19/01/2012 06:59 GMT

Tonight's TV Pick: Thursday 19 - Earthflight, Putin Explored and American Idol

Earthflight - 8pm, BBC1

More stunning nature shots as the programme makers visit South America. Eagles, vultures and tiny, glittery humming birds all take their place in the chorus, but there's only one aerial superstar in this part of the world - the glorious Andean condor.

Putin, Russia and the West - 9pm, BBC2

Running the world's biggest country with a steel fist, controlling oligarchs and their billions, squaring up to western leaders with an unblinking stare, hunting shirtless in ice-cold forests - Vladimir Putin is like something out of a film but, for his critics, many of who slam him from their London exile, he is all too real. This documentary series explores how he's managed to stay in power, talking to highly-placed observers, including Putin himself.

American Idol - 9pm, ITV2

Missing your fix of cheers, tears and catfights? Fret not, the judges of American Idol provide high-quality fodder and, despite Simon Cowell's predictions of a coup de telly, have triumphed in the ratings over their new US X Factor counterparts. And unlike some of the X Factor judges, you can't argue with the professional credibility of Aerosmith's Steve Tyler, producer Randy Jackson and new arrival Jennifer Lopez.