The Apprentice, BBC 1, 9pm Thursday
Popcorn at the ready. It’s time to witness a bunch of would-be millionaires shout, fight and blag their way through The Apprentice in a bid to partner with Baron Alan Sugar – securing £250,000 in the process.
For me this is compulsive viewing – because the behaviour of the contestants is, frankly, verging on unbelievable. It’s almost as though the producers pull them all aside before the camera rolls, advising them to come across arrogant, Machiavellian...and in some cases, dumb!
It’s the same every single time. Let me break down a typical episode.
A call arrives in the small hours telling the gang they have to be at a specified location in an hour. This sets in motion a chain of events largely involving hair straighteners and bleary-eyed ironing.
At said location, the gauntlet is thrown down for that week’s challenge. This could be anything from designing a new yoghurt, to making a video advert for screen wash, or setting up their own small landscaping business.
A team leader must be chosen. The most vocal of the group almost fight to the death vying for the position. The selected king or queen of the challenge will either ignore the views and advice of their team members, regardless of experience and knowledge, or be trampled on by the herd as they scramble to complete their task.
There will be the lazy one. The one who rolls their eyes at everything the team leader says. The shouty one. The know-it-all one. The annoying one.
Back in the boardroom, team leaders will fail to take any responsibility for their actions and will, like a lioness hunting prey, seek out the weakest link and make them the fall guy/gal.
Mind you, Sugar’s no fool. He has his spies at hand to tell him what really went down – and how atrociously everyone’s behaved. Honestly, have you ever screamed bloody murder in a meeting when you’re just trying to decide on the colour scheme of a logo? Calm down people. Calm down.
Whoever gets ‘fired’ is made to do the walk of shame, tailing their suitcase behind them, with an obligatory VT telling Alan Sugar he’s made a big mistake and that they’re primed to be the next best thing since sliced bread.
Be prepared to laugh, sneer and cringe!
DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little)- Credit: BBC / Red Planet / Amelia Troubridge
Death in Paradise, BBC1, 9pm Friday
Apparently there were myriad complains when the Beeb deigned to jazz up the Death in Paradise theme tune last year.
It’s barely noticeable and, I think, a little bit funkier. But this uproar is just a testament to the show’s almost cult status and popularity.
Now in its 11th season (following a feature-length treat episode at Christmas), a cosy night in watching whoever the current DI of St Marie is try to plot their way through a murder, has almost become a national pastime.
If you’ve never seen it before, imagine a tropical reimagining of ITV’s Midsomer Murders – this is more rum, coconuts, sunshine and sand than ‘roses round the windows’.
Yes it’s formulaic - the lead detective wrangling the cast of suspects together at the end of each show to share his theories and reveal the killer – but it’s also really, truly good. Despite the threat of murder and mystery lingering in the Caribbean air, what Death in Paradise has is heart, humour and a little bit of soul. It’s as much about the people and place as whatever the current week’s storyline is.
And British telly stars line up to take their turn appearing on the show – as a villain, suspect, or even victim.
Ralf Little, who replaced Ardal O’ Hanlon in 2020, as new DI Neville Parker, has called it one of the best jobs he’s ever done.
Little’s allergy-prone Parker is always covered in a sheen of sweat, breaks out into hives at the drop of a hat, and is scared of his own shadow, so it came as quite a surprise that, actually, he’s a thorough, blue-sky-thinking copper.
He’s joined by sergeant Florence (his crush), newbie trainee officer Marlon, new (this series) young sergeant Naomi, and, of course, Rising Damp’s Don Warrington, known only as The Commissioner.
Then there’s happy-go-lucky bar owner/mayor of St Honore, Catherine.
Watch it for the sunnier shores, for the on-screen chemistry, and to play amateur sleuth for an hour.
Great Pottery Throw Down judges Rich Miller and Keith Brymer Jones- Credit: Mark Bourdillon
The Great Pottery Throw Down, Channel 4, 7.45pm Sunday
There are firings of a different kind as The Great Pottery Throw Down returns to our screens.
The show follows the same recipe as The Great British Bake Off.
Here the contestants, all enthusiastic amateur potters, have to take a lump of clay and throw or sculpt it into something beautiful against the clock.
It could be a fully flushing toilet, a child's crockery set or an actual clock, as in the most recent episode. They might even be asked to throw a piece on the wheel wearing a blindfold.
It has the same cheeky innuendos as the Bake Off - except here the bottoms are clean rather than soggy.
And the ultimate accolade isn't a Hollywood handshake - it's moving judge Keith Brymer Jones to tears, which happens at least a couple of times an episode.
The master potter presides over proceedings along with fellow judge Rich Miller and comedian Ellie Taylor, stepping in for a few episodes while presenter, Derry Girls actor Siobhan McSweeney, recovers from a broken leg.
It would be hard to find a more soothing and inspiring hour's television in the schedules.
It's little wonder that since it started airing more and more people have been taking up ceramics, especially since the beginning of the pandemic, when craft and creativity has become a welcome escape for many during turbulent times.
There is jeopardy - will the creations survive their firing in the kiln without cracking or shrinking? - and sadly each week one contestant has to leave the competition.
But it's a manageable amount of peril for the end of the weekend, unlike some of the BBC's more dramatic, nerve-jangling Sunday night offerings.