Friday’s TV tips

It's a guide. It's about tonight's telly. It's free of all spoilers.

Friday’s TV tips

MUSIC: Choir of the Year 2014 (BBC4, 7.30pm)

For months, choirs from across Britain have been battling it out in the preliminary rounds of this competition, desperate to make it to the final at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.

The six top-rated groups took to the stage on Sunday, December 7, and now here’s a chance to see how they got on.

Those in the running for the top prize were Ysgol Glanaethwy Junior Choir from Bangor, north Wales; Rainbow Connection from Doncaster, South Yorkshire; Singers Limited from the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe; Durham-based Northern Spirit Singers; Cardiff’s CF1, and the Oxford Gargoyles.

Choirmaster extraordinaire Gareth Malone hosts the event, while Josie D’Arby speaks to the performers as they come off the stage to find out how they feel they got on.

“I’m so thrilled to be helping judge this fantastic event again in 2014,” said expert judge Paul Mealor before the contest began. “This competition really shows off the very best in choral singing and lets the world see and hear how great Britain’s choirs are.”

FOOD: Mary Berry’s Absolute Christmas Favourites (BBC2, 8.30pm)

Lovely Mary Berry. She’s surely the perfect grandma, the kind who looks as if she dishes out heaps of hugs alongside lashings of cake and ginger beer.

So, it’s rather wonderful to have Mary back on the box. Next year, she will front a new series called Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites, which sees her demonstrate her most beloved dishes; as a taster for that programme comes this two-part festive version.

Mary will demonstrate how to prepare her 11 (yes, a strange number, but we’re sure there’s a reason for it) top recipes which also give an insight into festive Berry family feasts.

Among the dishes served up are Christmas Eve fish pie, a raised chicken and ham pie which is perfect for Boxing Day lunch, and two desserts – a blackberry and apple crumble tart and a chocolate mousse cake.

Watch out too for some handy tips that should make sure the big day goes without a hitch.

MUSIC: A Night in with Olly Murs (UTV, 9pm)

In early 2009, Olly had returned to the UK after backpacking in Australia, and was about to audition for The X Factor for the third time – his first two attempts came to nothing.

But it was a case of third time lucky, because Olly was immediately given a big thumbs up by Simon Cowell, who described it as “the easiest yes I’ve ever given”.

There is a musical interlude. It features an Earth, Wind & Fire medley as well as performances of some of Olly’s best known hits, including Dear Darlin’, Heart Skips a Beat and his latest single, Wrapped Up.

Although he claims that filming was a lot of fun, Olly admits it could be nerve-racking at times too.

“The performing is the easy bit, I love being on stage, that’s the best part of my job,” he claims. “Holding your own show and presenting on your own, in between singing, was the hard bit! It was great to have a live audience in the studio to make me feel at home on the stage.

COMEDY: Have I Got News for You (BBC1, 9pm)

If ever the producers of this long-running quiz decided to have a regular presenter, they could do worse than give Martin Clunes the job.

He’s had prior experience of the role, and has never let anybody down, displaying the right amount of charm, professionalism and wit throughout. So it’s good to see him back in the quizmaster’s chair for the final edition of the current run.

It’s a wonder he can fit it into his busy schedule, which sees him juggle acting (his next project involves playing author Arthur Conan Doyle in the ITV drama Arthur & George) with narrating various documentaries.

Martin will be posing questions for regular team captains Paul Merton and Ian Hislop, who will be joined by comedian Reginald D Hunter and TV presenter Kirsty Wark.

Who will win? Well, our money is on Kirsty – as the presenter of Newsnight, she really should know what she’s talking about, shouldn’t she?

FILM: Man on Fire (TV3, 9pm)

(2004) Starring Academy Award winner Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning. A wave of kidnappings has swept through Mexico, feeding a growing sense of panic among its wealthier citizens, especially parents. In one six-day period, there were twenty-four abductions, leading many to hire bodyguards for their children.

Into this world enters John Creasy (Washington), a burned-out ex-CIA operative/assassin, who has given up on life. Creasy's friend Rayburn brings him to Mexico City to be a bodyguard to nine-year-old Pita Ramos, daughter of industrialist Samuel Ramos and his wife Lisa.

Creasy is not interested in being a bodyguard, especially to a youngster, but for lack of something better to do, he accepts the assignment. Creasy barely tolerates the precocious child and her pestering questions about him and his life.

But slowly, she chips away at his seemingly impenetrable exterior, his defenses drop, and he opens up to her. Creasy's new-found purpose in life is shattered when Pita is kidnapped. Despite being seriously wounded during the kidnapping, he vows to kill anyone involved in or profiting from the kidnapping. And no one can stop him.

Starring: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Marc Anthony

FILM: Casino Royale (ITV, 10.40pm)

(2006) James Bond gets a new lease of life in this edgy, breathtaking entry in the franchise.

We are right back to the beginning of the superspy’s career, as he is first awarded his ’licence to kill’.

It couldn’t come at a better time, as he’s on the trail of international criminal Le Chiffre, who is planning to use the winnings from a high-stakes poker game to fund international terrorism – but only if he can beat Bond.

People who previously didn’t like 007 were flocking to see Daniel Craig in a performance that had every single critic in the known universe clapping their hands with glee.

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench

FILM: Dead Poets Society (BBC2, 11.35pm)

(1989) John Keating is a maverick teacher at a stuffy prep school who exhorts his students to ’Seize the Day’ and be all that they can be while tearing up books, chatting up girls and being generally boisterous.

Unfortunately, their bubble is about to burst.

Director Peter Weir has made some of the most memorable movies of the last 30 years, including Witness, Fearless and this highly moving drama. Beautifully made, it has a finale so moving, it rarely fails to produce a few moist-eyed emotions.

Starring: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen

FILM: Sightseers (Channel 4, 11.40pm)

(2012) Tina has been overshadowed by her bullying mother her whole life, but things are changing thanks to her relationship with new boyfriend Chris.

He’s a fan of caravanning, and while on a ’sabbatical’ from work, whisks Tina away for a romantic tour of the British isles. But the trip turns into something far darker, as their mutual dislike for other people begins to surface.

Be warned, this won’t be to everybody’s taste. This black comedy is very, very dark indeed. But what else would you expect from Ben Wheatley, whose other directorial credits include Kill List and A Field in England?

Starring: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies, Richard Glover, Monica Dolan.

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