Channel 4, 9pm
Sitting somewhere between Porridge and Jimmy McGovern’s Time, Rob Williams’s (The Victim) deft, incisive and often very funny new prison drama does for prison officers what No Offence did for the police, making deadly serious points with borderline absurd – yet wholly believable – set-ups and forcing us to confront another example of severe underfunding in public service. Our conduit is Rose Gill (Derry Girls’ Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), a smart, opinionated new recruit. But despite being fresh on the job, she’s being woefully under-attended by her colleagues – not least by Leigh Henry (Nina Sosanya), the dedicated screw in charge of Longmarsh’s all-male C-wing. Rose’s first day features an improvised knife to a throat, contraband wildlife, a spice casualty, a prisoner transfer and a visit from the governor – as well as suggestions of a compromising past. The ensemble is excellent, particularly Laura Checkley’s no-nonsense mother hen, and, while the drama doesn’t baulk at the threat, fear and intimidation inherent in prisons, nor does it deny the weird sense of community fostered in such institutions or the fact that there might be a better way to rehabilitate than locking everyone up. Gabriel Tate
BBC One, 8pm
Social media entrepreneur Steven Bartlett replaces the departed Tej Lalvani for this 19th series, and is faced with cheesemongers flogging an app, hair technicians, boffins toting gadgets and inventors with robots, all looking for investment.
Our Great Yorkshire Life
Channel 5, 8pm
Another year, another Channel 5 excursion into God’s Own Country, this time taking in the full breadth of the county’s history and future. The series begins with a Whitby fishing family, a visit to the beautifully preserved town of Saltaire, Newby Hall’s fruit-and-veg show and, inevitably, a bit of steam locomotive action courtesy of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
BBC One, 9pm
If even Simon Cowell is throwing in The X Factor towel, it can’t be long before this mid-Noughties relic is given its P45. In the meantime, Lord Sugar is back with his finger, his catchphrases and the egomaniacs, incompetents and idiots he has handpicked as possible business partners. The first task involves, yes, a marketing campaign, this one concocted for a cruise liner while onboard said ship. Karren Brady and series one winner Tim Campbell (standing in for Claude Littner) look on with bemusement.
Andy Warhol’s America
BBC Two, 9pm
Francis Whately, he of the outstanding Bowie trilogy of documentaries, turns to an acquaintance of The Dame for this no-less-compelling new three-parter examining the life and times of the pioneering and endlessly divisive artist and provocateur. Beginning with his early years, its contributors include Bianca Jagger, Bob Colacello and Penny Arcade.
The Real Anne: Unfinished Business
After the drama, the reality: this documentary follows Maxine Peake as she meets many of those involved in the story of Anne Williams, the late activist who fought tirelessly for justice for her son and the 96 others who died in the Hillsborough disaster.
Channel 4, 10pm
Carol Cleveland, the seventh Python, is the big name to launch the latest series of the dating show, with an interior designer her prospective partner. A sweetly awkward origami aficionado and two single sisters are the other hopefuls in a characteristically heartwarming hour. GT
The Croods: A New Age (2020) ★★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 6.15pm
Ostensibly a children’s film, this animated caveman caper is stuffed with enough grown-up gags to keep both sides laughing. The sequel to 2013’s The Croods sees Grug (Nicolas Cage) and family venture forth in search of a new home, only to come across the walled land of the technologically advanced Bettermans, who treat them with disdain. The starry cast includes Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds.
Heavens Above! (1963, b/w) ★★★
Talking Pictures TV, 9pm
Peter Sellers stars as a socialist reverend, John Smallwood, who is appointed by mistake to a village parish populated by elitist landed gentry in this John Boulting directed satire. In much the same vein as Boulting’s I’m All Right Jack (see Wednesday), it teases out the silliness of the British class system, while lightly mocking those who dare try to improve it. By the end, John’s utopian ideas find him blasted into space by a rocket ship.
Viva Las Vegas (1964) ★★★
BBC Four, 10.45pm
With sumptuous Sixties styling and no fewer than 12 songs, this Elvis Presley vehicle is formulaic but hard to resist. From Presley’s discovery of his singing voice to his realisation that the girl of his dreams was by his side all along, the plot is predictable, but the joy of this film is in the sizzling chemistry between Presley and his co-star Ann-Margret, who steals the limelight even from The King himself.
Friday January 7
Death in Paradise