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WHAT TO WATCH 16-22 January

There hasn't been a week this strong for new telly in ages as hit shows Dancing on Ice and First Dates return alongside Channel 4 comedy Back, ITV drama The Bay and Sky One drama Bulletproof, not forgetting the launch of two brilliant new dramas; Finding Alice and It's A Sin.

Here are 7 TV shows you can't miss this week...

1. Dancing on Ice

Sunday 17th January at 6pm on ITV

This weekend, Dancing on Ice returns for a brand new series as Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby return to present the show and the expert Ice Panel of Torvill and Dean, John Barrowman and Ashley Banjo will all resume their roles as judges.

Taking part this year, and hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year's champion Joe Swash, are Olympians Colin Jackson CBE and Graham Bell, soap stars Faye Brookes and Joe-Warren Plant, entertainers Denise Van Outen and Jason Donovan, rapper Lady Leshurr, musician and presenter Myleene Klass, TV personalities Billie Shepherd and Rebekah Vardy, actor and comedian Rufus Hound and Capital Radio DJ Sonny Jay.

Six of the celebrity skaters and their partners will compete in the series’ opener and the remaining six will compete in the following week’s show. The couple at the bottom of the table following the week one public vote will find themselves in the following week’s Skate Off, along with the pairing at the bottom of the table in week two, and therefore at risk of the first elimination. However, for the first two weeks only, the judges will be able to award one couple a pass through to Musicals Week on 31st January, by awarding them a Golden Ticket.

Competing this week are Jason Donovan & Alexandra Schauman, Joe-Warren Plant & Vanessa Bauer, Denise Van Outen & Matt Evers, Rufus Hound & Robin Johnstone, Lady Leshurr & Brendyn Hatfield and Rebekah Vardy & Andy Buchanan.

Find out who Holly Willoughby is backing as her winner here.

1/10 Continues weekly

2. Finding Alice

Sunday 17th January at 9pm on ITV

Keeley Hawes takes the lead as Alice in ITV's new six-part drama Finding Alice, which follows her character after the death of her partner Harry, played by Jason Merrells, shortly after moving into their dream home.

For Alice, Harry and their daughter Charlotte, played by rising star Isabella Pappas, moving into this house should have been a dream come true, but quickly turned into a nightmare when Alice discovers Harry dead at the bottom of the stairs. Harry designed the smart house, so it’s weird and wonderful, and one more disorientation for Alice on top of her sense of loss and abandonment. Alice’s beloved partner is no more, and now she can’t find the fridge.

Family should be a source of comfort, but Harry’s parents, Minnie and Gerry, played by Gemma Jones and Kenneth Cranham, keep popping round uninvited. Whilst Alice’s own parents, Roger and Sarah, played by Nigel Havers and Joanna Lumley, only seem to add to her list of problems.

With Harry gone and Alice struggling to cope, Charlotte is forced to bottle up her grief and be the responsible one. Especially when the police turn up asking questions about the night that Harry died. To make matters worse, more unexpected visitors start knocking on Alice’s door, and she begins to realise that Harry’s business debt wasn’t the only secret he kept hidden from her.

1/6 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch

3. First Dates

Tuesday 19th January at 10pm on Channel 4

After over seven years in London, First Dates is moving location for its sixteenth series as MaitreD Fred Sirieix and his team of helpers - old and new - open the doors to the new restaurant in Manchester, which promises to be even more romantic than before. As ever, they'll be welcoming an array of singletons, all hoping to be served the love of their lives.

In the first episode, 23-year-old parliamentary assistant Jessie, wants to date a guy outside of the Westminster bubble. Far from conservative, she’s not afraid to talk sex and politics on a date and worries this scares guys off. Taking her on is 25-year-old journalist Josh who’s been described as “a bit too much” and has been sworn at on dates for his strong opinions.

There are also dates for 69-year-old former roadie Winston and 60-year-old glamorous gran Donna, 37-year-old Lithuanian spa therapist Kristina and 43-year-old car salesman Billy and 32-year-old greasy spoon worker Alan and 36-year-old casino manager Stephen.

1/ Continues weekly

4. The Bay

Wednesday 20th January at 9pm on ITV

Series one of The Bay, written by Daragh Carville, was watched by an average of 7m people per episode in 2019 and followed the case of two missing teenage twins, Holly and Dylan Meredith, who disappeared from their home. So it's no surprise that it's back for a second series.

Morven Christie returns to play Detective Sergeant Lisa Armstrong, who in series one was assigned to a missing persons investigation, further complicated by her less than professional connection to the family.

Series 2 begins with Lisa at a low ebb: forced to do menial police work whilst she watches Med go from strength to strength. But a new case involving a shocking murder within a loving family brings Lisa unexpectedly back into the front line. She must get under the skin of a new family and prove her worth; to her colleagues, to her family and to herself.

Returning cast members include Daniel Ryan, Lindsey Coulson, Imogen King, Art Parkinson and Taheen Modak whilst joining the cast are; Joe Absolom, James Cosmo, Stephen Tompkinson, Sharon Small, Sunetra Sarker, Owen McDonnell, Steven Robertson, Amy James-Kelly, Kerrie Taylor, Wendy Kweh, Julia Haworth and newcomer Jack Archer.

1/6 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch

5. Bulletproof: South Africa

Wednesday 20th January at 9pm on Sky One

Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters return this week for a special three-part special of Bulletproof as Bishop and Pike head overseas to dive deep undercover in a brand new case. Taking a much-needed vacation from their London day-job, the cop duo head to Cape Town, South Africa.

Unfortunately things don’t quite go to plan... While trying to relax after a tough year, Bishop, Pike and his family soon find themselves caught up in the frightening kidnap of a young girl.

Having befriended the young girl’s parents earlier that day, Bishop and Pike decide it’s their duty to use their expertise to help the couple win their daughter back. The kidnappers demand an unreasonable reward for the safe return of the girl, but have no idea who they’re now up against.

It has also just been announced that Bulletproof will be returning for a fourth series. Full story here.

1/3 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch

6. Back

Thursday 21st January at 10pm on Channel 4

Over three years since the first series aired on Channel 4, David Mitchell and Robert Webb's first comedy together since Peep Show, Back - written by Simon Blackwell - is erm... back for a second series.

If you missed the first series (it is available on All4), then Mitchell's character Stephen's father passes away, leaving behind his pub. With his mum and sister not interested in taking on the family business, divorcee/failed lawyer Stephen sees it as an opportunity to shine.

But when Webb's character Andrew - fostered by Stephen's parents for five months - turns up out of the blue at Laurie's funeral, Stephen's plans go awry. He thinks Andrew is a glib, dangerous sociopath who's about to steal his family, his business and his life.

Fast-forward to series two and after a long absence, a rejuvenated Stephen prepares to head back to the John Barleycorn, just as Andrew is starting to feel restricted and weighed down by the mundanities of being a provincial pub landlord. Have the tables now turned for these reluctant foster brothers?

When Stephen returns, his sister Cass, played by Loo Brealey, tells him some surprising news about their mum Ellen's relationship status. And the opening of a rival cutting-edge pub just up the road evokes curiosity and trepidation, especially when it becomes apparent that the new establishment needs a manager, and plans to headhunt a certain hotshot from the Barleycorn.

1/6 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch

7. It's A Sin

Friday 22nd January at 9pm on Channel 4

Russell T Davies' new Channel 4 drama It's A Sin is undoubtedly already one of the standout dramas of 2021. Across five episodes, it tells the story of the 1980s and AIDS, following the joy and heartbreak of a group of friends across a decade in which everything changed.

It stars Olly Alexander alongside newcomers Omari Douglas and Callum Scott Howells, as Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin, who each begin a new life in London in 1981. Strangers at first, these young gay lads, and their best friend Jill, played by Lydia West, find themselves thrown together and soon share each other’s adventures.

But a new virus is on the rise, and soon their lives will be tested in ways they never imagined. As the decade passes, they grow up in the shadow of AIDS and are determined to live and love more fiercely than ever.

It’s the story of these boys’ friends, lovers and families too, especially Jill, the girl who loves them and helps them, and galvanises them in the battles to come. Together they will endure the horror of the epidemic, the pain of rejection and the prejudices that gay men faced throughout the decade.

There are terrible losses and wonderful friendships. And complex families, pushed to the limit and beyond. This is a series that remembers the boys we lost, and celebrates those lives that burned so brightly.

The cast also includes Keeley Hawes and Shaun Dooley who play Ritchie's mum and dad, Valerie and Clive as well as Stephen Fry as MP Arthur Garrison, Tracy-Ann Oberman as Carol Carter and Neil Patrick Harris as Henry Coltrane.

Read my interview with Callum Scott Howells here.

1/5 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch


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