Weekend TV Preview 8-10 April | Virgin Media
Weekend TV preview: Ghosts, The Beatles and time-travel

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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 fascinating documentaries, heartwarming tales and gripping dramas.

The Ghost Inside My Child

Friday 8th at 10pm on Lifetime (CH 104)

The Ghost Inside My Child

What do children usually contain? Ice cream, baked beans, and perhaps the odd fish finger. But ghosts? That’s when you know you’ve got a problem, as the parents in this series found out for themselves.

Depending on how you look at it, The Ghost Inside My Child is one of three things. An eerie analysis of paranormal phenomena, a bunch of ridiculous nonsense, or a bunch of ridiculous nonsense that also happens to be highly entertaining. We’re going to go ahead and opt for option 3. This is a show which pulls out all the stops to freak us out: think blurry, glowing imagery of eerie kids, fearful talking head interviews from worried relatives, and B-movie horror movie theatrics as the details of each “possession” are played out for us.

All of which you’re likely to regard as complete guff, unless your willingness to believe exceeds even Fox Mulder’s. Still, like we say, it’s likely to be rather engrossing to watch, and tonight’s episode features a young child called Noah who allegedly started to talk and behave exactly like his uncle. Which would have been no big deal, if aforementioned uncle hadn’t died years before Noah was born. Oooh…

What’s the verdict?

So this “documentary” promises to be the most fun you can have with ghosts without the involvement of Dr Peter Venkman or Yvette Fielding. High praise indeed – just remember to dodge any flying green vomit.

Lookalikes

Friday 8th at 10pm on Lifetime (CH 104)

Lookalikes

Part surreal comedy and part “insightful” documentary, Lookalikes applies the reality show formula to the lives of long-suffering celebrity lookalikes. And we love it.

When it first turned up on our screens last year, Lookalikes looked like just another Channel 4 docusoap. You know the drill: twinkly whimsical music, talking head interviews, shots of bleak estates, and people nattering to the camera while making themselves tea. But actually it’s something far more entertaining. Don’t be fooled by the “structured reality show” tag. This is essentially a sitcom in the style of The Office, which made it especially surreal whenever the David Brent lookalike came on screen.

Now it’s back for a series, and the good news is that it’s every bit as unexpectedly witty and delightful. Part of the success is down to the hapless charm of its David Beckham – a chap called Andy Harmer – who runs a lookalikes agency and has to wearily shepherd his errant and often bonkers colleagues. And the fact that he had to refresh his roster and get new “celebs” on board made his already difficult job all the more cringe-inducing…

What's the verdict?

While there is nothing in this episode to match the loopy moment last year when we saw “Gordon Ramsay” on a date with “Linda Robson” while “David Brent” served food, this is still a genuinely warm, funny and rather eye-opening look at a very strange profession indeed.

Hidden Horrors Of The Moon Landings

Friday 9th at 8pm on National Geographic (CH 266)

Hidden Horrors Of The Moon Landings

Sadly this isn’t a documentary about secret dragon-beasts lurking in the craters of the Moon, but the revelations about the sheer risks involved in the NASA missions are sure to thrill as almost as much.

Neil Armstrong is so enshrined in our collective consciousness as an icon that it’s easy to forget how easily he might have died during his mission to the Moon. That simple fact sums up what this programme is all about: the radical dangers of space travel during the golden age of lunar exploration. We all know about Apollo 13, and how the three men on board almost never made it back in one piece, but this film is a rude awakening about the risks of each and every mission.

The astronauts were more than just brilliant pilots – they were chosen on the basis of their bravery. Or foolhardiness, depending on how you want to look at it. After all, their chances of getting blown up during a flight into space was far greater than getting peppered with bullets in Vietnam. The programme also looks at the scarily bog-standard technology of the time, and reveals how astronauts managed to extract themselves from mortal danger despite the odds.

What’s the verdict?

Harrowing but inspiring, this is a documentary that will have us feeling all nostalgic for a time when humankind was staring up at the sky in wonder, rather than down at small glass screens checking for the latest memes. 

Becoming The Beatles

Aired Saturday 9th April at pm on Sky Arts (CH 122)

Becoming The Beatles

There is more John, Paul, Ringo and George action than you can shake an eggman at in this celebration of the Beatles' early years, which also features insights from old pals and celebrity fans like that nice Len Goodman bloke.

There hasn’t exactly been a shortage of Beatles… “stuff”… in the mass media over the last several decades. All this time after their heyday, we’re still enthralled by all things Fab Four. Culturally speaking, it’s been one endless Liverpudlian love-in. And this particular documentary sees the band's friends and contemporaries natter about the Beatles' early years in working-class Liverpool, their formation and legendary gigs in Hamburg, and their eventual rise to global-super-hyper-mega stardom.

With interviews with everyone from chart rival Gerry Marsden (who was usually accompanied by the Pacemakers) to, er, Tony Booth, it is a must-watch for Beatles fanatics and casual musos, but – just as importantly as all the facts it flings our way – it is a surreal reminder of the days when the future legends were just a bunch of blokes from up north, trying their hardest to make a living from various gigs. Aww, bless.

What's the verdict?

Sure, it's a story that's been told many times before, in countless documentaries as well as movies like Nowhere Boy and Backbeat, but the origin story of the Beatles is still compelling stuff. To the prospect of seeing the lads in their prime, brimming with their unique blend of boyish innocence and wry British wit, we can only say: yeah yeah yeah!

11.22.63

Saturday 10th at 9pm on FOX (CH 157)

11.22.63

If Goodnight Sweetheart was about the Kennedy assassination rather than WW2, and starred James Franco instead of Nicholas Lyndhurst, then it would be this exact show. But is that going to be a good thing?

Stephen King may be a master when it comes to gripping yarns, but the central idea of 11.22.63 seems oddly unimaginative for him. Basically, man goes back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination. It’s pretty “ho hum” stuff. We’ve seen it before, in Quantum Leap. And even Red Dwarf had an episode about the exact same concept. But what makes this glossy new drama stand apart is that it’s as much about the culture clash as it is about the assassination. And that’s where the Goodnight Sweetheart connection comes in.

Hollywood star James Franco takes the role of Jake, a depressed school teacher who has nothing to live for. Until he discovers a portal in a closet which leads back to the shiny happy world of 1960, and gets embroiled in a scheme to prevent JFK getting shot in Dallas later that decade. Pretty soon Jake is getting his hair cut and learning the 60s lingo, not to mention cultivating a romance with a contemporary gal. In short, he starts leading a whole new life in this long-ago era, while also dealing with his bizarre mission, not to mention some spooky goings-on involving the forces of time itself.

What’s the verdict?

Taking a corny premise and making it new and exciting, 11.22.63 is clearly the must-watch drama of the moment, and further proof that Stephen King is still the man when it comes to genuinely weird and wonderful character-driven sci-fi/horror. Get stuck in.

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