What’s on TV tonight: The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe, Michael Ball: Showtime, Doctor Who and more

The Rising
Sky Max, 9pm
Ghost. DOA. Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). The high-concept idea of investigating one’s own death has been around a while, and this adaptation of the macabre Belgian thriller Hotel Beau Sejour (whose fans included Stephen King) doesn’t depart too far from the formula as Neve Kelly (Clara Rugaard) comes to in a lake, only to find she is dead. As she stumbles back home, she realises firstly that no one can see her (apart from the family dog), and secondly, that she has been murdered. While her distraught mother (Emily Taaffe) and stepfather (Alex Lanipekun) search for Neve, missing after a raucous party, with the questionable assistance of Neve’s alcoholic father (Matthew McNulty), memories of the night before return to Neve in incoherent flashes and the exact physiological rules of her (non)existence are loosely established. But then The Rising may not be about narrative coherence as much as atmosphere, in which it is steeped. Heightened by a fine score from Carly Paradis (Line of Duty), it recalls both The Returned in its carefully elusive, otherworldly dread and Glue in its depiction of rural ennui, albeit centred, with enjoyable eccentricity, around motocross. All eight episodes are available on demand. GT

They Call Me Magic
Apple TV+
A useful companion piece to Sky Atlantic docudrama Winning Time, this uncritical but gripping four-part documentary profiles Earvin “Magic” Johnson, whose off-court charisma and on-court brilliance made basketball history. His HIV diagnosis proved an unwanted new chapter of his life, one that he used to transform perceptions – both of himself and the condition. GT

Earth Day
The streaming service marks Earth Day with three new documentaries. Catherine Keener narrates Polar Bear, a classic slice of Disney anthropomorphism as a bear draws on memories of her own upbringing to prepare for motherhood. Explorer follows climber Mark Synnott and naturalist Bruce Means up a 1,000-foot cliff in the Amazon jungle in search of new animal life. Finally, The Biggest Little Farm: The Return follows the progress of two Californians as they grow their farm in harmony with nature and with a focus on biodiversity. GT

This wholly winning British YA drama, based on a cult web comic, tells the story of two 15-year-old boys – Kit Connor’s Nick and Joe Locke’s Charlie – as they fall falteringly, awkwardly in love. Coming-of-age hijinks ensue, played with charm and sensitivity. GT

Gregg Wallace’s Island Getaway
Channel 5, 7pm
In the unlikely event that you still feel there isn’t enough Gregg Wallace on television, here he is again on a nice jolly to Madeira. Activities include whale watching, hiking and eating. Viewing doesn’t get easier than this. GT

Unreported World
Channel 4, 7.30pm
If not exhibit A, then perhaps exhibit C or D in what makes Channel 4 so cherishable, Unreported World continues its mission to shed light on the planet’s less covered issues, this week dispatching Guillermo Galdos to Ecuador where its largest city has become a battleground for cartels from Mexico, Peru and Colombia. Galdos meets footsoldiers, terrified locals and the police who try to restore order. GT

The The: the Comeback Special
Sky Arts, 9pm
In 2018, post-punk band The The – centred as ever around the mercurial brilliance of Matt Johnson – undertook their first tour for 20 years. Filmed at the Royal Albert Hall, this superb performance features classics Infected, This is the Day and Uncertain Smile alongside new material. GT

Stillwater (2021) ★★
Sky Cinema Premiere, 8pm
This recent feature from Tom McCarthy, the Oscar-winning director of Spotlight, cheats you out of the film you imagine you’ll be getting from its opening 10 minutes, but forgets to come up with another to give you instead. It stars the always-charismatic Matt Damon as Bill Baker, an oil worker from the US town of (yes) Stillwater, who travels to France to help his daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) who is imprisoned there for murder. 

The Imitation Game (2014) ★★★★
BBC One, 10.40pm
Director Morten Tyldum portrays the life and work of mathematician Alan Turing across three time-frames: his school years, his time breaking codes at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, and post-war, during the persecution he would suffer until his death. Benedict Cumberbatch is a compelling Turing, opening a window into the genius’s mental torment and difficult personality. Keira Knightley is equally sensitive in support as Joan Clarke.

Creed II (2018) ★★★
ITV, 10.45pm
This sequel to Creed, Ryan Coogler’s 2015 Rocky spin-off, comes courtesy of newcomer Steven Caple Jr and, while it retains its star power with strong return performances from Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren, it lacks a little of the character and nuance which made the original so compelling. Fans of the series will be delighted by an abundance of impactful training and fight scenes. Rocky II is also on ITV4 tonight, at 9pm.

Television previewers

Jack Taylor (JT), Veronica Lee (VL), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Vicki Power (VP) and Gabriel Tate (GT)

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