Friday’s best TV: The Nutcracker, Coastal Path

Magical storytelling to keep the kids entertained in this annual festive offering. Plus: fossil-hunting, glorious views and a swanherd in Devon and Dorset

The Nutcracker
5pm, CBeebies

Pour yourself a sloe gin and park the children in front of CBeebies’ annual festive offering, as their top characters take on The Nutcracker. The plot is watertight: a pair of kids travel to the Land of Sweets on Christmas Eve and see their toys coming to life. The stars performed the show live at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre, so it is the true entertainers who shine: step forward show-stealing Justin “Mr Tumble” Fletcher, who is a magical choice of storyteller. Hannah Verdier

9pm, ITV

Returning for one last hurrah, Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi reprise their roles as sniping septuagenarians Freddie and Stuart in a special that traces a year in the couple’s lives. Sadly, while there are plenty of gags in the Great British Joke Book that bear revisiting, Vicious yet again too often ignores these in favour of gratuitous swearing and one-liners that should have been left in the 1970s. Alternatively, postmodern campery of the very highest order. Jonathan Wright

Rick Stein’s Long Weekends
9pm, BBC2

Last in the series of the chef’s pleasurably self-indulgent mini-breaks. Stein’s strength lies in making any country’s cuisine accessible by approaching it in an unpretentious manner, which is exactly what he does in Palermo. Here, influences from Italy, Spain, France, north Africa and the Middle East melt together in one nutty, sun-ripened pot of flavour. Additionally, Rick gets a cookery lesson from a duchess, and throws together his own masala chicken. Jack Seale

Walliams & Friend
9.30pm, BBC1

This latest comedy vehicle for David Walliams comes complete with a sidecar: each week, a special guest star dives into the dressing-up box for some knockabout sketches and endless spoofs of other TV shows. Tonight’s instalment features Goodness Gracious Me veteran Meera Syal, who shines as both a bossy grandma-turned-unrelenting police interrogator and a recent divorcee tentatively getting to grips with a sexbot. Graeme Virtue

The Gadget Show
7pm, Channel 5

There are two types of techno buff: those who need to have the very latest stuff right now, and retro obsessives who hanker for yesteryear’s gizmos. Journalist Harry Wallop shares tips with Ortis Deley for cash-strapped early adopters, while Jason Bradbury reveals how some of your less-than-current gadgets and hardware may be floggable. Meanwhile, Jon Bentley vets three televisions for value for money, and Amy Williams road-tests TV-streaming services. David Stubbs

Coastal Path
8.30pm, BBC2

Final instalment of Paul Rose’s trudge along all 630 miles of the South West Coast Path, which traces the edges of Britain’s lower left-hand corner. This episode finds Rose in Devon and Dorset, hunting fossils and meeting a swanherd, among other diversions. These are largely incidental, however, to the show’s primary selling point: luxuriant shots of glorious views. It seems reasonable to suppose that the path will be more crowded next spring. Andrew Mueller

The Blacklist
9pm, Sky Living

Who knows how many further names there are on Red’s apparently infinite list of decreasingly probable global villains? Tonight, it’s a particularly fiendish case: a scientist who conducts experiments enabling criminals to alter their identities, with sometimes grisly consequences. Meanwhile, a medical emergency forces Liz to establish for certain if Alexander Kirk is her biological father. James Spader as Red is the series’ redeeming joy. David Stubbs

Film choice

Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997), 11.25pm, ITV4

Based on Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch, this is one of the best screen adaptations of the author’s work. Pam Grier is the not-so-young heroine, trying to make a living – then a killing – in LA gangsterland. The music is soulful, the dialogue crackles and the characters – bail bondsman Robert Forster, Samuel L Jackson’s deadly arms dealer, his stoned girlfriend Bridget Fonda and Robert De Niro’s dim hood – are right on the money. Paul Howlett

The Other Boleyn Girl (Justin Chadwick, 2008), 12.50am, Channel 4

Adapted from Philippa Gregory’s novel, this account of the sisters vying to be Henry VIII’s (Eric Bana) mistress numero uno is a handsomely made, old-fashioned bodice-ripper. Scarlett Johansson is a Snow White-like Mary, while Natalie Portman is sister Anne, whose machinations would make Lucrezia Borgia blush. Paul Howlett

Sport choice

Alpine Skiing: The World Cup From Val d’Isère in France, featuring the first run of the women’s downhill combined. 9.15am, Eurosport 2

Championship Football: Norwich City v Huddersfield Town Canaries meet Terriers. 7pm, Sky Sports 1

Test Cricket: India v England Coverage of the second day from MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. 3.45am, Sky Sports 2


Hannah Verdier, Jonathan Wright, Jack Seale, Graeme Virtue, David Stubbs, Andrew Mueller and Paul Howlett

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Friday’s best TV: Mastermind; Lethal Weapon
Hitchcock and Seinfeld feature in the bumper final of this year’s brainbox showdown. Plus: the classic cop-buddy franchise gets a TV reboot, 30 years on

Andrew Mueller, Phil Harrison, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Hannah J Davies, Ali Catterall, Jonathan Wright, David Stubbs

03, Mar, 2017 @6:09 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: Unreported World; The Level
Bombing in Yemen has disrupted the food supply and raises questions about Britain’s role in supplying arms to the Saudis. Plus a tense new cop drama with Philip Glenister

Jonathan Wright, Jack Seale, John Robinson, Ali Catterall, Ben Arnold, Graeme Virtue, David Stubbs and Paul Howlett

30, Sep, 2016 @5:20 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: Will & Grace; Rome Unpacked
The veteran sitcom’s comeback episode will delight hardcore fans (if nobody else); plus an adventure in one of the world’s truly great cities

Jack Seale, David Stubbs, Hannah Verdier, Phil Harrison, Graeme Virtue, Ben Arnold, Andrew Mueller

05, Jan, 2018 @5:59 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: Gogglesprogs; Versailles; The Last Leg
The junior TV critics cast an eye over this year’s election campaign. Plus: snatch more laughs from the fallout with Adam Hills and co; and Louis XIV reconsiders all that lovemaking

Ali Catterall, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Phil Harrison, Paul Howlett, John Robinson, Jack Seale, Jonathan Wright

09, Jun, 2017 @5:20 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: The Last Leg; Lethal Weapon
Return of the cheerful, topical comedy hosted by Adam Hills; Riggs and Murtaugh investigate the death of a pop star’s bodyguard. Plus: Graham Norton welcomes Tom Cruise back to the sofa

John Robinson, Graeme Virtue, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Jonathan Wright, Jack Seale, Ali Catterall and Paul Howlett

26, Jan, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: Versailles, Lethal Weapon, Hospital People
There’s more regal rumpy pumpy in the palace, plus Riggs faces ghosts of Christmas past and Tom Binns’s multi-role medical comedy continues

Ben Arnold, Ali Catterall, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Paul Howlett, John Robinson, Jack Seale, Jonathan Wright, Hannah Verdier

28, Apr, 2017 @5:10 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: People’s History of Pop; Gogglebox
The Libertines, Amy Winehouse and Travis feature in the final part of Sara Cox’s splendid series. And will SS-GB come under the Goggleboxers’ scrutiny again? We can only hope so

Ali Catterall, Mark Gibbings-Jones, John Robinson, Ben Arnold, Graeme Virtue, Jonathan Wright

10, Mar, 2017 @6:10 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: The Story of UB40; Walliams & Friend
The 1970s reggae-pop darlings rake over the ashes of their career; and Harry Enfield, perhaps inevitably, steals the show from David Walliams

David Stubbs, Andrew Mueller, Phil Harrison, Ben Arnold, Graeme Virtue, Ali Catterall

02, Dec, 2016 @6:30 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: Gogglesprogs, The Millionaire’s Holiday Club, Eurotrash
Bewildered young commentators get to grips with Trump and Mamma Mia!; interesting backstories in the lives of the super-rich; and the showcase of Euro eccentricity returns for a one-off special

Rachel Aroesti, David Stubbs, Graeme Virtue, Ali Catterall, Hannah Verdier, Ben Arnold, Paul Howlett

17, Jun, 2016 @5:20 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: Hooten & the Lady; American Horror Story
There’s some serious Indiana Jones vibes in Sky’s new adventure drama, while Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology series returns

Ali Catterall, Hannah Verdier, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Hannah J Davies, Jonathan Wright, Ben Arnold, Graeme Virtue and Paul Howlett

16, Sep, 2016 @5:20 AM