BBC Two, 9.30pm
The lavish period drama depicting the decadent early reign of Louis XIV attracted plenty of headlines when it debuted last summer, due to its graphic sex scenes and giant budget (at £25 m, it was the most expensive Frenchproduced programme of all time). It duly attracted 2 m viewers – solid but unspectacular for BBC Two – and reached its bloodspattered climax when the traitor in the royal court was finally exposed.
Now it returns for the equally sumptuous but even darker series deux, set four years later in 1671. This run sees fresh challenges for the Sun King (George Blagden) and his retinue at the Palace of Versailles – home to torrid romances, political machinations, endless intrigue and elaborate wigs.
A high-profile poisoning leaves a coveted vacancy, while the King’s pregnant mistress Madame de Montespan (Anna Brewster) exerts her influence. As Louis’s brother, widower and resident loose cannon Philippe (Alexander Vlahos) cannot be allowed to remain single, and with his lover Chevalier (Evan Williams) sent packing, a new marriage must be arranged. Michael Hogan
Splendour: George Blagden and Anna Brewster