Television choices: Carter and West deliver an affair to remember in Burton and Taylor


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The Independent Culture

TV pick of the week: Burton and Taylor

Monday 9pm BBC4

Television drama budgets can be used in more interesting ways than on financing biopics, but I'm in the minority on this – as the genre's healthy viewing figures go to prove. William Ivory's biopic about Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's reunion while touring in a critically panned, but sell-out 1983 revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives is exceptional, however, with clever performances from Dominic West as a newly sober and re-married Burton, and Helena Bonham Carter as an alcoholic Taylor, hoping the play will re-ignite their epic love affair. The irony of playing Coward's fictional divorcees wasn't lost on US theatre audiences in 1983, and it works for Ivory here as well.

David Starkey's Music and Monarchy

Saturday 8.10pm BBC2

David Starkey explores the links between kings, queens and composers in a new series replete with shots of Starkey watching period-music performers. He begins with Henry V and the carols composed to celebrate his victory at Agincourt, before working his way towards his favourite King Henry – the eighth one.

The Secret Life of Uri Geller

Sunday 9pm BBC2

The spoon-bender's secret life as a Mossad and CIA agent is revealed. The showbiz psychic may have been in a joke in some quarters, but not at the ones occupied by intelligence agencies. According to Vikram Jayanti's documentary, Geller's powers were used to disable radar during the 1976 Israeli raid on Entebbe and to erase Soviet floppy discs.

Rachel Bruno: My Dad & Me

Tuesday 9pm BBC3

"Bonkers Bruno Locked Up" was a typically empathetic tabloid headline when ex-boxer Frank Bruno was first sectioned for his debilitating bipolar disorder. Here, his 26-year-old daughter Rachel tries to understand her father's illness, and rebuild their relationship, visiting him at home as he valiantly offers up a pale echo of his famous laugh.

Springwatch Guide to Butterflies

Friday 9pm BBC2

Springwatch as a brand, obviously, and not as a guide to the current season, and now the sun has finally done the business, a timely lepidopterist guide from Martin Hughes-Games, Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan. They look at the life cycles and habitats of the UK's butterflies.

Catching a Killer – Crocodile Tears

Thursday 10pm Channel 4

Mick and Mairead Philpott, who wept during a press conference after their house fire killed six children, were a recent example of "crocodile tears" criminals: where people make seemingly distraught appeals for information while having committed the crime themselves. This documentary explores the phenomenon.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Wednesday 9pm BBC1

A new series of the celeb- genealogy show will feature Gary Lineker and Marianne Faithful, but begins with Till Death Us Do Part/Sherlock actress Una Stubbs, who travels to Yorkshire in search of her mysterious paternal grandparents. And thereby hangs a tale of workhouses and children born out of wedlock, as well as the birth of the Garden city movement.