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Strictly Come Dancing Launch Show 2019 (BBC1, 7.10pm)
Bring on the glitter, fake tan and fancy footwork because Strictly Come Dancing is back – well, sort of. The competition won’t start in earnest for a couple of weeks, but in grand Strictly tradition, the BBC is whetting our appetite with a launch show.
It’s viewers’ first chance to get a good look at the class of 2019 – and sees the celebrities finding out who is going to be teaching them to dance over the next few weeks.
The good news for viewers (and the pros) is that a lot to the famous faces are raring to go. Singer and presenter Michelle Visage, who is probably best known for being a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, can’t wait for a chance to strut her stuff.
She says: “I’m so excited to show that being 50 doesn’t mean life stops. Things may not work like they did when I was 20, but 50 also means ‘fabulous!’ So slap on the sequins, point me to the dance floor and watch me Paso my Doble!”
She’s certainly not the only enthusiastic contestant. EastEnders actress Emma Barton is also relishing the chance to hit the dancefloor, especially as it’ means getting a bit more glammed up than she does for her day job.
She says: “As possibly one of the biggest Strictly fans on the planet, I still can’t believe this is happening. I’m very much a dance around your handbag kinda girl, but now I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity to learn all the different styles of dancing from the very best in the business.
“So, I’m whipping off Honey’s Minute Mart tabard and diving right in to all the glitter and sparkle!”
However, some of the other stars are striking a more cautious note. Broadcaster Anneka Rice says: “I haven’t danced since I was seven and Miss Beer sent me home from my ballet class because I was hopelessly uncoordinated. My family and friends haven’t seen me dance since, not at a wedding or round a handbag, so it’s going to be a challenge for my partner. In fact I’ve asked for two, one on each side. I can’t see myself in a long frilly dress either.”
However, if it’s any consolation for the more nervous celebs (the rest of the line-up consists of England footballers Alex Scott and David James, actresses Catherine Tyldesley, stand-up comedian Chris Ramsey, Radio 1 DJ Dev Griffin, fashion model Emma Weymouth, Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell, Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, CBBC presenter Karim Zeroual, BBC Breakfast sports correspondent Mike Bushell and YouTuber Saffron Barker and Paralympic table tennis player Will Bayley), they won’t be the only newbies.
Judge Motsi Mabuse will also be taking up her place on the panel alongside Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.
And of course, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will be on hand to help soothe their nerves before they all take to the dancefloor for a group performance.
There are also musical performances from Queen of Pop herself Kylie Minogue, as well as Mark Ronson and Yebba.
Treasure Island with Bear Grylls (Channel 4, 9pm)
Being marooned on an island in the Pacific Ocean for 35 days and left to find your own food, shelter and water is enough of a challenge for any person.
However, as the new series of The Island returns, things have got even more complicated for our plucky castaways.
For the first time in the series’ history, there’s now money at stake – and it’s seemingly everyone for themselves.
As before, we will watch on as 12 ordinary members of the public are dropped on a tropical island, before battling for survival under the watchful eye of Bear Grylls.
The Islanders will not only have to endure the forces of nature but will be pushed to their physical and mental limits as they endeavour to locate some ‘treasure’ – £100,000 in cash, hidden across the island.
And just finding it isn’t enough – if they leave early, they will do so empty-handed, as only those who make it to the very end of the challenge can keep their share of any loot.
Grylls says: “This radical new twist on the Island experience will test whether human nature really is ruled by the quest for financial gain, or whether co-operation and altruism in the face of adversity can bring their own reward.”
So who is hoping to make it through the full 35 days and win the reward?
First up, there’s Marco, a former Royal Marines Commando, who now works as a wedding photographer and graphic designer.
He’s joined by Mano, a highly respected Paediatric Neurosurgeon from Belfast, and Elissa, a writer and fitness expert, who E4 viewers might remember from reality show Desperate Scousewives.
Emily is a self employed dental nurse from Suffolk, while Jim runs his own consultancy business for building projects across the UK, and Cat is a nurse for patients in comas or intensive care from Essex.
Morag runs a ‘portfolio of properties’ in Berkshire, while 75-year-old Scot Irene has three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She is also a world silver medallist for her jams and marmalades.
Jack runs a plumbing and heating company, and Ivar from Devon has royal connections – his first cousin once removed is the Duke of Edinburgh.
Waitress supervisor and gym bunny Ruby, 20, is this year’s youngest contestant, and she’ll be joined on the island by father-to-be Ben, a double glazing salesman from Manchester.
As usual, it’s a mixed bunch, but will they find common ground and work together to increase their chances? Or will they try to go it alone and ditch those who are perceived to be weakest?
In tonight’s opening edition, the group are abandoned on the treacherous south-east side of the island with a day’s supply of water and a few basic tools.
They are immediately confronted with their first big decision when a helicopter flies overhead and parachutes a box of cash on the north shore.
Do the group chase the money or try to make camp?
With the tide rising fast and just a few hours of daylight remaining, Marco takes the lead.
But with Irene struggling, the group quickly become stuck in the mangrove swamp trying to beat a path inland.
While Mano is keen for the group to settle, the priority for some is to find the money, as a splinter group heads off on a trek in 40-degree heat.
It seems that even when people are stripped of their modern-day comforts and money and material possessions should lose their meaning, greed can still corrupt.
Celebrity MasterChef (BBC One, 9pm)
When Dom Parker took part in Gogglebox in 2013, he had no idea the show would change his life. Together with wife Steph, their views on assorted TV shows while either fixing or consuming the odd tipple helped make them two of the best loved posh stars since Margot and Jerry on The Good Life.
For three years they passed judgment on telly offerings, so little wonder when the makers of Channel 4’s death-defying downhill skiing show The Jump were looking for a contestant, Dom seemed like an ideal candidate. And it was hardly surprising that he and Steph jumped at the chance of taking part in another popular C4 challenge, Hunted.
But how will the bed and breakfast owner get on when he takes part in this ever popular cooking contest? That remains to be seen as the temperature rises during the second heat.
Josie Long has also provided plenty of giggles over the past few years.
She’s the Oxford graduate who started performing stand-up aged 14; found she had a gift for it, and wisely stuck at it for the next 20 plus years. She was one of the brightest stars on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown a few years ago, and is also a perfect fit for Radio 4 documentaries, as the ever engaging Short Cuts proves.
So, who else is taking part in the latest helping of against-the-clock challenges?
Well there’s Mim Shaikh, the multi-talented actor and DJ who popped up in cracking little thriller Freehold (aka Two Pigeons) a couple of years ago. It might have vanished with the skill of a stealth fighter behind enemy lines, but the low budget offering about an estate agent and his unknown squatter is a hidden gem of indie British cinema.
He also appeared in acclaimed BBC drama Informer, and an episode of Casualty in March this year, though early birds might know him best from his breakfast show on BBC Radio 1Xtra.
Flame-haired Jenny Ryan is no stranger to pressure as she regularly has to cope with the palm-moistening tension of The Chase, so let’s hope the Bolton Brainiac has what it takes to make it through to the final.
Last but not least is Alex George, who might leave some viewers scratching their heads. However, if you’re a Love Island fan, there should be no mystery.
Four years ago, on Day 57 of the sun-kissed dating show, Alex was dumped, but the dashing A&E doctor clearly stole the hearts of many other fans. As Health Editor on Good Morning Britain, he’s much in demand, and becoming overall winner of this series shouldn’t do his career any harm either.
First the famous faces tackle an invention test, before they are split into two groups. They then take on the challenge of cooking for the first time in a restaurant kitchen, preparing dishes for paying customers.
In the last assignment, they are asked to prepare a dish of their own design in one hour, before judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode decide which of the contestants will leave the competition.
Suicidal (Channel 5, 9.15pm)
Every day in the UK, 12 men take their lives and male suicide kills more men under 45 in the UK than anything else.
This is a deeply shocking statistic, especially when you consider that government funding into suicide prevention continues to lag well behind other areas of health.
For instance, there is 22 times more funding for each cancer patient than for mental-health problems.
A recent survey of 15,000 readers in Men’s Health magazine, revealed that 56 per cent of men admitted to having suicidal thoughts.
So why are men struggling – and what can be done about it?
Although the problem is clearly widespread, suicide is a hugely sensitive, complex issue with a tangled multitude of causes – and the very nature of a death by suicide means we can never fully know the reasons behind it.
Some people believe that one key element is communication.
When considering why less females take their lives than males, it is too simplistic to say women are willing to share their problems and men tend to bottle them up.
But it is true that, for generations, many societies have encouraged men to be “strong” and not admit they’re struggling.
There also tends to be more substance use and alcohol use among males, which may just reflect the distress they’re feeling – but we know it compounds the issue of suicide.
Other risk factors can be related to family or work. When there’s an economic downturn that results in increased unemployment, for example, there tends to be an associated increase in suicide.
Another risk factor is a sense of isolation, which can manifest itself in every walk of life.
For example, an outwardly successful professional who has prioritised career advancement to the detriment of all else, including social relationships, may find himself at the top of the pyramid, alone.
Of course, it is important to remember that while an external factor might precipitate suicidal behaviour in a person who’s already at risk, it’s never the sole cause.
This powerful film aims to open more peoples’ eyes to the issue by exploring the experiences of six men passing through the Riverside Mental Health Centre in Hillingdon, London.
Each of the men are in the depths of a mental-health emergency, determined to take their life and convinced that it is no longer worth living.
It’s the job of the centre’s dedicated doctors and nurses to try and keep them alive, offering intensive support intended to lift them out of an acute crisis.
With remarkable interviews and challenging footage during real suicidal episodes, cameras follow the men from their arrival in the NHS system.
The documentary looks at how the men have got to this point, from loss to loneliness, or from bullying to impending bereavement.
We meet 19-year-old Jack, who cannot cope with life following the loss of his beloved mother, while forces man Stewart is struggling with the generational changes in masculinity.
The programme also explores the modern epidemic of isolation through the eyes of 27-year-old Leo, and teenager Charlie who has never recovered from horrific childhood bullying.
The NHS team tries to help 20-year-old Reece, who relies on the police to help him when he is overcome by his thoughts about killing himself.
And, finally it falls to staff to work out whether 63-year-old Ron, who is hoarding pills, will actually go through with his suicide plan.
Deep Water (ITV, 9pm)
Inspired by the Windermere novels by Paula Daly, this saga following the lives of three women and the struggles they face has garnered plenty of interest over the past few weeks.
One of the biggest attractions has been Anna Friel. When she was offered the role of Lisa Kallisto, she didn’t have to think too hard.
“I liked the idea of being a country girl working in the Lake District, and that it was an ensemble cast featuring three very different women,” Anna explains.
The Rochdale-born star has spent two decades visiting the Lakes because her godparents moved to Troutbeck, which, by a strange coincidence, is where her character Lisa Kallisto is from.
If you’re new to the saga, Lisa runs kennels in the Lake District looking after people’s dogs.
“She had visions of a career which she had to abandon,” explains Anna. “I think Lisa is content, but when she sees other people’s lives and thinks how much better it can be, she starts questioning herself and her true happiness. Is she just convincing herself she is content? Does she want more out of life?”.
The saga is a far cry from a couple of her biggest roles in Hollywood. No, forget 2003 fantasy adventure Timeline. That offering ranks as one of the worst films of the noughties, but more on the money was cult TV series Pushing Daisies. The former should have been a much bigger hit than it was.
It attracted 17 Primetime Emmy nominations, and won over a huge following. But in the cutthroat world of US TV, nervous executives don’t like their drama too be too outlandish and weird, so the plug was pulled.
Will Ferrell’s $100million reboot of cult TV series Land of the Lost might also have been one of the past decade’s biggest hits. With Anna as Will’s leading lady, everyone involved hope it would do well. However, the source material was a zero budget oddity which failed to translate into huge box office returns, so plans for a sequel were shelved fast than Superman doing DIY at the Fortress of Solitude.
Over the past few years Anna has continued to divide her time between here and the States, where she’s worked on TV offerings such as The Jury, Odyssey and The Girlfriend Experience. However, many on this side of the Pond will know her best for dark ITV drama Marcella, or this ongoing series.
In the penultimate offering, a traumatised Roz (Sinead Keenan) makes her way home after the attack, and finds a furious Joanne (Faye Marsay) waiting for her.
With no one else to confide in, Roz decides to tell Scott (Gerald Kyd) about Wayne (Matthew Aubrey), who promises to retrieve the footage.
Meanwhile, Lisa finds Joe (Steven Cree) in a local bar and watches as he drinks and flirts with the barmaid. When Lisa awakes the next morning and realises he has not come home, she fears the worst.
And following her daughter’s return, Kate (Rosalind Eleazar) struggles to keep her web of lies intact.
Hairy Bikers: Route 66 (BBC2, 8pm)
The Hairy Bikers are getting back on the road – and it’s not just any road either. For their new series, Dave Myers and Simon King will be getting their kicks along America’s iconic Route 66, which spans over 2,000 miles from Chicago to California.
Understandably, the duo are exited. Dave says: “Route 66 is a bucket-list trip for us and it truly is an American dream to take in the sights and scenery of this part of the world – all whilst enjoying some delicious local delicacies along the way.”
In fact, it may seem a little surprising that they didn’t come up with idea earlier in their careers. The Hairy Bikers first met in the 1990s on the set of the Catherine Cookson drama The Gambling Man, where they were working behind the scenes – Dave was a make-up artist and Simon was a location manager – and decided to come up with a series where they would be the stars.
According to Dave: “We thought ‘What are we really good at?’ and our list included cooking, eating, riding motorbikes and talking rubbish.”
That’s how the Hairy Bikers began, and while they have branched out in some surprising directions – including launching a series dedicated to Meals on Wheels and becoming the Hairy Dieters – many of their shows have stuck to the basic formula of food and motorbikes.
So, Route 66 is an obvious destination, although the food they’ll be tucking into may be a little more surprising. For a start, it won’t just be massive burgers.
As Si says: “America has a multicultural food scene and is the home of some outrageous food. We’re all accustomed to the supersized portions and all-you-can-eat challenges that the USA has become known for, but we’ll be seeking out the best and most diverse cuisine this fascinating country has to offer.”
During their six-episode trip they’ll visit the bright lights of Los Angeles and Las Vegas as well as the incredible prairie landscapes of Oklahoma and the staggering vistas of the Grand Canyon.
But they begin their mission in Chicago, which is famed for its meatpacking industry. To keep it running, the city drew on migrant workers who brought with them their own dishes. The Bikers get to sample some of them, although one Italian beef sub roll proves so sloppy, they adopt a special stance to avoid getting their boots wet.
From there, they learn more about why Route 66 entered US folklore by connecting small-town America from East to West, bringing prosperity with it. And no trip into the US heartlands would be complete without an apple pie.
But they also get to taste a more unusual delicacy – Ted Drewes’ ‘concrete custard’, which is so thick it’s served upside down.
Dave and Si also receive an invitation to spend time with the Amish community, learning more about their way of life and cooking, and in St Louis they meet the city’s Bosnian population, who share their stories of modern migration as well as their delicious food.
Great Model Railway Challenge (Channel 5, 8pm)
There was a time when making model railways was deemed a little niche. However, for more than a decade, The Big Bang Theory looked at it in a more positive light as lovable nerd Sheldon embraced the medium with an infectious passion.
In the real world, affordable 3D printers have helped model-train lovers craft parts for their miniature worlds, while the internet has added fuel to the fire. Artists from around the world have been able to share their skills online, and many defy belief.
Take Luke Towan for example. He regularly posts videos on how to cast rocks for scenery, or offers tips on creating realistic vistas. His half-hour film on ‘How to make a muddy river diorama’ attracted almost three million views. Little wonder a new wave of train-loving modellers have found their interest in dioramas rekindled for the first time in decades.
Last October, Channel 5 were keen to embrace the love for miniature modelling with the first series of The Great Model Railway Challenge.
Now it’s back, and the clock is ticking as 15 teams of railway modellers compete in series two of the engaging contest.
James Richardson and Tim Shaw are your hosts for the first of eight themed rounds. The first is The Restless Earth, brought to life by three teams of enthusiasts. Volcanoes, earthquakes and other (small-scale) natural disasters should make Geostorm look like a kid’s tea party.
Cancer research scientists The Train Set hope their mental agility will serve them well, while Fancott Miniature Marvels create a rogue fracking operation, complete with house-swallowing sink hole.
And one of Blighty’s oldest modelling clubs, Corby Model Railway Society, opt for an earthquake, volcano and landslide. But it remains to be seen what part a tea towel has in the proceedings.
Series one obviously proved successful enough to warrant a second run, though some hardcore model train lovers were far from impressed with the presenters who, according to one online forum, “Did not appear to know much (about) model railways”. Another got bored after the first 10 minutes “because of the very irritating presenters.”
Proof that you can’t please everyone, though one man who does know a lot about model trains is judge Steve Flint. The editor of Railway Modeller has an eye for technical perfection, and that will be a key element for those hoping for victory here.
“These layouts have to be astounding,” he enthused last year, and little has changed in 2019.
Returning vlogger Kathy Millatt will also be passing judgment once more. For the first series she wanted the layouts to transport her “somewhere exotic.”
Will much have altered for this year’s show? Well we’ll have to wait and see as Steve and Kathy prepare to be amazed by a second wave of contestants.
Today’s teams are hoping they can make a layout so way out it will earn them a place in the final, though there’s a chance once side might go off the rails before that final whistle is blown.
Whatever happens, it should leave thousands of fans at home inspired enough to take part in a potential third run.