TV highlights 11/01/2013

First Time Farmers | John Bishop's Only Joking | Italy Unpacked | Great Night Out | Stella | Imagine: Dame Shirley Bassey: The Girl From Tiger Bay

First Time Farmers
8pm, Channel 4

First of a series looking at farming life through the eyes of the younger generation, the first triumvirate of tractor boys under scrutiny being three friends from Herefordshire. Robbie wants to reverse the fortunes of his mum's struggling pig farm, Ed finds himself leaving a career in the City to return to his roots, while Nick is trying to escape the family farming business. Compared with the reality show trope of hapless youth struggling with modest setbacks, it's a refreshing look at how well twentysomethings muck in when livelihoods depend on it. Mark Jones

John Bishop's Only Joking
8.30pm, Sky1

John Bishop's new vehicle is a resolutely family-friendly throwback to the days of The Comedians, when TV standup was a relentless stream of "fella-walked-into-a-bar" jokes that steadfastly avoided any reference to life as actually lived. A cast of thousands are involved, including celebrities from Ricky Hatton and Robbie Williams to ordinary folk, telling creaky jokes that at least crease them up. All this is peppered with occasional pellets of non-abrasive observational humour from smirk-merchants such as Jason Manford. David Stubbs

Italy Unpacked
9pm, BBC2

What a tough job it isn't as a travel presenter. Following on from last year's Sicily series in which the pair looked sunburned and smug in the south of the country, Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli visit the north of Italy. Graham-Dixon talks about the culture, while Locatelli eats the food. They begin their journey in Bologna, a city known for being as learned as it is fat. A later trip to Parma combines their interests again at the Palatina library, where they view a manuscript of the first cookbook of a newly-united Italy John Robinson

Great Night Out
9pm, ITV1

Comedy drama from the makers of The Worst Week Of My Life, with four 30-ish lads from Stockport, each cut from a different stereotype – cuckolded husband, brash divorcee, shambling singleton and erm, the other one – venturing on a night out. This week's caper finds the quartet stuck on a London-bound train with a reluctant groom, and on cuckolded husband's anniversary, too. Light on gags but strong performances (including turns from Ricky Tomlinson and Isy Suttie) elevate this into watchable territory. Gwilym Mumford

9pm, Sky1

Ruth Jones returns as the single mum from Pontyberry in this exceptional comedy drama. Stella's expecting, and unsure who the daddy is – lovely Shaun or her unreliable ex Rob. Meanwhile eldest son Luke has moved back to Canada with Rob to start a new life, and Auntie Brenda is back on a visit from Tenerife with a truckload of her unminced words to dish out to all and sundry. You care about the people, you want to know what happens next, and the acting is superb. Simple, effective storytelling. Julia Raeside

Imagine: Dame Shirley Bassey: The Girl From Tiger Bay
9.15pm, BBC4

"Talking about my personal life is hell," Shirley Bassey tells Alan Yentob, and so saying, gives almost nothing away in this edition of a previously aired Imagine. It's up to some sad newspaper headlines and hushed talk of "bumpy rides" to hint at a less than deliriously happy backstory, while songwriters such as Richard Hawley, David Arnold and Neil Tennant add to her diva mystique by penning some Bassey-style songs for the Dame to exquisitely holler. It's followed by Bassey At The Beeb: a collection of performances from the archives. Ali Catterall


Mark Jones, David Stubbs, John Robinson, Gwilym Mumford, Julia Raeside and Ali Catterall

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