Stuck for what to watch on the box this weekend? Here’s a handy guide to the best of the unmissable TV coming up, including Egyptian mummies, 70s rocker’s and cool superspys.
King Tut’s Tomb: The Hidden Chamber
Friday 19th February at 9pm on Channel 5 (CH 105)
The one thing more awesome and beguiling than the tomb of Tutankhamun? The prospect that even more historical grandeur lies undiscovered right next to it. This documentary excavates the evidence…
It was in February 1922 that the burial chamber of Tutankhamun was finally opened, unleashing a plague of killer scarab beetles upon the luckless adventurers who dared disturb his slumber. OK, so only the first part of that sentence actually happened, but that was startling enough to gain the world’s attention and make Tutankhamun – a fairly nondescript child king in his day – into the most recognised icon of Ancient Egypt.
But what if there’s even more to the tomb than meets the eye? This is the gist of this fascinating film, which looks into the possibility that hidden doorways may lead to an adjacent, undiscovered tomb containing no less a figure than Queen Nefertiti herself. It’s a controversial theory, but – as this documentary shows – there is some radar evidence that there is a chamber which may indeed lead to another burial sanctum. Trouble is, actually getting into such an ancient, enclosed space may cause untold damage to the whole structure. Where’s Lara Croft when you need her?
What's the verdict?
Debates continue to abound about the true extent of Tut’s tomb, but whether or not anyone comes to any final conclusions, the sheer mystery is enough to make us tingle with wonder and excitement. Ancient Egypt will do that.
Daft Punk Unchained
Friday 19th February at 10pm on BBC Four (CH 107)
They’re the dynamic duo of dance music, but just who ARE Daft Punk? This celeb-packed documentary goes behind the scenes to tell the story of the most secretive superstars on the planet.
Daft Punk are unique, and not just in terms of their sound. Consider this point: they’re very probably the only A-listers whose faces are a complete mystery to most people. In fact, even music buffs probably won’t know their actual names (Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, in case you were wondering). And this is the really admirable thing about the electronic music combo: in a culture of ravenous fame-seekers, where everyone and their aunt is desperate to get their names and faces splashed over everything, Daft Punk want the exact opposite.
They just want to make music, under the cover of anonymity. A funny kind of anonymity, to be sure. They attend big bashes, make music with famous singers, and have the trappings of celebrity, but without those futuristic helmets they’d blend into the crowd. It’s a fascinating story, and this documentary takes us on a tour of their world, with sequences shot in LA, Tokyo and Paris, along with rare footage and some fascinating interviews with starry pals. Yep, we’re about to “get lucky”(!) with this one.
What’s the verdict?
Daft Punk themselves may be not like spilling the beans, but the likes of Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Nile Rodgers will be on hand to shed light on the mysterious pair, in a programme that will suddenly make it seem a lot cooler to stay in on a Friday night.
Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day
Saturday 20th February at 9pm on Sky Arts (CH 122)
Bellowing with the righteous power of a man half his age, Robert Plant takes to the mike in this barnstorming celebration of all things ROCK. We’re not worthy…
Led Zeppelin are right up there with the Beatles and Rolling Stones as one of the defining British bands, virtually creating their own genre and inspiring armies of long-haired rock gods to waggle their hair in their wake. And the most impressive thing? That their reunion concert in 2007 wasn't some embarrassing cash-in that made them look like a gaggle of granddads. It was in, fact, magnificent.
And now we all have a chance to experience it thanks to the good old television screen. Filmed in the O2 Arena, this is a cinematic evocation of the moment, with the rockers running through some of their greatest songs. Stairway to Heaven is there, though you'd probably have found it tricky to play it backwards and hear the alleged prayer to Satan. There is also the gorgeously foreboding Kashmir, which sounds like the theme song to an approaching apocalypse, plus the tune that's perhaps their most iconic: the screeching, lusty Whole Lotta Love.
What's the verdict?
Sure, it is a bit Spinal Tap in places, but the unashamed showmanship is part of what makes this type of music so great. An antidote to today's peachy-clean pop, Led Zeppelin remind us why they certainly deserve a whole lot of our love.
Kipling’s Indian Adventure
Saturday 20th February at 9.15pm on BBC Two (CH 102)
Author and former soldier Patrick Hennessey follows in the footsteps of one of literature’s most controversial titans, in this exploration of Rudyard Kipling and the events which shaped his work.
Few classic writers divide opinion quite as much as Rudyard Kipling. On the one hand, he is casually beloved by people who may not even know much about him. The poem “If” has been reproduced in countless compilations and self-help tracts (and on plates, and on tea towels, and goodness knows what else). And everyone knows The Jungle Book, of course. Yet it may come as a shock to fans of “Disney” Kipling to learn that many critics condemn him as a defender of British imperialism.
In fact, many other writers (including George Orwell) slammed him as a bigot and a racist. But will Patrick Hennessey take a more measured approach in this documentary? He’ll be retracing the teenage Kipling’s travels through India in 1882 – a trip which saw the young writer mingling with British officers, aristocrats and “natives” alike. It was a life-changing odyssey for Kipling, and may well be the key to understanding and perhaps redeeming some of the more questionable aspects of his work…
What’s the verdict?
A genius who is hated and adored in equal measure, Kipling demands re-discovery in our troubled times. And this programme, travelling across space and back through time, is one way of doing it…
The Night Manager
Sunday 21st February at 9pm on BBC One (CH 101)
Boasting such a formidable selection of stars that you almost have to re-read the cast list again just to be sure you aren’t seeing things, The Night Manager brings John Le Carre’s spy epic to colourful life.
To a sizeable section of the viewing public, there’s only one thing we need to say about The Night Manager to make it a must-watch: Tom Hiddleston is in it. And not only is he in it, but he’s being really, really Tom Hiddleston-ish in it too. Suave, smirking, kitted out in natty suits, and basically looking every bit as cool as expect him to be. But what about the rest of this new six-part drama? Turns out, it all sounds pretty awesome.
For one thing, it’s based on a Le Carre novel, which immediately raises expectations of a complex, satisfying, darn near nutritious bit of telly. The story follows our hero - a former soldier working in Cairo – who is drawn into a scheme by British intelligence to snare an international arms dealer. Who is played by Hugh Laurie. Yep: Hugh Laurie as an international arms dealer. That’ll be yet another reason not to miss this one. Add to that the presence of the always-excellent Olivia Colman, along with spectacular locations and ripped-from-the-headlines relevance, and this is a show you have absolutely no excuse not to watch.
What’s the verdict?
Just when we least expect it, the BBC brandishes a major drama boasting some of the coolest actors around, written by a literary legend. Enough said.
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