IoS TV review: The Sky at Night, BBC4, Thursday
Stargazing Live, BBC2, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Spies of Warsaw, BBC4, Wednesday

The late Sir Patrick Moore says a last farewell as novice astronomers rustle around in his garden

Stargazing Live may have dominated BBC2's firmament last week, but last Thursday marked the final appearance of a more weighty heavenly body.

Patrick Moore first appeared on The Sky at Night in 1957, and, before his death last month, he was able to introduce and sign off last week's edition, his final contribution to the show that streaked across the late-night schedules like a slightly barmy comet. His last broadcast words were sweet. "Next month, we'll be talking about the Sun and those lovely things the Moon and the southern lights," he said, his bushy gaze daring the viewer, as ever, not to tune in. "Thank you very much, good night."

Before that, there was the familiar, welcome mix of amateur enthusiasm and expert analysis. The latter centred on a discussion of a new planet, "just 4.5 light years away", which apparently makes it our nearest neighbour. However, it was made clear that it would take "tens of thousands of years" to pop round for a cup of sugar and, in any case, there'd be no one in because Alpha Centauri Bb is a fiery furnace of hell-fire and brimstone.

Previously, a group of beginner- astronomers were invited to Patrick Moore's back garden to be shown how to get to grips with their new telescopes. One couple hadn't yet managed to get it out of its cardboard box. Three professional astronomers were on hand to advise, calibrate and encourage, and I'm sure would-be Galileos were enlightened. The rest of us didn't need any sort of optical enhancement to enjoy this particular spectacle: the British amateur fettling and fiddling to the unmistakable accompaniment of rustling anorak and murmurs of mild disappointment.

There was disappointment, too, on Stargazing Live – I caught two of the three evenings, and on Tuesday and Thursday spent quite a lot of time looking at an overcast night sky as various astronomical wheezes fell victim to the seasonal weather. Back in the studio, though, Stargazing Live was a triumph.

This is the third series, and it showed: co-presenters Dara O'Briain and Brian Cox batted gags and astro factoids to and fro with ease, knowing when to let guest boffins light the afterburners and when to bring them down to Earth. The formula was simple: a magaziney mix of chats with eggheads, pre-recorded items and live feeds from Nasa HQ and beyond (not, sadly, from space).

Most fun was the half-hour studio chat, in which the show's various guests – including Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May, looking like a permed Gandalf – had a drink and, helpfully, mulled over the previous hour's revelations. (For some reason this chat wasn't tacked on to the end but scheduled as a separate programme altogether, Stargazing Live: Back to Earth.)

Manned missions to Mars, the likelihood of our annihilation by a giant asteroid, and the slightly icky-sounding Panspermia theory of life were all discussed. At one point, we even got to witness Brian Cox's famous capacity for awe, live, as he goggled at a test-tube of space dust older than the solar system and let O'Briain get on with the more tedious job of presenting.

On BBC4, there was a salutary lesson in how not to handle a star. Spies of Warsaw is an adaptation of Alan Furst's novel, in which David Tennant plays a French spy on the Polish border with Germany in the run-up to the Second World War. Colonel Mercier, it would seem, is discreet, stoical, a stone-cold killer – and not exactly Tennant, let's face it. As he rescues Russian emigrés, beats up Nazis and breaks ladies' hearts, Tennant just looked sadder and sadder, more aware than anyone that he's no bed-hopping action hero.

Of course, it could be that we were meant to regard such passages as interludes in the drama's serious business – that of considering the plight of all those caught up in the turmoil of late-Thirties central Europe. Well, perhaps.

If that was the case then Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais might have done us the courtesy of a script as jazzy as the soundtrack. Instead, the cast mooned around the streets and salons of Warsaw trying to get the most out of lines such as: "Does anyone listen to the League of Nations now Mussolini's pulled out?"

Tennant was bundled into the boot of a Gestapo car at the close of last week's episode. If he's got any sense, he'll try to stay there.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower