Television preview Recommended viewing this weekend

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Watching the the BBC's new costume drama, a three-part adaptation of Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Sun BBC1), I kept wondering what it was I was being reminded of. Then the answer came to me - it was EastEnders.

The trouble with so many of these TV adaptations of literary classics is that, strip away the authorial voice, and what you are left with are the bare bones of melodrama. This really hit home during the second half of tomorrow night's opener, when we are discovering the exact nature of Helen Graham's dark past. Her cad of a husband, played by Rupert Graves, is David Wicks (albeit with lashings of Richard E Grant in Withnail-on- a-bender mode), and his drinking problem is one we sat through with Phil Mitchell a couple of weeks ago. So what is left to elevate this beyond EastEnders? The frocks? The Bronte country locations? Tara Fitzgerald's cheekbones?

Now, I never saw the highly regarded (especially among the broody) Baby It's You, but I understand it was a Desmond Morris-type series about how tiny tots perceive the world. From the same people comes A Dog's World (Sat C4) and, well, you get the picture. Dogs, however, don't - seeing only in ill-focused wide angle - and then in greens and blues (when it comes to sniffing, running and hearing, however, we're the dunces). Since these domesticated wolves do not grow up until they have hunted and killed, 99.99 per cent of pet pooches are kept in a state of permanent adolescence. No wonder we get on with them so well.

Talking of dogs - a quick word about Dallas Doll (Sat BBC2). That word contains four letters, and it's what dogs do too often on the pavement. The only consolation about this obscure Screen Two is that the costs, dear licence-payer, were shared with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. I can hardly bring myself to waste the brain cells in description - suffice it to say it involves a New York golf pro (Sandra Bernhard - well quite) insinuating herself into the lives and beds of a suburban Aussie family.

The writer Jimmy McGovern tells Melvyn Bragg in this week's South Bank Show (Sun ITV) how he stopped himself from stammering as a child by making himself angry. McGovern, most famous for his work on Cracker (watching him chain smoke, you feel you know where Fitz got his tobacco habit from) is currently hot under the collar about the Hillsborough football disaster - and the disgraceful way, from the police to the Sun, a lot of people behaved. Along the usual biographical parabola we see snatches of McGovern's teeth-cutting work on Brookside, which rubs home how that soap seems to have lost its way.

The BBC has obviously run a three-line whip for The Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture (Sat BBC2), in which every TV presenter still alive (with the exception of David Attenborough, who is no doubt in some inaccessible corner of Borneo, wise man) has been corralled into a studio to listen to BBC chief executive Will Wyatt. It reminded me of those gruesome ITV An Audience With... jobs. And finally - having told Oprah last week that she couldn't go on, here's Fergie again - in Ruby Wax Meets the Duchess of York (Sun BBC1). It beats me why anyone hoping to retain a shred of dignity would submit themselves to Ruby Wax. Masochism isn't usually a word I associate with Sarah Ferguson. She ditched the Windsors, didn't she.

The big picture

The Deer Hunter

Sun 9.30pm C4

Put the puerile, romanticised view of friendship and battle aside for one moment - and indeed the film's whole reactionary spin on the Vietnam war - and there's no denying the pulp power of Michael Cimino's story of three Pennsylvania steelworkers fighting together in Southeast Asia. You may not like what Cimono has to say, but you can't deny the intensity with which he says it. A fine cast includes Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep.

The big match

Guardian Direct Tennis

Sun 2.50pm BBC2

For the first time since 1978, Britain has two men tennis players, Tim Henman (above) and Greg Rusedski, in the ATP top 50. Last year, Henman beat Rusedski in the National Championship final - and the seeding, if not recent form, suggests a similar encounter on Sunday.

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