Every day, on a sandy beach or a rocky foreshore, fascinating evidence of Britain’s island history appears and disappears as the tide rolls in and rolls back out again. Tori Herridge and Alex Langlands reveal stories from our extraordinary maritime, industrial and natural history. In Essex, Tori and Alex investigate the earthwork remains of a fort dating to the time when Henry VIII took England out of the European Catholic union. They pay their respects to some Thames sailing barges that are now sunk in estuary mud but which were once the glory of the east coast. And they find a First World War German U-boat stranded in a tiny creek.
Planet Earth II (BBC 1/HD | 8:00pm to 9:00pm | Sunday 4th December 2016)
Wildlife documentary series presented by David Attenborough. Grasslands cover one quarter of all land and support the vast gatherings of wildlife, but to survive here animals must endure the most hostile seasonal changes on the planet. From Asia’s bizarre-looking saiga antelope to the giant anteaters of Brazil, grassland animals have adapted in extraordinary ways to cope with these extremes. In the flooded Okavango, lions take on formidable buffalo in epic battles, on the savannah bee-eaters take advantage of elephants to help catch insects and, on the freezing northern tundra, caribou embark on great migrations shadowed by hungry Arctic wolves.
The River (BBC 1 Scotland/HD & BBC iPlayer only | 7:30pm to 8:00pm | Monday 5th December 2016)
Documentary series charting life along the river Tweed. In this episode, farrier David Merry sees to all the horses at the Jedburgh common ride. Racehorse trainer Katie Scott prepares horses for the gala rideout along with travelling draper Richard Mackay, and faces a former Grand National winner in a chase to the top of the hill. Across River Tweed tributaries, biologist James Hunt looks for evidence that the salmon and trout spawning grounds have survived the winter floods. After six long months, Ruth Hinks finally launches her new chocolate school with a royal twist. At Floors Stud, manager David Trouton oversees the first shodding of young horses, with a little help from farrier David Merry, and on Cowbog Farm, Robert Wilson checks on the young calves, trying to select his best of the herd for the Kelso show.
Fair Isle (BBC 1 Scotland/HD & BBC iPlayer only | 9:00pm to 10:00pm | Monday 5th December 2016)
Two-part documentary revealing life on Fair Isle, Britain’s most remote inhabited island. In this concluding episode, cameras capture the community launching their Development Plan, with an aim of bringing new families to the isle and bolstering the fragile economy. 11-year-old Ythan and his family learn to deal with his homesickness, and have Fair Isle’s newest inhabitants, Shaun and Rachel, survived their first winter and decided to stay on.
Our Guy in China (Channel 4/HD | 9:00pm to 10:00pm | Monday 5th December 2016)
Guy Martin concludes his Chinese adventure with his toughest ever physical challenge. He wants to break the record for the fastest crossing of the Taklamakan Desert on a bicycle. The Taklamakan is known as the desert of death because of summer temperatures that average 40C, sand storm winds that can reach 150mph, and the local legend that once you enter the desert you never come out. Guy must travel 341 miles along the world’s longest desert highway in less than 47 hours, a record set in 2014 by two keen British cyclists who only stopped once for a four-hour sleep on a sand dune. They described it as the worst two days of their lives. It’s a mental challenge as well as a physical one. In the desert’s cold morning air, the metal in Guy’s bones aches, a legacy from his motorcycle injuries. Old lorries spurting out thick black fumes constantly thunder past him and pose the biggest threat as the sun sets on the unlit road.
The Choir (BBC 2/HD | 9:00pm to 10:00pm | Tuesday 6th December 2016)
The grand final of Gareth Malone’s contest to find Britain’s most entertaining, undiscovered amateur choir. From the hundreds who applied, and the many groups Gareth auditioned across the country, just three remain. All that now stands between them and the title of series champion is one last challenge – one that comes with a twist. While the loss of their leader poses a problem for one choir, another group decamps to the country to focus all their energies on victory. The choirs have just ten days to perfect their performances before they compete one final time, in front of a 2,000-strong crowd and a jury of musical experts at London’s prestigious Central Hall Westminster. To emerge triumphant, the choirs must impress the jury, whose votes decide who will be crowned Gareth’s Best in Britain.
The Secret Life of the Zoo (Channel 4/HD | 8:00pm to 9:00pm | Thursday 8th December 2016)
Sumatran tiger mum Kirana faces losing her two sons, Topan and Jaya, who are fully grown and being moved to other zoos to start families of their own. Keepers are unsure how Kirana, and her remaining cub, daughter Kasarna, will react to the departure of the boys. One of Chester Zoo’s most secretive and sensitive animals, Oana the anoa, gives birth to a calf, Nani. But Oana’s anxiety after the birth threatens Nani’s health: she’s licking her so much that the calf is losing its fur.
Grand Designs (Channel 4/HD | 9:00pm to 10:00pm | Thursday 8th December 2016)
Kevin McCloud reveals another five homes vying to be crowned House of the Year 2016. These are houses that create space out of the smallest sites. There’s an ultra-stylish one bedroom live/work space with an experimental garden roof; the transformation of a dark mews into a light and airy family home; a beautiful blend of beach living and high architecture in Dungeness; a clever extension in Harrogate; and a narrow beachfront garage that’s been made over into a stunning home packed with a large art collection.
Secrets of Great British Castles (Channel 5/HD | 8:00pm to 9:00pm | Friday 9th December 2016)
Dan Jones visits the heart of the English countryside to explore Arundel Castle and the dramatic history of the Earls of Arundel.
The Last Leg (Channel 4/HD | 10:o0pm to 11:05pm | Friday 9th December 2016)
The award-winning show continues with its unique brand of irreverent satire. Hosts Adam Hills, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe examine the biggest and most entertaining news stories via the #isitok twitter handle, where viewers tweet in edgy current affairs questions that other shows might duck. In this edition, Ricky Gervais joins Adam and the team in the studio to help dissect the week’s events.
All TV guide information taken from DigiGuide — www.getdigiguide.tv/?p=1&r=15119.