Our top daily TV programmes week beginning Saturday, July 25


The Masked Singer US (ITV, 5pm)

Cast your mind back to January 4 this year. As millions of us stared blankly at those credit card bills while trying to stick to that post-Christmas diet, Joel Dommett rocked up on ITV with a show which shook some viewers to their core.

The Masked Singer felt like someone had slipped something in the nation's water supply; a collective hallucination where the once safe, reliable Saturday night shiny floor shows had mutated.

It was like getting TV from another dimension – an alternative version of Blighty where Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Rita Ora and Ken Jeong were trying to guess the identities of assorted disguised celebrities.

Obviously we've had plenty of offbeat Saturday night shows over the years, but TMS seemed to take bizarre to a whole new level. However, in those dark, depressing days, when millions of us looked forward to a summer 2020 holiday, something strange happened.

The show became compelling TV, not least for those who had been with it since episode one. The joy of then sitting oblivious loved ones down and saying "Watch this," was strangely satisfying as their eyes grew wide and jaws hit the floor.

It was also great fun taking to social media and guessing who the likes of Hedgehog was. With his steampunk attire and amazing singing voice, it had to be Jason Manford, didn't it? Well, yes it was, but the level of security attached to the project blew his mind. Jason was driven to a hangar in London to protect his identity, and signed a non-disclosure agreementg.

Of course it wasn't just Jason who went through a process worthy of MI5. England footballer Teddy Sheringham also went to great lengths to ensure his identity as Tree didn't lead to an own goal; flame-haired EastEnders veteran Patsy Palmer dazzled as Butterfly, and Celebrity Gogglebox regular Denise Van Outen wowed the masses as Fox.

For those who have been craving more inspired lunacy with Mr Jeong and other famous faces, this American version has been a great way to ease those summertime blues in recent weeks.

Blurring the line between fantasy and reality is singer and judge Robin Thicke. Former model Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg and Pussycat Doll/ace yoghurt saleswoman Nicole Scherzinger will also be passing judgement during the latest edition, while Nick Cannon hosts.

Will Ken once more know "exactly who this is" as Fox, Ladybug, Flower, Tree and Rottweiler perform?

More than likely, but the big question is: will you?


A Suitable Boy (BBC One, 9pm)

In the past few months we've been gripped by The Salisbury Poisonings, new versions of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads, I May Destroy You and The Luminaries, which ended its run last Sunday. Now comes an eagerly awaited adaptation of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy which, at well over a thousand pages, is one of the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the English language.

Condensing that massive tome into six bitesize episodes is no easy task, so the BBC turned to the man considered one of the best in the business - Andrew Davies, whose previous series include the original version of House of Cards, Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House and, most recently, ITV's take on Jane Austen's unfinished final book Sanditon.

Seth says: "It was with some anxiety that I agreed to my book being put on the screen, but I'm glad I did. With Andrew adapting and Mira Nair directing, I feel that my story is in safe yet inspiring hands. We all passionately believed that the series should be filmed in India with an Indian cast, and we have got great locations and wonderful actors."

It's Nair's first TV work, but she's an acclaimed auteur, having directed the likes of Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding and Salaam Bombay!

"Vikram tells the story of a free India and our people with wit, clarity and love – I am deeply honoured to be the one bringing this intimate, epic tale of an unseen India to the world," she says.

The drama has been made on location in such places as Lucknow and Maheshwar with a fine cast that includes Bollywood leading man Ishaan Khatter, Indian screen legend Tabu and rising star Tanya Maniktala.

Maniktala plays the central role of Lata, a student coming of age in northern India in 1951. Her mother is keen to find her a husband – the suitable boy of the title – but Lata is determined to carve her own path through life. Although torn between family duty and the idea of romance, she sets forth on an epic journey of love and self-discovery.


Anthony (BBC One, 8.30pm)

A couple of weeks ago, ITV re-screened its landmark 1999 drama The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, to tie in with a debate about racial equality in modern Britain.

Although now more than 20 years old, it still packed a powerful punch thanks to moving performances from Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Hugh Quarshie as the tragic teenager's parents, Doreen and Neville. The storyline, sadly, also remained relevant.

Now the BBC is broadcasting Anthony, a new drama inspired by the story of Anthony Walker, almost 15 years to the day since he was killed in an unprovoked attack by Michael Barton (brother of ex-footballer and current Fleetwood Town manager Joey) and his cousin, Paul Taylor; they are currently serving minimum terms of 17 years and eight months, and 23 years and eight months respectively, for murder.

Anthony was 18 at the time and studying for his A-levels. A devout Christian and basketball fan, he was dreaming of a law career and of visiting America when he was attacked while out with his girlfriend Louise Thompson and cousin Marcus Binns in Huyton, Merseyside. But unlike the Stephen Lawrence drama, it doesn't dwell on his death and its impact on those who loved him. Instead the drama imagines the life he might have lived had he survived.

The screenplay of this feature-length project has been written by someone who is used to shining a light on difficult, hard-hitting and often controversial subjects, Jimmy McGovern. He in turn was inspired by conversations with Gee Walker, Anthony's mother.

"I went to Jimmy because I couldn't think of anyone more suited who could depict, highlight and draw attention to the hard messages of a life not lived – Anthony's unfilled dreams, his potentials and the many lives he would have impacted on - which now will never be realised," says Gee.

McGovern adds: "I'd known Gee Walker for many years and every time I had needed to write about loss or grief I had gone to her and she had always been generous with her time and her profound wisdom. But one day SHE came to ME and asked me to write about her beloved Anthony. I said, 'Gee, if you're asking such a thing, I feel I have a God-given duty to do it.' And so I did it."

Toheeb Jimoh has been entrusted with portraying Anthony, alongside Rake Ayola as Gee.


Joanna Lumley's Unseen Adventures (ITV, 9pm)

What have you missed during lockdown? According to a recent survey, most Brits have longed to see friends and family, while others have pined for a trip down the pub or to a restaurant.

However, it's being prevented from going on holiday that has taken its toll on Joanna Lumley.

"I have missed travelling so much," the 74-year-old jet-setting actress, presenter, author, former model and activist says. "I've been lucky enough to visit some incredible places over the years. Travel is my passion, it's in my blood."

Although she has been grounded for the last few months, the lockdown has given Joanna a welcome chance to go back over some of her previous trips, and the result is this new three-part series in which she shares previously unseen bits from her travelling adventures.

Joanna heads as far east as Japan and west to Cuba to share her stories and give viewers an insight into how her travel programmes are made.

"What you eventually see on your screen takes weeks to shoot and months to edit and we didn't always have time to show you everything we filmed," she explains. "We have kept the unseen stories safe and now I can reveal this treasure trove."


Celebrity MasterChef (BBC One, 9pm)

We're now at the closing stages of the 2020 contest. In the first of three shows this week, the remaining contestants take part in the inaugural semi-final. They travel to the National Breeding Centre at Leamington Spa's Guide Dogs For The Blind to face their toughest challenge so far.

Aptly for such an intense show, contestants will be cooking in tents. Faced with unfamiliar equipment, the stars are split into two teams and are challenged to cook up a feast to celebrate Guide Dogs For The Blind's 90th anniversary for 120 staff, volunteers and those whose lives have been changed by the organisation. Later, in the MasterChef kitchen, the competitors are tasked with recreating their favourite takeaway dishes in the Invention Test.

In Thursday's second semi-final, John and Gregg are joined by Italian chef Aldo Zilli, who challenges the six remaining hopefuls to recreate one of his favourite recipes.

After using unfamiliar ingredients and techniques, the next task sees them serving up a dish inspired by someone they love or admire - knowing that only three of them will be awarded places in the final.

And for that all-important task, the trio must cook and present a faultless three-course meal for judgement by John and Gregg.

It's anyone's guess who will clinch victory, but there is a good bet all of the shows this week will lead to a serious amount of fridge-raiding for us at home.


Escape to the Chateau: Make Do and Mend (Channel 4, 8pm)

Over the past four years, we've watched intrepid renovators Dick and Angel Strawbridge transform their 18th-century French home from a crumbling, uninhabitable group of buildings into a successful wedding venue and holiday home.

Dick and Angel bought Chateau de la Motte Husson, a 45-room manor home in the Pays-de-la-Loire region in 2015 and have since been sharing their own renovating experiences with others on TV series Escape to the Chateau.

One of the show's spin-offs, Escape to the Chateau: DIY, follows Brits who've also upped sticks to the French countryside to buy their own chateau or manor house, often spending less on their new homes than the price of a one-bedroom London flat. It became Channel 4's highest daytime ratings for a new launch in a decade.

Now, with people spending more time at home than ever before, Dick and Angel have recognised the public's desire to renovate what they can in their homes and filmed a new four-part series to inspire us all.

In Make and Mend, the couple are setting their sights on interiors, offering how-to DIY advice from their French home, as they tackle their own dream projects and try out new crafts to keep the whole family entertained during the lockdown.

In tonight's opening edition, Angel helps Miriam get over the lockdown blues by transforming her 1970s bathroom into a relaxing sanctuary – without changing either the suite or the tiles. Meanwhile, Dick digs out his old handmade smoker to help teach Phil the ancient art of cheese smoking.

Then, together Dick and Angel advise Tom and Sim how to bring their unique front door into the 21st century.


British Academy Television Awards 2020 (BBC One, 7pm)

Remember May 2019 when the world was relatively normal? Along came the Bafta TV Awards, that annual spring event, and shows such as A Very English Scandal, Bodyguard and Killing Eve led to much back slapping. Once the ceremony was over, and the teams behind EastEnders and Patrick Melrose walked off with their gongs, many thought that would be it until May 2020, when the whole thing would return for another run.

The 2020 ceremony is a show which has been delayed so long that many Bafta fans wondered if the powers that be had just written it off.

With help from the BBC's IT crowd, Richard Ayoade will be hosting the socially distant ceremony from a closed studio.

Lee Mack is up for another gong for WILTY. It'll be intriguing to see if the much in demand comedian can beat Frankie Boyle, Mo Gilligan or Graham Norton the finishing post in the Best Entertainment Performance category.

There's perhaps little wonder The Crown is up for yet another plaudit as Best Drama Series. With stunning turns from the likes of nominees Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter and Josh O'Connor, that Netflix saga made for compelling viewing once more.

Jet black comedy drama The End of the ******* World returned for a stunning second run, and nominee Naomi Ackie helped breathe new life into the mini series, while Suranne Jones's period drama Gentleman Jack, and Yakuza saga Giri/Haji also left millions perched on the edges of their sofas.

Given the long awaited return of Fleabag, there's little wonder show creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge is up for Best Actress, along with Sian Clifford as her long suffering screen sister; the Confessional Scene is also up for Must-See Moment.

The makers of Succession, Euphoria, Unbelievable, and When They See Us are all in with a chance of landing a plaudit for Best International Programme, while there's a strong chance Chernobyl will land Best Mini-Series. Unless A Confession, The Victim or The Virtues beat that fact-based drama to the winning post.

Let's just hope that by next spring all the winners can go back to physically accepting their plaudits rather than just virtually.