Thursday's TV tips

Check out our spoiler-free guide to what to watch tonight.

Thursday's TV tips

FILM: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (BBC1, 4.25pm)

(2011) Titular hero Tintin (Jamie Bell) buys a model ship and is plunged into a centuries-old mystery involving Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine (Daniel Craig).

Ivan asks Tintin to name his price for the boat, but the reporter refuses to sell, sensing the wooden vessel is far more valuable than it first appears. Sure enough, a cryptic conundrum lies within, revealing that “only a true Haddock will discover the secret of The Unicorn.”

Assisted by trusty pooch Snowy, Tintin searches for more clues, meeting booze-sodden Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), whose family history holds the key to the mystery of a cursed shipwreck.

The impressive cast list should go some way towards assuring viewers of a certain degree of quality, as should the fact it’s directed by none other than Steven Spielberg. It also boasts a terrific, Oscar-nominated score by John Williams.

Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook

FILM: War of the Buttons (TV3, 5.05pm)

(1995) Academy Award winner David Puttnam produces this classic Irish tale of childhood rivalry and friendship.

The children of Ballydowse and Carrickdowse engage in battles where they cut of the buttons, shoe-laces and underwear of their captured opponents.

This is to get the boys in trouble with their parents. They go to battle in mass groups of dozens, throwing stones and cutting off their opponents buttons etc.

And sometimes they go to battle completely naked and exposed. In one such scene about 30 boys return from a battle to celebrate victory at a barn-house only to find some girls waiting for them and they get very embarrassed at losing their privacy.

It starts as a game...until the stakes rise. Before it ends, this innocent child's play could become deadly. Based on the book LaGuerre des Boutons by Louis Pergaud

Starring: Colm Meany, Liam Cunningham, John Murphy

Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot (BBC One, 6.30pm)

Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench – together at last.

The veteran stars make a wonderful double act in this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much-loved children’s story, penned by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, who previously worked together on the much-missed sitcom Vicar of Dibley.

Hoffman plays Mr Hoppy, a shy and lonely old man who lives in a block of flats. He’s in love with Mrs Silver, who lives in the apartment below his, but can only summon up enough courage to exchange a few words with her, despite longing to tell her how he truly feels.

He devises a plan he hopes will help him get closer to her, which involves helping her beloved tortoise Alfie grow. Unfortunately, someone else has designs on Mrs Silver’s heart, so Mr Hoppy needs to work fast if he’s to win her over.

Esio Trot is, of course, a children’s story, first published in 1989; it was one of the final works published by writer Roald Dahl before his death in 1990 at the age of 74.

It’s clear that the production designer has been much influenced by the illustrations of Quentin Blake that accompany the story – so fans of the original book will love the way the film looks.

ENTERTAINMENT: 2014 – The Highs and the Lows (TV3, 7pm)

2014: The Highs and the lows, is a look back at some of the biggest entertainment stories of the year, the good, the bad and the ugly.

From Kim Kardashian breaking the internet, to the ‘Pantigate’ controversy and those infamous new words which have made it into the oxford dictionary.

This one hour show looks back over the biggest entertainment headlines of 2014 in a lighthearted, comical way.

COMEDY: Miranda (BBC1, 8pm)

Normally, our reaction to a new episode of Miranda is a hearty ’such fun!’, perhaps followed by a quick chorus of Heather Small’s Proud, but this edition has stirred up some mixed feelings, because it’s the last one ever.

So make the most of those pratfalls, catchphrases, and sly looks to camera, because Miranda Hart is moving on.

Fortunately, she’s going out in style with plenty of gags, although what many of us want to know is if there’ll also be a resolution to the will-they-won’t-they romance between our clumsy heroine and her ’friend’ Gary.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a happy ending, but either way, when the cast line up to do their ’You Have Been Watching’ waves to the camera at the end of the episode, there’s a good chance that this time, we’ll all be waving back.

Good support comes from Sarah Hadland and Patricia Hodge.

SITCOM: Birds of a Feather (UTV, 8.30pm)

Celebrity Squares, Still Open All Hours, Birds of a Feather – there’s been a definite retro feel to this year’s Christmas schedules.

However, when it comes to Chigwell’s finest, we don’t mind a bit, as it’s just good to have them back.

Dorien is hoping to start 2015 with a literary success, but first she needs a muse to inspire her latest book.

So, when Sharon amazes the others with her IQ, the man-eating author thinks she just might have found her new heroine...

Meanwhile, Tracey is concerned about her son Garth, and not just because between series he’s somehow transformed from Matt Willis into Samuel James.

He’s feeling despondent because he’s split up with Australian Marcie, and while Tracey may be a doting mother, surely even she has her limits when it comes to having him moping about the place.

As ever, Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph head the cast.

MUSIC: Electric Picnic 2014 Highlights (RTE Two, 9pm)

Relive the best bits from this year’s Electric Picnic festival with main stage performances from Foals, The Pet Shop Boys, Chic, Paolo Nutini and Hozier.

Electric Picnic 2014 saw RTÉ2 broadcast from the festival for the first time with Eoghan McDermott and RTÉ 2fm’s Jenny Greene bringing viewers performances from the main stage, interviews and more, while Al Porter and Blathnaid Treacy reported from the ‘Picnic’ arena, bringing the latest news and festival happenings.

This highlights special sees performances from Foals, The Pet Shop Boys, Chic, Paolo Nutini, Hozier, Little Green Cars and Ham Sandwich.

FILM: Quartet (BBC2, 9pm)

(2012) Three former opera singers living in a retirement home for musicians have their lives thrown into disarray by the arrival of a mutual acquaintance – a fellow vocalist and frightful diva, who shares a tumultuous history with the other three.

Her arrival pre-empts the home’s annual fundraising concert to mark Verdi’s birthday, and while she refuses to take part herself, she’s intent on making sure her presence is felt.

Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut is a quaint and colourful English comedy, boasting a stellar cast of actors of a certain age who are given free rein to make the most of their ebullient characters. It’s a gentle, uplifting, feel-good movie which can’t help but raise a smile.

Starring: Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs

FILM: Django Unchained (RTÉ One, 9.20pm)

(2012) With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. (HD)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christopher Waltz. Director: Quentin Tarantino

SITCOM: Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC1, 9.35pm)

There have been a spate of burglaries in the neighbourhood, so little wonder the eponymous matriarch is concerned about home security.

However, we doubt that steel bolt she fixes on the back door will last more than a few seconds.

Doctor Flynn has paid a call to give granddad a check-up, but it seems he’s not too keen on Mrs Brown’s offer of a cup of tea, and even has the cheek to suggest he’s due a present.

When there’s a crashing at the back door, Mrs B’s mind is taken off the fact her bubble bath has been pinched.

Could the burglar be making a rather noisy entrance, or could there be a more surreal explanation, waiting to be revealed?

Well, we could tell you the answer, or you could just join the millions of other folks who will be glued to one of the most popular sitcoms of 2015.

REALITY: White Dee: What’s All the Fuss About? (Channel 5, 9.35pm)

Twelve months ago, Channel 4 documentary series Benefits Street followed residents of Birmingham’s James Turner Street, where many of the locals rely on benefits.

It helped turn White Dee into a Z-list celebrity, and over the summer her tenure in the Big Brother house made her 15 minutes of fame last slightly longer.

In this ’What happened next’ documentary, she discusses the impact her notoriety has had on her personal life, both the pros and cons, as well as the effect it’s had on her family.

She also talks about the depression she has suffered from for the last decade and how she feels about her position of influence as the ‘face’ of Britons on benefits.

Plus, friends and family share their opinions of the woman known as the mother of Benefits Street.

Here cameras follow her as she adjusts to a new life of public appearances, including an appearance at the Tory party conference.

MUSIC: The Clash: New Year’s Day ’77 (BBC4, 10.45pm)

As one of the greatest rocks bands of the past few decades, The Clash’s influence has affected millions.

It’s rare that uninspired documentary or film-makers can include a package of clips about England’s capital without using their classic track London Calling, but of course there’s far more to the band than being the alternate sound of ’the smoke’ as film-maker Julien Temple knows only too well.

He made this documentary which features previously unbroadcast footage of the group in this January 1st, 1977 concert at Covent Garden’s The Roxy club.

Joe Strummer and his band mates had only played a handful of gigs at the time. The fact they then went on to land a £100,000 contract with CBS records was remarkable.

This film gives us an insight into the UK during the late 1970s and the rising popularity of punk.

There also interviews with the band about their predictions and hopes for the future.

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