MUSIC: Transatlantic Sessions (RTÉ One, 7.30pm)
Transatlantic Sessions brings together the best of Nashville, Ireland and Scotland in a format developed by director Mike Alexander that affords, in the words of one critic, “a unique insight into the sheer joy of making music”.
The award-winning show – acclaimed as “probably as close as television can come to live music” - returns for a sixth series of six half-hour programmes.
Pelicula chose the Lodge On The Loch Hotel for this series, with panoramic views out from the famously bonnie banks of Loch Lomond making it a truly inspirational location.
Three greats of their respective traditions grace this second programme of a new six-part feast of music - Virginian Mary Chapin Carpenter, Maura O’Connell from Co Clare and Hebridean Julie Fowlis. Tim O’Brien adds Appalachian bitter-sweet.
SPORT: Thank GAA It’s Friday (RTÉ Two, 8.30pm)
As the hurling and football championships hit full stride, Thank GAA It’s Friday keeps pace with all of the big issues.
The show’s creators bring to you the complete weekly GAA package; containing characters, games, fascinating stories and communities both at home and abroad.
This week, we meet Stephen Molumphy on manoeuvres in the field with the Irish Defence Forces; recently retired athlete David Gillick on his return to his first love, Gaelic football, plus we catch up with Meath’s Paddy O’Rourke ahead of the Leinster Football Final.
BBC Proms 2014 (BBC2, 8.05pm)
The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, the largest classical music festival in the world, opens this week with Edward Elgar’s biblical oratorio The Kingdom, a 90-minute performance which should wow the masses.
It kicks off eight weeks of diverse and glorious music, welcoming more international ensembles than ever, including orchestras from China, Lapland, Singapore, South Korea and Turkey.
Over the course of the shows, the National Theatre’s War Horse Prom (commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War); Gabby Logan presenting the first BBC Sport Prom; and the 80th birthdays of Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies are marked across 10 Proms performances.
FOOD: Celebrity MasterChef Final (BBC1, 8.30pm)
This is it – it’s the biggie.
Only three celebrity chefs remain in the competition, and now that we’ve reached the final, the heat in the kitchen is getting increasingly difficult to stand. However, we’re not sure that John Torode and Gregg Wallace are really to blame for that.
The pair may come across on screen as being intimidating, but we suspect that away from the cameras they’re actually a couple of giant teddy bears, encouraging and cajoling the contestants along.
Nevertheless, you can bet those tried and trusted Paddington-style hard stares will be in place, as the chefs face their most demanding challenge yet in the restaurant kitchen of Italian chef Francesco Mazzei.
Who has what it takes to succeed last year’s winner, Ade Edmondson?
MUSIC: The Joy of the Guitar Riff (BBC4, 9pm)
Thank heavens for BBC4 on Friday nights. The latest lovingly crafted show pays tribute to the hook which has gripped millions of music fans over the years, the good old guitar riff.
Whether you’re usually clapping over Eric Clapton or dying to hear Dire Straits, there’s a little of something for everyone here.
We look back over the past 60 years of popular music, and examine the riff’s influence.
The ever amiable Lauren Laverne narrates the film which features a wealth of stories from Brian May, Dave Davies, Hank Marvin, Joan Jett, Nile Rodgers, Tony Iommi, Robert Fripp and Johnny Marr.
“The riff is the DNA of rock and roll,” explains Lauren. “A double helix of repetitive simplicity and fiendish complexity on which the history of rock ’n’ roll has been built.”
FILM: Avatar (Film4, 9pm)
Sam Worthington plays a disabled soldier who travels to a distant planet, where his mind operates a specially grown alien body. However, his mission to infiltrate an alien tribe for the sake of a precious ore is complicated when he falls in love.
James Cameron broke box office records around the globe with the release of Avatar in 2009, winning Oscars, BAFTAs and a plethora of other film awards along the way, including picking up every single gong it was nominated for at that year’s Saturn Awards for sci-fi, fantasy and horror films.
Like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings before it, Avatar marks a new dawn in special effects, advancing CGI and motion capture to a new level.
A visually stunning film, some critics thought the narrative wasn’t up to much, but a story running alongside such a sumptuous standard of effects was always likely to look comparatively flat.
RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 82%
COMEDY: Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4, 10pm)
Many actors would give their right arm to be in a hit sitcom. However for the stars of The Inbetweeners, there was one potential downside – what were they going to do next?
For Simon Bird, who played briefcase-carrying sixth former Will, he had no such problem – in fact, he had that many offers, he could cherry pick his next gig.
And he picked a blinder here, with Robert Popper’s sitcom.
In tonight’s instalment, Dad buys a piano and the world’s most sarcastic piano tuner turns up to get the instrument in tip top condition.
Meanwhile, the Goodmans realise Aunty Val is having an affair, and ponder what they should do about it.
NEW ON NETFLIX: Shifty
Writer/director Eran Creevy makes his astonishing debut with Shifty, the powerful tale that charts 24 hours in the life of a crack dealer in a London suburb.
Shifty (Four Lions star Riz Ahmed ) sells crack cocaine in his neighbourhood, living life a minute at a time and always one step ahead of a rival dealer who is intent on setting him up.
When Chris (Daniel Mays), a childhood friend, reappears in his life, and learning that his family is ready to disown him, Shifty is forced to confront the chaotic future he is fast heading towards.
RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 96%