Sunday's TV tips

The best of this evening's telly.

Sunday's TV tips

COMEDY: Still Open All Hours (BBC1, 7.30pm)

For many of us who grew up in the 1970s, sitcoms were a welcome break from austere times.

One of the best was the Ronnie Barker vehicle about a miserly shopkeeper with a fear of his till.

Like a fly trapped in amber, the format – and the set – seems to have been frozen for 40 years, but in these HD days, it’s a treat to see David Jason successfully reprising his role as an older, wiser Granville, as well as a few of the other beloved characters from back in the day.

In the last of the current series, strange goings-on in the shop convince Granville the place is haunted by Arkwright.

However, the locals refuse to believe him, and a surprise visitor from the past gets the street talking.

Former Man About The House and Emmerdale star Paula Wilcox makes a guest appearance, along with Lynda Baron and Stephanie Cole.

MOTORING: Top Gear (BBC2, 8pm)

Now the dust has settled after their genuinely scary Patagonia Christmas special, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are in Russia for the first of a new series.

A race across St Petersburg proves almost as explosive as James Bond’s tank-based spectacle in Goldeneye 20 years ago.

Captain Slow defends the honour of a tiny Renault, Hamster attempts to prove that pedalling is faster by riding a bicycle, while Clarkson tries to demonstrate that water is the quickest way across town by piloting a hovercraft.

Sounds too easy? Yes, you’re right, it is, so to make matters more difficult, the three amigos are racing not only each another but also the Stig; he’s heading for the finish line by public transport.

There’s also a chance to see the Lamborghini Huracan in action, and another Star in a Reasonably Priced Car tackles Gambon and other track favourites.

DRAMA: Call the Midwife (BBC1, 8pm)

Keep this under your hat, but it wasn’t just pensioners glued to the Christmas special of this ratings blockbuster. Some folks who would normally swap channels were absorbed as the midwives came to the rescue in a snow-bound residence.

And yes, Miranda Hart is rather superb, along with the ever reliable Jenny Agutter.

This week, Barbara has her hands full when she treats a first-time mother. It turns into her most challenging case so far when the birth not to go according to plan.

Meanwhile, Sister Evangelina is impressed by a new nurse, and Sister Julienne is concerned about the increasing financial pressure on Nonnatus House.

However, she doesn’t count on an enigmatic benefactor who might just save the day.

Pam Ferris also stars with series newcomer Linda Bassett (perhaps best known for her excellent work in East Is East, Grandma’s House and Lark Rise to Candleford).

FILM: Jack Reacher (TV3, 9pm)

(2012) Ex-military investigator Jack Reacher digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims.

He knows this shooter-a trained military sniper who never should have missed a shot.

Reacher is certain something is not right-and soon the slam-dunk case explodes.

Now Reacher is teamed with a beautiful young defense lawyer, moving closer to the unseen enemy who is pulling the strings.

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins

DRAMA: Last Tango in Halifax (BBC1, 9pm)

Some creative forces go together like bacon and eggs. Quentin Tarantino and John Travolta for example; the writer’s dialogue effortlessly dovetailing with the actor’s effortless charm.

The same could be said for Sally Wainwright and Sarah Lancashire, thanks to their collaborations on the critically acclaimed Happy Valley and this ever engaging saga.

The latest offering opens like a scene from Pulp Fiction as a couple of pupils let off a firework in their dinner hall, and scare the teachers half to death.

Meanwhile, John has an unexpected proposal for Caroline, she has bigger fish to fry when she gets a phone call to say the police have baby Flora and her nanny Holly has been locked up.

Meanwhile, Gary’s attempts to ingratiate himself into the family become tiring, and Gillian is far from impressed when her half-brother offers to pay for her wedding.

Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid and Nicola Walker also star.

The Meaning of Life, with Gay Byrne (RTE One, 10.30pm)

Gay Byrne returns for another six-part series in which he talks to major public figures from all walks of life about the things they believe and the things they have done, that give their lives meaning.

In the first programme novelist Cecelia Ahern shares her childhood experience of growing up with a much loved and criticised politician, and coping with family breakdown and the trauma of paralysing panic attacks.

FILM: Shadow Dancer (BBC2, 10pm)

(2012) In the early 1990s, twentysomething single mother Colette McVeigh blames herself for the death of her young brother in 1970s Belfast.

She harbours a deep resentment towards British forces, which fired the fateful bullet, and has assuaged her guilt as an active member of the IRA alongside her two brothers, Gerry and Connor.

British police apprehend Colette during an attempted bombing of the London Underground and MI5 operative Mac leads the interrogation.

He provides evidence that an IRA bullet killed Colette’s brother all those years ago, and offers his prisoner an ultimatum: act as a mole, secretly feeding back vital intelligence on terrorist plots, or serve 25 years behind bars and forego precious time with her young son Mark and mother.

James Marsh’s film is a riveting drama with excellent performances, especially from Andrea Riseborough.

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Clive Owen, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, Brid Brennan, Gillian Anderson

FILM: The Darkest Hour (Channel 5, 10pm)

(2012) Internet entrepreneurs Sean and Ben fly thousands of miles at their own expense to sell their online tourist guide to the Russians with the help of Swedish business partner Skylar.

However, Skylar rips them off and steals the intellectual property. Sean and Ben drown their sorrows at a fashionable nightclub where they meet globe-trotting photographer Anne and her best friend Natalie.

The party reaches a crescendo just as Moscow is hit by a blackout. Clubbers pour on to the street as luminescent shapes fall from the sky, heralding an alien invasion.

This film starts promisingly but boredom surfaces after the aliens begin culling the extras.

Genuine emotion doesn’t trouble the lead protagonists as the film wheezes and splutters from one lacklustre set piece to the next.

Worth at least one look, but don’t expect too much and it should pass the time a treat.

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor, Olivia Thirlby, Joel Kinnaman, Veronika Vernadskaya, Dato Bakhtadze.

FILM: Evil Dead (Channel 4, 11.05pm)

(2013) David, his girlfriend Natalie and friends Eric and Olivia are cocooned in a rundown log cabin to support David’s little sister, Mia, as she goes cold turkey to kick her drug habit.

Eric and Olivia doubt the intervention will succeed so they forge a secret pact with David to hold Mia hostage in the woods until the narcotics have been flushed from her system.

Dark forces possess poor Mia but her friends dismiss her portentous ranting as the hallucinations of a recovering addict.

David and company curb their natural instinct to escape and eventually turn on each other in a brutal battle for survival.

An affectionate remake of Sam Raimi’s overtly camp, low-budget 1981 horror, which spliced black humour and extreme violence.

Fede Alvarez’s reboot isn’t played for ghoulish giggles like the original but there are still flashes of warped wit to dissipate tension during the carnage.

It’s good to see Jane Levy (of Suburgatory fame) cast against type as the feisty heroine.

Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Elizabeth Blackmore, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas

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