highly critical of a toy that has become a bete noire for feminists, while also celebrating the doll’s simple optimism and independent spirit. Margot Robbie finds exactly the right level of perky as Barbie, who lives in an eye-wateringly pink fantasy land with her devoted Ken (Ryan Gosling). But an existential crisis takes her and Ken to the real world, where something called the patriarchy is in control. With giddy musical numbers and sharp comedy, it’s a movie that has its cake, eats it, then orders another one. Simon Wardell

Steve! (Martin): A Documentary in 2 Pieces, Apple TV+
Steve Martin has been in the public eye for so long as an actor, it’s a surprise to realise that, back in the late 70s, he was the first comic ever to sell out stadiums and earn platinum albums. Part one of Morgan Neville’s engrossing dive into Martin’s career traces his decade-long rise to fame, and illuminates just how odd his act was: a cross between a magic show, children’s entertainment and dadaist happening where laughing was optional – with Martin patiently waiting for the audience to catch up. And when they did, he quit to make movies. Part two shows us Martin now, riffing with best mate Martin Short and reminiscing about his art collection, banjo playing and hard-to-please father. SW

The Beautiful Game (Thea Sharrock, 2024), Netflix
Her Wicked Little Letters is just out in cinemas, but Thea Sharrock already has another quirky comedy ready to go. This is also based on a true story, as it revolves round the Homeless World Cup. Bill Nighy is his usual wryly comic self as Mal, the manager of the England team – young men who all have tragic backstories – as they head to the next tournament in Rome. Mal’s secret weapon is Vinny (Micheal Ward), who nearly made it as a pro but is a now bundle of self-centred resentment. The social issues are only touched on, but the moral of togetherness is loud and clear. SW

The Robe (Henry Koster, 1953), 9.20am, BBC Two
The heavenly choirs you hear at the start are a giveaway that we’re in biblical territory. But Henry Koster’s sweeping sword’n’sandals yarn sidesteps Jesus himself (he only appears in the distance or off camera) to tell an origin story for Christianity, through the life of Roman tribune Marcellus (Richard Burton). Sent to Jerusalem, he has a religious epiphany after touching Christ’s cloak and, aided by Greek slave Demetrius (Victor Mature), rails against imperial persecution of the new religion’s followers. SW

Kung Fu Panda (Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, 2008), 12.30pm, Channel 4
The fourth instalment is being released this week so, as if by magic, the original 2008 animation appears on our screens. It’s a fun family adventure full of cute animals and lightly worn violence. Jack Black voices Po, a young panda who works at his father’s noodle restaurant but dreams of being a martial artist. Then unexpectedly he finds himself anointed as the Dragon Warrior, a mythical fighter of great power who is expected to save the town from vengeful snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane). Unfortunately, Po is overweight, unfit and clumsy – but he will do anything for a rice ball … SW

Footloose (Herbert Ross, 1984), 2am, Channel 4
Herbert Ross’s 1984 drama is part of an era of films (Flashdance, Top Gun) that were musicals in all but name – without the oddity of people randomly bursting into song. A near-constant soundtrack of pop bangers – Holding Out for a Hero, Let’s Hear It for the Boy, Footloose itself – is the prop for the story of a small town that has banned rock’n’roll and dancing. Obviously, the kids are not all right about that and, led by new boy Ren (Kevin Bacon), they rebel against their parents through choreographed toe-tapping and minor driving offences. SW

Live sport

Premiership rugby union: Northampton Saints v Saracens, 7pm, TNT Sports 1 Rugby action from Franklin’s Gardens.

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