TV For The Weekend: Birdsong, Borgen, Paul Simon, Room 101, Jonathan Ross, Time Team

TV For The Weekend: Birdsong Finally Makes It To Screen

Obviously, we're missing Sherlock already, it's a given. But, that aside, it's a stonking weekend of telly - with Danish political skullduggery, wartime passion, and a revamped old favourite. Here are our picks of the box:


Room 101 - 8.30pm, BBC1

Frank Skinner returns with a new series of the Orwell-inspired show, where celebrities fight for the right to have their pet hates forever banned to Room 101. In this revamp, three guests - this week Danny Baker, Fern Britton and Robert Webb - must vie with each other to get their respective betes noir binned, which makes for lively studio chat. Britton's already caused ripples consigning science-fiction to the room, what else is going in there?

Paul Simon Night - 9pm, BBC4

BBC4 have made these dedicated musical evenings their speciality, and Simon is another worthy subject. The familiar sounds of the Bridge Over Troubled Water album get a full deconstruction in a repeat of the recent Imagine programme - including the drums, rhythms and unique tool of Art Garfunkel’s vocal chords. A recording of a solo Simon concert from last year is included in tonight's line-up, as well as a late-night documentary of him on tour with Mr Garfunkel in 1969, a year before their (first) split.


Borgen - 9pm, BBC4

I know I keep banging on about Borgen, but it’s just the best thing on the box right now. Danish premier Birgitte discovers that the gaining of power in the first few weeks is no preparation for the battle to keep it. In this double-bill, she is attacked on the domestic front - for her valiant efforts to bring female representation into the Cabinet; on the foreign front - the small matter of a poet/suspected terrorist, and unexpectedly on the home front where the unshowy harmony of her family life is disturbed when her father comes to stay. Perfect stay-in Saturday-night viewing.

The Jonathan Ross Show - 9.15pm, ITV1

I wouldn't normally nominate a chat show here, but the calibre of guests tonight merits a mention. Sir David Attenborough surely won't be able to get away without mentioning the brouhaha surrounding some of the Frozen Planet footage all over again, but prepare to be even more impressed by a sure-footed Daniel Radcliffe who, with intelligence and good manners is surely proof that all child stars do not need to end up on a reality show somewhere. He'll have to keep his wits about him tonight - he's here to talk about his new film Woman in Black, with the screenplay by none other than his host's good wife. This could be cringeworthy, or cracking.


Time Team - 6pm, Channel4

Almost unbelievably, this is the start of the 19th series of nectar for those fascinated by the hidden history around us, and, just as strangely, the enthusiasm of Tony Robinson and his gang appears undimmed. Tonight, they start digging off the coast of Pembrokeshire where, it appears, Gateholm Island has the potential for a rich haul - Roman phallus and the like.

Adding her welly to the contagious sense of mucking in that permeates this programme is new presenter, anthropologist and social historian Mary-Ann Ochota.

Birdsong - 9pm, BBC1

Here we go, then. If ever a programme could qualify to fill the aching gap left in the schedule by Downton Abbey and then Sherlock, this must be it - a big-budget, richly-produced adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' bestseller about love and war.

Uprising star Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn) stars as Stephen Wraysford, a soldier caught up in the horror of the trenches, fuelled by his memories of a passionate affair with Isabelle, who is married to an older man, but forever his, it seems.

The filming of Birdsong has been passed from pillar to post for years, probably with potential makers rightly fearful of doing the masterful book proper justice. Thankfully, it's finally here and definitely worth the wait.

Here are some pictures of Birdsong to get us going:


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