Television choices: Absorbing and muted drama Southcliffe takes apart a killer's motives

 

Southcliffe

Sunday 9pm Channel 4

The anatomy of a Dunblane/Hungerford-style 'shooting spree' – this stunning new drama is from the writer Tony Grisoni (Red Riding) and the director Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene), who makes his British television debut with the four-part drama. A top-notch cast ranges from Sean Harris and Shirley Henderson to Eddie Marsan and Rory Kinnear, the last-named as a cynical television journalist originally from the town. Grisoni says that Southcliffe is primarily a study in grief, but it's also a visceral why-dunit that draws you into the fictional Kent coastal community in the process of been blown apart by a lone gunman, just as the non-linear storytelling cleverly binds you to the fate of the characters. A must-see.

A Tribute to Mel Smith

Saturday 10.10pm BBC2

The facially expressive comedian and millionaire television producer, who died last month of a heart attack, is remembered by friends and colleagues, not least by his long-time comic partner Griff Rhys Jones (both above). Expect copious examples of Smith and Jones's head-to-heads, while an episode of the show that made his name, Not the Nine O'Clock News, follows.

Tales from the Royal Bedchamber

Monday 9pm & 2.30am BBC4

A cheery jaunt through royal boudoirs of the past with perky Lucy Worsley, chief curator of the Historic Royal Palaces. As well as revealing what a monarch's bedroom can tell us about the state of Great Britain at a given point in history, Worsley also takes a timely look at superstitions and customs associated with the birth of royal babies.

Make Me a German

Tuesday 9pm BBC2

In a bid to discover the secret of Germany's economic success, BBC employees Justin and Bee Rowlatt take their two youngest children to Nuremberg ("known for its gingerbread and Nazi history") to live the German way. While Justin starts a job in a pencil factory, Bee learns how to be a typical hausfrau and the kids learn good Germanic table-manners.

Natural World – Sri Lanka: Elephant Island

Friday 9pm BBC2

Sri Lanka is home to its own special elephants. A subspecies of the Asian elephant, they have their own unique characteristics, and for the first time, the wildlife cameraman Martyn Colbeck has travelled to the island to try and get to know them. He witnesses a fight over a calf, a battle between two bulls in musk and befriends an orphaned elephant.

The Men Who Made Us Thin

Thursday 9pm BBC2

Dieting makes you fatter is the conclusion of Jacques Peretti's investigation into the lucrative slimming industry, as Peretti tries out the latest fads, including "Six Weeks to OMG", which seems to involve cold baths, black coffee and blowing up balloons. He also talks to the Slim-Fast billionaire S Daniel Abraham and Pierre Dukan, of the Dukan diet.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Wednesday 9pm BBC1

"I am astonished how little my mum knew about my dad", says Minnie Driver, whose parents split up when she was six. Driver's father – Welsh businessman Ronnie – was married, but not to Driver's mother, and had a whole other family. Now, the Good Will Hunting actress is keen to know more about her papa, and why he threw his gallantry medals into the Thames.

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