WHAT TO WATCH 19-25 March

This week's best telly includes an extraordinary drama about the fight for disability rights, the final of The Apprentice, the highly anticipated return of Bridgerton and more.


Here are 5 TV shows you can't miss this week...


1. Then Barbara Met Alan

Monday 21st March at 9pm on BBC Two


BBC Two's new one-off drama Then Barbara Met Alan, is an uplifting and irreverent love story of two extraordinary people, destined to change the world from the moment they set eyes on each other. Through their humour and unstoppable energy, disabled people find a voice and begin a journey towards gaining the rights they have long deserved.


Ruth Madeley plays comedian and activist Barbara Lisicki and newcomer Arthur Hughes plays singer-songwriter and activist Alan Holdsworth who devoted their lives to the cause, but campaign success comes at a personal cost and the pair are eventually driven apart on the eve of their historic, yet bittersweet, victory.


From writers Jack Thorne and Genevieve Barr, Then Barbara Met Alan tells the untold love story of two cabaret performers and disability rights activists who met at a gig, fell in love and became the driving force behind an unprecedented campaign of direct action that ultimately led to the passing of the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.


Their story begins in the early 1990s when many disabled people in Britain faced huge barriers in the workplace, lived in poor quality housing and could not even get on inaccessible public transport.


At that time, the idea that the disabled community should be the grateful beneficiaries of charity handouts was commonplace, and far from being equal independent citizens, disabled people had no rights in law.


With their wicked sense of humour and post-punk energy combined, the pair soon decide to take down Telethon, a 28-hour TV charity event that raises funds by pulling on heartstrings and wrongly making people feel sorry for disabled people. For the first time in history, they galvanise an army of disabled protestors from across Britain, united under an incendiary 'Piss on Pity' protest slogan, and soon Telethon is no more.


Having shocked a nation and shown what disabled people are capable of, they form DAN, the disabled people's Direct Action Network. Soon they head out on tour, with their new baby in tow, to shut down inaccessible bus routes and spontaneously picket cinemas, restaurants and train stations – anywhere that denies access to disabled people.


Finally, having honed their use of pink handcuffs as part of their direct-action tactics and after suffering the loss of DAN members along the way, Barbara and Alan embark on a fearless and coordinated plan to bring Westminster to a standstill until the establishment can no longer stand in their way and disabled people are granted equal rights in law.


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2. The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C

Tuesday 22nd March at 8pm on Channel 4


The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer is back as each episode, four celebrity bakers will compete in three challenges, all hoping to impress Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith with their brilliant bakes and culinary creations. But at the end of each show, only one can be decorated with the coveted Star Baker apron.


The first four bakers entering the famous tent are comedian Alex Horne, actor Blake Harrison, broadcaster Clara Amfo and TV presenter Emma Willis. They'll be making decorated biscuits in the Signature, madeleines in the Technical and a choux sculpture that embodies their secret talent in an ambitious Showstopper.


The series, hosted by Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas, is in aid of Stand Up To Cancer, a joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 that brings the UK together to speed up progress in life-saving research. Since its launch in the UK in 2012, Stand Up To Cancer has raised over £93 million, funding 59 clinical trials and projects involving 19,000 cancer patients across the country


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3. MasterChef

Wednesday 23rd at 8pm and Friday 24th March at 8pm & 9pm on BBC One


Whether it's celebrities, amateurs or professionals, MasterChef is a show that's rarely off our screens and now it's back for a brand new series as this year, John Torode and Gregg Wallace are mixing it up challenging the passionate amateurs to a whole new set of challenges which they must compete in order to progress in the competition.


Each week for five weeks, nine home cooks cook for the judges and this year their first test is the audition round, in which they must cook their signature dish, one that tells John and Gregg who they are as a cook and how good they could become.


John and Gregg don't watch the chefs in the kitchen, instead, they taste each dish in the new MasterChef Tasting Room. After they have tasted all nine dishes, the best three dishes will be awarded a coveted MasterChef apron, securing their place in the competition.


The remaining six contestants then get another chance to impress the judges and win themselves an apron. If they cooked a sweet dish in the first round, they must prepare a savoury dish now, or vice versa.


This time, John and Gregg are in the kitchen witnessing their every move. The pressure is intense and the stakes are high as only four cooks can join the three already fast-tracked in the next round of challenges. For the other two, their MasterChef dream will be over.


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4. The Apprentice Final

Thursday 24th March at 9pm on BBC One


After 12 weeks, the time has come for Lord Sugar to choose who he believes deserves to become his next business partner and win a £250,000 investment. Will he choose Harpreet's dessert parlour or Kathryn's matching pyjama business?


In the final task of the series, Lord Sugar summons Harpreet and Kathryn to the British Museum to set them their final challenge. Each finalist must launch a new business and they have three days to do so.


Together with the help of some of this year's fired candidates, they must create branding for their business, produce a digital billboard and a television advert. They must then pitch the business to Lord Sugar and a room full of industry experts at London’s Pennington Street Warehouse before being summoned to the boardroom for one final time.


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5. Bridgerton

Friday 25th March on Netflix


Bridgerton, from Shondaland and creator Chris Van Dusen, launched on Christmas Day 2020 and became Netflix's most-watched original series with over 82 million viewers - before Squid Game came along of course.


Based on the novels by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton centres on the romantic encounters from the members of the powerful Bridgerton family and the first series followed eldest daughter Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, as she made her debut onto Regency London’s competitive marriage market.


Series two follows the search for a suitable wife for Daphne's brother Anthony Bridgerton. Starring opposite Jonathan Bailey as Anthony's new romantic interest Kate Sharma is Simone Ashley. Having just arrived in London, she's smart, independent, headstrong, and suffers no fools. Will she be the right woman for Anthony?


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