Wednesday's TV tips

FILM: The Golden Compass (Film4, 6.50pm)

(2007) It follows Lyra, a feisty youngster living in a parallel universe version of Oxford, where all humans are accompanied by animal spirits called daemons, and a religious council known as the Magesterium holds sway.

When Lyra’s best friend becomes the latest in a long line of children to go missing, she sets out to rescue him, embarking on a perilous journey that brings her into contact with armoured polar bears, cowboy aeronauts, witches – and a very disturbing experiment.

It’s based on the first novel in Philip Pullman’s acclaimed His Dark Materials trilogy, so fans – and no doubt, the movie’s producers – were hoping that this would be the first in a Harry Potter-rivalling series.

Sadly, after a disappointing showing at the box office films two and three have failed to materialise, but The Golden Compass still stands up as an enjoyable adventure on its own.

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Dakota Blue Richards, Eva Green, Ian McKellen, Daniel Craig, Sam Elliott, Christopher Lee, Kristin Scott Thomas

ENTERTAINMENT: The Quizeum (BBC4, 8.30pm)

Just when you realise you’ve not seen Griff Rhys Jones on the box for a short while in one of his many documentaries, he shocks all and pops up in this quiz show, which is a totally different kettle of fish.

He’s touring museums around the UK, with teams of expert panellists, who compete against each other to examine artwork and paintings.

The second instalment comes from the Wallace Collection in London.

The collection includes Old Master paintings from the 14th to the late 19th century, with works by Titian, Velazquez, Rubens and Van Dyck, as well as one of the finest collections of French 18th-century art in all media.

And those Griff is putting to the test this week are Dr Janina Ramirez, medieval art and historian, Lars Thorp, a historian specialising in European and Chinese ceramics, art critic and historian Andrew Graham-Dixon and Anna Keay, director of the Landmark Trust.

DOCUMENTARY: Abortion: Ireland’s Guilty Secret (RTE Two, 9pm)

Abortion is against the law in the North, unlike the UK, where it has been legal for nearly 50 years.

In the Republic, the right-to-life of unborn children is enshrined in the constitution. But these laws don’t stop Irish women travelling abroad to have abortions.

In this film, reporter Alys Harte shares her investigation into the abortion issue and how it divides the young people of Ireland.

DOCUMENTARY: Strangeways: Britain’s Toughest Prison Riot (BBC2, 9pm)

Do enough research into it and you will come across some rather incredible photographs of the 25-day prison riot and rooftop protest at Strangeways Prison in Manchester – for those who remember it being reported on like it was yesterday, it might shock to realise that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the trouble.

This interesting documentary brings together its ringleaders and the prison guards they battled during the anarchy, which began on April 1, 1990 and eventually brought Strangeways to its knees.

The number of prisoners injured totalled 47, while one was killed, and one prison officer died from heart failure.

Former inmates describe how the violence erupted, how 1,600 of them escaped from their cells and how prison officers ran for their lives – meaning the prison became free terrain for the rioters inside to settle scores and hunt down sex offenders.

REAL-LIFE: 24 Hours in A&E (Channel 4, 9pm)

The last episode in the current of run of this award-winning documentary focuses on patients and families who try to look to the future, instead of dwelling on the past.

Cameras follow the story of 62-year-old Cora, who arrives by air ambulance following a collision in which she was trapped in her car for over an hour.

She is sent for a CT scan, as husband Rae, who was driving the car, arrives by ambulance, and staff are concerned he could have sustained serious head, neck and internal injuries.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Scott has badly cut his knee while on a night out with friends, and he discusses being diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager.

FILM: Avatar (Film4, 9pm)

(2009) On the planet Pandora, a disabled Marine is chosen to take his late brother’s place in a programme which places his thoughts in an alien body.

His mission is to persuade a tribal race to leave their homeland, so greedy human business folks can get their hands on precious ore dubbed ’unobtanium’.

However, when the Marine falls for a tribeswoman, he is torn between his duty and protecting the indigenous Pandoran race.

The plot may be just an updated version of Pocahontas, and the outcome could be predicted by a five-year-old, but writer/director James Cameron does a magnificent job of making this fantasy adventure one of the most visually stunning of all time.

Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana (motion captured and digitally rendered by Peter Jackson’s effects wizards at Weta) give top turns as the star cross’d lovers, while Stephen Lang is superb as ruthless military leader, Quarich.

Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang

DEBATE: The People's Debate With Vincent Browne (TV3, 10pm)

For the first time in Irish television, TV3’s Constituency Debates are taking place in all 40 constituency in the country, before “live” audiences and the TDs that dare to face an audience of their own constituents.

Also featuring entertainment features, followed by a preview of tomorrow’s newspapers.

Tonight the debate will take place in the Red Cow Moran Hotel in Dublin, covering the Dublin Mid West Constituency.

FILM: Grown Ups (3e, 10pm)

(2010) Thirty years after graduating from high school, five former basketball teammates gather at the lake house where they celebrated their biggest victory to mourn the passing of their late coach.

Over the course of the Fourth of July weekend, the five friends realize that just because they've all grown up and started families doesn't mean that they've lost that old spark.

Adulthood is what you make of it, and no one at the lake house is eager to be the grown-up of the gang.

Starring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, Rob Schneider

FILM: No Strings Attached (BBC One, 11.45pm)

(2011) Emma is a trainee doctor with a cynical view of relationships, while her childhood friend Adam also has reason to be a bit wary of romance - his ex-girlfriend is now dating his dad.

So, after Emma and Adam end up in bed together, they make a pact that their relationship will be purely sexual, with no talk of love or commitment. However, is that they what they both really want?

It was somewhat over shadowed by 2011’s other ’can we have a sexual relationship without our pesky emotions getting in the way?’ comedy, Friends With Benefits.

Perhaps Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis turned out have more chemistry than No Strings Attached stars Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.

But judged on its own merits, No Strings Attached is an entertaining romcom with a strong cast and an appealing shot of cynicism.

Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes, Greta Gerwig, Lake Bell

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