What’s on TV tonight: Blitz Spirit with Lucy Worsley, 512 Hours with Marina Abramovic and more

Bruno v Tyson

Sky Documentaries, 9pm

On the surface it’s the story of a gentle giant and a brilliant brute. But the lives of Frank Bruno and Mike Tyson inside and outside the ring prove rather more complex in this frequently gripping if overstuffed documentary from Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and Benjamin Hirsch. Both men transcended tough upbringings to find success in boxing, although not escape. The footage that makes up the majority of the film, most of it narrated by acquaintances and boxing experts, is irresistibly evocative and the in-ring footage still thrilling: their clashes in 1989 and 1996 are probably far better remembered here than in the States, but the first in particular was less one-sided than memory might suggest. 

A climactic reunion chez Tyson is the only time we see them as they are now, reminiscing about mentors, lovers and punches thrown, in slightly awkward but rather moving fashion. The runtime is too short to fully explore many of the issues raised, not least over mental health, the pair’s contrasting treatments by the media and their communities, and a rush through the last quarter-century. A series might have worked better, but it’s a worthwhile portrait of two complicated, troubled men. GT

St David’s Day at the BBC

BBC Four, from 7.00pm

In preparation for Monday, BBC Four devotes an evening to the music of Wales. At 9pm, following Katherine Jenkins looking back on her career at 7pm, comes a compilation covering most bases with performances from the credible (Super Furry Animals, Manic Street Preachers) to the camp (Bonnie Tyler, Shakin’ Stevens). The twin pillars of Welsh pop also feature, as Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey are both granted an hour of dedicated programming: Jones looks back to his early life and musical loves at 10pm, while Dame Shirley’s 2009 Electric Proms performance gets a rerun at 11pm. You could even stay up for Stereophonics in Concert at 11.55pm, if you must.

Gardeners’ World

BBC Two, 8pm; not NI

Before the series proper returns in a fortnight, Monty Don looks back on some of last year’s horticultural highlights and “star flowers” including tulips, roses, salvias and dahlias.

Grayson’s Art Club

Channel 4, 8pm

Boy George is the first guest on the second run of Grayson and Philippa Perry’s uplifting and insightful assessment of the state of the nation as viewed through art created by the public. The theme of the opening episode is devoted to family, with David Bailey, Yinka Ilori and Harry Hill also pitching in.

Raiders of the Lost Past

BBC Two, 9pm; NI, 11.20pm

Dr Janina Ramirez travels to Scandinavia to scrutinise a 1,000-year-old ship that may, if not rehabilitate the somewhat ropey reputation of the Vikings, at least add depth and context to their bloodthirsty renown in another lively, engaging hour of Friday-night history.


Channel 4, 9pm

Despite concerns raised over treatment behind the scenes of its stars and crew, the Channel 4 ratings smash returns for a 17th series. Britain’s Favourite 80s Songs Channel 5, 10pm “Ooh” Gary Davies narrates this first of, it may not surprise you to learn, 10 episodes looking at the 30 biggest-selling singles of each year of the 1980s. Paul Gambaccini and Toyah Willcox are among the contributors to an entertaining 90 minutes stretching from the 2 Tone classics of The Specials and Madness to the cheesy pop of Sheena Easton and The Nolans. GT

Upgrade (2018) ★★★★☆

Film4, 9pm  

This lean and gritty sci-fi actioner from Leigh Whannell recalls the down-and-dirty approach of films such as RoboCop. The plot – such as it is – follows a near-future mechanic, played by Logan Marshall-Green, who, after a car accident which paralyses him and kills his wife, is implanted with a spinal chip which turns him into a revenge-seeking badass. Despite its small budget, it has unruly energy to spare. Irresistible cyber-trash. 

A Few Good Men (1992) ★★★★☆

5 STAR, 9pm  

Based on a play by Aaron Sorkin, Rob Reiner’s film plants its gleaming boots squarely in the tradition of powerful, intellectually challenging dramas about courts martial. Tom Cruise plays Lt Daniel Kaffee, the son of a naval advocate, who learns that the law is more than a softball game after he is chosen to lead the defence of two Marines accused of murdering a private at the US base in Cuba. Jack Nicholson cigar-chomps as the accused general.  

Empire of the Sun (1987) ★★★★★

BBC Two, 11.20pm  

Steven Spielberg directs Tom Stoppard’s excellent adaptation of JG Ballard’s autobiographical novel, which is set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during the Second World War. A 13-year-old Christian Bale dazzles as a boy who finds himself separated from his parents and sent to a prison camp, with John Malkovich as the American ship steward who manipulates him for his own ends. For more Spielberg, Jurassic Park is on Sunday, ITV, 2.10pm.

Television previewers

Sarah Hughes (SH), Gerard O’Donovan (GO), Vicki Power (VP) and Gabriel Tate (GT

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