Our top daily TV programmes for the week ahead...


Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon (Channel 4, 6.30pm)

In this new series, explorer, paleoanthropologist, evolutionary biologist and stand-up comic Ella al-Shamahi looks for a definitive answer to one of the world's ancient mysteries: did giant cities and civilisations once flourish in the Amazon rainforest?

For most people, it's hard to comprehend just how vast the Amazon rainforest actually is. A person could enter at its eastern edge, walk 3000km directly west and still not come out from under the vast canopy.

This haven for about 10 per cent of the world's species has long been regarded as wild and pristine, barely touched by humanity, and offering a glimpse of the world as it was before humans spread to every continent and, to be blunt, made a mess of things.

But it now appears this idea could be wrong.

Far from being untouched, scientists are coming to believe that the landscape and ecosystem of the Amazon has been shaped by humanity for thousands of years.

Long before the arrival of Europeans in the Americas in the 16th century, the Amazon was inhabited, and not just by a handful of isolated tribes.

Millions of people lived in the jungle, building vast earthworks and cultivating multitudes of plants and fish.

We don't fully understand why this flourishing society disappeared centuries ago, although it has been suggested that disease and genocide could have very easily wiped out entire villages.

Nevertheless, their way of life could potentially give us crucial clues to how humans and the rainforest can coexist and thrive together.


Gary Barlow's Night At The Museum (ITV, 9pm)

When the nation is in the mood to celebrate or needs a lift, Gary Barlow OBE appears to be the go-to man.

Now, with the nation gearing up for Christmas, and with some optimism in the air that vaccines could bring about a level of normality in the near future, ITV has commissioned this one-off music special.

Held in the splendid setting of London's iconic Natural History Museum, Gary Barlow's Night At The Museum promises to be a truly spectacular event.

It will see the award-winning singer songwriter, accompanied by an orchestra, performing new music from his latest LP Music Played By Humans, as well as some of his greatest hits from his Take That and solo back catalogues.

Gary will be joined through the night by a host of special guests including global superstar and friend Michael Buble, who sang on the recent single, Elita, Sebastian Yatra, Alesha Dixon and Beverley Knight, Jack Whitehall, Alfie Boe, Rick Astley, Jason Donovan and Ronan Keating.

Although there is unlikely to be much of a live crowd, ITV viewers will have a front-row seat at this exclusive music event.

"It's going to be a very special evening and even though we are staying inside at the moment, let's get our glad rags on and make believe we're heading out for the night," says Barlow.


The Vicar of Dibley (BBC One, 8.20pm)

Geraldine Granger. Like Captain Mainwaring, Mr Bean, Norma Stanley Fletcher, Margo Leadbetter and other household names, she is one of the stalwarts of the sitcom, a national treasure we can always trust to raise a smile - or even a guffaw.

It's hard to imagine anybody other than Dawn French playing her, but what many fans probably don't realise is that she had to break one of her staunchest vows to take the role - French had always promised she wouldn't tackle a situation comedy until she was 50, and yet here she was, adjusting her dog collar and stepping into Geraldine's dignified shoes 13 years early.

And thank goodness she did.

Geraldine is the character who keeps coming back for more. Only two full series of the sitcom were ever made, but French has returned in various specials over the years, including one earlier in 2020 when she popped up in the charity fundraising telethon The Big Night In.

Now she's back again with a collection of three 10-minute 'sermons' following repeats of classic episodes.

"Back in the dog collar, back in Dibley and back on your telly at Christmas," smiles French. "I couldn't be happier. Bless you!"


The Royal Variety Performance 2020 (ITV, 8pm)

As you get older, it often feels as if the years pass by more quickly.

Or, if you're a showbusiness type, then the next Royal Variety Performance seems to come around faster than ever before.

Thank goodness, then, that it always features top guests guaranteed to keep us coming back for more. Okay, so some of them can be a bit on the cheesy side, and there have been accusations in the past that the show is no longer relevant to modern audiences, but try telling that to the millions who tune in to see it on TV.

If variety happens to be the spice of your life, then this most spectacular of extravaganzas is likely to pep up a cold Tuesday night's viewing no end with two hours of the stuff of which showbiz legends are made.

Jason Manford is our host at a socially distanced Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex.

Heading the bill is none other than Captain Sir Tom Moore - which is incredible when you consider that nobody outside of his friends and family had heard of him this time last year. He'll be joining in remotely from his home, accompanying Michael Ball and the NHS choir in a rendition of their chart-topping version of You'll Never Walk Alone.

Britain's Got Talent winner Jon Courtenay will also feature, while other, perhaps more famous performers on the bill include Gary Barlow, Sheridan Smith, Melanie C, Stephen Mulhern and Jo Caulfield.


Queens of the Street (ITV, 9pm)

Sixty years ago today, a British institution was born. Coronation Street's very first scene saw Florrie Lindley (Betty Alberge) talking to from Elsie Lappin (Maudie Edwards), from whom she had bought the corner shop.

Also in that very first episode, Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) is seen berating her 18-year-old son Dennis (Philip Lowrie).

"Sometimes I wish we were more like them Barlows," she said. "At least they're not rowin' all the time!"

How times have changed.

To celebrate the soap's diamond anniversary, ITV is screening a series of special shows, publishing an anniversary book, launching new products and unveiling unique social media content.

And at the centre of it all will be a week packed with drama on the famous cobbles.

For months, the nation has been gripped by the appalling abuse Geoff Metcalfe has inflicted on his wife Yasmeen. And following tonight's dramatic episode in which the trial verdict leads to a showdown between Geoff and Alya, this special documentary champions the legendary women who have graced the Street over the last 60 years.

Among those featured alongside Liz and Elsie, are likely to be Deirdre Barlow, Gail Rodwell (Platt), Audrey Roberts, Rita Sullivan, Vera Duckworth, Bet Lynch, Blanche Hunt, Sally Webster, Hilda Ogden, Phyllis Pearce, Emily Bishop, Ena Sharples, Carla Connor and Annie Walker.


Nadiya's American Adventure (BBC1, 8pm)

Think of American cuisine and what comes to mind? For some people, it may be burgers, fries and the sort of gigantic portions seen on shows like Man v Food.

But there's a lot more to US dining than that. It's home to more immigrants than any other country, and those international influences have come together to create some of the most vibrant food in the world.

It's an aspect of the county that has always appealed to Nadiya Hussain. Her own love of good food first became apparent when she won The Great British Bake Off in 2015, and since then she has gone on to present her own shows, including the travelogue The Chronicles of Nadiya, which saw her going in search of her own culinary roots. More recently, she presented Nadiya Bakes.

And now she's crossing the Atlantic for the two-part documentary Nadiya's American Adventure.

The second instalment will find her in California, home to one of the most diverse populations in America. However, she begins her trip in another state that she has always wanted to visit and one that also boasts a history of immigration - Louisiana.

Nadiya's first destination is New Orleans, a city that's strategic position at the mouth of the Mississippi Delta has attracted newcomers for centuries from as far as Europe, the Caribbean and more recently from Vietnam.

Her trip coincides with the first day of Mardi Gras, which is the perfect excuse for Nadiya to whip up iconic and indulgent king cakes bursting with Chantilly cream, before joining in a lively street party.


Waterhole: Africa's Animal Oasis (BBC2, 8pm)

If you missed the opening episode of the nature series Waterhole: Africa's Animal Oasis last week, it's offering scientists (and viewers) the chance to learn more about waterholes.

Some viewers may have initially thought that most of what they needed to know was right there in the name - they are holes with water in them. However, as this series points out, these oases are vital to supporting African ecosystems, yet little is known about exactly how they support so much life.

To put that right, BBC Studios Natural History Unit teamed up with Mwiba Wildlife Reserve in Tanzania to build the world's first waterhole with a built-in specialist camera rig.

As Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History, says: "Welcome to the secret life of the waterhole, a bustling oasis where elephants, lions, leopards and hundreds of other species meet and compete for water.

"This ground-breaking series gives scientists the chance to study how waterholes influence animal behaviour like never before, and gives viewers a ringside seat at an astonishing piece of natural theatre."