MasterChef Masterclass (TV1, 7.30pm). The MasterChef New Zealand judges are in the hot seat in this companion show, which must be a nice change for the contestants. In tonight’s first masterclass, Australian chef Alla Wolf-Tasker and the three judges demonstrate four classic French dishes.
Miss Marple (Prime, 8.30pm). The Agatha Christie murder adaptations are a random employment generator for numerous talented British actors, and tonight’s adaptation of The Secret of the Chimneys is no different: stars include Edward Fox, Gavin & Stacey’s Ruth Jones and Mathew Horne, Dervla Kirwan, Michelle Collins, and Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood). Christie’s original 1925 story has been considerably changed in this version, however, and it is now set in the mid-50s.
Dirk Gently (UKTV, Sky 006, 8.30pm). A nice piece of whimsy which screened in the UK recently to honour what would have been Douglas Adams’s 60th birthday. It’s based on Adams’s Dirk Gently novels, in which the hero detective uses the “fundamental connectedness of all things”. Sort-of Touch without the po-faced sentimentality. Stephen Mangan (Green Wing) plays Gently, and the episode is written by brilliant Misfits creator Howard Overman.
The Jonathan Ross Show (TV1, 9.30pm). Interesting line-up tonight: Amanda Seyfried, who discusses her new movie about the life of porn star Linda Lovelace; Kiefer Sutherland, who talks about his new TV series, Touch; British cricketer Freddie Flintoff; and Paul Weller, still cool at 53, who plays two songs from his new album.
Zen (UKTV, Sky 006, 9.35pm). A repeat of the uber-stylish detective series in which Rufus Sewell plays the ridiculously named Aurelio Zen, a (yes) laid-back, sartorially impeccable Venetian, whose beat is the beautiful city of Rome. As with Wallander, Zen employs the Babel fish conceit: the actors really are Italian, it’s just that we can understand them perfectly. In these international co-pro times, it hardly matters – after all, the three-episode series is based on the books by Irish author Michael Dibdin, who lived in Italy for a number of years. As befits the setting, the series is gorgeous, plus, Sewell is in “a suit so watchable it deserves a separate acting credit” said the Observer. Dibdin wrote about a Rome tourists don’t see, a corrupt Italy that in the recent days of Silvio Berlusconi is not hard to believe. Zen “operates in the realms of Italian law,” Sewell said in an interview with Andrew Marr, “which as far as the books are concerned, is shady”. So, although Zen has integrity, he is negotiating the general political intrigue and dodgy police behaviour. Zen is made by the same outfit as Wallander, but it is a much lighter proposition. Sewell didn’t want him to be one of “these corridor-striding cops”. Zen lives with his mum and his love life’s a mess, but his flaws are his “normal human rubbishness, as opposed to some deep, dark secret”. In addition, the production has a slightly 1970s feel to it, as Zen zips across Rome’s busy streets and quaffs short blacks in a fab cafe. Eccellente.
Dr. Dolittle 2 (Four, 6.30pm). Dolittle too late. Just forget this has any connection to the original stories. Even then, it’s a pretty average kids’ film. (2001) 5 – Diana Balham
Charlie’s Angels (TV2, 8.30pm). Gratuitous cheesecake alert! Once upon a time there were three beautiful girls who went to the police academy … Cam, Drew and Lou get all 21st-century in a retro, ironic “we’re not getting played by the system” kind of way. Too right: co-producer and star Drew Barrymore could see the wisdom in making a 70s telly classic into a feature film and made a packet out of this and the sequel. The flabby directing (by ex-music vid guy McG) is at odds with the toned and buff trio on the screen, but they’re all, like, having a majorly good time. (2000) 5 – Diana Balham
Babylon AD (TV3, 8.30pm). Never leave a nun in charge of a virus-ridden child. This naff sci-fi is badly written and looks as if it was made by new entrants from an Amish primary school where they’ve never seen films before. Unlucky to take top billing is one sorry beefcake, Vin Diesel, with Hong Kong action heroine Michelle Yeoh and – no! not gorgeous talented Brit Mark Strong? (2007) 3
The Assassination of Richard Nixon (Maori, 9.30pm). If you want to test the theory that truth is stranger than fiction, look no further than this biodrama set in 1974 about a loser who blames all his woes on Richard Nixon and tries to hijack a plane so he can crash it into the White House. The writers drew up a story and then, while researching it, discovered this really had happened – long before 9/11, of course. Samuel Joseph Byck – his ineffectualness telegraphed by a wimpy moustache – makes you itch with irritation at his refusal to take responsibility for anything in his life. Sean Penn inhabits this character so completely that if he jumped out of the TV, you’d give him a good slap on the chops. Needless to say, the schmuck failed. (2004) 7 – Diana Balham
The History Boys (TV3, 10.35pm). Alan Bennett’s award-winning play didn’t lose much in the translation to the big screen. This fine pedigree, plus assured guidance by London’s National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George) and an extraordinary cast make for a satisfying watch. (The same actors performed the play at the National Theatre and on Broadway before the film was made.) With Richard Griffiths, Frances De La Tour, James Corden, Clive Merrison and a positively scary Dominic Cooper in his breakout film role. A comedy-drama that purports to be about education and sexuality and growing up, it is really a meditation on class: these Sheffield boys are up against it because, as their grammar school headmaster says, “You can’t polish a turd.” (2006) 7 – Diana Balham
Saturday Morning with Kim Hill (Radio New Zealand National, 8.10am). Poet, writer, painter, curator and critic Gregory O’Brien is a guest today. Last May, he was one of nine artists from the South Pacific who travelled to the Kermadec Islands on HMNZS Otago. (Kermadec, an exhibition of the works they produced as a result of this adventure, is at Auckland’s Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum until July.) And, wearing another of his artistic hats, he was a guest at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival in Ireland in February. – Diana Balham
Labretta Suede & the Motel 6/Drop Dead Redhead Recorded Live at Roundhead Studios (95bFM, 11.00am and Friday, 2.00pm). This modest quartet from Auckland, now living in Brooklyn, Noo Yawk, describe themselves as an “ass-whippin’ high-kickin’, low down rockin’-an-a-reelin’ rock’n’roll” band that “brings back the true essence of roots-based rock’n’roll, punk and rockabilly blues”. Check in for some tunes by “bad girl” frontperson Labretta Suede, Johnny Moondog, Max Speed 1000 and Captain Gerry. Auckland garage band Drop Dead Redhead apparently live in a rock garden with succulents, cherry blossom and hedgehogs, and they like Cézanne, Monet, bacon and sausages. This could make for an interesting and eclectic sound or make them complete bores. You be the judge. There will be live streaming and podcasts on 95bfm.com and video after April 7 on this website. – Diana Balham
A Flat City: Voices of Christchurch Music (RDU98.5FM, 2.00pm). The series about valiant Christchurch musicians continues today with the solo performers episode, featuring James Dann (aka Ed “Civil Defence Agitator” Muzik), Reuben Stone and Nadia Reid. – Diana Balham
Around the World in 80 Tunes (Radio New Zealand National, 4.10pm). Adventurous Kiwis Nick Dwyer and Barnie Duncan are back on the trail of the world music most of us don’t get to hear. Today, they venture into Ethiopia and meet composer, arranger, vibraphone player and percussionist Mulatu Astatke, the godfather of the Ethio-jazz scene. And Dwyer talks to Tsedenia Gebremarkos of Addis Ababa band Dub Colossus, whose sound fuses the cool stylings of Ethio-jazz with dub and reggae. – Diana Balham
Music Alive (Radio New Zealand Concert, 8.00pm). Bach’s St Matthew Passion, a retelling of the story of Christ’s crucifixion, has long been observed by Christians during Holy Week. This concert, recorded in the Wellington Town Hall last year, features Paul McMahon as the evangelist, Michael Leighton Jones as Christus, Jenny Wollerman, Claire Barton, Andrew Grenon, Daniel O’Connor, the Orpheus Choir of Wellington, the choristers of Wellington Cathedral of St Paul and the Vector Wellington Orchestra, conducted by Michael Fulcher. – Diana Balham