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Television choices: History proves fertile soil for Moffat's British Heimat


TV pick of the week: The Village

Sunday 9pm BBC1

It was always a tall order for BBC1 to make a British version of Heimat, Edgar Reitz's masterpiece following one German village from 1919 onwards, but Peter Moffat (Silk) may be a clever enough writer to crack it. The Village begins with standard-issue rural poverty in pre-First World War Derbyshire (drunken father, cowed wife and kiddies), but eventually veers off in unexpected directions. Stars include John Simm, Maxine Peake and Juliet Stevenson – as the chatelaine of the very un-Downton-esque big house (the servants face the wall when the master passes) – but it's the newcomers who impress, including 13-year-old Bill Jones as the farmer Simm's youngest son, and Charlie Murphy as a suffragette preacher's daughter. Very promising.

Doctor Who

Saturday 6.15pm BBC1

"People's souls are being uploaded into the Wi-Fi," deduces Matt Smith's Doctor, or as the arch-baddie (Celia Imrie) in Steven Moffat's half-series opener puts it: "It's like immortality, only fatal". A breezy slice of internet-dystopia, with a good joke about Twitter, a stunt involving the Shard, and an appealing full debut for new companion Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman).

Game of Thrones

monday 9pm sky atlantic

Any available British actor who hasn't been called to HBO's returning epic fantasy has every right be to be miffed, since the vast cast seems to include our entire thespian community, with Diana Rigg and Mackenzie Crook just two newcomers to the third season. But it's American Peter Dinklage, as Tyrion Lannister, trying to win back influence, who is again the most compelling.

The Great British Sewing Bee

Tuesday 8pm BBC2

The makers of The Great British Bake Off apply the formula to sewing, with eight amateur needleworkers (this week) making an A-line skirt, transforming a top by altering the neckline and producing a made-to-measure dress for a model. Claudia Winkleman hosts, and the judges are May Martin from the Women's Institute and the Savile Row designer Patrick Grant.

Scott & Bailey

Wednesday 9pm ITV

Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp return as Manchester's answer to Cagney and Lacey – except these coppers have a female boss (the excellent Amelia Bullmore). Enjoyable stuff, even if the men are all bastards, feckless or worse, including Bailey's new husband, with whom she's bored already. The first case involves a decapitated pensioner and suspected child abuse.

Dogging Tales

Thursday 10pm Channel 4

Nothing to do with Crufts, but the practice of heading to woodland to have (or just watch) sex with strangers. This eye-popping documentary has gained the trust of seasoned "doggers", all disguised beneath animal masks. "Undertakers, vicars, solicitors, weirdos… we get the lot," says Les from beneath his owl's mask, while a lorry driver estimates that 70 per cent of truckers are at it.

How to Win the Grand National

Friday 8pm Channel 4

Having captured the world's most famous steeplechase from the BBC, Channel 4 begin their Aintree build-up with Mark Evans exploring what it takes to claim victory, drawing on the testimony of jockeys, finding out what qualities separate the winner from the also-rans – and anatomising the race from start to finish.