Television choices: Image of rural Britain is set to greet all competitors


TV pick of the week: Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

Friday 9pm BBC1

The countdown is over – now the ceremony begins with what promises to be the quirky antithesis to the militarily precise shock and awe of Beijing. Danny Boyle's pageant is apparently about a land recovering from its industrial legacy (that's one way of putting it), an almost John Major-like vision of families taking picnics, farmers tilling the soil and sports on the village green, on a set featuring real farmyard animals and fake rain. Fake rain! There will also be mosh pits, eclectic music and more to threaten the sang-froid of the Queen as she does the honours, after the athletes from 200 countries have paraded. Then the Olympic flame arrives, and with it the identity of the final torchbearer. And don't worry, Beckham has ruled himself out.

The Hollow Crown – Henry V

Saturday 8pm BBC2

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more..." The final play in the BBC's excellent Shakespeare's cycle is also the least complex, being in effect a long series of battles, skirmishes and face-offs with the French ambassador. Fortunately, Tom Hiddleston (above) is just right in the title role, while yet another who's who of British thespian talent maintains engagement.


Sunday 9pm BBC1

The final adaptation, Before the Frost, in the current trilogy was written by Henning Mankel as a Linda Wallander novel, and Kurt's daughter (played by Jeanny Spark) re-appears in the life of her old misery-guts papa (Kenneth Branagh, above) after a childhood friend goes missing. Bad things are happening in the woods, starting with burning swans.

Arena: Amy Winehouse – The Day She Came to Dingle

Monday 10pm BBC4

On the exact first anniversary of her shocking, but not entirely unexpected death, this is a record of Amy Winehouse in her prime. It recalls the night in December 2006 when Winehouse played a stunning acoustic set in a church in Dingle in the west of Ireland (a concert recorded for Irish TV), giving a relaxed interview afterwards.

The Churchills

Thursday 8pm Channel 4

David Starkey has a low opinion of the literary abilities of modern politicians and their ghosted memoirs, unlike Winston Churchill (above) and his one million words, written over 10 years, on his ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough. Starkey's thesis is that writing the biography of one great war leader prepared Churchill for becoming a great war leader himself.

Bert and Dickie

Wednesday 8.30pm BBC1

William Ivory's tale of gold- winning 1948 Olympians Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell doesn't contain enough conflict to make a rowing (or, more precisely, sculling) Chariots of Fire, but is of interest on the "Austerity Games" – how athletes made their own kit, and trained on barely enough protein to sustain a sparrow. Matt Smith and Sam Hoare (both above) star.


Tuesday 10.35pm BBC1

As three of Titian's paintings of the goddess Diana are shown together for the first time at the National Gallery, Alan Yentob reports on a collaboration with the Royal Ballet, meeting the creative team transforming the works into dance pieces. Among them are artists Chris Ofili and Mark Wallinger, and choreographers Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon.

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