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.

Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture