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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

What’s on TV tonight: The Princes and the Press, and more

The Beatles: Get Back
Disney+
Based on 57 hours of footage that had been locked in a vault, unseen for 50 years, and a further 150 hours of audio, this extraordinary three-part, six-hour documentary (being released today, tomorrow and Saturday), plunges us back into 1969 and a London recording studio where, two months before they split up, The Beatles are feverishly writing and recording 14 new songs for the album that would eventually be released as Let It Be – the last they made together. Director Peter Jackson puts the restoration skills he honed on his superlative Second World War documentary film They Shall Not Grow Old to brilliant use again to bring a shimmering vividness to picture and sound in this production which, in the ultimate seal of approval, is co-produced by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison. 

Among the classics created in front of our eyes are Let It Be, Get Back and Don’t Let Me Down with an intimacy that, at times, really is like being in the room with the band. In the face of their near-impossible deadline, their creativity and friendship are put under extreme pressure – at one point fracturing completely when George quits the band. Superb. GO

Golf: Joburg Open
Sky Golf, 10am
Four days after the 2020-21 season ended in Dubai, the 2021-22 European Tour begins with a three-week “South African Swing”, beginning at the Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg. Yes, it’s a tough life for some, eh? Joachim B Hansen, who won last week in the Avid Dubai Championship, is the defending champion. GO

The Martin Lewis Money Show Christmas Special
ITV, 8pm
Martin Lewis and his team are back with an undeniably useful Christmas consumer advice special on the best seasonal deals out there, and the pitfalls awaiting unsuspecting buyers. The show includes Lewis’s Festive Forecaster, in which he predicts the best Black Friday offers, online and in the shops. GO

Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker: The Final
Channel 4, 8pm
An inspiring ending for a series that has combined build and design challenges in a generally joyful celebration of craft skills. Finalists Charlie, Misti and Radha are set an ambitious project – to construct a large, roofed garden room in just two days – which stretches all three to the absolute limit. To add to the stress, there’s a finicky skills test on a completely different scale – marquetry. GO

Surgeons: At the Edge of Life
BBC Two, 9pm
Cardiothoracic surgeon Aman Coonar takes on a challenging operation at Royal Papworth Hospital: a 30-year-old patient with a rare type of tumour on the lung where, operating right beside the pulmonary artery, the slightest slip could cause a potentially fatal bleed. GO

Taskmaster
Channel 4, 9pm
Thriving more than ever since the show’s move to Channel 4, the grand final of series 12 proves particularly good fun. Highlights include Guz Khan gobbling chocolates, Victoria Coren Mitchell deciphering Alan Davies’s unfathomable body movements, and Desiree Burch composing a song for Alex Horne. GO

Wirecard: A Billion Euro Lie
Sky Documentaries, 9pm
A gripping and complex documentary charting one of the biggest financial scandals of the internet age: the collapse of the German online payments firm Wirecard whose value crashed from €14 billion to almost nothing in 2019 after a whistle-blower and a Financial Times investigation uncovered a €1.9bn black hole in the company accounts. GO

Death of England
Sky Arts, 10pm
Writers Clint Dyer and Roy Williams take the characters from two previous National Theatre one-man stage productions and pit them against each other in this new standalone film. Neil Maskell and Giles Terera play Michael and Delroy, here coming face to face and forced to confront issues of identity, race and class in Britain. GO

French Connection II (1975) ★★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 9pm 
Picking up a handful of years after the Oscar-winning original left off, Gene Hackman’s Detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle is still on the trail of Fernando Rey’s French drug dealer. This time, the hunt takes him to the mean and humid streets of Marseille where his prey has gone to ground. Directed by John Frankenheimer, the distinctive setting and fresh plot help keep things from staling.

All the President’s Men (1976) ★★★★★ 
BBC Four, 10pm 
This is a gripping, intelligent film by Alan J Pakula, based on the book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, recording how they uncovered the White House connection with the Watergate break-in and brought down a president. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are a little too charismatic as “Woodstein”, but it’s a small blemish in an otherwise truthful account. 

The Enforcer (1976) ★★★
Channel 5, 11pm   
Intriguingly based on Dirty Harry fan fiction, which was penned by fledgling screenwriters Gail Morgan Hickman and SW Schurr, this is the third film to feature Clint Eastwood’s Magnum-waggling cop. In this instalment, he must stop a gang of rogue Vietnam veterans and their associates, a Black Power organisation. It doesn’t have the explosive originality of the earlier films, but there’s gunfights aplenty to keep fans happy.

Friday November 26

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