Strictly gets into a Blackpool state of mind, Deirdre O'Kane chats to Lucy Kennedy, there’s a documentary about African musician Fela Kuti, and a new Icelandic drama called The Valhalla Murders . . .

Pick of the Day

Strictly Come Dancing, 7.15pm, BBC One

It’s the halfway stage of the competition, and the week Strictly couples were due to make their annual trip up to Blackpool.

For many fans of the show, this is often the high point of the competition. But this time around, a pandemic doesn’t pander to a TV audience.

As a trip to Blackpool is not possible this year, the professional dancers bring Blackpool to the Strictly ballroom in a special opening performance.

Then the nine remaining celebrities and their partners try once again to impress the judges with their latest routines.

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Don't Miss

The Vow, 9.00pm, Sky Documentaries & NOW TV

This has been a slow, creepy revelation of a documentary series. Which makes it a fascinating watch.

Sarah confides to Mark about DOS, a secret group involving "masters" and "slaves," and struggles in her relationships with NXIVM, her husband and her best friend; Sarah and Mark lament how many members they’ve recruited and question what to do next.

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Deirdre O'Kane Talks Funny, 9.30pm, RTÉ One

This week’s show sees Deirdre O’Kane having a chinwag with Lucy Kennedy.

From earning her wings flying the skies with Virgin City Jet to her time in Ballydung Manor with Podge and Rodge, and on to her move from RTÉ  to TV3/Virgin Media, Lucy will recall how she’s brought the funny all these years in the tv game.

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New or Returning Shows

Fela Kuti: Father of Afrobeat, 9.30pm, BBC Two

In 1997, over one million people gathered in Lagos for the funeral of Fela Kuti, Africa’s biggest artist, who gave the world Afrobeat.

He was also a thorn in the side of Nigeria’s military regimes - a revolutionary who fought injustice with his music and a libertine who married 27 wives in one ceremony.

When he died from a disease that carried huge stigma in Africa, there was fear his legacy would die with him. Exclusive testimony reveals the multifaceted man behind a maverick performer.

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The Valhalla Murders, 9.00pm, BBC Four

Here’s an Icelandic crime drama, the latest arrival in BBC Four’s long-running subtitled slot.

Ambitious detective Katrin `Kata' Gunnarsdottir investigates when an ex-drug dealer is found murdered in the old harbour area of Reykjavik, and finds that she does not have as much control of her professional life as she had planned.

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New to Stream

Last Christmas, Sky Cinema & NOW TV

If you’re in the mood, here’s a chance to get the festive season rolling with a joyfully silly, festive romcom penned by Emma Thompson and based on the songs of George Michael.

Emilia Clarke stars as Kate - a young woman subscribed to bad decisions. Working as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop is not good when you’re a wannabe singer at heart.

When Tom walks into the store and into her life, it seems too good to be true, and he slowly starts knocking down the barriers she puts up.

As Christmas finally arrives, can the two make it work?

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The Photograph, Sky Cinema & NOW TV

When famed photographer Christina Eames unexpectedly dies, she leaves her estranged daughter Mae Morton (Issa Rae) hurt, angry and full of questions.

When a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box is found, Mae finds herself on a journey delving into her mother’s early life and ignites a powerful, unexpected romance with a rising-star journalist, Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield).

Family Flick

Jack Frost, 6.35pm, RTÉ One

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This here’s a fantasy drama, starring Michael Keaton and Joseph Cross, about a dead musician whose spirit takes over the body of a snowman made by his son so they can spend one last Christmas together.

Film Picks

Brief Encounter, 6.50pm, BBC Two

Outrageously old-fashioned, this superb David Lean-directed love story was based on a play by Noel Coward. Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 2 plays an absolute blinder as the intense soundtrack.

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard play two married strangers who meet at a railway station and fall in love, but their clandestine relationship is pretty much doomed from the start.

Their final, heartbreaking meeting at the train station gets me every time.

This is a marvellous, moving movie that reflects a time and attitude that no longer exists. It’s a pure museum piece of a picture.

The Martian, 8.45pm, Channel 4

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Ridley Scott's engrossing sci-fi drama, starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, sees the former playing an astronaut left stranded on Mars, who has to find a way to survive for years on meagre resources.

As castaway films go, this is one of the best.

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