Television preview RECOMMENDED VIEWING THIS WEEKEND
The Calling Sat 8.10pm BBC2
Sister Wendy's Story of Painting Sun 4.15pm BBC1
Jeffrey Bernard: Reach for the Ground Sun 9.30pm C4
It's a weekend of the sacred and the profane - and Pets Win Prizes (Sat BBC1). "I've finally come out," teases Dale Winton, who was telling OK! readers all about his gender unspecific ex-partner the other week... "on the village green". A cocked eyebrow, and the studio audience, with its collective memory of Larry Grayson, chortles back. Lizzie, a haughtily beautiful springer spaniel (Gainsborough would have loved Lizzie), is seemingly the only creature immune to Winton's soft camp charm. Asked by her owner Graham to run up and down with eggs in her mouth, she obeys with what can only be called noblesse oblige. "She's not very impressed with me," observes Winton.
Sister Wendy Beckett, the toothy art-loving nun, moves to BBC1 from BBC2 and finds herself following in the unlikely footsteps of our own Andrew Graham-Dixon. Whereas Graham-Dixon confined himself to these shores, Sister Wendy is quite happy to take us for a jaunt through the entire history of art, as she sees it. Such critical self-confidence was supposed to have died with Sir Kenneth Clark, but somehow Sister Wendy makes it seem like humility. In the first programme of Sister Wendy's Story of Painting (Sun BBC1), she is whisked from her caravan in Norfolk to the caves of Lascaux in the south of France, Egypt, Pompeii, the isle of Iona and Saumur in the Loire Valley, breezing along from prehistoric cave painting to the burgeoning of the Renaissance. You can see why professional critics are so suspicious of the self-educated sister - and why TV producers think she's a God-send. Those of you who have never seen her in action, the idea of an art critic in a wimple might sound suspiciously like something out of Franco's Spain. Wait, though, till she starts talking about "great black balls of male erotic fury" (the bison at Lascaux) and "the ripe firm apple breasts" of the Egyptian handmaiden found in the tombs of the Pharoahs.
Still on a clerical theme, The Calling (Sat BBC2) is a new five-part documentary series going behind the scenes at Queen's College, Birmingham, a seminary for future Anglican, Methodist and United Reform Church ministers. The first programme concentrates on Chris, a big, extroverted former social worker and chef, who chose to apply for the Church of England's priesthood when he was at a Christian rock festival. Chris, you see, is a New Age sympathiser. Just when you think this is going to be just another of those let's-poke-the-cameras-round-a-hitherto-unfilmed-institution sort of series, up pops a bit of theological debate, with Chris's tutor wondering why Chris is a Christian, and not, say, a Buddhist or a Hindu. The debate seems oddly truncated, though, as if most of it went on away from the cameras.
Jeffrey Bernard (he of Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell) has a nagging fear that the after-life will be something like a Terence Conran restaurant - all polished chrome, white walls and "no smoking" (which shows he's been to precious few Terence Conran restaurants). Sitting in his high- rise flat (he doesn't get out much since the amputation), and draining another bottle of Smirnoff, Bernard ponders that fact of his continued existence with some vexation. "The medical profession don't know why I'm still alive," he sighs in the strangely cursory Jeffrey Bernard: Reach for the Ground (Sun C4). "They said I should have died in 1965." Talk about drinking on borrowed time.
The big picture
Sat 10pm C4
James Mason only landed the role of Humbert Humbert in Lolita after Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Rex Harrison and Noel Coward turned it down. But in Stanley Kubrick's typically clever tale of forbidden love, Mason makes a suitably convincing job of the predatory middle-aged academic who falls for the alluring 12-year-old daughter (Sue Lyon) of a gauche widow (Shelley Winters). Despite differences of opinion with the director, Vladimir Nabakov deservedly won an Oscar nomination for adapting his own verbally tricksy novel for the screen.
The big match
Euro 96 Live: the Final
Sun 7pm BBC1 and ITV
To the immense disappointment of the host nation, the final of Euro 96 is a repeat of the first-round match between Germany and the Czech Republic, which the Germans won comfortably. Since then, however, the Czechs have added steel to their game, overcoming formidable opponents in Italy, Portugal and France. The audacious chip against the Portuguese by the man with the 1970s time-warp hairdo, Karel Poborsky (above), remains one of the golden moments from the championship. That said, the smart money will be on the Germans to win.
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