Television choices: A calculating mother and her very handsome sum


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The Independent Culture

TV pick of the week: The Making of a Lady

Sunday 8pm ITV1

ITV's scheduling of their non-Downton costume dramas has been unfortunate (to put it kindly), their adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's The Scapegoat losing out against the Paralympics closing ceremony, and now this very fine version of Frances Hodgson Burnett's romantic novel squaring up to a particularly rich shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year (7.30pm BBC1). It's a pity because there is much to be enjoyed in this late-Victorian drama, not least newcomer Lydia Wilson's poised and touching performance as impoverished Emily, who is persuaded to marry the wealthy bachelor son (Linus Roache) of her employer (Joanna Lumley) for money – so that his lordship can produce an heir.

Jools Holland: My Life in Music

Saturday 10pm BBC2

The man behind television's best music show, by the longest piece of chalk you can imagine (BBC2's Later…, of course), talks about his life and career, including his childhood in the East End, joining Squeeze and landing the job as co-host of Channel 4's The Tube. Tom Jones, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Bob Geldof lead the well-deserved plaudits.

Bad Santas

Monday 9pm Channel 4

First of a two-part documentary following unemployed men training at "one of the UK's most successful Santa schools" (not an official Ofsted ranking, you understand). At the so-called Ministry of Fun in London, the latest intake of would-be Santas perfect the art of a jolly "ho ho ho", learn the most popular toys and how to field those tricky questions from children.

Imagine: A Beauty is Born – Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

Tuesday 10.35pm BBC1

Alan Yentob follows every step of the creative process – from the first workshops to final rehearsals – as the choreographer Matthew Bourne completes his Tchaikovsky trilogy, the one that included Swan Lake with an all-male corps de ballet. His Sleeping Beauty is currently packing them in at Sadler's Wells.


Friday 10pm BBC2

"Can you explain the Jesus Christ dinosaur hypothesis?". If that's a "yes" then you may also know where Beethoven put his jingling Johnny, and be two up on Stephen Fry's guests Sarah Millican and Danny Baker. The latter proves something of a repository of useless facts, thus bringing out a little-seen competitive streak in Fry, who usually has this field to himself.

Michael Grade's History of the Pantomime Dame

Thursday 9pm & 3am BBC4

"You've got to have eyes that say everything and knees that make you laugh," according to Michael Grade's history of the pantomime dame – Grade himself donning wig and greasepaint as he recalls such illustrious former dames as Terry Scott and Arthur Askey, as well as the current doyen (or is it doyenne) of panto dames, Berwick Kaler.

The Christmas No 1 Story

Wednesday 9pm BBC2

Those not already driven to distraction by the endless repetition of Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody and Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, here's a chance to perhaps inoculate yourselves against the pernicious drip-feed of seasonal singles. Noddy Holder and Roy Wood join other such usual suspects as Johnny Mathis, Shakin' Stevens and Cliff Richard.