Top viewing for next week

Sheridan Smith
Sheridan Smith

MONDAY: THE 7.39 (BBC ONE, 9PM)

This two-part romantic drama, described as “laugh-out loud funny, painfully truthful, emotionally agonising and brilliantly British” stars David Morrissey as Carl, in theory happily married to Maggie (Olivia Colman), his best friend since his college days with whom he has two slightly sullen teenage kids. However, he feels stuck in a rut, and spotting the same faces every morning on the 7.39 train into Waterloo only reinforces that feeling. But then one morning he gets into a fight over a seat with health club manager Sally (Sheridan Smith), who is having doubts about her future with boyfriend Ryan (Sean Maguire).

Suddenly, Sally and Carl’s commutes seem a lot more interesting, but are their entire lives about to change direction?

The concluding part is on Tuesday.

TUESDAY: STARGAZING LIVE (BBC TWO, 8PM)

Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain are back with three days of live astronomy, jaw-dropping images, surprising science and unique demonstrations. The first episode takes us to northern Norway, where Liz Bonnin joins aurora borealis researchers to unravel the secrets of the stunning spectacle. Nasa scientist Dr Carolyn Porco shares photographic images of Saturn’s storms as taken by the Cassini probe, the hosts deliver a weather report from around the solar system and Mark Thompson advises viewers on the best astronomical sights visible from the UK.

“This series promises to be bolder and more ambitious than ever,” explains Brian. “We’ll be looking at everything from the Milky Way and other galaxies to space weather. Everyone can get involved and we hope the audience will join in.”

WEDNESDAY: WATERLOO ROAD (BBC ONE, 8.30PM)

Waterloo Road used to be a mixture of Grange Hill and Coronation Street with a pop soundtrack punctuating every other scene. However, partly thanks to fewer songs and more drama, the series has come on in leaps and bounds. One of the reasons for its success has been the fresh blood pumped into the show each term. The new girl on site is Gabriella Wark (Naomi Battrick). She may be smart, sassy and stunning, but she creates problems for the long-suffering staff. Her disruptive behaviour has already led to her being expelled from several schools.

She sets her sights on attractive new PE teacher Hector (Leon Ockenden). Meanwhile, newlywed Simon (Richard Mylan) kicks off his new Resilience Education scheme to get the pupils ready for life in the real world.

THURSDAY: THE UNDATEABLES (CHANNEL 4, 9PM)

One of Channel 4’s most heart-warming shows returns for its third run to follow the lives of more singletons looking for love, but all too aware of their learning difficulties. Thanks to a specialist dating agency, another crop of colourful characters are given the chance to enjoy good company and meet potential partners. Audiences were a little unsure when trailers for the programme first appeared in 2012, assuming it to be a tasteless effort poking fun at those less fortunate. But far from exploiting, it combines the on-trend dating show format with the most intriguing of documentaries about disability, and it’s certainly taught us not to make snap judgements. In this first episode, we meet 44-year-old mature student Mary who has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.

FRIDAY: JAMIE & JIMMY’S FRIDAY FEAST (CHANNEL 4, 8PM)

Farmer Jimmy Doherty teams up with best mate Jamie Oliver again. They met at the age of four, growing up in the same Essex village. Presenting from their pop-up cafe on Southend Pier, Jamie has devised recipes with the ‘wow’ factor to impress friends and family, while Jimmy’s role is more experimental, as he shows how to cook food you wouldn’t normally think to try at home (think making a tandoori oven out of a dustbin lid and a flower pot). The lads will also be taking to the roads of Britain to save some of our best regional foods from extinction, such as Lancashire’s Tosset cake, Colchester pudding and Nottinghamshire’s Colwick cheese. Special guests will also be dropping by including the world’s fastest man, Olympic legend Usain Bolt, who will be cooking his aunt Lily’s jerk pork.