Burying the Past
Saturday, 12.10pm, BBC World News
It must be devastating to have a relative or friend killed in a war, worse not to know what happened or have a body to mourn. Imagine four million soldiers missing in action, lying somewhere far from home. This documentary follows Russian volunteers who’ve taken on the unbelievable task of finding those soldiers killed in World War II and returning them to their families for proper burial. It’s a demanding, heartbreaking task. The volunteers search in their own time and at their own expense — four died when they disturbed live grenades lurking under 60 years of detritus. So far, they’ve found tens of thousands of bodies, and vow they won’t stop until they’ve found them all.
Spain’s Worst Rail Disaster
Saturday, 8.30pm, Discovery
On July 25 last year, a train travelling from Madrid to the Galicia region failed to take a bend and hit a concrete wall at 179km/h. Seventy-nine passengers died and 130 were injured. The driver, Francisco Garzon, 52, is charged with manslaughter caused by recklessness. It was Spain’s worst train accident in 70 years. Using witness accounts and forensic analysis, this story pieces together how the disaster happened.
Monty Don’s Italian Garden
Saturday, 9.40pm, BBC Knowledge
If you missed this four-part series on the ABC, here’s your chance to indulge in some of the most extravagant and flamboyant gardens created. Monty Don is a charming, knowledgeable guide whose enthusiasm is infectious. As he travels the length and breadth of Italy, he introduces us to the
‘‘ astonishing grandeur’’ of gardens owned by the rich and famous and the ‘‘ balance, order and harmony’’ that distinguishes the Italian garden. In episode one, he checks out the Renaissance gardens in Rome.
Yes, Prime Minister
Sunday, 8pm, Fox Classics
This show dates back to the 1980s but it’s as funny and relevant now as it was then. Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister from 1979 to 1990, loved it. Made in 1986, this episode — The Ministerial Broadcast — sees Prime Minister Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington) suffering jet lag after a visit to the US. His permanent secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne), tries to get him to concentrate on an upcoming television broadcast but, when the PM finally focuses, Sir Humphrey is distressed to discover their ideas about content differ.
Selling New York
Sunday, 8.30pm, LifeStyle Home
Selling — or buying — real estate in New York is like nowhere else. This series, which has created spin-offs across the world, shows how a demanding buyer can make hell (and a lot of money) for the agent, in this case brokers from three Manhattan real estate companies. Bear in mind both these back-to-back episodes were shot in 2012. In House of Lords, the three Kleier siblings search for a wealthy prince’s dream weekender on Long Island and a rival agent hosts a hip Harlem party for a unique church conversion. Next, in Old Listings, New Life, the poor agent has to persuade the owners of an apartment with ghastly decor to drop the price.
The Crazy Ones
Monday, 7.30pm, Fox 8
Robin Williams is hilarious in this mad show about a Chicago ad agency. He plays Simon Roberts, an eccentric advertising executive, ‘‘ a guy who can sell anything. He could sell frappuccinos to Starbucks,’’ as Williams says. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays his daughter Sydney. The dialogue is fast, funny and clever. In The Face of a Winner, when Simon muddles up the assignments, Sydney lands an account for a video game and becomes addicted to winning.
A Day in the Life of a Dictator
Tuesday, 8.30pm, History
Joseph Stalin: cold, methodical, calculating leader of the Soviet Union from about 1928 to 1953. Idi Amin: superstitious, impulsive, cruel president of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Muammar Gaddafi: billionaire megalomaniac and depraved tyrant who ruled Libya from 1969 to 2011. Their power was absolute; they could bend a nation whichever way they wanted and with a nod they decided the fate of millions of people. What was their daily routine? What drove their ambition? This show seeks to re-create their daily lives— in their fortresses, bunkers, homes and even their bedrooms — using sophisticated technology and witness statements.
UFOs In Europe: The Untold Stories
Tuesday, 8.30pm, Nat Geo
Maybe you’re a believer, maybe not. Then there are those of us who keep an open mind, just in case. It would be fascinating to find there is life beyond Earth, as long as it’s friendly. Here are people who, having experienced the unexplained, are convinced we’re not alone. Episode one of this seven-part series has what’s said to be video footage of sightings, radar evidence and witness accounts including from a pilot who says he saw a flying saucer. It follows a criminal investigation into an alleged UFO assault in England and shows film of UFOs in Norway.
Thursday, 8.30pm, 13th Street
You’ve got to love Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope (Brenda Blethyn). In the police drama genre she’s a standout in her hat, long skirt and ankle boots as she drives around Northumbria in a battered estate car. Middle-aged and frumpish (think female Columbo), Vera takes no lip from anyone, is obsessive about work and has a clipped sense of humour. Here, in Castles in the Air, she investigates the murder of a young physiotherapist gunned down at a luxury country retreat.
River Cottage Australia
Thursday, 9.30pm, LifeStyle
Back-to-basics farmer and chef Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall launched the first of his River Cottage TV series from his farm in Dorset in 1997. This year, for the first time, he has franchised the title outside England. River Cottage Australia is filmed in the lush countryside around historic Tilba on the NSW far south coast. In this first of eight episodes, Fearnley-Whittingstall is on hand to help local host Paul West get started from a 1930s weatherboard house on a former dairy farm. Like his mentor, West plans to live off produce he has grown supplemented by local meat, fish and vegetables.
The Shipping News
Friday, 8.30pm, M Masterpiece
Released in 2001, this film is based on Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel. The Shipping News follows Quoyle (Kevin Spacey) who, encouraged by Aunt Agnis (Judi Dench) moves with his daughter from New York to his ancestral home in a small Newfoundland fishing village after his wife, Petal (Cate Blanchett), dies. He gets a job as a reporter on the local paper and falls in love with Wavey Prowse (Julianne Moore), who has her own problems. The scenery is magnificent, the story full of macabre twists, selfdiscovery and second chances. Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain also was made into a movie (starring Heath Ledger) in 2005.