Sunday's best TV: Planet Earth II; Whites v Blacks – How Football Changed a Nation

Attenborough serves up a desert-themed spectacular, and there’s a fascinating, enraging look at race in British football

Whites v Blacks: How Football Changed a Nation
9pm, BBC2

Never a man overburdened by notions of racial sensitivity, West Brom manager Ron Atkinson dubbed his 70s trio of black players “The Three Degrees”. But for Brendon Batson, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis, racial difference – and the vile abuse it provoked – was no joke. Adrian Chiles explores the experiences of these pioneers via an extraordinary “black v white” testimonial in 1979. Fascinating, enraging and moving. Phil Harrison

Planet Earth II
8pm, BBC1

Following last week’s look at jungles, here’s the polar opposite. Though “polar” only partially applies, with tonight’s topographical topic being the flora and fauna of the world’s deserts, unforgivingly barren landscapes providing an eternal struggle for wildlife. Sandgrouse undertake a deadly daily trek to collect water for their offspring, while lions prowl a locale so bereft of suitable prey that an area as wide as Switzerland must be monitored. Mark Gibbings-Jones

The Mayflower Pilgrims: Behind The Myth
8pm, BBC2

Is there an American tradition more foxing to Brits than Thanksgiving? It’s awkwardly close to Christmas and with the same big dinner, but has the un-festive aftertaste of genocide. This doc looks at the 17th-century journey to the new world so keenly celebrated in the States, with reconstructions and talking heads recounting the extreme circumstances of their arrival. Just don’t ask what happened to the indigenous people. Grace Rahman

9pm, Channel 4

This series of Humans is so unnerving and plausible – and there’s no let up this week. Synth Mia (the flawless Gemma Chan) is at risk from a mysterious group, while human-synth pairing Pete (Neil Maskell) and Karen (Ruth Bradley) are on the rocks. As teenager Renie continues with her “synthie” lifestyle, the lines between human and robot become even more blurred. Whip-smart Mattie decides to leave home in pursuit of a synth, causing worry for her parents. Hannah Verdier

Storyville: Bride For Sale – Sonita
10.30pm, BBC4

A gripping doc exploring the plight of women under two subtly different patriarchies. Sonita is 18 and wants to be a rap star, but she’s an illegal immigrant in Iran, where female solo singers are banned. Life gets even tougher when her family instruct her to return to Afghanistan, to marry for money. Sonita turns this strife into lyrics and the tension between creativity and reality grows as the film’s director is tempted to help. Jack Seale

Harry Hill’s Tea-Time
6pm, Sky1

This week, Harry invites an often bemused but nonetheless game Joey Essex on to his teatime show, to embrace a children’s theme. The pair make savoury envelopes using popular crisp brands (an exercise that betrays Joey’s unfamiliarity with the inner workings of the post office); a series of chocolate crispy Unesco world heritage sites; and a replica of Sesame Street’s Elmo from sweetcorn, paint, Solvite and scotch eggs. It is, as ever, a delight. Ben Arnold

Chicago Med
9pm, Universal

The serviceable upgrade on ER exhibits a worrying theme this week: female staff letting their feelings get the better of them. First, Manning allows her emotional involvement with a young cancer patient to lead to a questionable assurance to her parents, while Reese goes too far in reaching out to save a teenager from sexual trafficking. Meanwhile, a 14-year-old “body hacker” is admitted having swallowed a piece of self-made metal for research purposes. David Stubbs

Film choice

A girl and a gun... Angelina Jolie in spy thriller Salt
A girl and a gun... Angelina Jolie in spy thriller Salt. Photograph: Col Pics/Everett Rex Feature

Beyond The Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012) Sunday, 1.10am, Channel 4
Another painfully authentic picture of malfunctioning modern Romania from the director of 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days. Based on the true story of an exorcism performed on a young nun in 2005, it focuses on the desperate relationship of two needy young women: the egotistical Alina (Cristina Flutur) and the thoughtful novice nun Voichita (Cosmina Stratan). Alina’s unexpected arrival at the grim convent where her friend has been taken sets up a poisonous confrontation with the harsh, intransigent local priest (Valeriu Andriuta). A deeply chilling drama.
Paul Howlett

Salt (Phillip Noyce, 2010) 9pm, E4 Tom Cruise was originally lined up to star in this fast, far-fetched spy action-thriller, but his Edwin Salt became Evelyn when Angelina Jolie took over. And a fine job she makes of it: all hi-tech spycraft and martial arts ninja trickery as she works the Jason Bourne route of battling Russian baddies while fleeing her own CIA bosses, carried out with verve and sly humour. PH

Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998) 9pm, Channel 5 Apart from the heavy-handed, modern-day top-and-tailing, Spielberg’s second world war epic is a superb evocation of men in combat, most forcefully in the famous opening battle, which pitches us headfirst into the chaos and horror of the Omaha beach landing on D-day. Tom Hanks is the quietly noble Captain Miller, leading a platoon ordered to bring home Matt Damon’s Private Ryan, whose three brothers have died in combat elsewhere. PH

Live Sport

Test Cricket: India v England 6am, Sky Sports 2 The second day of the third Test from Mohali.

Formula 1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 12noon, Channel 4 The climactic race of the season with Hamilton and Rosberg still neck and neck.

Premier League Football: Arsenal v Bournemouth 2pm, Sky Sports 1 Eddie Howe’s consistent over-achievers visit the Emirates to take on Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.


Phil Harrison, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Grace Rahman, Hannah Verdier, Jack Seale, Ben Arnold, David Stubbs

The GuardianTramp

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