Television choice

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The Independent Culture
The rumour is, of course, that Victor Meldrew puts his other foot in the grave in this year's seasonal special of One Foot in the Grave (9pm BBC1) - and BBC have cleverly stoked the rumour by withholding all preview cassettes of the epsiode. The last time they did this was over Princess Diana's Panorama confessional.

The odd shopping list or betting slip aside, England, My England (9.05pm C4) is the last thing written by John Osborne. This imaginative, multi- layered life of composer Henry Purcell, co-written by Charles Wood but carrying all the hallmarks of its director, Tony Palmer, contains some of the most bizarre casting this side of panto, including former EastEnder barmaid Letitia Dean, Antonia de Sanchez and, as Purcell, boyish singer Michael Ball. Simon Callow plays Charles II and an actor called Charles. Yes, I know my dears, but bear with it. It's not all bad.

The Abbey (9pm BBC2) is a very funny - in an understated, Alan Bennett sort of way - new series, in which Bennett traipses around Westminster Abbey, commenting mordantly on Poets' Corner, the Coronation Chair and so forth, while the camera wittily evesdrops on the other visitors to "the Queen's parish church". The sight of Gladstone being explained to a party of bemused Japanese tourists is one of the comedy high spots of the season.

A repeat, I know, but many of you might have missed writer Nick Dear and director Roger Michell's excellent adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion (7pm BBC2) when it was shown earlier this year. Much closer in spirit to Austen than Andrew Davies's Pride and Prejudice adaptation, this was a work of love and a drama highlight of 1995.

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