Tonight’s TV tips

DOCUMENTARY: Dan Snow’s History of the Winter Olympics (BBC Two, 9pm)

This eponymous host’s one-off documentary is a compelling mix of travelogue and history lesson.

Dan Snow finds that although the Olympic ideal may involve countries coming together in a spirit of friendship, the event has frequently been affected by politics, whether it was due to Nazism or the tense rivalries of the Cold War.

Tension between East and West led to the so-called ’Miracle on Ice’ of 1980, when the US men’s ice hockey team beat the seemingly undefeatable Soviets, and arguably culminated in the emotional Olympics of Sarajevo in 1984.

As Snow discovers, just eight years later most of the Olympic sites had been destroyed by civil war.

Look out for contributions from Torvill and Dean, especially the moment when they comment about returning to the Sarajevo since the conflict.

Jayne says: “We actually saw the opening ceremony stadium, huge outdoor stadium, that had now been turned into a graveyard.”


FILM: Mercury Rising (TV3, 9pm)

In this action-packed thriller, Bruce Willis is tasked with protecting an orphaned nine-year-old autistic savant Simon.

Simon has deciphered a government code hidden in a puzzle magazine.

Calling for his prize, Simon triggers an alarm at the National Security Agency: NSA chief Nicholas Kudrow (Alec Baldwin), who says the code protects covert American operatives all over the world and sends an assassin to do away with Simon.

Simon's parents are killed, but Simon survives, hiding in a secret closet crawlspace where he's later discovered by maverick FBI agent Art Jeffries (Willis).


DRAMA: Silent Witness (BBC One, 9pm)

The cast may come and go, but ‘Silent Witness’ is a show that refuses to flatline.

There have been more than 142 episodes and 16 series since it launched in 1996, and a wealth of guest stars have appeared, including Hobbit star Ken Stott, new Corrie regular Jimi Mistry and Merlin veteran Anthony Head.

The latest two-part mystery centres on the murder of a 15-year-old girl. DI Dale Carter (Ashley Walters) fixates on his prime murder suspect, Ryan Kelvin (Owen Mcdonnell). However, because Jack (David Caves) has a personal connection to Ryan, Thomas (Richard Lintern) has little choice but to replace him with forensic scientist Helen Ferguson (Haydn Gwynne).

The conclusion can be seen on Friday (January 31).


REALITY: Don’t Tell The Bride (RTÉ Two, 9.30pm)

Ger O’Dea and Ciara Murphy from Blackpool in Cork have been together for eight years and have three children, but recently decided to get married.

Charmingly, Ger’s proposal came in the form of a note printed on their daughter’s babygro: ‘Will you marry my daddy?’

Ciara is the fussy one in their relationship; she took a year to find the perfect dress for her 21st birthday!

Ger is a big prankster though and Ciara is petrified that he is going to make a joke of their wedding day. Ger has plenty of tricks up his sleeve but will he push his fiery lady too far?


NEW ON NETFLIX: Derek

Something of a labour of love for creator Ricky Gervais, ‘Derek’ has divided critics.

Derek Noakes (played by Gervais) is a tender, innocent man whose love for his job and the people he cares for shines through.

He's 49 years old and loves animals, Rolf Harris, Jesus, 'Deal or No Deal', 'Million Pound Drop' and 'Britain's Got Talent' - but his main hobby is autograph hunting.

It was never going to be as popular as hits such as ‘The Office’ and ‘Extras’, but then it was never really expected to be.

Worth watching just to see real-life oddball Karl Pilkington in his first acting role. Decide for yourself if it’s worth sticking with.

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