What’s on TV tonight: Gazza, Our Great National Parks and more

Wednesday 13 April

Gazza
BBC Two, 9pm
England manager Bobby Robson described him as “daft as a brush”, but Paul Gascoigne’s footballing brain was magnificent, conjuring goals out of nowhere with a quick turn of pace and showy ball skills. His sporting acuity, however, was never matched in his personal life, which was marred by alcohol and a trusting nature that attracted the worst sort of hangers-on. Using match clips, never previously seen home videos and archive material, Sampson Collins’s two-part documentary charts Gascoigne’s story during the late 1980s and the 1990s, when his exploits migrated from the sport sections to front pages and “Gazzamania” was born, as tabloids lapped up his on- and off-field misdemeanours. There are contributions from Gascoigne’s friends, family, former agents and team-mates, and some of the tabloid journalists who wrote about him.

This first part opens in 1988, when the young, working-class player with a winning smile signed for Terry Venables’s Tottenham Hotspur for a record transfer fee. He was an instant hit with fans but, by the time of his famous teary exit from the 1990 World Cup after a rash tackle, those close to Gascoigne began to realise that his fame came at a cost to his emotional wellbeing. VL

Our Great National Parks
Netflix
Barack Obama’s soothing tones narrate this five-part documentary series (from the executive producer of Blue Planet II) about national parks. One highlight explains how the humble sloth – with an “entire micro-kingdom living in its fur” – is helping scientists to develop treatments for cancer and malaria. VL

Should I Buy An Electric Car?
Channel 5, 7pm
With the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales only eight years away, Alexis Conran asks if the UK is ready for electric cars. The answer, for now, is “no”, as charging infrastructure needs vast improvement. But it’s not all bad news: electric vehicles, with typically only 20 moving parts (as opposed to 2,000 in a petrol car), will be much cheaper to maintain. VL

Kate & Koji
ITV, 9pm & 9.30pm
A double-header rounds off the second series of the old-fashioned sitcom set in a seaside cafe, where owner Kate (Brenda Blethyn) and asylum-seeker Koji (Okorie Chukwu) butt heads. The jokes are still as thin as a pancake, but unresolved plotlines in this double-bill point to a third series. VL

Grand Designs: The Streets
Channel 4, 9pm
Kevin McCloud returns to Graven Hill in Oxfordshire, Britain’s first self-build community, to meet a new tranche of housebuilders. He follows Carlos and Maite, who have handed over their £234,000 for a plot and now try to bring their stunning design to fruition. Like McCloud, you will be rooting for this lovely couple as they overcome their many obstacles. VL

Richard Hammond’s Brain Reaction
Comedy Central, 9pm 
This loosely science-themed panel show is yet another vehicle for host Richard Hammond. Comedian Ria Lina (a biologist by training) explains the science, while guests and team captains (Victoria Coren Mitchell and Johnny Vegas) ponder tongue-in-cheek conundrums such as “what’s faster, a Slinky going down stairs or a student downing a pint?” VL

Chasing Trane: The Story of John Coltrane
Sky Arts, 9pm
“Some people play jazz. Some people play reggae. Some people play blues. [He] played life,” Carlos Santana says of jazz giant John Coltrane in John Scheinfeld’s clips-and-quotes film. Denzel Washington voices the innovative saxophonist’s words and there is, of course, a superb soundtrack. VL

Seven Pounds (2008) ★★
Great! Movies, 9pm
Well before his notorious Oscars moment, Will Smith reunited with Gabriele Muccino (director of 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness) in this interesting, if mawkish, film. It charts tax collector Tim Thomas’s (Smith) attempts at redemption (topically enough) after causing an accident. Sadly, the twist is obvious. Look out for the film debut of Tom Cruise’s adopted son Connor, as a young Tim.

The Football Factory (2004) ★★★
5Action, 10pm
The first, and arguably the best, of Nick Love’s two paeans (the second being 2009’s The Firm) to a subculture that is often decried as loutish and violent. This booze-and-fights drama lends considerable gravitas to the cause of football hooligans, representing them as the inheritors of an otherwise  lost English tradition. Difficult but worthy viewing – as long as you’re a fan of Chelsea and Danny Dyer.

Meet Joe Black (1998) ★★★
BBC One, 10.35pm
Brad Pitt heads up an all-star cast in this remake of the 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday. Death visits Earth by possessing the body of a handsome young man (Pitt), but soon falls in love with the beautiful daughter (Claire Forlani) of media tycoon William Parrish (Anthony Hopkins). This is a bittersweet romance with a stellar cast but the film is far too long, and director Martin Brest tells the fanciful story with less wit and charm than the original.

Thursday 14 April

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