Television preview RECOMMENDED VIEWING THIS WEEKEND

Sport, sport, sport and sport. If your idea of fun isn't sitting around in an armchair and watching grown men hitting various sized balls around various shaped pieces of turf, I should just give the telly a miss this weekend. Go shopping instead. The nation's major precincts should be largely empty at 3pm today. And you never know, you might meet a kindred soul or two.

If sport is your thing, but the annual cycles of football, cricket, tennis and horse-racing are beginning to make you feel old, then Channel 4 has come up with a new one - The Mountain Bike Tour of Britain (Sat). Not so long ago, mountain bikes were a novel way of annoying ramblers in the countryside. Now they're an Olympic sport. What is it in the nature of man that has to turn every mildly enjoyable pursuit into a Serious Sport, complete with sponsorship, dour spectators in anoraks and proto-Murray Walkers wittering on about how so-and-so is now ranked fourth in Canada? Maybe what we need are not new sports to televise, but new ways of televising sport.

Comedians like Frank Skinner and Lee Hurst are suggesting a way forward, although Hurst's Saturday Live (Sat ITV) looks like two steps back. Does anyone want live stand-up anymore? Apparently not, and viewers are voting with their remote controls. The guest comedians this week are Caroline Quentin and Leslie Ash from Men Behaving Badly.

Apart from Euro 96, the best TV this weekend comes in the shape of Dancing in the Street (Sat BBC2), the second in Daniel McCabe and Vicky Bippart's judicious history of rock'n'roll. Tonight's episode takes us, broadly speaking, from Elvis Presley to the Beatles, through that ill-remembered period when producers like Leiber & Stoller and Phil Spector guided the popular taste (Spector, by the way, called his so-called wall of sound "little symphonies for kids"), with doo-wop melodies and all-girl bands with names like The Chiffons, The Exciters and The Cookies. Spector inspired Brian Wilson - creative genius behind The Beach Boys - to turn the West Coast surf sound into classic mainstream pop, but Wilson admits to being floored by the arrival of The Beatles. "Suddenly I felt unhip. We looked more like golf caddies than pop stars."

I wish I could say that I enjoyed The Big Picnic (Sat BBC2) more than I did. This is a straight filming of Bill Bryden's epic piece of theatre, following a group of young men from Govan after they enthusiastically volunteer for the killing fields of the First World War. Filmed in a Harland and Wolff shed on the banks of the Clyde, this is the sort of theatre where the chap you have been peaceably sitting next to for half an hour suddenly turns out be a planted actor, jumping up and shouting like a mad man. The audience seem remarkably tolerant of all this, and the problem is not the staging or the piece itself. It's the rather flat transition to television. Aim the camera and shoot.

Can anyone please explain the appeal of Bob Monkhouse as a stand-up comedian? Bob Monkhouse on the Spot (Sat BBC1) returns for a new series, the trailers stressing the risque nature of the material. But Monkhouse is a man who jots down the gags he hears and keeps them in leather-bound volumes - not so much comic genius as an Olympic sport. But don't tell Channel 4.

The big picture

The Shining

Sat 10pm C4

Jack Nicholson and understatement have never been on first-name terms, and he hams it up to great effect in Kubrick's typically stylish adaptation of the Stephen King novel. Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a would-be writer who goes with his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son to care- take a remote moutain hotel for the winter. His attempts at writing prove futile - he ends up repeatedly typing out the phrase "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" - as the eerie spirit of the place sends him murderously mad. High-class grand guignol.

The big match

England v Spain

Sat 2.30pm BBC1

From villains derided with over-the-top headlines before the tournament to heroes lauded with equally over-the-top headlines after the match against Holland, England's football players like David Seaman (above) must have run the gamut of emotions recently. The main danger for them in their quarter-final match against Spain is that they will overdose on the hype and play like headless chickens. Terry Venables, however, is a canny enough manager to have been damping down the bonfire of expectation that was lit with his team's incendiary performance on Tuesday.

News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

    £125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

    £32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore